In August of 1995, ending the summer I had graduated from high school, I accomplished my life’s mission: I moved to Southern California. I had been trying to get out of my native Phoenix since I was five. California, I thought, was where dreams would be fulfilled.
I’ve always been a dreamer. California has purple skies at night. The air smells like freedom.
Phoenix, to me, was not a place where dreams were fulfilled but evaporated—or, worse, melted on the sidewalk while I screamed because my feet were burning.
But something happened after I graduated college: I knew I had to return to Phoenix. Against my will, but for a greater purpose—that of the leading of the Holy Spirit, to whom I had committed in 1995—I perceived that staying in California would lead to my demise.
I reluctantly drove the four hundred miles to Phoenix, not believing—and certainly not seeing—how any of my dreams could be fulfilled here, but hoping that my obedience to what I sensed was God’s calling would somehow buoy me.
I left the following year to New York, where further dreams would be fulfilled (naturally). I stayed on the Eastern End of Long Island, where the air was wet with an ocean current of hope, the desperation of those who wanted to be heard, seen, discovered, known.
After five years there, in which I earned a Master’s degree and began my editing and teaching careers, I woke up one morning knowing if I stayed in New York one second longer, I would wake up in ten years as the same girl—no change, no progress.
This was unacceptable to me, so I packed up my belongings and drove to Phoenix, where I was certain I would not see any of my dreams come to fruition.
Phoenix surprised me, though, with its inviting sprawl, its provision. All my experiences, every one of the twists and turns from California to New York, allowed for opportunities I had dreamed of to arrive in Phoenix.
In Phoenix, too, I married my love, and that love ushered me to Colorado, a place where I had never imagined visiting, let alone living.
Colorado brought forth my marriage, a true marriage, and two daughters who astonish me daily with revelations of myself, of God, of grace, of love.
Colorado, verdant but smelly, felt like a holding cell, where I did what I had to do and not necessarily what I wanted to do, and it leads us to this morning, where I write these words from my parents’ office in Phoenix, where at 5 p.m. today I will drive ten minutes east and have placed in my palm keys to our new home, one that my husband and I selected together.
We chose Phoenix because it seems as if this is the place where our dreams, those visions we’ve been in pursuit of, may be realized. We feel called here. More than this, we feel we belong here. We chose Phoenix because it’s been good to us.
Last night, as we rounded out our drive on I-40, rushing out of the lonesome New Mexican high desert to arrive in the Flagstaff forest, my heart raced—in agony, in expectation—as I wondered one last time if we had made the right decision.
I spent so many years trying to escape Phoenix, looking for greener grass, or perhaps just grass that was green, but I return here willingly now, still waiting to see what profession will come of my husband’s doctorate; what will come of my education, my experiences.
We’ll be teaching in the meantime, offering up our expertise—both in our crafts and in our faith— to others who will listen. We will not get burned.
It turns out, dreams are accomplished anywhere and everywhere.
Phoenix will be good to us.