Where Am I?
I remember moving to Arizona when I was in sixth grade. When we got here all I could think about was how badly I wished I could go back to Colorado. I resented the heat of the Tucson summer and the landscape of rocks and cacti. Even as I found myself playing in the washes between neighborhoods, and looking for scorpions under UV by night, I still told myself how badly I wished I could return home. I kept that same pattern of thought throughout my high school years, until I eventually left for NAU in 2016.
Finally, I would be able to escape the burning concrete of the Sonoran and see some snow and pines, I thought. I arrived with the help of my family, lived in the dorms, and was an upstanding freshman in the honors college; I had a great time. I remember the first snow of 2016 in Flagstaff vividly. It was a November morning, I watched it from my sixth-floor room in Reilly hall with my roommate and enjoyed what I thought was the moment where I was reunited with my mental home. It was a special year to me.
However, as the months ticked by things were going less great for me. I learned my transition into adulthood had plenty of challenges to offer me yet, and I noticed how small the Flagstaff sky can look. I visited Tucson after a particularly terrible October in 2018. I thought I just needed to be with my family, but I also found myself cherishing the expansive valley between the Tucson, Santa Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountain ranges where my family called home. I became fascinated with the birds and flowers in the backyard and the smell of the rain in the desert. I realized how much beauty I let myself ignore while I was busy being wrapped up in some fantasy of returning home.
Until this point, I had still wanted to return to Colorado one day, but now I knew I didn’t really care. I decided on a new goal. I decided to learn to be happy wherever I may be and do the things which my quiet inner self knew were good for me. And while I now think Tucson exemplifies beauty in nature and humanity, I know that if I am feeling despondent, I can conjure up those same feelings for myself wherever I need. With my camera and my own two feet, I can create and learn from the environment in equal measure and remind myself that, even through hard times, home is wherever I make it.