A Lifetime New Englander Moves to Arizona

photo (2)Been here a few days so far and have had quite the enjoyable culture shock. Still, it didn’t really sink in what I’d done, until I raised a window on my layover plane and saw endless Arizona terrain splayed out before me. Dusty shades of reds and brows, a scorching haze over the clear sky, mountains and rock formations I’ve never seen firsthand before. And when we came into final approach: cacti. Lots and lots of cacti. I ogled at them like, probably, a kid seeing a tiger in a zoo for the first time ever. I’ve seen cacti in little clay flower pots, on TV and in movies, but right there in the dusty, rocky round? Their hardiness fascinates me. Arizona is unforgiving climate. Welcome to the desert!

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The heat I’m game for. I hate cold, the snow, the shoveling, the ice, driving in snow, etc. I braced myself for the heat, but its intensity still surprised me. Standing there in excess of 100F, sweating, but not sticking to my clothes or chair. I’ll so take it over humidity. Funny thing is, one day I stood near a door with a glass window and it felt like I was standing near an oven. It hit 107 that day. And what was I told? Wait until the temperature rises above 120. Hoo boy. Thank goodness the house has central conditioning and plenty of window shades.

New England has its own beauty, as does Arizona. I’m not used to seeing for miles in every direction. I’m used to lots and lots of trees, the cycle of seasons, wicked late summer nights, spring allergies, and hilly terrain. Now I live at the base of Mt. Graham with more mountains all over the horizon. It’s new and exciting, and the ground is covered in more green than I was expecting. My roomie insists he will have a full green lawn with time, patience, and persistence. In a region where people go for pretty gravel over pretty grass, we’ll see.

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The people here are so friendly. I’m used to purposely avoiding eye contact and ignoring others so everyone can go about their business unbothered. Here people wave to complete strangers. It’s what they do. It’s what they’re used to and totally cool with me.

I got one of those assemble-it-yourself desks, only to find out I needed tools I didn’t have on hand to do that. As per suggestion from my father, I asked the neighbor across the street, whose name is Debbie. Just a few minutes after meeting me, she invites me into her house, points out her two sleeping grandkids on the bed, and hands me over the hammer and screw drivers I need, and tells me to just return them two days later. I was floored by how kind and welcoming she was. Everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone and even spends holidays together.

Tools in hand, we go back outside and chat some more, and then I notice some guy watching us from his back yard. Typical northern me just ignores him at first, then, after waving to several people who drove by us standing at the end of Debbie’s driveway, I decide to wave to Mr. Staring Man in his Asian getup. He doesn’t wave back, so I revert back to northerner mode and ignore him. But he’s still standing in the same spot minutes later, so I ask Debbie who that is. “Oh, that’s a statue.” Yay, my first attempt to be voluntarily sociable falls short on a statue.

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I also got Debbie’s life story in a nutshell. She wants to turn said story into a book but, like so many people, doesn’t know where to begin. She’s getting her tools back with a journal and a couple of Sharpie pens. The best way to start writing a book is to get in the habit of writing regularly.

I’m slowly settling down in my new home and with my new company. I flew in with one of two cats (go look up pet travel guidelines) and she was so terrified the first night that she lay plastered to my side under the sheets all night. Three days later, she’s freely roaming around, sitting in windows, meowing just to hear herself talk, and playing fetch. And she’s finally let Simon pet her. I’ve also got my personal space back on the king bed.

This coming Saturday I get to meet my roomie’s family. He has two family members with birthdays within nine days of mine. Might bake an extra cake and bring it with me.

Habits I need to learn so I survive in the desert (which is harder to remembe than you might think):

-check my sneakers before putting them on (scorpions)

-don’t tread on gravel at night (more scorpions)

-don’t stick your hands anywhere your eyes can’t see (now this may sound easy, but after a lifetime of not giving a wood or rock pile a second thought, all those hidey-holes are difficult to remain mindful of)

-sip at water ALL DAY whether you’re thirsty or not (my lips have already gotten  bit chappy, even though I’ve been inside all day. This is how dry it is here. Also had a slightly upset stomach I couldn’t correlate with food, another indicator that I’m not drinking enough. *holds up a 24 pack of bottled water* cheers!)

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And in the word of my writing, revision on To Ocean’s End will begin by the end of the month and put onto digital bookshelves. Right now it needs three major issues addressed, along with a few minor ones, and it’ll be a solid book. Sure, I had that aw, it’s not perfect in one try moment of self pity, then I gave myself a mental slap and started devising a plan on how to fix the issues. Now I’m eager to make the story better.

Aigis 2 (no official title yet) will get the same editorial feedback this month as well, and we are considering putting Shield of the Gods up for free for an indefinite period of time, but no decision will be made on that until the aforementioned books produce their preliminary results. So, after that, I’ll be finishing the Aigis trilogy hopefully in time for Christmas. Good stuff.

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About Angela Macala-Guajardo

Author, teacher, soon-to-be full time writer for two companies. Also a lover life in the Arizona desert, puppy butt wiggles, and kitties purring away on my shoulder.
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