You can take the girl out of the desert, but you can't always go home. After 10 years of living in the Arizona desert, the Domestic CEO finds it tough going back to her Midwestern roots.
This week I’m in the Midwest visiting friends and family. The first 22 years of my life were spent in South Dakota and Minnesota, with the last 10 being in Phoenix. I remember moving to Arizona and thinking it was completely different from the Midwest, and that I could never really feel at home in this strange place. After just my first 24 hours back in Minnesota, I’m starting to realize that the desert has really (surprisingly!) become my home.
The first indication that I’m a desert-dweller? It’s summer in the Midwest, but I’m freezing. Seriously, I’m unreasonably cold. My friends are all running around in tank tops and skirts, while I’m in jeans and a sweatshirt and can’t feel my fingertips. At my friend’s house, the guest room is in the basement which is a good 20 degrees cooler than I keep my house in Phoenix. Between the space heater I pulled out of the closet and two down comforters, I might be able to sleep through the night.
Next, I have to keep reminding myself that bugs in the Midwest aren’t going to kill me. Living in the desert, there are only a few bugs that can survive the heat and none of them are too pleasant. They range from ugly, but harmless (like roaches and earwigs), to creepy and dangerous (like black widows, scorpions, and Africanized bees). I’ve never been a big bug person, but after 10 years in Phoenix and finding scorpions crawling in our carpet, black widows by our front door, and being stung a time or two (by regular bees, don’t worry), I tend to react rather dramatically when I see a bug. Now, picture this in a Minnesota summer. I have a sinking feeling that it will get embarrassing. To this point, I haven’t screamed like a 12-year-old girl yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I totally overreact to a mosquito.
Finally, and this is the big one, I haven’t burned myself on a car, door handle, or patio chair in the last 24 hours. You learn quickly living in Phoenix that you can expect to burn yourself at least once a summer. It could be the seat belt, or your key when you take it out of the ignition, or the door handle at the bank. Whatever it is, it will also burn in your memory and you will flinch every time you go to touch that thing again. In Minnesota, I’ve experienced a good deal of flinching, with no chance of getting burned.
So, as I walk around dressed like an Eskimo, flinching at the sight of small bugs, and flailing whenever I put on my seat belt, I am reminded that no matter where you grew up, home really becomes where you are now. And I guess I'm officially a desert-dweller.
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