I know my street address. That’s not what I’m asking. I’m coming to realize I don’t live in Phoenix. I live in Litchfield Park—a suburb in the West Valley. And for some reason, when I tell people this, they go, “Oh, you live in the West Valley (har, har).” Now, what the hell is the matter with the West Valley? It’s beautiful over here! It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. (Have you seen Verrado?) People have YARDS in the West Valley, and palm trees taller than most office buildings line the streets. I have a freakin’ pond across from my house, and there are three churches, a library, and a dang resort within walking distance. So what THE HELL is the matter with the West Valley?
Let’s talk geography. Phoenix is a big place (over 517 square miles of metropolitan area). In general, it’s referred to as the “Valley of the Sun.” Downtown is downtown. Sure, there’s stuff to do down there, and I dig the skyscrapers. But there’s also plenty of ghetto, and as I realized at my Sunday Pecha Kucha committee meeting, it’s impossible—as an outsider—to actually realize where ghetto starts and safety ends.
There are suburbs. Tons of ‘em. However, it would seem that most Phoenicians stick to the East Valley, which is why I get all those “har, hars” about the West Valley (an area, which, as I said, is beautiful, so everyone can shove their “har-hars” … I digress). On the west side, there is Litchfield Park, Goodyear, and Avondale. These are your basic suburban towns with golf courses, chain restaurants, and a variety of Walmarts. (Did you know about these Walmart Neighborhood Markets? What the heck? How come no one told me about these sweet grocery stores?) There is also Glendale—a place of much interest to me, because the Arizona Cardinals stadium is here. And before you ask, no, I haven’t worn my Jerome Bettis jersey out in public yet, because I’m still not sure the pain of Super Bowl XLIII has passed. I do plan to attend football games at this stadium, though, because I love live football. See, what’s to dislike about West Valley, huh?
The East Valley is much more glamorous, and the majority of restaurant reviews and upcoming event announcements come from here. On the east side, you have Scottsdale (where rich people live), Tempe (college town), and Mesa. I haven’t even made it this way yet, because I dig the west side and downtown scenes. I DO. But I will make it this way, because, well, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West house is in Scottsdale, and it’s a place I plan to take my father when he visits. (What can I say? He always wanted a house in the desert.)
Phoenix is a spread-out city with lots to do. It can take 45 minutes to get where you need to go, and in this, it differs greatly from a place like Charleston, SC, where you can WALK anywhere in about twenty minutes. Jake needs to remind me sometimes, because I have meetings around town, and I immediately assume I can get there with minutes to spare. I’m usually incorrect, and thankfully, I have Garmin to yell at me.
On a less-tangible note, I have to ask myself “Where the hell do I live?” because just last week, Jake and I left the movie theater in Litchfield Park. We walked outside, and went right, even though our car was to the left. Jake stopped, looked around, and said, “Wow, for a minute there, I thought we were still in Charleston.” We’re still confused about where we are. Maybe it’s because we still have no furniture in our house. Maybe it’s because we’ve been so busy working, we have had little time to really “meet” our new city. Or maybe it’s because “home” is no longer dictated by geography. “Home” is now wherever Jake is.
So I ask: where the hell do you live? And if you scoff about West Valley one more time, I’ll punch you in the freakin’ nose.