Note: This column appears in the 6/30 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/1 issue of the Peoria Times
My wife and I moved here to Arizona four years ago this very week. Since then, the following things have happened:
We were forced to refinance. We purchased our home, unbeknownst to us at the time, at the height of the real estate market. It is not classy, apparently, to talk about how much one spent on his home, so let’s just say we paid enough, at like a 26.3 percent interest rate. When the bottom fell out of the national real estate market and Arizona fell further down than most, our payments remained the same but our home dropped in value exponentially and suddenly we had no neighbors, construction halted, and we were surrounded by empty homes and vacant lots until renters began to move in and their dogs would relieve themselves on our property, which continues to this day.
Many things we liked, including people, are gone. Four years ago, a great part of our excitement in moving was the chance to live near several good friends who had already settled in the Valley. Many of those friends, for reasons both economic and personal, have moved back from whence they came. So glad you guys are here! Peace, I’m out! Even dining establishments have abandoned us. Though difficult to find food that approaches our east coast standards, we did manage to locate a few gems … which are now, with almost zero exceptions, gone. There used to be a really good Greek pita place near our house. One day I went there to pick up some falafels, and when I walked in I found myself inside a T-Mobile store. I walked out with no falafels, but a new phone, which I did not need, but used to order a terrible pizza. The T-Mobile store is now gone.
Arizona became more famous for its questionable politics than its weather. When we first moved here, our friends and family back east would eagerly ask us how hot it was during the summer, and then avoid asking us how awesome it was during the winter. Now we get emails asking if we’ve ever seen John McCain shaking his fist angrily at a car going 30 mph in a 25, or if we saw the hilarious expose of some recent-passed Arizona legislation on The Daily Show. We were able to return fire during Weinergate, but still.
Sports and entertainment are flailing. Whenever guests visit during the winter months, the one thing we always try to do—and this is totally true; not just for the purposes of this column—is take them to Westgate and a Coyotes game. As it stands now, the Coyotes have one skate out the Valley door and Westgate is bankrupt. It’s hard to believe that a desert ice hockey team couldn’t withstand its own annual economic losses, despite a city’s best efforts, and immediately after I openly declared myself a fan, yet it may in fact happen. And while Westgate may not see a change, it may want to alter its approach—Scottsdale 2.0 was a good idea, but I’m not so sure many people in this area, in lieu of a hockey game, will go to “Men's Ultimate Grooming.” Anyway, I’m not sure where we’ll take our guests this winter. Maybe Kohls and then Chili’s?
All of this begs the question: Do we regret our decision? Not in the least. Arizona—the West Valley in particular—has been an amazing blessing for us for so many reasons, despite the aforementioned misfortunes. With regards to those misfortunes, I still believe things will turn around. Who knows—maybe our ice hockey team will survive, and we’ll get a bobsled team, too. Maybe we’ll make new friends, who own an awesome restaurant. Maybe Jan Brewer will post progressive ideas on Twitter. Either way, we’re in it for the long haul, and happy to be here.