Monday, February 17, 2014

Leaving Arizona

So, we have been living in Sahuarita, Arizona for the past 5 months and tonight Oliver and I fly to New York City and Mark drives our car and possessions to New Jersey in time for Oliver's first birthday this weekend. It really feels surreal that Oliver is about to have his first birthday and I will be reunited with many friends and family at the same time.

Moving out to Arizona was definitely the right decision for many reasons. The top reason is that we got to spend so much quality family time together. I was not working and Mark was working from home. Which for the first few months meant that we could go hiking, shopping, swimming or anything else, any day of the week. It was so much fun. As an antidote to our life in NYC where we had to schedule all events at least 6 weeks in advance it was literally a huge gulp of fresh air that invigorated me - body and mind.

Secondly, Mark and I have spent our entire coupledom being extremely enmeshed with my family, which is always amazing. But we both felt it was time to be closer in proximity and intimacy with his family. We lived across the street from his brother and family here and lived with his mother for 2 months out of 5. We also had the chance to visit his brother's family in Utah and his sister's family in southern California, twice. These trips gave Oliver, Mark, and I the chance to connect with the Ferguson family in a way that I had not before. Oliver was the prince among all his cousins! I worked with Kirstyn on geometry several times per week and we shared casual dinners with Matt and Tia often. I told Mark, "I ALWAYS want to live across the street from family!!" He was not surprised. And living with Cheryl was so special. She developed a very close bond with Oliver and we had many open and nourishing talks with her over dinner and play time. Being so far away from my mom, it felt good to have a second mom.

Finally, and perhaps most randomly, I experienced a form of culture-shock while living in Arizona that I did not expect. The weather is amazing (especially in winter). I wore my Toms almost every single day. We went swimming in December and hiking almost every week. The desert terrain feels very strange when you come from the northeast and the heat in September made me feel a panicky at times. But I learned to really appreciate cacti and seek them out. THE is like nothing else I have ever seen. In the late summer, every single sunset was breath-taking. Also, I found myself a bit more connected to native american life and history here. NPR covered many stories about the reservations and the activists that are fighting for their continued representation. On our way to L.A. we accidentally found ourselves at a gas station that was on a reservation. Inside the gas station was a post office for the native american people who live there. It gave me a perspective on their lives that I really had not considered before.

I will miss being close to Cheryl, Tony, Matt, Tia, and Kirstyn. I will miss the mountaintop and desert hiking. I will miss our new friends, the Weiss family, that we met at baby yoga. We really hope to see them when we winter here in the future. But other than that, I feel completely ready to head back northeast to spend some quality time with my family. And then we are off to Sweet Acre Farm to begin the next adventure. And I cannot wait to find out what our family will become there.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Our first month in Arizona

So we have been living in Sahuarita, Arizona for about a month now. My perspective on our choice to leave NYC and our jobs to come to the southwest will probably only sharpen as time goes on. But for now I can say that the first 2 weeks were kind of a fog. I couldn't exactly say I was sad or regretful, but I was definitely feeling a bit lost. I am a classic extravert so I am used to having a ton of people around me. And I liked it that way. I was very social at my job, always making plans with friends on nights and weekends, and seeing family even more often. We got to Sahuarita and there was NONE of that. Mark's brother and his wife and daughter live across the street. So that was literally our only connection here. 

Having so much time to ourselves was....weird. I think I immersed myself in playing with Oliver even more than I had before. I found myself singing songs I hadn't thought of in years. I am diving into cooking projects that would have intimidated me before. I made granola, real yeast bread, and multiple batches of experimental hummus. My mother-in-law has a craft room that is not regularly visited by children, so it is SO ORGANIZED and neat. So far, I've only made Liv's welcome banner and some paper flowers, but it was so relaxing and fun. Oliver played with a bin of VHS tapes while I worked.

Mark & I are able to make outings when he doesn't have too much work that day. My favorite so far has been Apple Annie's orchard in Willcox, AZ. All the pumpkin pictures came from that day. We also went hiking in the Catalina foot hills and to the Tucson Botanical Gardens where we visited the butterfly sanctuary.

I definitely miss everyone we left and I really do miss NYC. I miss being able to walk to yoga and to the juice place. I miss having our pick of tons of amazing restaurants and I am so sad to be missing fall there. But because we actually have time now, we can take advantage of events that sound interesting. For example, we're really excited to dress up and go to the Feast with the Dearly Departed at the Botanical Gardens next weekend. We went to the local indie movie theatre and watched The Big Lebowski and attended a trivia and costume contest afterward. These are things we would have definitely been available in NYC and we would have read about them and said "Oh, that would be fun." but we never would have gone because we were just so darned busy all the time. 

We also have regular routines of family time that would never have been as frequent in our previous lives. We take Oliver to the pool a couple times a week. We eat almost every meal together at home. And we take walks around the man-made lake. 

Another really unexpected consequence of me leaving my job and coming to a place where I don't know anyone has been that I am able to really ask myself what I want to do with my time. I exercise almost every day, I engage in projects that take a few hours of solid at-home time, and after doing those things for a few weeks I asked myself what I wanted to do outside of the house and the answer I came up with was "I want to sing!". I was very active in singing groups in high school and college. I loved it so much that I cannot believe that I have been away from it for so long. So I did a bit of research and then auditioned for the Southern Arizona Women's Chorus this past Monday. I auditioned and was welcomed right away. I may even sing a solo! I am probably the only woman out of 80 under the age of 55, but I don't care. I came home from the first rehearsal just so overjoyed to be a part of it. I probably never would have allowed myself to do this in New York. 

We're going to LA for Thanksgiving to see my cousins and aunt & uncle - a place we probably never would have spent the holidays when we were living on the east coast. We're really excited to dress up and go trick-or-treating with the Au family in Fontana, CA. (It will be hard to leave Sahuarita because apparently a lot of multi-generational families come up in their trailers from Mexico for the day to stock up on candy).  We're being introduced to "trunk-or-treating" in the church parking lot and many families are just chomping at the bit to give Oliver his first taste of sugar. I'll be watching like a hawk-mom! So sad that there is barely any trick-or-treating in NYC.

I am sure we won't move here permanently, but we are just so lucky to have parents who allowed us to live in their house for free. We are so lucky that Mark sold his book, so we can afford for me not to work and for Mark to work freelance. We are so lucky to be able to spend so much time with Oliver and see his personality develop before our eyes. It was hard to make the decision to "drop out", but I am so glad we did.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our first day in Arizona!

We arrived in Phoenix on Sunday night 9/15. It was 10pm there but our bodies told us it was after 1am. Oliver was blowing raspberries in his stroller with his neck slack from exhaustion. Mark was searching for his guitar that had not made it from JFK to Boston to Phoenix.

JetBlue Attendant: So are there any identifying characteristics that can help us find your luggage?
Mark:'s guitar-shaped.

We made it to The Holiday Inn Express and collapsed the king-sized bed. We were thrilled we didn't have to set up the porta-crib or add another leg of travel that night.

We woke up at 6am and walked across the parking lot to Waffle House for breakfast. Oliver played with a waffle while Mark and I enjoyed the Southwest hospitality and unlimited beverages. We both, separately, realized that the only other time we had been to a Waffle House was on our separate drives back from Bonnaroo during the summers of 2003 and 2006.

While we were waiting for Tia and Kirstyn to pick us up we laid in the hotel king-sized bed with a napping Oliver and watched Meet Joe Black while complaining about how long and excruciating each scene was. We laughed about how we literally had nothing better to do.

Tia and Kirstyn arrived to drive us from Phoenix to Sahuarita in their Cadillac Escalade. Thank goodness al 8 pieces of our luggage could fit. Mark assembled and installed the new car seat in the open parking lot. The temperature was about 102. Apparently it was humid for Arizona. For lunch I had my first In-n-Out burger wrapped in some iceberg lettuce instead of a bun.

When we arrived at Mark's parents' house I got right to putting my clothes and shoes away in the large walk-in closet Cheryl had cleared out for us. When I move into a new place I like to unpack as much as possible right away. Mark used his detective skills to figure out the password to the wifi. Oliver played in the bathroom. Yeah, the bathroom has tons of space. We facetimed with Aunt Livvy and then went over to Matt & Tia's for cake. We put Oliver down in his beautiful cherry wood crib and collapsed in another king-sized bed.

Check out the pics to see where we're living. I want to take more of the adorable cacti and adobo rooves in the rest of Rancho Sahuarita but it's too darn hot during the day to walk around. More photos to come soon.
The golf cart Tony Ferguson keeps to drive around the development

The cul-de-sac

The backyard