Denial’s worked pretty well for me so far. But as I type with trembling fingers, reality is seeping in. Just after Christmas, my family is moving. To Seattle. I know. From sunshine to rain. But then, change is as inevitable as the lights that twinkle along Chandler Boulevard during the holidays each year. And so, I have to embrace one more in a long lifetime of transitions.
We’re leaving Arizona’s open, sunny skies to explore the lush, grassy terrain in Seattle (an upside to the constant drizzle). You couldn’t get much different from Arizona than the Pacific Northwest. I wonder what life has in store for us there. I wonder how I will ever manage to leave behind my lovely life in Ahwatukee. I wonder if my husband will love his new job, and whether I’ll expand my own business or choose another path. I wonder how I’ll ever find friends I cherish as much as my peeps here.
We hold hands at night, Tony and me, exhausted from managing the details of a move and the holidays and the usual family circus. We whisper our doubts; we worry about the kids. But we wake up renewed. We can do this. Right?
When we first arrived in Arizona 16 years ago, someone in Tony’s family suggested we look at Ahwatukee because of its reputation for family-friendly living. A special little place that’s still Phoenix, but not really Phoenix. More like Mayberry — quaint “Mom and Pop’s” included — but also adjacent to big-city conveniences like the Gap, Costco and World Market. I joke that when I leave the 5-mile radius that is my life here, an alarm sounds. I may just knock my car into the bubble.
We’re leaving behind a big life here in little Ahwatukee marked by so many defining moments (sniff, sniff). Like when I visited Mountain View Lutheran, and stopped “church shopping” right then and there. It has been my sweet spot and a haven for my children for so long, with the exception of a season that is too complicated to talk about here (but of course, you can ask me about it if we run into each other at Target).
Or when we brought home each of our three cooing babies. We’ve known pain and sorrow here too, navigating our bumps in the road, and sometimes, just surviving them. But together, we’ve raised each other in this cozy bedroom community. And Ahwatukee lived up to its promise.
Ahwatukee is the only place our three chicks have ever nested. For them, this will always be home. It was here they learned to walk, to swim, to read, to socialize. It was here they were fed and nurtured and loved and protected and challenged. It was here they enjoyed a sweet life on the 48th Street stretch between Elliot and Chandler roads that stitched their days together – school, church, activities, the park, our sweet little cul-de-sac in Center Court with neighbors that always had a cup of sugar and an ear to lend. A full and blessed life, and one day, they’re going to look back and realize just how good they had it here (at which point I will have a “hallelujah!” moment).
The list of what I’m going to miss is long. My favorite menu item at Cupz and Crepes — The Sunshine. Lunch with clients at The Hillside Spot, cocktails with girlfriends at My Wine Cellar. The annual Easter parade, chatting with the mamas at Horizon Community Learning Center each morning, cheering on the kids at Pecos fields, teaching confirmation and passing the peace at my beloved church, hiking on South Mountain Trail (not often enough!), writing a column for this gem of a local newspaper. It’s probably the only truly “fair and balanced” place left on earth, and I’m grateful to have been counted as a contributor. But as usual, I received far more than I gave.
But what I’ll miss most is you. The people that live in Ahwatukee are some of the kindest, friendliest, coolest, most generous people on earth. You value your children, you care about the people in your neighborhood, you support local businesses, you lend a hand up to those in need. You inspire me! Thank you for being a part of the community I have cherished. I’m going to miss you terribly (is it bad to thank God for Facebook?).
Goodbyes are never easy, so, I’m just going to say, “See you later.” And, I’m taking a little piece of you with me in my heart. Oh, and an umbrella, too.
• A longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident, Diane Meehl is going to be homesick for the foreseeable future. Stay in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.