I suddenly knew Arizona was home, while driving one autumn afternoon with the windows down, when some words from a song on the John Denver cd I was listening to grabbed my full attention. Heading towards Thunderbird Park, for a hike, my eyes became misty as I surveyed the surrounding beauty of the Valley, and I heard the lyrics, “When he first came to the mountains his life was far away,” blaring from my car’s speakers. The decision of moving to the desert was reaffirmed at that moment. The journey had begun several years prior when my family took a trip to Arizona for the first time. I had an inkling the Grand Canyon State could one day be home, as I was basking in the sun poolside (barefoot and shirtless), after feasting on a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. On our second visit to Arizona my wife and I decided, simply for the heck of it, to take our son to Tempe for an Arizona State University promotional event deemed Sun Devil Days. After exploring the campus, and seeing glorious Palm Walk, I remember thinking this just seems like home.
As lifelong Iowans my wife and I had never seriously considered moving away. That is until our son was offered an academic scholarship to attend ASU. We were intrigued by the idea of leaving the Hawkeye State, at first, and then we grew with excitement at the prospect of beginning a new adventure; however, how could we even contemplate leaving our family and the only lives we had ever known behind? After many “happy hour” discussions we decided to have faith, take the plunge, and follow our son to the Valley of the Sun. We traded snow, squirrels, and the fear of striking deer on the highway, for sunshine, lizards, and the fear of falling rocks. Life in the desert has been an adjustment, but shortly after moving here, and hearing the soothing voice of John Denver sing the personally relevant and powerful words, “He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again, you might say he found a key for every door,” I knew Arizona was home.