Finding your place is no easy task. It doesn’t happen suddenly. Instead it’s a process you’re hardly aware of until one day you know where you’re supposed to be.
I was 8 years old when my parents broke the news that we were moving from our California town of Lompoc to a place called Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s in the desert, but your grandmother is there,” my mother said while my father mentioned cheaper property taxes and land values. No concept of what a desert town looked like, I imagined it would be like the movie Aladdin—complete with roaming camels, tents and dust storms.
Last month Quinn and I decided to venture over to Austin, Texas to see just what all the hype was about. Austin was ranked the fastest growing city three years in a row by Forbes, starting in 2011. So what is it about this liberal city that is attracting so many people? Well, quite a bit actually. Browse through the photo slideshow above and read on for my experience in Austin.
I read in a book once that every city has its own word. A word thats describes the spirit of the city and the people living in it. LA is "Succeed," New York is "Achieve," and Rome is "Sex." I think that all of these are pretty perfect words for those cities, so it got me thinking: What is Phoenix's word? And if a city's word can be different for every person living in it, what is my own personal word in Phoenix?
You see, I grew up here and wouldn't have been able to tell you its word 10 years ago. In fact, I don't think it really had one other than maybe "Sprawl." I couldn't wait to get out of here when it came time to go to college. I had my sights set on Los Angeles (word for me: "Opportunity"), dreaming of being an actress. I enjoyed a couple of great years immersed in theatre, but when it came down to it, I loved being on stage but I did not love the business of acting.
You get what this post is about from the title. I don't have a car. And I live and work in Phoenix. But let me be clear on one point... this isn't a story about how I came to my senses that my gas guzzling SUV was evil and I could manage without one. I didn't suddenly decide to truly embody my 'urbanist' vision and forego four wheels of transportation for my two legs (even though I wasn't opposed to it). This also isn't about not ever getting in a car or using a car. I do that too.
This is about not owning a car in Phoenix, and how I make it work in a city that isn't typically known for a car-free life.
The fact of the matter is that I had a car. And it was stolen. All of a sudden, I was faced with a big decision I knew I was going to make at some point in the near future anyway...Car or no car?
Before moving to Phoenix, I thought the city was a maze of strip malls and freeways. But since moving here, I've learned about and experienced the city's rich history, bikeable neighborhoods, and welcoming community. Every morning, I wake up and make a French Press while looking out over historic 1934-era Encanto Park. This park in the heart of Phoenix is incredible. It features tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, playgrounds, lagoons, picnic areas, pedal boat rentals, golf courses, walking paths, an amusement park, and if you're lucky, you can even find some Live Action Role Play (complete with costumes!) I love living in the Encanto area because it is so vibrant - I've never seen a park get so much use! People from every different kind of background gather for family time, fitness, and fun, and I get to watch it out of my window. The neighborhood is also perfect for me because it is filled with lovely historic homes, and the owners have a real sense of pride about getting to own a piece of Phoenix history. Of course, probably the biggest perk for me is that the bike lane is right out my front door. I'm a three mile commute to my work at the State Archives, and haven't driven my car to work since last April!