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Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

12 years ago today I arrived in Phoenix with hopes for a new beginning. I've always called this my own independence day. Independence from my parents, independence from my life as it was then.

I was living outside of Cincinnati & working at Bob Evans (a restaurant chain). I was living in an old three-story house near the restaurant with outside doors that didn't lock because the door jams were eaten away. One night I invited some people from the restaurant over to my house after work. We played cards & drank into the wee hours of the morning. Soon everyone at the restaurant decided that my house was the place to go after work to party. Since the doors didn't lock, people just went in whenever they wanted. I would come home from work & there'd already be a game of spades going & a three-quarters full bottle of Jack on the table.

I liked it at first. I was 25 years old; I wanted to party too. Every night we drank & played cards until 5 or 6 am. Every night. But eventually it started going sour. I would come home to find people I didn't know in my house. Some of them were smoking pot as they drank. Then the pot smokers started selling it out of my house. The pot buyers would stay to smoke & play cards. I started sleeping with my bedroom door locked & my clothes on because I never knew who was in my house. One night, I came home to find that my entire CD collection, which I kept in my locked bedroom, was stolen. Over 300 CD's gone. I decided to leave.

I needed to move from that house, & since I was going to move, I decided that I would MOVE! I researched different cities: LA, where my brother lived; New Orleans, where my grandparents lived; Phoenix, where no one I knew lived. I took the third option.

When I told my parents that I wanted to move to Phoenix, they were understandably surprised. It was my first big move as an adult & they didn't have the confidence that I would be able to handle life on my own. My dad fought it, offering up different worse case scenarios, but I wasn't discouraged. Finally, he suggested that I visit Phoenix before I make the final decision to move there. He bought me a round trip ticket for a weekend reconnaissance effort, in hopes that I would come back disillusioned. Instead I came back having found a job & a place to live. There was nothing left to do but wave goodbye.

I drove five days in a U-Haul truck with my two dogs in the cab, & pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex in Phoenix on the afternoon of July 4th. I spent the evening drinking Budweiser & watching fireworks, a celebration of my independence.

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