I’ve had countless people here ask me, “You moved from Washington, DC to HERE? WHHHYYYY?”
As if DC with it’s “national news as local news” is a place to aspire to. I lived in that area for 15 years. I loved the waterways and the Springs of new green and the crisp falls of saturated colors. I loved the free museums and the sense of humor of artists and writers who could love the area and make fun of it at the same time.
And with the same intensity, I disliked the stifling humidity that made the winters bitter cold and the summers feel as if you were living in a dog’s mouth. I cringed at the assumption of privilege of a certain segment of people, the dismissive question they asked when they met you, “What do you do?” so they could put you in a category of worth to them–someone they could use in someway, or someone they could ignore.
DC is many things, and the first thing I noticed when I moved is that the women there dress in dowdy-sparrow clothing–colors of the streets and winter foliage. I never thought of Phoenix as a center of style, but the women here dress with style and knowledge. You see color, you see experimentation, so see a comfort of being in your own skin.
So when people here ask me why I moved, sometimes I tell this story:
“In DC, there are classification of government workers, and many private companies have adopted the same pattern.
Workers in some jobs are called “essential workers.”
When it snows, DC has snow alerts–to keep people off the roads until they can get them plowed. DC has a lot of on-street parking, and they want those parking places free so the plows can get the snow out of the way. They announce that there is “Blue leave” which means flex time–you can come in late, but have to make it up in the same pay period.
(DC does love assigning colors to its alerts. Six weeks ago, I knew the terror alert every day. Now I don’t. Don’t miss it.)
Then they will add, “Essential employees must report for work.”
People who are in lower-level jobs, will race outside, jump in their SUVs and drive to the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts–because they want their neighbors to think they are “essential employees” and have to brave the snow. As soon as they are out of their neighborhood, they have no place to go, so they cruise to a Starbucks and kill some time.
And that is why I moved here–I don’t want to kill time, I want to live it.”
–Image: DC–www.hometownusa.com; Phoenix–www.geology.com
–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, writer, and a developer of programs that helps people communicate with each other. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2008 All rights reserved.