Mouths Within Mouths
I’m currently in Arizona. Not by choice, mind you. I’m here out of familial obligation. The simultaneous happenings of my sister’s birthday and my partner’s mother’s birthday was enough to lure us back into the rattlesnake infested, drug addled wasteland that is Tucson.
Arizona, where I was born and raised, is not my favorite place. Partially due to the massive amount of time I’ve spent here, and partially due to the unsavory individuals I’ve encountered within the boarders of the Union’s Most Bigoted state.
There are two things that constantly shock me about Arizona. 1) People here don’t change. Every time I return to this state I inevitably encounter people I know and they’re always doing the same thing. They’re always working some dead end job. It’s like the entire state has convinced itself that it needs to be doing whatever it is that they’re doing. Even if what they’re doing is working at a gas station. 2) There are Star Trek figures at every store in Tucson. Not the cool Art Asylum ones either. The crappy big-headed Playmates ones. They’re everywhere. I don’t know if a batch of collectors died and their relatives have been dumping their TNG and DS9 toys and local used book stores or if people are finally getting older and realizing that these toys aren’t “going to put their kids through college”.
Arizona’s a weird place. It’s flat, dry, and, obviously, fucking hot. There’s nothing to do here. The positive side of the fact that life here is so uneventful is that it necessitates self reflection. The topography of the social terrain requires the inhabitant to administer self-diagnostics. When you’re born and raised in Arizona, you’re forced to evaluate yourself and what you want out of your existence because there’s literally nothing else to do.
Due to the harsh social terrain of Arizona, individuals who spend any significant amount of time here develop social adaptations. They become predators. They grow psychic barbs and talons. People who live and survive in the desert do so because they’re conditioned for it. They’re psychic vultures.
The desert is an inhospitable place to attempt to subsist. Everything is constantly attempting to kill you. Literally and metaphorically.
All that being said, this trip has been really nice. Ever since cutting a few people out of my social circle my level of happiness has skyrocketed.
Honesty is key. Vulnerability is a commodity. It’s these exchanges of dark secrets that cements a friendship. I’ve developed deep rooted connections with people in this place. There’s something about existing in a pack of wolves that helps you to appreciate the other sheep, if that makes any sense.
Tucson, and Arizona in general, is a mixed bag of awful and joy. Obviously, my family lives here. Some of my closest friends have chosen to remain here. However, the overwhelming stillness of life here is debilitating. Possibly, it’s my inability to let go of the traumas that I’ve endured while living here, but sadness echoes in the place. In Los Angeles, life is full and vibrant. It’s almost overloaded with color. I have an amazing partner who I go on swashbuckling adventures with. I have friends and adopted family who are intelligent and creative. In Tucson everything is brown, slow, and slightly decayed.
Arizona feels like another lifetime. It feels like when I moved away from this place I died and was reborn. And every time I come back here I’m forced to confront the ghost of who I was.
The first question I get asked at parties and social functions in Hollywood is inevitably “where are you from?” because no one in L.A. is actually from there. I’m always forced to spit out ‘Arizona’. It never feels right. I don’t consider this place my home. I don’t consider myself from here. It’s the place I was born and then left.
Tucson, Az 2013