I finished This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick, on finding belonging wherever you live, very relevant in the year of our horde 2020 when most of us are the least physically mobile we’ve been in years. Warnick discusses place attachment, and measuring this attachment, as well as feeling connected to the civic goings-on of a city.
When I first moved to Tucson, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the city, and figured I wouldn’t be here for very long. Work travel and chronic illness made it hard to commit to anything long-term, so I didn’t get involved in many things outside of work.
Sometime in the last few years, I started taking a bit of responsibility for enjoying Tucson. I realized I agreed with most of the statements in Warnick’s first list, and could answer ‘yes’ to all but one item on the latter. It’s been an interesting transition, and this book has helped me articulate that I’ve been engaging in better practices for intentionally appreciating and eventually loving where I live. I am taking responsibility for Tucson as my home.
How do you love where you live? How do you want your city or home to be during the pandemic? What would you like it to be afterward? How can you ensure it’s more of a place you, and others, love?
Tucson, for the first time and the first place in a long while, feels like home now.
I like that Tucson has a “funk factor”. I like that it lacks pretension. I like that there’s no dress code; I can wear jeans or hiking pants most anywhere and it’s perfectly fine. Even swankier places like Kingfisher don’t merit dressing up. I like 4th Avenue. I like watching the progress of Bawker Bawker as the owner renovates it. I like that there’s an wonderful artsy community here, with absurdity and irreverence and general delight. I love going to GLOW at Triangle L with Sarah. I like watching waitstaff at Ermanos tease my friends who are regulars there. I like going to BICAS fundraisers with the Back Up Band playing in their gold lamé. I like places like Xerocraft and Spadefoot. I like biking up to the farmers market on my own or with friends and getting food truck pupusas. I love listening to KXCI and hearing stories from David Grinspoon about fundraisers he played when they helped start the station. I like stumbling into random no-cover shows at the Boxyard. I like seeing movies at the Loft alone or with friends. I like festivals like Return of the Mermaids. I love Cyclovia, seeing new neighborhoods, dancing Zumba in the street, enjoying the art bikes, and getting freebie rescued cacti from the Wheat Design Group. I like watching the Tuesday Night Bike Ride cruise through town, a cloud of pot smoke and beer odor trailing behind them amidst music blaring from speakers and flashing LEDs. I love taking the streetcar, even if it means bystander interventions with cranky old men. I love driving out for the Tohono O’odham Rodeo, and learning about the history of Nation.
I like running into people I know at La Cocina and taking out-of-town friends there and to my other favorite haunts. I like seeing Gabby Giffords or Mark Kelly at Bentley’s, and fist-bumping Eli Schneider. I like walking or biking to get places, seeing the little details of neighborhoods and alleys to catch glimpses of others’ ways of living. I like that everyone seems to know one another: acupuncturists, dance and yoga instructors, creatives, etc. I like the people I’ve met doing fascinating work in a variety of arenas, and their belief in a better future and ability to bring about change. I like having non-scientist, non-tech friends. I love that I’ve been brought into the family by my friends’ mom on the east side. I love that I can walk to homes of a dozen friends. I like that the Joes loan me tools and paint, and help troubleshoot problems at the house or fix them with angle grinders. I like that a cat I extracted out of a bush off Stone Ave as a kitten now lives with a friend. I love that people call me to catsit. I like my walking commute to campus through the leafy parts of the med center, or through Sam Hughes for variety on the way home. I like watching construction projects go up at the med center, and knowing people who helped make the building not only more sustainable but more pleasant to work in. I like that I’ve assembled a decent medical team here, and that I don’t have to fly anywhere to get good care. I love that the head pharmacist at Campus Health knows my name and asks about my life, and lets me ‘break in’ her pharmacy student interns.
I am so, so incredibly grateful for the community I’ve amassed here and how people are taking care of me during the pandemic and are otherwise invested in my safety and longevity, including some relatively ‘weak links’, people I’d interacted with a handful of times before everything went to plaid.