I have traveled to and lived in many other states and regions of North America, but Flagstaff Arizona will always be my home. When I was ten years old, my family moved to Flagstaff from Northern Ontario, Canada. I remember thinking that this place was just like the roadrunner cartoons and old west movies complete with the tumbleweeds rolling through the landscape. When we finally reached the San Francisco Peaks after watching them slowly rise out of the desert, I was so relieved to see a tree I never wanted to leave again. Culture shock set in right away, I was definitely no longer in the land of lakes and lush green foliage. The subtle colors and prominent sky where you can see every cloud meander by pulled me in before I realized what had happened.
By the time I started school, this place no longer seemed so strange and everyone I met was really accepting and friendly towards me. That first year here, we saw every tourist site, the beautiful Grand Canyon of course, Wupatki, the surrounding reservations, down to Tucson, and we most definitely hit all the lakes and rivers around for some good trout fishing. We hiked down to see Havasupai Falls and made friends with some of the locals down in the canyon village. Flagstaff became my hometown, where people knew who I was, and who my parents were. I babysat the neighbor children and their family’s newborn baby. I grew up feeling safe and confident in my place as a local not just another tourist who came to see the canyon during the summer. Once I reached high school, I began to feel confined like most teenagers, this town was too small and I could not wait to leave.
Shortly after graduating high school I took a job in northern New Mexico, which led me to Montana, then on to Minnesota and even further, to Ottawa Ontario. Through those years of moving around searching for something that would satisfy my need for community; I always managed to stop back home for a little regeneration to gain some strength and perspective. The one thing that sticks with me from those travels is the vision of my mountains as I drove my truck along the desert highway towards Flagstaff and home. When I could see that view, my body would start to relax and a smile would always come across my face.
Originally, my idea was to go to school in Ottawa or in some other interesting place that I would have moved to. When I began seriously thinking of where I wanted to be and what I would really like to do with my life, I came home. I realized that where I felt most comfortable and strong is in my own town where I can easily go to all my favorite places to hike and visit or climb up the mountain. My conclusion was that this would be the best environment for me to pursue my career and follow through on my dreams for the future. I moved back to Flagstaff in August of 2004. Immediately I began classes part time at Coconino Community College as well as a few classes at Northern Arizona University. I am working towards entrance into the nursing program at the community college and then further full time entrance into N.A.U. for my full bachelor’s degree.
Since returning to Flagstaff, I have reconnected with some old friends from school as well as some family friends. The children I once fed and cared for are now in high school and grown but remain closely connected to my family and me. Flagstaff as a community remains interconnected with a strong sense of who we are and what we believe in, this is the place that continues to show me what it is to belong and feel at home.
Flagstaff has grown since I was a child and it continues to grow as more people realize what the community is like here. The mountain is always there to watch over us and to bring comfort after a long trip away. The pine trees keep us grounded and the fresh air keeps us healthy. This is my Arizona home, just a little college town that relies on tourists in the summer and locals to keep us through the winter. As I continue my education and have the time to get involved more and more in my community; I am glad for my experience and time away, but I know that I have come home to stay. Arizona is my home because I am always welcomed with the feeling that I belong, and that I will always have a home.