Pre-Pandemic Memories of Tucson, Arizona — The Salad Days
I spent most of my young adult life there and in some ways, it will always be my home
Ten years ago, I set out on an international journey to find myself in a world that no longer made sense. I lost everything that I had spent years taking for granted, and I needed a new perspective to sort out the crushing feelings inside me.
After traveling halfway around the world, I found safety in a little house in Iloilo City, Philippines, during the pandemic, where I spent my days writing and spending time with my new family.
But I always miss Tucson.
Two of my grown boys and their families still live and work in Tucson, and my aging parents are even retired there, safe in their little Sonoran desert oasis where they can tend to their garden and sit on the porch in the gathering dusk, watching the roadrunners and javelina scoot through the wash next to their house.
All my older memories exist on Tucson’s streets, off and on in a period between 1983 and 2011. It was an oasis for me, too, in more ways than one. When I was young, it was an escape from my teenage years’ difficulties and consequences, where I started over and found a place for myself in a world I no longer recognized.
It was a place my family and I always returned to when we needed someplace safe to lay our heads. We’d been to New Mexico and as far as Massachusetts. We even lived in an overpriced condo near San Francisco, but we always returned to Tucson.
We returned there because it always felt like home.
It was walking in Barrio Hollywood to Pat’s Famous Chili Dogs after work at Burger King and eating our weight in french fries. We would sit on the patio and eat until we could hardly walk home and still have money for ice cream at Circle K.
The malls were bustling, and we loved to hang out in the air conditioning on our days off. El Con, Park Place, and Tucson Mall were our regular haunts, but we would make the long trip across town to Foothills…