Dear Phoenix…

Dear Phoenix,


It’s now been 4 months and 11 days since we hit our first 100 degree day this year and quite frankly, I’ve had enough. I tried to make it work, I really did. But now I just can’t wait to be rid of you. Your ongoing assault of sunshine and relentless teasing of rainstorms has proven to be too much.


We’ve been together a lot of years, and don’t get me wrong – we had some good times together. Back when we were young, when I could handle the heat and you were more willing to yield to coolness during the frequent afternoon monsoon storms. Each afternoon, when those warm, giant drops of water touched my cheeks, I knew that I could survive another day in your harsh landscape.


But the drops are few and far between these days. Months pass without feeling that caring caress of wind on my face, the cool rain drenching the desert. Instead, the monsoons have become dust – and a lot of it. Towering, billowing, relentless clouds of dust that make us unable to breath, passes microbial particles of Valley Fever to the lungs of both me and my pets. It pollutes the house and pelts us with sands of destruction – no matter the precautions we take.


And your sunshine…your god-awful, unending heat reigning down on us at all hours of the day and night.


You may not know, but back in 1872, Charles Darwin noted that when people look into the bright sunshine, they often frown. Researchers later discovered that people walking into the sun reported that they were significantly more angry, and more aggressive, than those who were headed away from the sun.


Perhaps that’s how I felt in July, when the heat was constant and the sunlight only broken by a few days of clouds. But now it’s August, and we’re over four months into it, and, well – it just makes me sad.


I need more variety from a relationship. I need seasons. I need a thunderstorm that produces rain.  I need a chill in the air, for God’s sake! I need to know that the promise of a pumpkin spice latte means something in this day and age.


Above all, I need to be with someone who fulfills their promises.


When rain is forecast, I want to know it will rain. I don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised with dust, or worst – more heat and humidity.


I’m sure you will go on without me. You seem to be growing more powerful every year, despite my best efforts. I’ve driven less, pollluted less, I tried to support others in abandoning their support of you by encouraging them to do the same as me. I even tried to adapt myself to your heat and rapidly growing population. But, the thought of spending another year with someone as destructive as you makes me weep.


For now, I must focus on leaving you.


I know it’s not all your fault. Since moving here in the 80s, we have brought over 4 million others into our relationship. No one can quadruple growth without some type of major ramifications, it’s impossible. But more than that, it’s not good for you. I tried to warn you against the fast-growing population, but to no avail. You let more and more people come here without any type of natural disaster to ward them off. I can’t even blame you for your dramatic sandstorms. 


I hope you won’t let them change you any more than they have. Your vast deserts have been taken over by homes and shopping plazas. Your rivers have been damned and polluted. They have constructed lakes and water hazards on a million new golf courses, turning the vast riches of the sonoran desert into a microclimate of doom. They have robbed you of your aquaducts, destroyed the millions of coyotes and wolves and snakes and critters that you used to love; they’ve stolen your dignity. 


It was fun while it lasted, and I’ll always remember you, but it’s time for me to move on. You’ve made it nearly impossible to leave with my expensive electric and water bills, but I am determined. I will use every moment to gather the resources to find a new land. One with less people, perhaps one with fewer resources, but one that is unappreciated in its beauty. I will find another like you once were and stay there.


You should know that I’m looking for other places to live. It started as just a weekend fling, a quick escape from the heat. But each year when I visit new regions, I learn that life can be much better. I know that you think you can just send summer away in December for two months and all will be fine. But we both know it’s never really gone…  


By the time you return next year, I’ll be gone.


I will always remember your sunrises and sunsets, the times when the new day held the promise of new beginnings, and the night was so dark that I could barely identify each constellation. But those clear nights have been taken over with air traffic and smog.


I’ll miss you, Phoenix. But it’s time to part ways.