Monday, June 01, 2009

The venomous chip on my shoulder is shrinking...

The above picture of a Pavlova I made has nothing to do with this entry. It's just...don't pictures of food make everything better? I made this dessert at my friends' place in L.A. while having dinner there.

On my flight back to Phoenix from Los Angeles, I was looking out the window of the airplane when right as we were airborne, I heard this loud outcry. The woman next to me, who looked like Margot Kidder, was letting out a sob like every 30 seconds. I thought she just got some bad news or was on her way back from a funeral. Of course, I couldn't just sit there and stay silent. Other people might keep to themselves, but that's not me. I asked her if she was okay and she said something like "I've lived in L.A. for over 30 years. I don't want to go back to Phoenix!!"

Barbara, 59 years old (sounded like she had been smoking for 40 of them), had to move in with her brother in December in Phoenix. She had been unemployed since 2007--she worked as a corporate travel planner for various companies including CBS and American Airlines. She said she ran through her entire 401(K) too (yikes!). She started a new job three weeks ago. Said she tries to come back and visit L.A. when she can. Every time she heads back to Phoenix, she gets into a crying fit. Last time when she drove, she said she cried the entire ride back. She actually grew up in Phoenix but has now grown to dislike it. Actually loathe might be a better word. She went on about how the weather is terrible, there's no culture, everyone is a Republican, etc. She had this laundry list and then it hit me...Barbara sounded like me-especially the me of 2006.

Listening to her rant, I realized, 'Wow, I had a LOT of venom for Phoenix.' I suppose it's not entirely Phoenix's fault. One could argue that it really is a city still trying to find its identity as a hip, urban center. And it's hard and perhaps unfair to compare it to San Fran or Los Angeles--both places I grew up on. I just found it so incredibly difficult to meet people and I, of course, made the city a scapegoat. Barbara made me see that somehow I changed in the past year. Maybe it's just meeting more people or trying more new things. Don't get me wrong, California will always be tops to me. And it's not that I love Phoenix now but a lot of the resentment is gone. I don't feel quite as depressed every time I face the end of a trip and must head back to the desert. Three years ago, when I first moved out here, I could have totally been Barbara. Wouldn't have taken much to make me cry. Yes, I still have days where lonesomeness creeps in and I wish my friends who have known me since middle school or college were around to hang out. And I still like to poke fun at Phoenix and Arizona, but it's not with any malice or fang-bearing, LOL.

Anyway, I empathized with Barbara and listened to her talk. Man, I felt like a therapist. She was fine in a little while. I think talking things out distracted her from crying. Or it could have been the cranberry juice and vodka drink she ordered. I'd like to think I played a small part in helping her.