I was born, perhaps even raised, in the Valley of the Sun. Aside from a few short periods in my life where I’ve lived elsewhere, I’ve always considered Phoenix home. I likely always will. I want to travel endlessly, but I hope to die here, or at least hope my remains find a way back here.
For good reason, many people have accused me of hating this place, demanding that I leave rather than complain. But I don’t actually dislike it here at all! I am very happy in this place, most of the time, and I rarely, if ever attribute my well-being to location.
But let’s be honest: Phoenix sucks.
It’s true, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Phoenix doesn’t suck in the way that other cities suck. Traffic is generally light, people are generally decent, crime is generally nonexistent, half the year the weather is too good to be true, and I don’t see myself moving for anywhere else.
But this sprawling, concrete behemoth is still a giant blemish on the Sonoran desert. It is a washed out, asphalt dystopia with one of the most selfish, corrupt governments I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Jet black helicopters buzz over my house every night, sirens wail at all hours, something forever lingers in the smog that smells like cancer. Cookie-cutter micro-mansions swallow up the suburbs, none of which exhibit the slightest bit of culture or self-awareness or identity, and it keeps ballooning like the tumor it represents. Whatever solutions we have for the dwindling water supply still don’t address the lack of sustainability here.
Yet, that’s exactly why I like it here. True to its perfect name, Phoenix is a risen city, one destined to destroy itself ad nauseum. Living here is pure defiance, not only to nature, but to reason. Every day I spend in this wasteland is another taunt towards death and despair. It shouldn’t exist, but it is. How empowering is that?
The (sometimes) welcoming community of artists, misfits, musicians and freaks I consider myself part of are like a rogue group of post-apocalyptic nomads, collecting whatever dusty scraps they can find before hastily retreating into their air-conditioned sanctuaries. They are survivors, innovators, and most of them are slightly mentally ill. I love them more than I could love someone sane or self-righteous or rich, and they will trudge onward with more resilience than most other Amerikans. Unfortunately, the creatives and weirdos are much in the minority here, outnumbered by, frankly, shitty people.
I am a simple man of simple wants and all of them are met in this place in a way I cannot imagine them being met in hellish locales like Los Angeles or New York or Chicago or Pittsburgh. My needs are easily met, but I must constantly remind myself that outside of my bubble exists a realm of uneducated, boring, awful, generic people. There is no cure and perhaps no destiny for these bland faces, these people who don’t even realize why they are stuck in traffic or don’t seem to mind shopping at strip malls or living an existence without challenges or progress or self-actualization.
That’s just the way it is here. If 90 percent of this place is awful, all I need is 10 percent to be content. If this place resembles a prison, I will splash paint over its walls and mock its self-important authority. If this place resembles a circle of hell, I will spit on its flames. If this place crumbles, I will help kick down the beige walls. If this place kills me, I will gladly accept my fate.
This piece originally appeared on ThisCouldBePHX.com
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