Home + Hope
This little house I have in Tempe feels like home. It didn’t for many years. Although I’ve been here for nearly 8, it’s only been in the last few that I put love into where I was living. It was always clean. I always had dinner parties and an orphaned roommate living in the guest room. Thankfully, there has always been plenty to eat, enough blankets to stay warm, a sturdy roof, and ice old air conditioning for the long summer nights.
I never thought I’d be here as long as I have. I was dating a man I intended to marry and thought this would be a convenient nest egg — a real estate dowry I could bring into the relationship. Close enough to the university to always find renters, I thought I was so cleverly planning my future.
Life (again, thankfully) had other plans. While neighbors have come and gone — many having purchased at the top and watched their own tiny nest eggs disappear like so many in the United States — I’ve looked elsewhere but always returned to the trusty 85282. My home is just bigger than a shoebox by Arizona standards. In a sea of giant stucco homes with stories and walk-in closets and four car garages, I have a covered parking space, 900 square feet and a community swimming pool
My home by big city and developing world standards is huge. And perfect. And more than enough. Sadly, it took me far too long to realize the same. You’d think eating dozens of meals in homes with dirt floors and long drops, I’d be thrilled to come home. Looking back, the pivotal moment of growth when I saw my house as a home came when I planted a garden.
Planting a garden is a sign of hope. You are confident you’ll be around to see it come to harvest. You invite conversation from countless neighbors and salespeople who ask a dozen questions. “What is it?” “When will it be ready?” And often more sheepishly, “Can I have a couple?”
(The answer to that last question is always yes. I plant with the rule of thirds. One third for me, one for the bugs to much away and the last third for hungry friends, neighbors and when possible — the food bank.)
Two weeks ago I planted an experiment — tomatoes in October. With the climates changing, I’ve heard rumors of growing tomatoes year-round in the desert. I companion planted with basil, peppers, lettuce, collards and cilantro. If I remember to cover them on “freeze” nights, I should have another bumper harvest in January. I’m planting this garden with hope that my next tomatoes will be in the earth after Mother’s Day — the rule in the high plains of Colorado. I’ve got big dreams of an acre plot with a white picket fence, a small house, a huge garden, a shed for the chickens, a dog door for the mutts and a welcome sign hung above the front gate. Arizona will always be home. With a bit of luck, I’ll create the same in Colorado. It’s a leap, but I intend to split my time between the two, writing, working with family, and watching my friends’ children grow in both places. I hope to take an annual trip to Africa too. Why not?
Once I got the idea I could do this, to took off like a kudzu vine. An African desert southwest kudzu vine.