January marks three years that I’ve lived in Oro Valley. Getting used to the Tucson area was difficult. Ten years ago, I left Los Angeles for Albuquerque mainly because I had a terrible car accident that caused a great fear of driving, particularly on freeways.
At first, relocating to Albuquerque was a good move. Everything — even the airport — was within a 15-minute drive. Friends coming to visit were amazed that I picked them up and returned them to the small airport. When I lived in Los Angeles, I never drove to LAX (talk about a harrowing experience).
As much as I loved Albuquerque, I had to leave. With pulmonary disease, the altitude took a toll.
Tucson stretches for miles. My first year I got lost twice and could not find my way home. Even though I have a GPS I panicked and called a friend who guided me home. Now I don’t dare drive out of my five-mile radius.
Besides how large Tucson is, other things annoyed me. Although I knew the summers would be hot, I wasn’t prepared for the endless monotony of temperatures over 100 degrees.
Feeling culturally deprived, if I had a magic wand or millions of dollars (I guess having millions would be as good as having a magic wand) I would buy a venue for a satellite museum here in Oro Valley. Having grown up in New York City, I miss museums. The Albuquerque art museum and Albuquerque history museum are fabulous, even hosting a 3D movie theater!
Because of my driving phobia, I’m confined to restaurants close by. Fortunately, friends are agreeable to picking me up to whisk me away. Recently, I was taken to two wonderful eateries.
One is the Chantilly Tea Room on North Genematis Drive. One of my lovely students has become a good friend, and she suggested we have lunch there. What a wonderful surprise! Not only is the décor adorable, the food was delicious, you pick out your own teacup for your tea and they have the most wonderful gift shop. This restaurant is truly a gem.
Another student I’m good friends with took me to the Blue Willow Restaurant on Campbell. What a terrific place. We split an open-faced eggplant sandwich and a sweet potato sandwich! It would be impossible to say which one was better. The ambiance reminded me of Greenwich Village years ago. We had a swell time.
Happily, in the last couple of months my attitude toward Tucson has changed. Winters here are amazing — sunshine, no snow, not much rain and we’re not hampered by unreasonable forces of nature, such as earthquakes.
Living here has become a pleasure. People who read my column stop me in the supermarket or the hair salon, my writers’ workshop is very successful and I have found a lovely niche here. I’m able to avail myself of the good things Tucson offers. Guess I won’t be packing my bags in the near future.