Having just returned from a trip to our new home state, I can honestly tell you that I’m in love with a place. That place, oddly enough, is Alabama. I don’t mean to diss on Alabama. It’s just that my affinity for it comes as quite a surprise to me.
Jeff and I have lived in Tucson for over eleven years now. Tucson has its perks. Take for instance the sunsets here. I’ve never seen more splendor in a twilight sky. And monsoon season; it sweeps in just when we desert-dwellers can’t take a minute more of the sweltering Arizona heat and brings with it the sweet relief of summer rain. Tucson also has the best fresh Sonoran Mexican food you’ll find anywhere, period dot. There is unexpected beauty here, too, from its towering saguaros in the valley to the majestic mountain surround–I’ve often admired this landscape in awe. Still, in spite of its unique beauty and warm climate, Tucson never nestled into my heart the way one’s hometown should. That is not to say I won’t miss it when we go. I suspect I will remember with fondness the setting of this chapter in my life’s story. But because it never truly felt like home to us, Jeff and I have long been planning to pack up and go the moment an opportunity presented. We set our eyes on The West–on Austin or Seattle or Sonoma or Phoenix. We are born and bred westerners, at home where the pace and the dress code and the lifestyle can all be described as comfort casual.
Huntsville, Alabama popped up on our radar a few years ago when first Jeff’s company mentioned relocation. We quickly dismissed the idea, lumping Huntsville in with southeastern cities on our avoid list. Alabama made another appearance when we started attending a church pastored by Alabama transplants. Quickly we grew to love those people. Alabama, it suddenly seemed, must have something to it. The tipping point came last September while we were vacationing in Hawaii. There came a call from Jeff’s work that presented the opportunity we’d been holding out for. Huntsville, like it or not, had to be at least considered.
We flew there in February, arriving just before a rare snowfall that crippled the city and left everything completely shut down. Our first impressions were dismal at best. I couldn’t wait to hightail it out of there as fast as a good pair of snowboots would carry me. The snow slowly melted, though, and we tiptoed into a city that would both surprise and delight.