Tucson: The Home of My Happiness
Mia, Age 12, Tucson, AZ

What is happiness? It is, in a way, like being sucked into a vacuum filled with hopeful, encouraging feelings giving you a positive outlook on life around you. Choosing to sit in my room waiting to leave for a dull trip to the outside world, namely the library, and glaring at the window as if trying to punish it for giving me such a dreary view, certainly is not choosing happiness. But if I bother to look beyond the dusty tree-less landscape I might notice the hummingbird against the grand azure sky buzzing about the bright cactus flowers as its wings beat almost invisibly in the cheery afternoon light. Soon, with this new view I forget about checking the time every few seconds to see if we’re going to leave yet and become almost reluctant to leave once the time does come.

An hour later, I get home from the busy streets of Tucson, elated with my new Walton season, I glance at the window expecting to still see the hummingbird but to my ultimate surprise the landscape has been painted a rosy shade of blush from the sinking sun and once again I am completely mesmerized. For me the sun, nature, sky, and thrill of exploring the world but still being able to come back safely makes me want Tucson to be the place I call home.

The room was already lit gaily, as the early morning sun had been up since 6 and was well on its way to waking the world. Still snoozing away the early morning hours, my favorite part of the day, my clock’s alarm sounded conveniently at 6:25 A.M., prompting me guiltily from blissful sleep. The thin curtains did nothing to block the laughing rays of the sun from reaching my legs as I swung them over the edge of the bed. Soon the heat from yesterday would be back scorching us and all in sight. The morning with its gentle blue-gray shadows and dazzling light is all too brief for my taste. So, emerging from the closet minutes later, I threw back the last shield I had from the light and faced the world as I knew it; bright and beautiful. As I sit on the edge of my bed watching this gay picture blooming in the backyard, the tingling explosions of happiness warms me like the Tucson sun twinkling out in sky.

I have never been much of a social butterfly and I much prefer roaming in the backyard to facing a deafening crowd talking up a storm. Something about the way the stones crunch and the Palo Verde trees drip with yellow blossoms keep me coming back continuously to the backyard. You don’t need to say anything out there; nature does it for you. The quails honking impatiently in the distance like annoyed drivers and the squeaks of the House Finches as they move as one body out of my path seem to speak as the dessert’s voice. Even the cacti, with their bright buds and fruit seem to speak as the wind whistles a merry tune through their spines. As I got to know the curious inhabitants of the backyard better, sometimes through my bedroom window and at other times while strolling through the backyard, I felt drawn to its calm ways, to its peaceful means of letting you know that it is there and quite alive.
The sky in Tucson seems to be of an entirely different planet. Though the same stretch of expanse covers the entire earth, Tucson’s sky gives a different appearance than most. It lies high above us, unperturbed by our attempts to reach it. Appearing to arch over the earth, it touches the tips of the land as far as we can see, entrapping us in a vivid bubble. Containing a multitude of colors spread over its sky, the morning arises with a pale azure and slowly changes to a merry blue. Later, it seems the abundant dust constantly clouding the air has changed the blue hue to a gold tint creating the perfect backdrop for the rose-colored blush that dyes the sky in the late evenings.

Shadows begin to fall over this once brightly illuminated atmosphere as the crimson fades away slowly and the gray dims to black. But there is nothing wearisome about this either; soon a multitude of brilliant laughing dots spread over the heavens and the day is over. This continually fascinating circle of colors never ceases to gain the attention it deserves.

With sleep’s weight heavily driving my eyelids downward I sit up groggily on my bed. I slowly blink twice, before a broad grin lights my face. After the morning fog that covers both the ground and my head has lifted I remember why I was eager for the day for to begin. The sharp scent of coffee and crackle of the fried eggs with my parents slipping their quiet words into the perky morning air can mean only one thing: it’s Saturday. I happily scrub my knuckles into my eyes and wipe off the 1,000 pound weights hindering them, and swing myself out of bed. An hour later, breakfast eaten and dirty teeth brushed, bellows from siblings and parents alike to find out if clothes have been ironed yet or purses found echo with ear-splitting noise off the bursting walls. Finally, everybody, all five of us, are rounded up into the truck and we begin the lively trip to church. But before we know it this joyous day is over, it’s 6 o’clock and though we are saddened to leave, the 1,000 pound weights seemed to have magically returned since the morning, making us all wish to go home again. All this traveling back and forth from home, so eager to leave but even more so to return, might bore one who has never experienced the joyful exhilaration of leaving for a trip or felt the happy relief to return to a place where you can call home.

For some people, Tucson may not appear as wondrous a place as it seems to me. Perhaps they aren’t able to recognize the pleasure and peace it brings to enjoy what their surroundings offers them instead of resenting it. They might not understand the feeling of happiness that wraps around you like a warm blanket that coming to a place you can call home gives you. The word “home” prompts many emotions to overflow in me, the majority of which cause me to shiver with delight as contentment and happiness encircle my heart like a guard against any displeasure with what God has given me from creeping in.

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