The urbanist Yuri Artibise left Phoenix last year, returning to Vancouver. It's part of a continuing brain drain, although to be sure such assets as ASU continue to bring in new creatives. I don't know where the tally stands, but I fear Phoenix continues to lose more than it attracts. Architect Taz Loomans recently conducted an interesting "exit interview" with Artibise. It made me realize that it's been five years since I got the first inkling that the Arizona Republic would take away my column, which would eventuate in me leaving town. So I thought I'd use Loomans' questions as a test for myself.
What do you miss most about Phoenix? My good friends. (I tried to select one "most"; for more, see my additions in the comments section).
What did Phoenix have that Seattle doesn’t? It is the repository of so much of my history, so many of my hopes. My mother and grandmother, long dead, are so alive on the streets of Willo, Roosevelt and Storey. The church where I was baptised is still going, as is my grade school, still in its inspiring, grand building, and enchanting Encanto Park. Union Station, where I spent countless hours as a child watching trains and dreaming of far-away places. The streets I worked as a paramedic, learning too much too young. The different mountain vistas that always orient me. Phoenix is the home of my heart, a place so mangled, mismanaged, raped and pillaged, but still worth fighting for. No matter how long I am gone, when I return I can drive the streets and walk the neighborhoods as if I had never left. The ghosts of the Hohokam still speak to me on winter nights when the cold wind blows from the High Country and the peculiar acoustics of the valley mingle train whistles and voices of the beloved dead.