All my life, all I ever wanted to do was get out of my small town. I grew up in a small “hick”- town named Graham, in Washington state. Here most people lived on a farm, a double-wide or the occasional small neighborhood with tiny cookie-cutter houses. It wasn’t anything fancy at all. When I was really young, the only thing in town was a Safeway, tiny post office, AM PM and a mini mart. As you can imagine, not much went on out here.
We moved to Graham as soon as I started junior high. My daddy had found a place that was pretty close to his dream house, in a foreclosure. It turns out someone was actually building their dream house and lost it. Our house is down a mile long dirt road and hidden behind a small forest. When you arrived, it was open around the house itself and had a view of our own private mini lake in front of it. To top it off, we had 10 acres that we owned surrounding the house and our neighbors were miles away. It is a large white two-story home with tall pillars on the outside.
This house was perfect. The first thing we did was put in a large shop for our classic cars and dirt bikes and build a motocross track on the bottom 5 acres. Living in the middle does have advantages though. My neighbors were nowhere in sight and you couldn’t hear the main road. The only part that most people do not enjoy, is that you are far away from everything. The closest mall was 45 minutes away and the nearest Walmart was 20. But, I loved it. The town did grow though, and we now have a bar (AKA local watering hole), a Little Caesars and quite possibly the worst Starbucks in the history of the world.
There might not have been much out there in my hometown, but it meant the world to me. As soon as I turned 16, I learned how life truly is in a “hillbilly” town. I made friends with the local rednecks and would go down to the river or have a bonfire almost every night. On our days off we would go wheelin’, ride dirt bikes, fish, hang out at the lake or even hike out to the local waterfall. However, one thing was for certain, you did not go anywhere without your Carhartts, romeos and camo.
While I had tons of fun with this lifestyle and so many stories, I did not have many girlfriends. By now, I am sure that you can tell this was a problem for me, as I am extra girly and in love with fashion and shopping. I couldn’t wear my dresses and heels out with the boys and I didn’t always want to be covered in mud and wearing a hat. While finishing my last two years of college, I learned a fact that truly horrified me the most. If I stayed in my town, I would never have a chance to do more than what I already have.
Most people never left my town. The only careers that people have their are labor jobs, and most women just stayed at home and popped out more kids. This was not the life I wanted to live. I won’t ever put it down though because some of my buddies are making more money in their labor jobs than most kids that went to college. As soon as I turned 21, I started hanging out at our bar almost every night. That was when I truly realized I needed to leave.
The other factor on why I needed to get out of there was that I got a degree in marketing. The only career I could get with that would be in Seattle. That would be a 3 hour commute to work and back, every day. There was no way I was living in the city, or even be able to afford it for that matter. When I graduated, the only good-paying full-time job that I could get was 30 minutes away as a Starbucks barista. I worked there for almost a full year when I decided it was time to finally leave Washington.
I have always wanted to live in Texas, or deep in the south. That wasn’t going to happen though given my current income. I also did not know anyone out there. So, I did the next best thing. We went to Arizona a few weeks before and had visited my parents best friends. They are practically like my second family. I figured moving to Arizona would be my only shot at moving anytime soon.
In May I applied for 40 positions in Seattle and 40 in Phoenix. Not one place in Seattle contacted me, but several did in Arizona. Towards the end of the month I was offered a job as a brand ambassador over a Skype interview. It was a sales position. They asked if I could start in exactly one week. Not wanting to lose the chance, I accepted it. My parents were excited about it, but also in shock.
The next day I started packing my whole bedroom away. Most things were being left there so that I could get them later when I finally got my own place, (My parents best friends offered for me to stay with them for a few months to help). Packing took two days. On day 3 my daddy helped me look at cars on Craigslist. I needed a new one, (and credit) that was going to be more professional. That day I made my very first adult purchase. I bought a Jetta that was like brand new. My entire 4th day was spent moving my aunt into her new house and having dinner with all of my relatives to say goodbye. The 5th day, was my last day in Washington. I said my goodbyes to friends and had a nice dinner with my brother and parents.
It was a 22 hour drive to Arizona from where I lived. My momma and I packed my car as much as we could and took off early in the morning. I drove 12 hours straight to Idaho and we passed out a a hotel in Post Falls. It was a quick sleep. The next morning we found out what speed traps were, in a small town in Nevada. She barely got over 20 from a stop light and a cop pulled her over. He was hiding on the other side of a bridge and told her she was going 80, (not possible). He gave her a fine, not a ticket.
From there was the most boring drive of our entire lives. We drove through the pure nothing but desert. However, you can never miss out on an opportunity for Vegas, so we did swing in there for a delicious lunch. We arrived at my new home at 8:00 that night. I barely unpacked and went right to bed. I had to start my new job the next morning.
Moving to Arizona has to be one of the best decisions of my life. I have got to truly experience life outside of a small town. After a few months I have managed to upgrade jobs, get my own place, adopt a puppy and have met the love of my life. I have officially been living here now for almost a year. There are so many fun, new things that I have been able to experience in that time span. I’ve gone on day trips to Vegas, partied at clubs in Old Town, been to cool events and crazy parties. I have even made some girlfriends!
Living here has taught me to be very independent and grow up a lot more. What is funny is technically, I live in a “smaller” town in Arizona, but it is a lot bigger than where I came from! To me, it is a big city This is especially since everything is on a grid and considered Phoenix. The amount of people, commotion and how they drive is crazy compared to my quiet little home.
If you do any changes in your life, I highly recommend leaving your hometown and state, if you can. It will be a complete culture shock, which is so strange, since it is the same country. I promise it will give you the chance to flourish and be a new adventure that you need. There will be so much that you can get out of it. Take it from me, a girl from a tiny little hick town.