Someone asked me the other day if I could remember when the last time I was really happy. I was actually stumped by the question. Happy? As in what? Sure I have had happy moments in my life. Lots of them. When my kids were born, was some of my happiest moments in life that I will never forget. But if we are talking about happy, like to my core happy, I think it goes back to when I was a kid living in Arizona. Arizona was, and in my mind, still is my happy place. It was a time in my life where everything was perfect. Before my parents divorced, before I was depressed, before I was and adult.

I was born in a small town in West Virginia. It was the typical small town where everyone knows your business, the kids in your class never exceeded 20, and those 20 kids would be in your class every single year for the rest of time. And when we finally got a Mc Donald’s, the only place to put it was right next to the town cemetery, so while you were enjoying your Big Mac, you could look out the window and reminisce about deceased loved ones.

We lived in a really nice house in the country hills. In fact to get to our house, you had to drive up a huge hill and the house sat right at the very top. I still have memories of my dad almost driving us off the ledge of that hill in his Bronco when it was snow covered. It was a great house with awesome views of what makes West Virginia beautiful.

I know times for our family back then weren’t the best. My uncle, whom we were very close with at the time, had moved to Arizona, and seemed to be doing well, so my dad had decided it would be best for us to move there too. At this time I had never been anywhere on the west coast and I was very excited about the move. I had only seen pictures from the post cards that my uncle would send us, and those post cards made it seem like paradise. So we sold our house, and off we were.

I don’t remember much about the plane ride there except for when we flew over the Grand Canyon. I literally was looking out at a real life post card. I couldn’t believe how huge it was, and it looked just like the pictures. In fact, it was more beautiful in real life. Seeing that made me feel so excited to start our new life, where I knew we would be happy.

My uncle met us at our baggage claim. This obviously was before 9/11 and when you could pick up family members still at the gate. We gathered our belongings, and started walking towards the door. I will never forget as that big sliding door opened, I was blinded with a sun so bright, and felt a heat like I had never felt before. It was the kind of heat that goes straight to your core, and is so hot, it does the strange phenomenon of giving you goosebumps.

We had a pretty good life in Arizona. Had a nice house, I made some great friends, and my family was happy. Everything was perfect. I can’t think of anything bad about my experience there. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if we never left. But for now, I can answer the question, the last time I was really happy, was in Arizona.

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