Our Journey to Arizona

As a kid growing up, I knew I didn’t want to stay in the Bronx. I wanted to live somewhere else, even if I wasn’t sure exactly where that might be. But I never imagined I would be living here in Arizona, a place I grew up thinking was just a desert, so hot the soles of your shoes would melt (one of my elementary school teachers told me that happened to her when she visited, although she probably just exaggerated). Yet, I moved to the desert and I’m so glad we did. And I wanted to share just how we got here.

It all started with a trip to Las Vegas to visit my brother. Our first real vacation while I was pregnant with my second daughter. Our plane flew over the Grand Canyon, so cool!

My brother and I at the top of the Stratosphere Hotel

Las Vegas was fun, I grew up in the city so the bright lights and crowded streets didn’t impress me. I fell in love with the mountains. Every direction you looked in, there were gorgeous mountains to look at. We went to Red Rock Canyon and that’s what sealed the deal for me. I remember the drive through the mountains and telling my husband how wonderful it would be to see this everyday. And I told him that I wanted to move there.

Visiting Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas

Before that trip was over, my husband was doing his research to see if moving to Las Vegas would actually make sense for us. Then he remembered that he had cousins in Arizona and factored that into his research too. It turns out that Arizona made more sense financially. So we agreed that we would move in a years time since I was pregnant.

But plans changed.

The hubbs went to visit his cousin for a week and went on interviews with dealerships in Arizona. And he got offers from almost every dealership he interviewed with. But the best offer he got was from a dealership that wanted him to start right away.

And we talked about it. Was there any chance that this offer would still be good a year from now? If we really want to move to Arizona, we have to take advantage of this opportunity now and we’ll figure things out as we go. The only stipulation I had was that he be back in time for the birth of our daughter. So the hubbs told them he could start in a month.

One month.

And my daughter and I wouldn’t be going with him.

The health insurance I had for my pregnancy wasn’t valid in Arizona. I needed to keep up with my appointments and the health insurance from his new job would take too long to kick in. It was just too risky for us to tag along. We also needed to sell our house (the house we just moved into a year and a half before).

In the month before he left, he fixed whatever he could around the house. We told close friends and family that we were planning on moving to Arizona and they were all shocked. Most reacted with “what the fuck?” and “why Arizona?” And we definitely got shit for making such a big move while I was pregnant. But we were making the best choice for our family.

Jon left the second week in April and he wouldn’t be back until the end of May for my scheduled C-section. In the time he was gone, I had to pack up my whole house. I was pregnant and I also had sciatica and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) which felt like my pelvis was ripping apart. Safe to say I was in a lot of fucking pain. So I couldn’t do as much as I needed to around the house. I had to pack boxes sitting down and of course couldn’t lift anything heavy, including my 5 year old daughter. I had my sister-in-law and my friend come over and help me pack many times. But it seemed like we hadn’t even made a dent. The house had sold, and I needed everything packed before I gave birth.

But that didn’t happen.

Jon came back a day before our first daughters birthday. We had a small party and spent the rest of the time he was home packing up the house. We were scheduled to go to the hospital only a few days later and we rented a moving truck the day before we went to the hospital. We stayed up late, the hubbs packing up the truck while I packed up more boxes (yes, we still weren’t finished!) But the next morning all the packing would have to wait.

We paused on all the chaos at home to welcome our wonderful baby girl. It was a short break, but boy was it great.

Welcoming our new bundle of joy ❤️

Later that night, the hubbs went back home to pack up the house while I was at the hospital with the baby. The day I would be going “home” from the hospital was the day Jon would be leaving back to Arizona. He would be driving back that Friday with his brother in the moving truck. He was only with us a week and it went by so fast.

Friday came and Jon went.

For the next six weeks, I lived with my two daughters in my brother-in-laws house. I had so much help with the girls, it made things a lot easier. And we had bought a new house in Arizona, a house I had only seen through pictures and FaceTime calls from the hubbs. But my anxiety was very bad during this time. I was hormonal as fuck, and I just wanted to be with my husband already. This was the hardest time of my life. I remember calling Jon, crying, telling him I just wanted to fly over to Arizona to be with him already. But he hadn’t been able to move the furniture into the new house yet, and it would cost a lot of money to fly us over.

So we waited.

We drove over to Arizona July 8th. A 3-day journey hauling-ass from Florida. I couldn’t drive since I was still recovering from my C-section, so it became a family road trip. My brother-in-law, his wife and their four kids, along with my two kids and I loaded ourselves in a passenger van and made our way over.

On the road to AZ

And we finally made it.

I remember pulling into our new driveway late that Sunday night. We were met by my husband and I remember how happy he was to see me. I had somehow convinced myself during our time apart that he didn’t miss me as much as I missed him. That I had been such a hormonal nightmare that he was enjoying his time away from me. But that wasn’t the case at all. The way he looked at me when he opened up the door to the van and saw me, and the way he hugged and kissed me. I was so happy.

We were reunited at last.

The road for us to get here was crazy as fuck. We sacrificed a lot to get here. Jon and I were apart for 3 months. He was away from his daughters. We were basically homeless for 6 weeks while we waited for our house in Florida to sell and then close on our house in Arizona. And I remember telling Jon that first night we were together in our new house:

“I don’t ever wanna fucking do that again.”

In front of our new house in Arizona

As hard as it was to be apart and deal with all the shit that we did to move here, it was worth it. Arizona is such a beautiful state and it is so much more than just a desert. I am loving our new home state.

Isabella in front of all the cactuses!

-Toniann