I was in the University of Arizona bookstore, gearing up for an interview, when I saw the book Gila Monsters Meet You At The Airport in a display of local children's books. It's the quintessential guide to gaining perspective, especially in the context of having to move to a new place you know nothing about. It contrasts the eastern and western United States, hinting that the really important things are the same everywhere. Mainly, it pokes gentle fun at people's assumptions about places they've never been and shows that you, the reader, can fit in and make new friends anywhere.
Like the main character, I was established on the East Coast and had every intention of staying there "forever." I was born in California, but through a series of choices, I have come to prefer crowded streets full of unfriendly people and piles of dirty snow as if I had always lived there. Rationally, I knew our move West was necessary, but I couldn't help facing it with some trepidation. Can I adjust to Western ways of thinking and acting? Will Arizona feel like home within a reasonable amount of time?
According to Gila Monsters author, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, I have nothing to worry about. I wish I could just take her at her word and have done with it. I start at my new (temporary) job tomorrow. It should give me a swift sense of belonging. I will have to squeeze in time for writing between textbooks and students. Wish me luck!