Waking up to find another scholarship notification in my inbox is no big surprise. In fact, I’m often greeted with a “scholarship deadline” or “new scholarship” subject line scattered about every time that I check my email account. However, when I saw the “Arizona is My Home Scholarship” headline looming it wasn’t just another aggravating reminder of something else to put on my to-do list. In fact, it was a little jarring. I had actually just awoke from a dream that in itself proves what Arizona means to me, and how I intend to never call any other place my home.
The grounds of this dream are rooted in a quest I have had to find where I truly belong. Since my senior year at Prescott High School in Prescott, Arizona, I’ve had this burning desire to go see the world. I grew up in the nearly 40,000 people city without knowing much else. The thing about Prescott is that once you’ve lived there, you really don’t know much else. People from larger cities move there for the fresh air and friendly people, and nearly everyone else came one day and never left. Once the time for me to start filling out college applications came around I was prepared to find an out-of-state school and have my own adventure in the great big world. Unfortunately due to expenses I had to pursue my education instate, at Arizona State University. One would think that a semester at an enormous school in a completely new city with no close friends nearby would take care of all of my “adventurous” needs, but again, being a small town girl for so long did cause me to accumulate a lot of it. Alas, after a semester at Arizona State University I applied for and received an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Finally! My chance to break away from the monotonous life I’d been living!
I eagerly drove my car across country with the backseat packed full of my new life. The thought of moving to a city that I had never been to before and interning at a company like Disney was so exhilarating to me; this was my chance to see and experience a life entirely on my own. I was forcing myself to be completely outside of my comfort zone, it became my own personal challenge. After the initial shock of “I have no idea what to do with myself”, and some phone calls home to my family to regain confidence from time to time, I was able to make Orlando my new home. Over time, I established a group of friends, found a beautiful apartment, memorized every road to the beach and found out what it feels like to be really alone. I discovered what the true meaning of living from paycheck-to-paycheck was. My need to be independent almost got the better of me when I denied any monetary aid from my parents, as I wanted to see if I could make it on my own. Florida became my pathway to self-discovery, and I emerged from the heartbreaks, hurricanes, empty bank accounts and utter confusion a much more confident person. Florida has its place in my heart, and has left an unexplainable impression on my life. However, all good things must come to end, as did my stay in the Sunshine State.
Due to events out of my control I was pressured back into returning to Arizona to finish my college degree in Nutritional Sciences, this time at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I once again piled all of my belongings into the backseat of my car, and watched my hard work disappear in my rear view mirror with tears in my eyes. What I didn’t find out until I returned to Arizona was how much I had learned while living in Florida, including how much I had missed being home; my real home in Prescott. It’s funny how people say if you love something let it go, because I never really thought that the saying could apply to a place. I really do love Prescott, even more after being away from it for a year and a half. It’s a beautiful city, and possesses such a charming atmosphere. Most importantly, Prescott holds the memories of my past. It seems as though I can’t so much as walk down a street without some sort of reminiscence from the past popping into my head. My ideals that I have today are a result from my life in Prescott. I still find so much joy in reading a good book on the courthouse square leaned up against an old elm tree, then walking over to St. Michael’s Café and buying my favorite espresso drink: a vanilla latté with a shot of raspberry flavor. Every holiday season in Prescott is still anticipated with the arrival of the Christmas parade that I’ve spent countless years performing in, or the Courthouse lighting, or “Arizona’s Largest Gingerbread Village” displayed every year at the Prescott Resort. There are so many traditions in Prescott that even while writing this my heart is aglow.
This is the reason for my dream. I dreamt that I was being forced to move out of Arizona again. I had a choice of moving to what would be considered incredible cities: New York, San Diego, Seattle…but I was crying. Not only crying, but in my dream I was furious that anyone would actually try to take what I have here away from me. An overwhelming depression swept over my body immediately, how could I leave something that makes me feel this complete? It was not like leaving Florida again, it was worse, much worse. Prescott is my peace and serenity; it’s what rejuvenates me when the weight of college life becomes too heavy to bear. To take that away from me would be the worse possible thing one could do. Luckily, I awoke, it was a dream. And when I woke up, I understood what the dream meant.
Saying that I love Prescott or that I have an attachment to Prescott is not enough to relate my true feelings. By denoting it my home, all of my thoughts and outlooks are encompassed. For someone that has spent two years living from city to city seeking a place where she belongs, isn’t it ironic that it was where she was trying to escape in the first place? Prescott’s slogan is “Everybody’s Hometown”, but more importantly, it’s mine, and for me to finally realize that, well, that’s something special.