From Milwaukee to Phoenix and Next: Tucson
My life began in Wisconsin in 1961 in the area around Milwaukee known as the North Shore; the villages of River Hills and Brown Deer. From the time I was in Miss Redman’s fourth grade class at Dean Elementary School in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, I believed that Phoenix, Arizona was the place for me to live. My fourth grade class was reading a wonderful book called, “Brighty of the Grand Canyon” by Marguerite Henry.
“Brighty of the Grand Canyon” is a fictionalized account of a real-life burro named “Brighty”, who lived in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River from about 1892-1922. Along with our reading, Miss Redman was also teaching us about the vast resources and beauty held in the state of Arizona. I was intrigued by those warm temperatures she was placing on the blackboard. No more below zero winter temperatures and lots of sunshine! I can remember circling Phoenix on the map in my text-book with my finger and saying to myself, “Someday I’m going to live there.”
In the early 1980’s I founded an employee benefits consulting and design firm, “Employee Benefit Resources” which was a division of another company I owned with my partner, SMS Enterprises, Inc. In 1994, I had the opportunity to merge my fifteen-year-old business with my larger competitor, National Benefit Systems, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Life for me here in Phoenix hasn’t been at all what I had hoped for. My arrival here was followed by my partner of 16 ½ years ending our relationship. From there, I went immediately into another relationship for 11 years. Both of those previous relationships were unhealthy, lacking in love and convoluted by my lying and manipulating behaviors. From both prior relationships, my former partners went on to realize much success in their lives and my life without them was met by great struggle. Addiction, lying, cheating, financial difficulty, suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment, eviction, STD’s and drama is what I feel I earned during my years in Arizona.
2005 began for me what I thought was to be my first love story with my most recent partner. We had a challenging relationship which was plagued by severe mental illness, drug addiction and domestic violence. My ex-partner and I had made several attempts to leave Phoenix, which ended up in failure each time. Our attempted moves were to be cross-country. Each time the move didn’t happen, the financial cost was disastrous.
There are many things about Milwaukee and Wisconsin that I miss. I miss the change of seasons that one comes to expect in Wisconsin. I miss the cold, rain, snow – everything that people seem to bitch about, that live there. I miss having my family connections and the roots of “home.” Relations between my family and I are strained, at best. It seems to have started when my mother passed away. She seemed to be the “glue” that kept the family together and at least talking. No one has been able to step into that role since Mom has been gone.
Phoenix has been a difficult place to call home, and life here, for me, has always seemed as though I was trying to swim upstream. I believe it is time for me to make a change; to move away from Phoenix and all of its harsh memories. My dearest friend Trish lives in Tucson with her husband and two, nearly grown children. When I’m with Trish or her family, I feel those family like connections I miss so much. Tucson will be a fresh start for me, and I’ll have the unconditional love and support of my best friend every step of the way. In March, 2011 Tucson is where I’ll call home.