I got up this morning and the drive into work was horrid. Traffic wasn't bad at all (I am lucky enough to have the best commute of everyone I know), but it was that it was so cold the gear shift was frozen and getting my car through the gears was my daily upper body workout. The clutch was also abnormally stiff, so I worked out my left leg. And this was all after I sat shivering in my car for 10 minutes while it "warmed up".
I'm dreaming of Arizona and the lovely December weather of mid 70's. If it weren't for my mom and the absurdly low amount of rent she asks for, I'd ask my husband to move us back down there. But economically and socially things are much better here. You would think that Phoenix, being the booming metropolis of sophistication that it is, would be much more open to cultures and religions. But it is in fact the exact opposite. Phoenix is the playground of the rich, white, golf-playing republican and conservatism runs rampant. You would instead think that Minnesota, being the recently growing but still backwater community that it is, would be closed to outsiders but it is not.
I think this is entirely due to the baptism by fire the Twin Cities endured with the Somali influx in the mid to late 90's. During this time the Muslim population went from what I am assuming has to have been a relatively small community of at most around 5,000 people, to an extremely large, Somali dominated, population of nearly 300,000 Muslims. Minnesotans had no choice but to become immune to the sight of women in long hijab and the idea that Muslims exist, are perfectly friendly, and cause no harm. A dash of this and a dash of that, and what do you get? A community in which women wearing hijab can actually get a job. Imagine that. In Phoenix it was impossible, I even had one interviewer look at me and ask, "Do you have to wear that costume?"
We'll be the last ones laughing though. As I left Phoenix there was a very large migration of Minnesota-plated cars entering the town driven by, you guessed it, Somalis. Knowing their tendency to move whole communities together, I'm guessing Phoenix will soon be going through their own baptism by fire. I'm eager to see the outcome.
And for now I guess I'll keep shivering in my car each morning.
I hate winter.