In Arizona we stayed in Tempe near ASU. It was a beautiful campus and I wish I could teach there during the time I live in the area instead of working in advertising. I feel like I belong in a university, but bad luck, ignorance and some stupid laziness on my part have made that difficult for me.
We rode a shuttle from the Sky Harbor airport to Alamo Rent-a-car. When we arrived, the shuttle driver told everyone to get out and choose their car. So we got out and chose a car. When I had reserved a car on the internet, I picked the intermediate car, the example was a Pontiac Grand Am. But then I worried about the price, like that they would raise it on me and the $71 total (for three days) the internet had quoted me was just a lure. So we chose a Ford Focus. Everyone else was driving to the exit gate and so we did too. The lady at the gate asked for our paper work. We didn’t have any. She directed us back to a brown building to pay. At the brown building, they had our reservation and all we had to do was pay. Then we could pick our car, which was not a Ford Focus, and leave.
Stoker and I took the Focus back to its spot, but that was a tiny bit more complicated than it should have been. The damn Focus was really touchy on the brakes and I pushed on it too hard, the car came to a screeching halt and I accidentally hit the horn. Everyone looked at us. It felt like we were in a bad comedy. Luckily I didn’t hit a car or a person. Anyway, we ended up with a sweet Altima instead of a Grand Am or Focus. It smelled better and drove better. Everyone else in Arizona was driving Impalas. It’s a very popular car there.
So let my experience be a lesson to you: when renting a car, plan ahead and reserve it on the internet. Go through the process several times until it shows you the best price. Make the reservation. I don’t think they’ll change the price on you once you get there. The guy at the counter told me that even if I downgraded to the tier just below intermediate, I would have paid more for it just because I got such a good deal on the internet.
Stoker and I found an apartment with the help of a realtor named Gary, who was originally from Dodge City, Kansas and frequently used expressions like “Strap on your bonnets,” and called Stoker a Casanova. He called Stoker a Casanova because earlier in the day, Gary had helped another future student of the Conservatory, Mikey, find an apartment. Mikey is also from Logan and worked at the same music store as Stoker. They’d been in the same band together, too, before I started dating Stoker. And actually, I met Stoker, sort of through Mikey. Stoker played drums in a band with Mikey. Mikey and I were friends during the summer. We used to go on walks together and talk. I enjoyed his company and conversation. Before I moved back to Salt Lake, I didn’t feel like I’d really miss him, though. I liked him as a friend. Occasionally I’d run into Stoker when I was with Mikey. In July I moved to Salt Lake, got a job and returned to Logan on the weekends to see my friends. Sometimes I’d hang out with Mikey. Sometimes Mikey would drive to Salt Lake to see me. Finally, one night, he stole a kiss. I’d been avoiding that because I was unsure of how I felt about him and I’m usually not unsure of how I feel about a guy. The kiss told me a lot about how I felt about Mikey—that I didn’t like him as more than a friend. Anyway, I guess he thought I was his girlfriend and that’s what he told Gary, the realtor. He told Gary that one night Stoker showed up at one of their gigs with ‘his girlfriend [me]’. Gary thought it was a hoot. Gary also thought it was a small, small world.
I feel bad about Mikey. But look, I’m marrying Stoker. It’s weird to say, but I really think that should be a comfort to Mikey. I wouldn’t be marrying Mikey. Even without Stoker, things would have skidded to a halt between Mikey and me.
On Friday night, Stoker and I ate sushi rolls at a place called Ra’s in Tempe, next to ASU. I guess it’s a chain and that explains why it wasn’t nearly as good as Go Sushi. A place I love to eat here in Salt Lake City. I look out my office window, now, at the cloudy sky and snow-topped mountains, the green green trees and think that I don’t want to leave Utah. This is home. It’s my favorite place on earth. I’ve been a few places and I want to end up here. I hope we end up here.
In Tempe, we walked around a lot, browsed through many shops and listened to live bands here and there. Apparently the music scene in Phoenix is outstanding. I didn’t notice that, so much. I did notice the heat. That everywhere I looked there was a swimming pool or public parks with water fountains and wading pools for kids and adults to cool off in. I saw a banner strung across Mill Street near ASU that said, “There’s never enough water to not conserve it.” Or something.
Stoker and I drove into a very Mexican part of the city to find good carne asada tacos. In the panadería, someone shouted in Spanish that they needed someone who spoke English, but Stoker speaks Spanish and he told them (which, if you don’t know can be said, “Yo hablo español” I think. I don’t speak it. I’m learning, though). That made them really happy. A man bantered with Stoker in Spanish that the biggest mistake Americans make is eating real carne asada tacos because then you can never go back. And I’m here to testify that it’s true. If you’ve never had them, you should.
It will be a nice change, you know. But I like my mountains and the seasons. I’d follow Stoker anywhere, but I hope in the end we find ourselves here.