He arrived April 11, and hit the ground pedaling. I paced the house nervously the day of his arrival. I put a stew in the SunOven, mopped, dusted, washed the sheets while listening to 40’s housewifey music like Doris Day. I awaited news from of his arrival at the Dallas airport. And then it arrived. He landed and sailed through Customs.
Housemate Trish and I met Chuan at the airport and waited for him to come down the stairs. He arrived and I waved my little American flag and welcomed him into my arms. I kept having to poke at him to make sure this was real. Could this be the little guy I left behind in Malaysia, finally here in the flesh? I handed him the bouquet of flowers I got for him. I felt the need to text my boyfriend in Malaysia to tell him that I met this great guy at the airport. But wait.
His first day ever out of Asia, I had him cycling 7 miles downtown (and 7 miles back) for a great Mexican meal at The Little Cafe Poca Cosa for some chicken molé. Then it was a sunny, colorful, and sometimes agonizing wild ride through the desert city to take as much in as possible in our 5 weeks in Tucson. We went to as many concerts at the University and ate as much great pizza and Mexican food as possible in that short time period. He hated my spare bike and then miraculously it was stolen and so we had the opportunity to outfit him with a bike to suit his taste.
And then it was off to California by train for 30 hours of eye-popping scenery, shake, rattle, and rail on America’s embarrassingly inefficient train system: Amtrak. We arrived 2 hours late and slightly agitated…but hey, when you’re taking the train in America, punctuality is not paramount. And when traveling a thousand miles, what’s a couple of hours?
Here’s a video recap of the trip so far…
Chuan really liked Tucson. He found the people extraordinarily warm and welcoming, the town full of cheap eats and ear candy at the University’s music school. He found the desert both beautiful and forbidding…as one should…because it is both. He thought the natural air conditioning was fascinating — the cool desert nights and hot days. He liked how many PhD’s he met in Tucson and how receptive the U was to him getting a music degree there should he want to pursue that. He likes the clean air and the orderliness on the streets. He’s astonished by how big the country is and comforted by how ethnically diverse it is. He has mixed feelings about the desert dryness and is somewhat mystified by how lazy and self-absorbed some Americans can be — especially the young people. He’s shocked by how ubiquitous the smell of marijuana smoke is in San Francisco.
Mostly I think what he likes about America is the social freedom to be himself, to be in love and be public about it. He doesn’t miss his government and dirty public places and the corrupt police. (Nor do I, Chuan!)
Thanks to Trish and our lovely friends for embracing him so warmly. Here’s a photo collage of our Tucson time (again, apologies for all the selfies and wefies — there’s a reason for this other than unchecked narcissism)…
And what does he miss the most? His best friends, warm sea water, and noodles.