Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix has been very chill.

After months of not very chill — all that leaving New York (twice), punctuated by a whirlwind five weeks of intensity in Asia and capped by a couple of weeks of near-constant Jewish holidays in the company of a seven-month-old who has just learned how to climb up high enough to fall on his head — it has been a pleasure to be somewhere relaxed and easy.

Picking a direction home

I feel like I’ve been here a very long time, though it’s been just three weeks. I suppose it’s the first place that has felt like home in quite a while — maybe since June, when my girlfriend left New York, and New York began to feel like ex-home, a place I was closing up and shutting down.

I have made a conscious decision to think of Phoenix as home, of this house I own, this house where my parents are retired and where my stuff lives in boxes in the shed out back, as home. Someday Korea will be home, but it isn’t yet. I didn’t want to go off backpacking in Southeast Asia with no direction home, no sense of a place in mind that I can think of as the safe retreat if ever I need it. I don’t expect to need it, but it’s good to know where home is, even if you never plan to actually live there.

And I like Phoenix. As a place to live, it’s not bad. The weather is great — not just the warm and sunny you think of, but the crazy storms with the constant lightning and horizontal rain that come sweeping through and last twenty minutes. The storms here are about the best anywhere, and everything is dry again an hour later.

Phoenix days

So what have I been up to?

Sleeping late. Getting up, making coffee, going out for Mexican food for lunch. Treading water in the pool for exercise in the afternoon. Writing. I’ve finished a draft of my Vietnam book, and no, you can’t read it.

I’ve spent some time with my sister too, going to an Arizona State football game and a Phoenix Suns basketball game and a Make-A-Wish walk and the Phoenix Art Museum (“Art is our middle name” say the T-shirts) and a hike up north.

Beyond that, there’s been a lot of logistical stuff of the kind you do before you leave the country for a long while: getting an Arizona driver license and an international driving permit, buying travel insurance, getting a trust and a will and setting up durable power of attorney and making multiple visits to the notary at the UPS store, organizing boxes of my stuff in the shed out back, going to Target too many times and spending too much money on a year’s supply of drugs and toiletries. I have enough Imodium that I could stop pooping for a year, though that seems like maybe not the best idea, because that’s the number of pills that come in a Costco bottle of Imodium.

Like I said, chill. I’ve enjoyed the time with my parents, the relaxed flow of their retired life. It has been easy. I will miss it.

Back on the road

In another couple of days I’ll be on my way again. I’m nervous about hitting the road once more, a jittery feeling I’ve channeled into fussing over all the things I’ve packed and wondering how my bag is already this overstuffed when I haven’t gone anywhere or bought anything yet. (To be fair, it weighs only 32 pounds, not counting the stuff that’ll go in my carry-on. At some point I should probably make the inevitable blog post about what I’ve taken with me as gear.)

But the nerves will pass, I’m sure, once I’m in the thick of things. Next up is Seattle for a week (October 22-27) to visit one of my very best friends in the world, and then I’ll be on to Bangkok, arriving on October 29.

The adventure resumes!

Also published on Medium.