I looked up from the dining room table to see Boyfriend shouldering a rifle in my parent’s kitchen.
I smiled my amusement to my mother as I took my turn at our game of cards. Come tomorrow’s sunrise, my father was taking Boyfriend for his first U.S. gun experience. Welcome to America!
Boyfriend grew up without guns. I grew up with the ones that didn’t fit in the gun case stored under my bed — no big deal. The yin vs. yang attributes don’t stop there. Finances are a big sticking point. I’m conservative, Boyfriend is laissez-faire.
arguing negotiating American travel details during our final weeks in Europe. Vehicle choice was a main debate. Spoiler alert: I caved.
Exactly a month passed between touching down in L.A. and pulling out of my parents’ driveway in our kitted-out, 2001 Toyota Tundra. When we weren’t
fighting deliberating over which car to buy for our Great American Road Trip, we kept pretty busy.
Right after landing in L.A. we sailed to Catalina Island on a boat my father captained, filling our land-hours with hiking and dining. Next we checked out the Long Beach Aquarium, Warner Brother’s Studio Tour, and Planet Hollywood before heading over to my uncle’s house. My cousins joined us for Boyfriend’s first, proper. American amusement park experience at Knott’s Berry Farm, and then it was already time to drive to Tucson.
My parents’ favorite hometown Mexican restaurant has $1.50 Margaritas when you have a ticket to the nearby $1.50 Cinema: we gleefully partook in both. Another night found us downtown at the World of Beer followed by ice-cream-hotspot “The Hub.” Then we made it out of bed and to the infamous town of Tombstone in time to crawl, stoop, climb, and gawk on our serendipitously-private abandoned mine tour. We even fit in a day appeasing Boyfriend’s wine appetite at surrounding vineyards.
At home, evening hours were spent playing cards with my nearby grandmothers and eating amazing meals prepared by my talented father — everything from cedar-plank salmon to green chile and tamales. And ribs. And smoked brisket. And flank steak italiano. And jambalaya. And tacos and guacamole. We even introduced Boyfriend to the concept of breakfast for dinner with an eggs-and-waffles buffet. I also stocked my parent’s freezer with four different flavors of homemade ice cream to ensure a few weeks of healthy(ier) dessert in my wake.
Another pre-departure healthy adventure: hiking at the top of Mt. Lemmon. It was fun to show boyfriend how elevation so dramatically impacts ecosystems. In Australia, the lowest continent in the world, you’d never go from a desert to chapparal to juniper woods to pine forest to alpine forest on a 20 minute drive. Or expect to be comfortable on a hike in the middle of the summer. Comfortable, aside from the struggle for oxygen at 9,000 feet, that is. (3000m).
We celebrated our new car purchase at an inaugural visit to the Melting Pot over Father’s Day weekend. I urged Boyfriend to go along with the “father” honor our server implied: said designation comes with a free whiskey tasting per course! Don’t mind if I do”¦
While I plied the thrift store racks for a summer wardrobe, Boyfriend built us a bedroom in the back of our new truck. Then, finally, it was time to bid family and Arizona goodbye and set our sights on New Mexico! ♣