“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. ” An excellent way to set a man on fire is to have him live in the state of Arizona, where it is summer all year-round and the scorching climate temperatures without humanity reaching the triple digits is nothing less than normal. However, when I use the word “warm” in this context, it is intended to be a reflection of my time in Arizona. In the midst of my one year and nine months spent in The Grand Canyon State, I have encountered numerous involvements that changed my life. There may have been a few experiences I have endured amidst this time which may have not necessarily been favorable, but given that fact it would not have made the better times possible, thus not having the ability to yield my overall “warm” lifelong memory of Arizona. These experiences mainly consist of the places I’ve had the opportunity to discover, the life-long friends and acquaintances I’ve formed and lastly, the life lessons presented to me.
Contrary to popular belief, Arizona is not a land dwelling in endless miles of indigenous desert invaded by tumbleweeds, but more so a land harboring a kind of beauty you will only find in very limited places. Arizona combines desert and comfortable living through populous cities made possible by snowbirds, mainly from the North. My first impression of Arizona was an astonishment because I was not expecting it to be such a hot spot (I’ll be here all night). I arrived late at night in December of 2013 caressing my heavy suitcases into my newly-issued dorm room at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, AZ. I didn’t get to witness much of the desert atmosphere due to the fact it was too dark and obscure upon arriving. Nevertheless, my time of not being able to take the initial glimpse at the famous terrain ended soon as I woke up the next morning and walked outside. The transition I felt from stepping across the threshold of my sleeping quarters to the outside atmosphere that morning is comparable to inserting your hand into an oven to feel the hotness of it, except instead of just your hand it’s your entire body. The green is very limited and the sidewalks are outlined by bodies of gravel. Admittedly, all of these features took me a while to appreciate (mostly because I was not accustomed to the environment). Moreover, I had the opportunity to understand the phrase, “Location is everything” because I lived in rural Phoenix which is conveniently located within driving vicinity of places such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon; as well as many other “undiscovered” places I believe a lot of others will enjoy which include Flagstaff, Sedona, Fountain Hills, Tucson, Scottsdale and Tempe.
While the places in Arizona carry their distinctively interesting aspects, I cannot leave out the engaging people I’ve met who helped shape my life. After I graduated from technical training in Texas, I returned home for Thanksgiving where I caught up with my friends and family on the junctures of life. Needless to say, I didn’t miss a whole lot. Most of my hometown friends were either out-of-town attending college or were busy working a full-time job. After spending 18 days in Illinois, I flew to Arizona. Within the first two months, I met a lot of my family I never had the chance to meet while growing up. It enlightened me getting to know them because I am able to relate to them so well and get an understanding of the other side of what I’m used to. I’ve been on some great adventures discovering parts of the Southwestern United States with them and got the chance to catch up and exchange stories about their life in Arizona. As for my friends, I have made many amidst the time I was there. I would say that the amount of friends I’ve made in Arizona would be just as much as the amount of friends I made in my four years of high school. They have gotten me through work, showed me the great hang-out spots on the other side of town, provided me with useful advice I could take with me throughout life and have showed me some pretty awesome dance moves. I still keep up with them to this day and I know I will for the rest of my life. Anywhere I happen to be.
Living life can be easy if there are individuals providing you with the tools to get by. For instance, it would not make sense to worry about financial complications such as paying for gas, internet and cellphone, or rent if it is being provided to you. On the other hand, when you are thrown out into the real world, you get put into a position where these obligations must be filled. What do you do now? Run around and panic? No. You make it happen. (Then you run around and panic when you go over your data plan and pay twice as much for your phone bill.) Arizona is the first place in my life where I was living on my own and forming grown up decisions. At the age of eighteen. There have been days where work and school get jumbled around badly. To top it off, personal relations and matters reach an enigma. However, my Arizona acquaintances, partners and family gave me reassurance and helped me push on. Now, I’m thankful because I have retained a spiritual encouragement that I can take with me everywhere I go.
I was on fire for almost two years. Although the feeling went away now that I am not in Arizona, I still carry a portion of that warmness with me. It was a nice, short lived episode I will soon revisit. To all of my friends and family, I raise a glass to you and thank you for the positive vibes. Without you, I would not be where I am today. I had a chance to see great sights, meet awesome people and learn valuable life lessons. Next step is to see what I learn in South Korea. So far, being able to use chop sticks properly is working to my advantage.