going back to the Sun

My trip to last last week was wonderful, actually. I got to meet up with J and his wife, also J for lunch – I worked with him in about 1997-98. I got to meet up with my friend K, the Rower Formerly Known as She-Hulk in this blog for dinner (time to retire that nom – she’s not even all that big, it’s just that at one point we were in a crew together and the rest of us were around my size, which is considered absurdly tiny for a rower). I got to meet up with some of my old Six Sigma group, which was one of the two best teams I’ve worked on in my whole career, and had a wonderful night out. Also, I got to spend the workday with a youngish programmer who has a good reputation but whom I hadn’t met before, and I both enjoyed hanging with him and approved of him professionally.

Also, the places. I was in a hotel about 4 miles from work (which is no distance at all, as roads go in the Phoenix area) and our old house is on a direct line between the two, so this was very much my manor, my old stomping groups. I was surprised at how much hadn’t changed in ten years – for instance I got to the bead warehouse store, which was having a 50% off sale on most stuff, and Changing Hands bookstore, both of which moved into their current locations while I lived there and haven’t changed since. K and I ate at Abuelos, a Mexican chain Ted and I used to like. With the Six Sigma group, we ate at Caffe Boa, on Mill Ave (which *did* move, though just down the street, but apparently that was before I left), I always liked that place, but now it’s really amazing – my caprese salad had homemade bufala mozzeralla and burrata on it. I also snuck in a visit to the mall that was built while we lived there – the Nordstrom’s there is exactly the same, and hadn’t even moved their departments around. It was always a good one, so I got fitted for a bra while I was there since it had been a while. One new thing – a Dutch store I liked, Oil & Vinegar, has now expanded to the US and had a branch in that mall, so I was able to stock up on the dippling spice we like (you add it to olive oil). Somehow I’ve never been able to make my own blend that works as well, and Ted hasn’t had a trip back to the Netherlands in a while.

And to crown the trip, on our last workday, I was able to talk my coworker into going out to Chandler Airport to have lunch at the Hangar Cafe, which lets you sit near the flightline and watch the planes take off. I never worked near enough to go there for lunch, but we used to love having weekend breakfasts there.

What surprised me was realizing how fond of the place I am, when it’s not doing its celebrated imitation of Hell in summer. It’s easy to get around, there’s great shopping, great scenery and hiking, and I miss the community we had there. By the time we’d left, I was just sick to death of the heat, we’d lived there for ten years and I was more than ready to move, so I needed this trip to remind me that I actually like Phoenix. In season, at least.

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