Saturday, August 14, 2010

8.1.2010: Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ: Mark Kwong (1993) and Drake Ledbetter (St. Andrew’s)

A few weeks before we had planned to set off for Phoenix and Vegas, we got the weather report that it was going to be 116 degrees out there. I told dad that I’d wait for him on the coast while he drove into the desert on the bus. I think he used me as an excuse, because the next day he showed up with a bright blue rental car. Phoenix was surprising pleasant, and when someone apologized to us for the “soupy” weather, we just laughed and laughed. We got into Phoenix and realized that Arizonans have worse road rage than the Los Angelinos. We did manage to make it to Mark Kwong’s house in one piece (although I kind of doubt that we would have, had we been in the bus). We got there kind of later than planned, and his wife, Carolyn, was already putting their youngest son, Peter, to bed. The twins, Colin and Nicholas were still awake and hectic. Apparently, they feed off of each other. Dinner was outside on the patio, near the pool, no mosquitos, and Mark, fresh from a trip to the south of France, pulled out a rosé that he had brought back with him. I like rosés, but generally find them undeveloped. This one had depth.

The Kwongs had a tough time with Katrina. Four months pregnant with the twins, they evacuated, leaving their house and most of their belongings behind. They thought that they would have some damage, but when Mark returned to New Orleans to check on the house, it wasn’t damaged, it was gone. The houses around had survived, just not theirs. This, coupled with other stresses, caused Carolyn to go into labor at only six months in. She gave birth to two tiny tiny babies, that under professional care, managed to grow into the funny little boys that they are today. I think that they can look back at that time in their lives with good humor now, but I can only imagine the fear and stress and anguish that went on during those days. They did, however, have flood and wind insurance, made out like bandits from the insurance money, and were able to sell the property several years later.

(me, CCT, Drake)

(dad in the aura of the vortex)

We left the Kwongs and met up with Drake, a St. Andrew’s student of dad’s who lives in Scottsdale. Drake was at this weird club in the middle of a Disney-ish downtown that was (in his words) “a singles club for the 40-plus crowd.” Dad and I convinced him that we were tired and happily avoided going inside. In the mere couple of months that Drake has spent in Scottsdale—recently moved from Arkansas—he’s really gotten a handle on the surrounding area. The next morning, we hopped into his suburban and drove to Sedona to feel the vortexes. As we were walking up the path to the Sedona Chapel, dad’s cell phone rang in two different ring tones…and no one was calling. He’s sure that he connected spiritually to Sedona. We wandered all over the place, checking out the mystical shops, Hopi crafts, and the burritos. On our way back to Scottsdale, while Drake regaled us with his stories, we went through the most vertical town in America. His daughter, meanwhile, was at the Lady Gaga concert, who in turn was dissing Arizona. Back in Scottsdale, Drake took us to the Camelback Resort. We sat outside, under the stars and the waving palms, listening to soft guitar music, and sipping on the most perfect martinis. This was a place that I could image diamond and fur drenched starlets of the 1930s conducting their rendezvous’ away from the invasive world of Los Angeles.

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