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Arizona, my American home. The landing place of my Canadian teenager immigration journey. I spent 8 years in the 48th before resettling in my current home of Virginia at the start of the millennium. I’ve been going back to Arizona to visit family for more than 20 years. Yet only now feels like the right moment for me to start writing this story.
Arizona, State University. Class of 1998. It was a long road from immigrating, to volleyball @ Phoenix College to dropping out and back to ASU to get the bachelor done. A 5th year senior, I was in a hurry to get done.
Spring Break 2022, I was excited for touring the campus with the Henrys. Cousins and Carmen ❤️. I immediately saw the somewhat-recognizable-but-much-bigger-and-impressively-modern-campus from a completely different point-of-view. That of a teenager, in Lolo. That of being on the receiving end of a really good pitch, in me. That of explorers, hard at practicing being adventurous.
Walking around, I couldn’t fill my eyes and ears with enough of it all. So many sights, so many memory recalls, so much to imagine all over again, and information overload. What would it be like to go to college all over again, at ASU, today? My curiosity practically is impossible to bottle up. There is so much innovation in the desert.
I had been back to campus many times over the years, but only this time realized: all of that, that was my study abroad program. I was just lucky enough to just stay abroad.
I commit to never playing down my non-traditional journey again. It’s dope.
Arizona, being in the desert. And the lifestyle that corresponds with it. Up early to beat the sun, slow afternoons in the shade (or AC!), sunsets everyday and tacos to die for. Architecture that is low to the ground, spread out and practically blended into the landscape. Vastness as far as the eye can see. I was humbled and enamored by its unconventional beauty again and realized: no wonder I am a big thinker. Look at where I ended up.
Arizona, where we gather for love. Not surprisingly, it was love that called me to Arizona again this time. To Tucson, the Sonoran desert city I was called to at the very beginning of my career, at AOL. Another different kind of university was having a reunion I could not miss. We call it the University of lululemon. Class of circa 2008.
It’s founding mother was getting married that night, in the desert. She is the glue that keeps us all together. Mazel Frisch 🥂
It takes a lot of history for a moment like this to happen. And it all started on a hardwood floor in the DC area, likely the new one on Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington. Possibly dancing to a two-thousand-late beat. We all met at work: managers, key holders, full-timers, part-timers, seasonals, and others. What this place, this company gave us, was the ability to share ourselves and our love of fitness. Via free classes and generous discounts on now vintage lulu gear. So we could share fabulous fits, fabrics and function with guests. And most importantly with each other.
We may have been introducing the US to the growing the Canadian brand, one Groove pant at time. What we were really doing was building the foundation of our relationship with each other and as a collective.
This is the DC family. Home of deep friendships, and celebration of life milestones, of career changes, and dreams coming true. Travel and weddings, now new homes and businesses and sobriety and sometimes struggles too. And definitely more travel together. This is love, at work.
Arizona, place of Ironman. I crossed the finish line in Tempe, home of ASU, in 2015. I hadn’t only picked this race because it was at the top of the friendly-first-timer course list. Racing there would primarily enable me to gather the most family support. It’s absolutely no coincidence the best day of my life happened in the desert.
Arizona, I’ll always go back. I’ve been thinking about this line for a long time. It’s a story I’ve always known, yet one I feel is just beginning again. There is unfinished business here. In the desert.
It’s never enough quality and family time, sunsets or tacos.
Read the IRONMAN stories.