An edited version of this column appears in the 9/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/16 issue of the Peoria Times
My wife’s cousin moved from New Jersey to Arizona and is staying with us. She is a smaller, female version of my father-in-law. From Italy to the States without even knowing the language, yet acclimating oneself immediately thanks to an unflagging work ethic, ambition, and dynamic and engaging personality, is a story they both share.
It never ceases to amaze us how easily and seamlessly each of them can strike up a friendship with a complete stranger, especially my wife’s cousin; my father-in-law has become at least mildly jaded by the Brooklyn degenerates he deals with on a daily basis. Having lived here for over four years now, we find it increasingly difficult to coerce our own neighbors to wave back. They, on the other hand, are constantly making connections on our own territory, which, for us, is both a marvel and an embarrassment.
In fact, my wife’s cousin had visited us for a few days a couple of years ago. In the span of an hour she met a man named Hercules (?) at the development pool, and then brought us home pizza, which she received at a discount after making some connection with the store owner, who I had never once witnessed smile.
Suffice it to say, she’s already hit the ground running, finding a job and closing in on a place of her own to stay, making friends and connections along the way. Last weekend, she decided to hit the ground biking instead, and still remained a magnet for interaction.
She borrowed my wife’s bike to go for a brisk morning ride around the neighborhood. As she was biking down the main road, a man, also biking, rode up next to her to strike up a conversation.
As a quick sidebar, that alone is astounding to me. To solicit a stranger for mere human interaction while both parties are moving at high speeds while also maintaining an awareness of passing motor vehicles is just so foreign to me. When someone I don’t know tries to strike up a conversation with me at a social function, while I am standing up straight, my first instinctual reaction is, “What is wrong with this person?” And I consider myself relatively friendly. I don't know.
So anyway, he engages her in the typical small talk that two people who have never met before have while they are riding bikes. Where you’re from, what you’re doing here, the weather, etc., etc. Turns out he’s from Trilogy, a 55-plus community contained within our development. The pleasant small talk continued. Then, before they part ways, he drops this doozy: “So, uhhh … you smoke weed?”
Indeed, my wife’s cousin, while riding her bike, was offered drugs by a retired Trilogy resident. After politely refusing, he assured her that, if she changes her mind, he’ll be “easy to find”—I assume this means if she gets a craving for marijuana, she can just start riding her bike around, and he will instantly emerge from a side street—and then, as a sign of friendship and an acknowledgement that what happens on this bike ride stays on this bike ride, gave her a fist bump before riding away. A fist bump!
Again, I have lived here for over four years and have yet to be offered a joint. She was here three days before finding a drug connection, who is like 60. I don’t know how she does it.
Interestingly enough, before my in-laws bought a home here, my father-in-law came to visit us and look at houses. We all went to the local wine bar one Sunday afternoon, where he struck up, of course, a conversation with a local Trilogy resident. They were still talking when my wife and I left, and eventually my father-in-law went MIA, frequent phone calls from my wife and I revealing only that he was “somewhere in Trilogy,” and “safe.” He eventually stumbled home very late in the evening, reprimanded by his daughter in an astounding role reversal. No one is really sure what happened that night—he doesn’t like to talk about it.
So, I don’t know what goes on in Trilogy. I do know, however, where we’ll be retiring in 22 years or so.