My driver was born in Louisiana but spent the majority of his life in Los Angeles. He told me a hilarious story about how he and his sister were still very young when the big earthquake hit in ’94. He had his turtles in their aquarium next to his bed, so when he bolted out of bed, he tripped over that and went flying. (I told him I thought the turtles were mad at him for leaving them behind.) Then he went to his sister’s room and she had a big bird cage, and they were flying around and squawking. He went to find his parents and his mom’s eyes were as big as dinner plates: it was her first earthquake. His dad finally grabbed him and made him stand in the doorway and told him in earthquakes, you can’t run. You have to stand under something stable if that’s possible to find. (I can attest to that quake being a big deal because I visited San Fran two years later.)

He has only been living in the Phoenix area for five years. I asked him how he liked it, and he said he loved it; no humidity, and really, the heat wasn’t a big deal, just run to the air conditioning. Somehow the conversation turned to hot air ballooning and I mentioned that I used to crew for a hot air balloon in New Mexico. He said he wanted to go up in one too. My advice to him was to look for a pilot that had a really good flight record, no crashes. It’s not enough to look for the best price, or a really big company. Sometimes a big company will send you up with a pilot that has nearly zero experience. I also told him to not wait until he had friends or someone to go with him, and to just do it if he wanted to do it. After all, isn’t that what he did when he moved to Phoenix? (I had just guessed that, didn’t know for sure.) He said yes, actually, that’s right. I told him that usually that’s when the best adventures happen is when we go by ourselves and we are forced to talk to strangers and have shared experiences. He said right again. So I think I may have put a little bug in his ear to get up in a balloon.

He told me that he intended to buy a house within the next year here in Phoenix, but he also wanted to buy a house in Charlotte, NC at some point too, because he fell in love with that city. Phoenix has a very specific market because we are flooded with cash investors from California. I warned him to not become too invested emotionally in any property because he was bound to be disappointed. He was going to put in multiple offers (could be 5, could be 25), and it would just take time and effort. Also, I still believe we are going to have major issues with the housing market because the purchase prices are astronomical, and the rentals are as well. Our wages in Phoenix don’t match the cost of living and the housing market is going to crash again. We are going to have the same issues we had before with people owing more than the property values. So my other advice to my driver was to wait a little and be patient, because I think there’s some trouble ahead.

My driver was very upbeat and we laughed the whole ride. I thanked him for that, because I was actually on my way to a doctor’s office where I needed to get nasty for them not faxing paperwork that was necessary for an upcoming surgery and there was some gaslighting going on.

My very talented friend has been sending music out into the world since she was a very small girl. During this year and more of staying home, she has been thrilling us with her talent and playing extremely difficult pieces and posting them online. If you are in the New York City area, she is available for lessons. She earned her Master of Music degree from Lousiana State University. Yejin Han