In Tucson, the avocados are less than a dollar each and much larger than the ones they sell back East, in Connecticut, where I’m from. In New England they charge over three dollars a piece for these puny little shriveled up things. Upon holding one of these so-called avocados in your hand, you will see that it has the texture and appearance of large peach pit. These avocados do not even come close to the firm fresh quality of the avocados sold in Arizona. Avocados are climacentric, therefore commercial growers must pick them off the trees early in order to allow enough travel time for them to make it back East before rotting. This practice also attributes to the stunted, unripened quality obtained from these almost foreign fruits from afar.
When I lived in Tucson I found the most delicious avocados everywhere, even at the local Safeway. I utilized their luscious green flesh to make the most tantalizing guacamole. The recipe is simple. It calls for three avocados, the juice from two limes, a large tomato, a small red onion, and a pinch of kosher salt. I would fill a huge Tupper Ware container with the mixture and eat only guacamole for the following two to three days,depending. I always long for it, but making it the right way is actually a very expensive and complicated four-part recipe.
Before properly making the guacamole I prepare the ingredients:
1. Gather essential belongings. Buy boxes, pack them, and put them in truck.
2. Convince landlord to break lease.
3. Find $600 for security deposit on former Tucson apartment. After securing apartment, say goodbye to family and friends.
Final cost approximately $672.
After completing the first set of instructions, Part 2 calls for the following ingredients:
103 gallons of gasoline
4 cans of Red Bull (to use as needed)
Estimated cost $370.00.
1. Drive southwest for two thousand five hundred and seventy miles (for about 42 hours) until reaching 41 S. Shannon Rd. in Tucson, Arizona Apartment #291.
After arriving at my apartment it would be just few days before I could actually make the guacamole. I first must complete Part 3 of the recipe which includes the following steps.
1. Pick up key to the apartment.
2. Move things and boxes into apartment, and of course
3. unpack boxes and place belongings carefully and deliberately within the apartment. This should take between one to three days depending on stamina and persistence.
Part 4 (finally, I know!)
1. Purchase ingredients for guacamole:
a small red onion
2. Bring ingredients back to apartment.
3. Combine ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Don’t forget to buy chips*
Approximate cost $10.
It’s been a few days since I arrived in Tucson. I am unpacked and comfortable. My apartment is starting to look like my home again, and I stopped by Safeway earlier. Along with regular groceries, I bought the produce for the guacamole recipe. I’ve readied my cooking supplies together in the kitchen; even found the green mixing bowl I used to make guacamolethe first time I lived here. The bowl, like myself, has made it here and back and here again.
The avocados are peeled and in the bowl, I cut the tomato, and try to sop up the juices with a dry paper towel before placing them into the mix. I chop the red onion deliberately small in lieu of past complaints, and then slice each lime in half before squeezing out the juice. It takes stamina to mash the stubborn avocados that often slip away from my wooden spoon. I diligently mix the fruits all around the bowl.
I’m still hot from trekking the groceries from the car and up the stairs in the 100-degree heat. I stand in the kitchen basking in the air conditioner’s artificial breeze. As sweltering as it is, I am glad to be back and stir the guacamole contently singing to myself. But then, just as I am about to sprinkle the salt into the container, I have a revelation, a sinking feeling in my stomach that tells me what I already know, and I a glutton for punishment realize again what I have learned so many times before: you can’t recreate the past. Annoyed, I snap the lid on the bowl and throw it into the fridge. I can almost count the rungs as the it slides across the shelf towards the back of the fridge. Without adding salt, I slump down onto the rented couch of my pre-furnished apartment.
Going back to Tucson right now would be impossible, yet it often comes to my mind in the form of a tangible idea, especially when things aren’t going well here. When I am feeling depressed, Arizona is always the answer and the question. What if I had stayed? I seem to forget that Arizona and I, even with our strong bond, had a rocky relationship at times.
When I went back to Arizona a few months ago and stayed with friends, it was not the same. I love my friends, but wanted to be alone and intimate with Arizona, to drive through her cactus mountains and take photographs, to watch the sun set at Gate’s Pass. I would be completely satisfied just gazing at her desert landscape all alone with my thoughts; to do things that were considered mundane by my friends. I suppose if I’d stayed as long as them, I might’ve felt the same, and taken Arizona’s beauty for granted.
Since I had left as quickly as I’d arrived I still lacked the closure I desired. From the beginning it was really a clandestine love affair, the type that has you ditching your friends and your family, and sneaking out of your bedroom window at two in the morning. No matter how much time we had together it never felt like enough. We were out of control. Or maybe I was, Arizona knew better. For the year I lived there it felt more like a working vacation than my home. Part of me knew it wouldn’t last.
Even when I went back to visit, I had trouble leaving. I wanted, like my friends, to just be in Arizona. They lived there, they didn’t have to leave, I wanted to maintain this existence too, but the real world grabbed me with its cold steal hands and shook me awake. My grandmother was dying, I had to leave, and I knew Arizona would still be there when I got back.
Arizona was a cold lover really. I was never sure if she really loved me back. She was always quiet and unresponsive, but never too busy to keep me company. Perhaps she was just being Arizona. I’ll never know for sure, but she still haunts my mind like the memories of the summer I spent with my first boyfriend on the West Haven shore.
That summer we went to the beach often, to walk the strip. I wore a red and white-checkered sundress, it was hot, the sun hit my eyes as it sparkled on the water’s surface. Fish guts clung to the end of the pier, the only remnants of the early morning fishermen, where my boyfriend and I would profess our undying love for one another.
It’s refreshing to be in the desert once again. The breeze was airy, light, but hot as I drove to my apartment. Still, nothing is more beautiful than cruising through the dips and valleys between the cactus mountains. I pull the truck over and look beyond the road to see the how jagged Catalina Mountains stratified across the horizon are illuminated by desert sunset. Well, not really.The truth is even if I had $1052, and ample time, I don’t think I could ever really go back.