This is the closest I have been to Bat Country.

For the last three years, I have been living in Japan. Shortly after I had returned to my home land, I had unwittingly murdered a lizard. Out of the 19 types of lizard that are native to this region, I had happened to get acquainted with the only one that wanted to live in my shoe like a damn elf. 

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I am not one for air travel. I would have liked to have been in my 20’s. What 20-something doesn’t yearn for travel and shenanigans outside their place of origin? I was no exception to that same yearning. Regardless, I missed out on travel due to circumstances that were out of my control. I think that if I did have that opportunity, I would not have seen all air travel for the horror-show that it is. Instead, I probably would have seen it as “just people coming together, man.”

Perhaps it worked out in my favor that travel became a lot hard in the 2000’s?

Regardless, my wife and I had spent the last three years in Japan with our family on a work trip. Eventually, the work ended and we needed to come back to the States for more work. Thanks to my wife’s employers, for the next year we are going to be living in Arizona.

Admittedly, I was a bit nonplussed about living in the desert. It’s the desert.

Sure, it’s a nice change of scenery when you contrast it against Japan. But when you look past the landscape, Arizona is an immigrant state, a state that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The southern portion of that state seems vast and dangerously hot while the top portion is full of forests and temperatures that everyone can live with.

When you consider the population growth over time, you can’t help but see that no one is from here, “originally”. Phoenix is presently the only capital in the US that has breached the 1 million inhabitants. Thanks to this growth, the need for expansion is constant. While this is ok for the economy, what people aren’t aware of is the fact that most building materials retain heat. Because of this expansion and heat retention, the “hot season” has started three weeks earlier and ended three weeks later, as of January 2019. This in turn, has resulted in air conditioners being run on a near constant basis. On top of that, more people are driving (instead of embarking on other modes of transport, because it’s too hot…) which has in turn yielded poorer air quality.

In the end, people keep coming here.

By some miracle, jet lag didn’t catch up with me upon our reentry into our motherland. I still don’t understand how I did it. I slept in the connecting airport after our Japan flight. I also slept on our flight to Arizona. We got to our hotel late and we all slept in the next day. Every day after that, during our first week back, I was perfectly fine. I guess I just got lucky.

A few days later and in spite of my dumb luck with jetlag, my wife had stated that she would like to start going to the gym again. As any good husband knows, a statement like that is encoded. When she says she, she means WE. As in, “we should start going to the gym again”.

I am a good husband. I also don’t mind exercise and I love my wife.

On one such occasion, we had come back to our hotel room from the gym. After we had checked in with the kids and got them sorted, I go to take my shoes off. As I take my left shoe off, I feel something off about the inside of the shoe.

“Probably the liner getting worn out”, I thought. So I stick my hand in there to straighten it out and my stumpy little hand comes back with a fistful of dead lizard.

Yes, I screamed. It was a manly scream, like “GAH! WHAT THE FUCK?”. 

The lizard was in my shoe the entire time that my wife and I were at the gym. It was a cardio heavy day. That is to say, my feet were moving quite a bit that day.  I jogged, I rowed, I used a stair master. The lizard never stood a chance.

Our desert year was off to a great start.

To date, my wife and I are regular gym-goers. On top of that, I check my shoes for squatters regularly. There hasn’t been a lizard in my shoe or seen by my own eyes, since this fateful day.