This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Love and marriage at Arizona State University in the 1980s


Like most people who attended Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, I fell in and out of love many, many, times, but I knew that was too young for marriage. The mention of marriage made some friends of mine accuse girls of looking for their "Mrs. Degree", and I'd always heard that anyone who got married had to drop out of school. But like so many things I thought I knew, I was wrong.

A good friend of mine got married while he was going to ASU. I attended the wedding, which was held in a little "get married under neon lights" chapel on Van Buren. I remember meeting his wife, who spoke very little English at the time. I remember seeing their first born, whose nose I would pull off (if you've never seen the trick, it's done by holding your thumb between your fingers and turning your hand sideways, revealing what looks like a little nose). I would say, "¡Mira, tengo su nariz!" (Look, I have your nose!).

My friend stayed in school, went on to a career in his chosen field, and at the same time was a family man. To me, since I saw it, it just seemed perfectly natural. Looking back now, from the vantage point of years, I now know that it was exceptional.

A few years later I called my friend and his wife answered, speaking to me in perfect English. I hadn't called for many years, but I remember that when she had answered in the past that I had had to use what little broken Spanish that I knew in order to communicate, and she had struggled with her English. I remember being impressed. Looking back now, I know that I shouldn't have been, but I didn't know.

Nowadays when I go to the Chuckbox, which is right across from the ASU campus, I watch the young people walking by. And it's easy to stereotype them, to imagine that they're all just young, irresponsible people, who just party all of the time. But I've seen different, and I know that real life is always much more complicated than what we imagine. And yes, it's OK to say, "I think I'm in love!", because I've actually seen love happen. It happens all of the time.


Image at the top of this post: Gammage Auditorium in the 1960s, Mill Avenue and Apache, Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State University

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