|The Man from Swift Current|
|© 2011 Russ Nielsen
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|Chapter 22: University of Texas - El Paso|
Brett and I sat together on the plane. Brett volunteered to take the middle seat and let me sit by the window. I was grateful for that. Brett didn't have a problem sitting in the middle seat since he's short and skinny. He's about 5'4" with jet black hair and blue eyes. We had very similar interests except where sports were concerned. He is a walking trivia book when it comes to baseball, basketball, football or hockey. You can ask him any question about teams, players and their statistics and he can tell you the answer and more. Brett regaled me with all kinds of sports stories during the entire flight to Austin.
As we approached the baggage claim, I saw a man who had to be Brett's father. They could have been twins they looked so much alike. When we approached him, Brett's dad pulled him into an embrace, "Welcome home, son." Releasing Brett, he turned to me, "Why don't you introduce me to your friend?"
"This is Glenn Nielsen. He is staying with his grandparents in Georgia while he decides where he is going to college," Brett said.
"I'm glad to meet you Glenn. I'm Arthur Martin but my friends call me Art," he said smiling at me. "You know I am hoping you'll decide to attend the university here?"
"Yes, Brett told me that yesterday. I haven't decided where to go, yet. So I am open to considering Austin," I said.
"Good! Let's get you guys home so you can relax a bit before we take you on campus. I'm sure Brett told you I have lined up a couple of appointments for you already."
"Yes he has. Thank you for setting them up for me," I said.
Art took us home to unpack and have lunch. Then we drove to the university and Art showed me around. Later we met with the different departments and had a nice discussion about classes and the general teaching philosophies each department had. I liked Austin but I was still undecided.
After spending time at the university, Brett took me to his favorite haunts and I met his friends. The week flew by and soon we were on a plane to El Paso. Brett's friends met us at the airport and drove us to their apartment in west El Paso. One kid, James, was from Samoa. He was one big kid! Huge and enormous don't even begin to describe how big this guy was. I've never seen anyone that big before! You could literally say that he was a mountain of a man and be pretty accurate. Brett's friend from high school, Roy, was the same height and build as Brett. They helped us settle in and then asked if we were ready to go out bike riding. They had road bikes and rode them to and from campus every day. I wasn't sure about going out riding bikes but Brett encouraged me to come with them.
So I ended up on a road bike trying to keep up with them. I couldn't believe all the hills we had to climb! It seemed there were hills everywhere. Why couldn't this place just be flat?! They would wait for me at the top of each hill and race down that one and up the next one while I tried not to die of exhaustion. I was so glad when we finally arrived on campus so I could get off the blasted bike. James and Roy took one look at me and burst out laughing.
"You don't ride bikes very often do you?" Roy asked.
"No, I don't," I replied more than a little frustrated.
‘Well, we will take the easy way home then. Let's go get you something to drink before we take you on a tour of the campus," Roy said.
I looked over at Brett who didn't seem at all bothered with the long bike ride. He just smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders as we followed James and Roy who led us to a little shop to get a water bottle and a candy bar. The rest of our visit to El Paso was uneventful once I got used to riding a bike everywhere. I liked the school but I was pretty sure I wouldn't attend college there. I told Brett and he seemed relieved that I had eliminated UTEP from consideration. We returned to Austin for a few days before our return to Atlanta. It was a good trip and I enjoyed being with Brett and his family.
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