I decided to take advantage of my last big break before I entered the job world by traveling south to visit my (bio) family (someone pointed out that Jason is my family, a fact I love but had forgotten. Hey, we’ve only been married 5 months…). I’m so glad I was able to make the trip because it ended up being an incredible week spent with friends and family. What follows is my description of the week, written here purely for my benefit, a way of documenting what transpired. (In other words, it’s realllllly long and might be boring to anyone that isn’t me.)
Saturday (January 2)
Rode Grayhound from 10am until 5:30pm, having a momentary freakout when I thought I had missed a transfer. Got picked up by the fam and went to the mall for dinner. I realized how out of place it all felt, being surrounded by so many people and feeling kinda frumpy. I’ve never really liked going to the mall, too much consumerism and shallowness for my taste, but I felt further removed than ever. It was odd feeling like I was more acclimated to life up North than where I’d spent most of my life. I also realized how much I appreciate the laid back nature of where I currently reside. But. I also realized how, despite my distaste for crowds and the busybusybusy life of the city, I feel more alive and comfortable when I’m surrounded by lots and lots of people and activity, even if I have no direct involvement. It’s an odd kind of realization, one I’m still trying to wrap my head around more than a week later.
After dinner we walked around the mall a bit, catching up on little tid bits of life and (me in something of a daze) admiring the still-present Christmas decorations. Micah had gotten “Killer Bunnies” (crazy card game) for Christmas and wanted to teach us how to play. We couldn’t finish an entire game since we had to get up early-ish for church. It was complicated but I enjoyed it (did that have anything to do with the fact that I “won?”).
Sunday (January 3)
Went to church, caught up with people, was pleasantly surprised to see old friends that I hadn’t expected to see at all. Ate lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant locally owned. Mmmm good. Mom and I took Shadow on a long walk, talked some more about what’s going on in our lives and enjoyed the sunshine and each other’s company.
Micah and I went to a night service for the church we both worked for (he still works there actually). We were invited to Hilary’s (had no idea who this was or most of the people talking about it) house for a game of Settler’s of Catan. Micah and I were quite famished so we met a group downtown for dinner and headed over to Hilary’s. They had just finished setting up the game when we arrived (ka-chow, perfect timing) and since there were so many of us, we made teams. I decided to pair up with Tim. Yeah, had no idea who he was but he seemed nice enough. The game was quite intense and we would have won if everyone had decided to go to 10 points. Conveniently, the winning score wasn’t chosen until we had about 8 points and 12 was finally decided on. So we didn’t win, but in my mind, we did.
We moved to the living room after cleaning up and talked about college and the future. After a while, Hilary suggested we go to the playground down the street and play some games. She shot off names like “hot lava monster” (which I’m pretty sure everyone and their mom knows how to play) and “blastoff” (huh?). Everyone decided on “blastoff” and while we were walking down the darkened street, I asked Micah what this game was. He described it as one where you get thrown in the air. “Oh.” I was a little scared for my life. Turns out, it’s a pretty awesome game. Each arm and leg is held by different people and a fifth person stands over your head and counts off in a silly voice. We each got two turns and it was quite the rush to watch the people disappear from your periphery and just see the night sky filled with stars. Afterwards we played few rounds of hide-and-go-seek tag. As Micah and I walked back to the car, a cop car pulled up to the group we’d left behind. Apparently someone had called the cops because we had been too loud. Whatever. We got home at 11:30.
Monday (January 4)
Dad had asked if I was free for lunch so we headed over the mountains to the coast. It was a clear, sunny day, chilly in the shade but magnificent all around. After eating at a small diner, we walked the street and ended up spending about half an hour taking pictures of the outdoor section of a wonderful knick knack store. We kept exploring the town, stopping for dessert and then driving north to visit a small shop and then some tidepools. As we were driving back over the hill, we couldn’t help but stop and take some pictures of the sunset. We had to hop a fence and hike to the edge of the hill, but it was well worth the trek. That’s one thing I appreciate about Dad; as a fellow photographer he doesn’t mind hopping fences and working a little to get the shot he wants. We had a great time and I’ve added a lot to my photo pool.
That night we had an Office game night at our house. We had 6 people over, a total of 8 to play. One of the girls brought over enchiladas (sooo good!) and we feasted before diving into our board game. Because there were so many of us, we ended up having two two-person teams and a game that lasted about an hour and a half. Micah and Lauren had gotten six ties as prizes for those who won first (paisley) second (silver) and third (a bronze-ish color, kinda looked like gold) for both the games. Since the first game lasted so long, some people had to leave early so there were no teams for the DVD game. That one didn’t last nearly as long but we were pretty exhausted by the end. Lauren and Katie (Lauren’s sister) stayed to help wash and put away dishes and afterwards we played a card game called “Beans.” I ended up winning (w00t) and by the time they left, it was about 1:30am. It was a great night.
Tuesday (January 5)
After getting about 5 hours of sleep, I headed to The Best Thrift Store In The World and then met an old friend at Starbucks. We had a nice time catching up as we watched the cars go by outside. It was then that I was reminded again of how different that world is from the one I’m living in now. There’s a lot more glamor masking the poverty and it’s a lot easier to hide behind fancy cars and spacious homes, forgetting the state of most of the world, including the third-world citizens inhabiting the very city one resides in. I was struck again by the way poverty doesn’t hide here, there are signs everywhere reminding me that I’m so blessed to have a home, income and regular meals. This issue continues to tug at my heartstrings.
The rest of the afternoon was spent making pizza dough and experimenting with toppings, walking Shadow around the neighborhood and catching up on my leisure reading. That night Mom and I headed to the City to watch the famous “Wicked.” I had heard so many wonderful things about the show and was very excited to finally witness it for myself. I was not disappointed and neither was Mom. She kept thanking me for the idea (when I found out Leanna was going on Friday, I decided to ask Mom if she wanted to see it too). The music, props, costumes and cast were incredible. I loved seeing “behind-the-scenes” of the classic “Wizard of Oz” story. Absolutely brilliant. Thanks, Mom.
Wednesday (January 6)
Since both my parents weren’t working (Dad was required to use his vacation time and Mom had requested the day off since she knew we’d get home late from “Wicked”) the three of us headed up to The City. We walked around the skyscrapers, visited Coit Tower and the Legion of Honor, and browsed Amoeba Music on Haight street. I loved being able to spend some quality time with my parents and see parts of The City I hadn’t seen before.
At 10 o’clock that night I went over to Katie’s place to celebrate our friend’s birthday and play “Murder Mystery” (inspired by The Office, our favorite show). The game actually didn’t start until about 10:45 and we finished well after midnight. Fortunately, I wasn’t the murderer, although I thought I was at first. It was pretty awesome and we had a lot of fun developing our characters and practicing our southern accents (well, I didn’t, but some of us did). Good times. I think I got home at 3am.
Thursday (January 7)
Micah was supposed to drop me off at Leanna’s on his way to work but his car wasn’t working. So I was going to ride a bike to her house but she was able to pick us up (*whew*). We ended up sitting in the backyard, enjoying the sunshine and watching her two black labs frolic in the grass. As it started cooling down, we headed inside and talked some more. We caught up on each other’s lives talking about everything from cooking to kids. It was wonderful to just hang out. I’m glad to hear she’s staying in the area so I can pretty much see her anytime I visit my parents.
Mom picked me up at 5:15 and we headed to the bank to cash in some of my bonds (they’re how I paid for this last(!!!) semester of school :). I was told that they could only cash in 5 of my 27 bonds per day (I already knew this) but the guy knew I needed the money by Saturday so after he had done 5, he asked me to hand him 5 more. He also told me that bonds are kind of a gray area so he suggested that I bank hop and turn in 5 at a time at each the next day. I love helpful people.
Quiet dinner with my parents and then the house to myself for a few hours while they went to worship practice.
Friday (January 8)
I woke up at 6:30am to meet Steph for breakfast. It was a very brief meeting but it was great to spend some time with her since we missed each other over Thanksgiving break.
Our month-iversary. :) Jason was supposed to come on Saturday, stopping at his parents and spending the night there Friday night, but he ended up driving all the way down. I made more pizza dough so Jason could also experience the amazingness of “no red sauce” pizza. Mmmm. After Mom got home from work we went and picked up tickets for Avatar 3D and cashed in some more bonds. This bank told us that the interest couldn’t exceed $1,000 so I again turned in 10, leaving me with 7. Sweet. We went to yesterday’s bank and the lady told me she’d “play dumb” and cash in the 7. Hallelujah, I had all the money to pay for school. Mom and I went to pick up Micah’s car from the shop and drop it off so he could get home. As we were driving back home, Jason called to say he had arrived and I told him we’d be there soon.
Oh. It was so good to see him. The week was bittersweet without him around. And I’m really glad he made it for our 5 month-iversary. That night we ate at a family-fave restaurant before heading to the movie. During the movie I discovered motion sickness. It didn’t help that the screen almost filled all my vision or that the 3D made the zigs and zags through the forest way too realistic for my taste. I had to perch the glasses on my head a few times to avoid having to leave the theater. But it was a good time despite the nauseous moments. Afterwards, a few of the movie goers (there were 9 in our group) came back to the house and we played another game of “Beans.” I won again (hahahaha). Then we played “Killer Bunnies” and Jason won with a single carrot! It was 3:30am by the time we were done cleaning up and 4 by the time we actually went to bed. Good times.
Saturday (January 9)
We slept in.
After eating lunch with my parents, Jason and I headed out to the thrift store. We found a lot of great stuff. He found a pair of pants and a really nice sweater-shirt thing. I found two shirts and an assortment of kitchen stuff (including a springform pan and two really nice cake pans :). We also came away with a really nice satellite chair (as we like to call them) that cost us $15 and the original owner $52. Boo-ya. AND. We found this totally random game that we were introduced to years ago by a friend. It’s called “Enchanted Forest” and it was in great condition. This is my favorite thrift store because on Tuesdays before 1pm all clothing is half off and on normal Saturdays and Sundays everything (except mattresses) is 30% off. They come up with all kinds of reasons to make Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) 50% off everything. So the Saturday we were there, everything was half off. We made out like bandits. Goodness I love that place.
After coming home with our loot, a few people came over to play another game of Settler’s in which Jason won. By the time we were done, there were 11 of us total and we had enjoyed a nice pasta meal put on by Micah and a few others gathered. We were all going to a Switchfoot concert(!!!!) in The City. We took separate vehicles and our group got a little lost but was able to find a parking garage for $8 not far from the venue. We walked through the darkened streets and found where the concert was to be held. Then we proceeded to follow the looooooooooong line until we found the end. As we were placing ourselves at the end of the line, we happened to see the Switchfoot members walk out of a Thai restaurant Right.In.Front.Of.Us. We were mere feet from them and they just smiled at us, we smiled back, exchanged salutations and said we’d see them later. Oh.My.Gosh. AND. We were the only ones that saw them since we were the only ones facing their direction. Wow. I loved that we didn’t freak out and act all fangirl on them; I’m sure they appreciated the low-key run-in.
The concert. It was amazing.
First, a band called Paper Tongues came on. I looooved them. The singer was really enthusiastic and fun, he danced all over the stage and had an amazing range. I really liked their sound and energy. And they pumped us up and were a good warm up for the main event.
Switchfoot. How does one describe one of their epic concerts? I doubt it’s really possible but I will try and highlight the main parts. The venue we were at was basically standing room only. Somehow Jon managed to get to the back of the crowd and get on top of the sound booth box thingy (at least I think that’s what it was since I couldn’t really see what he was standing on) and began singing from there, while crazy fans tried to grab hold. That in itself was quite epic. They played the entire “Hello, Hurricane” album (I sadly do not own it yet) and then got to their “oldies.” I, of course, decided to leave my purse and (therefore) my camera in the car and so do not have any good recordings of the concert, only a few terrible cell phone shots (that I’ll never be able to retrieve from my phone’s memory) and what I can remember from the night. They like doing mash-ups and they used Beyonce’s “Crazy Right Now” as the bookends to one of their songs (though I cannot for the life of me remember which of their songs was entangled in the “oh oh oh oh”s of Beyonce). When they played “Only Hope,” Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek joined Jon on the stage, gracing us with a beautiful guitar/violin duet and even singing the second verse. But for me the most amazing part of the show was when they played “Dare You to Move,” “Meant to Live” and “Awakening.” “Dare You to Move” has become something of a prayer for me and tears ran down my face as I joined the audience in lifting my hands and singing with all the breath left in me. “Meant to Live” had the strobe lights working double time and the audience off the floor and head bangin’ to the beat. And “Awakening” has always struck something in me and I think it fits in perfectly with where I’m at right now and the ambitions I have for myself.
It was, in a word, amazing. And Jason told me I should include the part where he got felt up before being allowed to enter the building.
Sunday (January 10)
We went to church, said hi and bye to people and ate lunch with my parents. Eventually we left my parent’s house, only to drive a few miles to the Best Barnes & Noble In The World. We didn’t leave there until after dinner and didn’t arrive at Jason’s parents until 7pm. We spent some time talking with Mom and then watched “Anger Management.” I was not impressed. But that comes as no surprise since I pretty much hate all Adam Sandler movies.
Monday (January 11)
We had breakfast with Mom and then drove back home. But do I really consider it home since my heart literally ached to be leaving? Or was it just the dread of leaving the sunshine (though I guess not really since it was overcast when we left) and coming back to school in a week? I’m not really sure but it was difficult to leave and every mile weighed on me.
It’s better now that we’re back and have spent some time with the people we love up here. But it’s still difficult to think about only seeing our families every now and again for fleeting moments. sigh Life goes on and so will I. I’m just so thankful that I was able to visit for an entire week and that I was able to do so much. I came down not really having any plans for the week and quickly filled my schedule. It was wonderful and amazing and and and.
Btw, congratulations if you read every word of this amazingly loooooong post. You must be really bored. ;)