Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SummerTime - Part Three

Even though I'm still wearing flip flops and tank tops; even though my bikinis are on permanent rotation; even though the thermometer outside reads 90 degrees, Summer 2012 is over. That means it's time to wrap up my SummerTime posts.

After our sandy family (Chris' side) vacation in the Outer Banks during early August, we flew back to Miami for a final pack-and-load session.

 In the span of twenty-four hours our condo in Coconut Grove was empty and our car was full. We said our final farewell to our family and friends in Miami, with promises to visit and keep in touch, and finally began our much anticipated cross-country move. That first night, after a long and wet drive followed by a spontaneously amazing sunset, we made it as far as Destin, at the tip of the Florida panhandle, right on the Gulf Coast.

We stayed with our friend Ben, who kindly welcomed us into his home offering two types of beer and an assortment of cheese and bread, which he sliced for us on his expensive laptop. We hadn't seen him since the summer before, when we were driving to Florida from California, so there was much to discuss, primarily the change in girlfriends.

The following morning, after a filling skillet breakfast, we headed out. Our goal was to drive until San Antonio (inching our way towards my parents home in the extreme south of Texas), and after driving eight hundred miles, crossing four states, and gaining two hours, we finally made it. We stayed the night at my friend Art's apartment and arrived early enough to have drinks before last call. We met up with my old roomate and "cousin", Alex, and some of my best friends from highschool, at a bar that served us pitchers of Shiner Bock and had heavy metal on the jukebox. Afterwards we went to Josh's house where his sweet girlfriend fried some chicken for us.  It all reminded me of the three years I lived in San Antonio and made me remember why I have such a warm place in my heart for Texas, despite all of it's obvious bullshit.

The next morning, after eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, we headed south to the Rio Grande Valley ("The Valley" to locals). Four hours later we pulled into the driveway at my parents' house and settled in for a five day rest. My dad had just flown in from Kansas a few days earlier and we were all eagerly awaiting the subsequent arrival of our Colombian family members that were also driving from Miami on their way to Dallas.

Of course I was very excited with the prospect of seeing those members of my family again, but my heart was racing with the immediate gratification of finally seeing my Bear again. He's been a part of my life for eleven years and my love for him is truly unconditional.  He's lived with me the majority of his life but there are times when I'm unable to care for him and then he goes to live with a relative. He lived with my brother for two years while I was in Honduras and right now he's living with my mom, aunt, and abuelita while we find a place to live in San Diego that is suitable for him.

Once the others arrived we got busy hanging out and our time in The Valley was well spent. We didn't leave the comfort of the house except to buy breakfast and margarita accoutrement.

While some may find staying at home for five days boring, I had a great time. The days were slow and leisurely, filled with reading, lounging by the pool drinking margaritas and home-brewed beer, entertaining our two little cousins, going on sno-cone runs, and sitting through long hearty meals soaked in hearty conversations. 

At night the entire family would gather out back with refreshments to take in the colorful sunsets over the lake. Soon we would be lost in conversation while the bright colors slipped into black.

It may be a sign of maturity, or age, or both, but I love spending time with my family, and, the more family, the merrier. When I was in high school and college I chose to spend most of my time away from my family, even foregoing holiday vacations because I couldn't pull myself away from my friends - they were everything to me. Now, as much as I still adore my friends, I am happier and more comfortable being with my family than anyone else. Now, when I go back to The Valley, I usually stay home instead of going out; something I'm sure my stubborn and dramatic teenage-self swore she would never do. 

As you can imagine, then, saying goodbye after our brief but wonderful stay was an emotional event for us all. Nevertheless, Chris and I headed out knowing we still had fifteen hundred miles to drive and a new life chapter to begin.

Two days later we made it to our temporary (and still current) California home: the in-law's house. I was ecstatic to see Kaya because I hadn't seen her since May when Chris' parents took her and Bear with them to make our convoluted summer easier to handle. Bear I had already seen twice, having just visited Texas on two separate occasions, but it had been three full months without Kaya's company. We cuddled immediately, then unloaded the car.

But our arrival in California was very brief for soon afterwards we boarded an airplane headed back east, this time to the north, to attend a wedding (my third this summer) on the Vermont/New Hampshire border.

It was our second time visiting there - the first rendezvous having been three years before when the bride and groom had just met - so we spent it in the magical glow that happens when life does it's full-circle thing. Both Eddie and Laura come from Jewish backgrounds so they had a Jewish wedding. It was my first time attending a one and it was a blast. I especially enjoyed how they managed to keep the event classic while adding their own flare, such as tango lessons (Laura's family is Argentinian), a mesmerizing Hawaiian dance prayer (Eddie's family is from Hawaii), having Chris walk their dog, Figo, down the aisle, and cutting flowers from their home garden for the beautiful clay vase centerpieces which the groom made himself.

The bride and groom were so laid-back and content during the entirety of the weekend that they didn't even mind when Chris and a few other guys decided to be pranksters on the wedding day and bought a case of Smirnoff Ice with which to "Ice" everyone they could prior to the ceremony. Naturally, Eddie was the first one to succumb to the "Icing" and he took it like a gentleman - on his knees.

The best part of the entire wedding was that instead of leaving that Sunday, a group of us stayed a few extra nights and were able to enjoy each other's company and saturate in the beauty that is the North Eastern U.S during the summer. We hiked part of the Appalachian trail; we swam in the cool Connecticut River; we released lanterns into the night sky; we made and baked pizzas in an outdoor community clay oven; we played frisbee, corn hole, bochee ball, and miniature golf; we ate every meal together like a family; we sang every night while Ben played guitar; we drank a lot of beer and laughed till we cried. As corny as it may all sound, it was awesome

Then all good things must come to an end and our flight out of Boston was fast approaching. So again, for what seems like the millionth time this summer, we had to bid a bittersweet adieu to a group of wonderful people, with nothing left but good memories and the hope of seeing them again soon.

We got to Boston several hours early so we could hang out with one more friend before our return to the West Coast.  Tara, my friend from Peace Corps, lives in Cambridge so when she heard we would be in Boston for a little while she jumped on the subway and met us downtown. We promptly had brunch and then she did her best tour guide impersonation and took us along part of The Freedom Trail.

It was our first time in Boston and we both enjoyed it and wished we could have stayed longer. There was so much history to see, so many more Boston accents to listen to, and the weather was beautiful - sunny, warm, and clear, which Tara assured me isn't normal. So we made the best of our short time there and when we boarded the airplane for the flight home we were both exhausted from our walk around.

And there it is, our hectic summer laid out neatly in three parts with easy to follow pictures, all labeled under that grammy award winning song from DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince - Summertime. Hope you've enjoyed the journey. Check back soon for updates on our new California life!


Chris said...

man oh man... such good times. I'm glad we are going to have a Colombian xmas since we are running out of single friends for these sorts of weddings. Reliving the stories just now brings a tear to my eyes. Just means we've gotta an effort to keep getting together.

Hawaii next??


ohbettinadear said...

So many fun travels this summer -- I'm green with envy!

Funny, how we yearn for more time with family more as we get older. I do think it's a sign of age and maturity (not to be conflated with one another), but also, I think it's a sign of having a nurturing, supportive family. I'm glad yours has been loving enough for you to value time with them as an adult.