Sometimes in life you have to get a little lost before you are truly able to find your way.

Posts tagged ‘Friends’

Can’t Go Wrong With Ninjas, Divas and Three Drivers

I lived out in Sacramento for a few years after college. When I moved back east, saying goodbye to the friends I had made there was one of the hardest things I had ever done. That was one of the reasons why I sympathized so much with my friend Sarah when she called me from Sac-town several months ago saying she thought she might need to move back east. YAHOO! (for me anyway!) From that moment on everything moved at warp speed. By the time Sarah says something out loud she’s already made up her mind. We’re a lot alike in that regard.

She mentioned in passing, in an e-mail I think, how great it would be if she could just fly me out and we could drive back together. So I simply replied…”I’m in!” The response came almost immediately: “I’m jumping up and down. I’m literally jumping up and down in my office. Oh my God, are you kidding me? You’ll really come?” Ahhhh…yeah, I’m gonna pass up a free flight to one of my favorite places in the world and a week with one of my best friends…that sounds sane. Once that decision was made, our journey unfolded from there.

With a few weeks of Sarah-planning, here’s what we ended up with. Tommy (Sarah’s soon-to-be brother-in-law) and I had flights booked out to Sacramento. Sarah had her job transferred, her belongings shipped, and had moved into a friend’s house with her dog. She is nothing if not efficient. (Her slightly satanic cat stayed behind at her old house with her roommate until moving day.) There were THREE going-away parties planned, which is only barely sufficient if you actually know this girl. The week was NONSTOP!!! Between arrivals and parties and finishing work and surfing and packing…it was a whirlwind! Here’s a taste of what it all looked like….

The night before we hit the road, Sarah’s closest friends gathered to celebrate and say goodbye. There was food…

There were gifts, and stories…

There was a lot of comforting one another!

And the next morning came the final goodbyes…everyone said there would be no crying….

That didn’t really work out so well…for anyone, actually. Yeah, that brave face held on for about another 2 seconds!

At some point everyone just gave up trying not to cry. There’s a thin line between tears and laughter…turns out it’s Sarah!

Even the mighty Sarah was a fountain that day…and rightfully so. It’s an amazing place and what an incredible crew to have to leave behind. They really are a little bit of magic.

Then we were off!

There had been an original plan for our route back east, then a revised plan, maybe one more after that. But then came the day of plan which rocked because I’d never driven this route before. We took Rt. 50 over the Sierra into Tahoe…

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

then 395 down the east side of the mountains past Mono Lake…

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

Then we hit Mammoth, Death Valley….

And later than night, Vegas!

Photo Credit: Tommy Boll

The next day we hit the Grand Canyon and then we were in full cruise mode. Pandora’s Classic Hip Hop station became the soundtrack for the better part of our journey. We had fun with Mad Libs (ninjas and divas specifically – the ninjas were the best!), state trivia, songs that brought us all back to the good old days (that would be the 80s and early 90s by the way) and of course the staple of any good lengthy road trip…updates on everyone’s bowels…who had one in the hopper and who’d finally cleared the hopper and who would definitely be needing to clear the hopper first when we arrived at our hotel that evening. Good times.

We made incredible time, despite all the stops. We got back here to Virginia about half a day ahead of schedule, so Tommy and Sarah decided to keep on truckin’ and surprise the anxiously waiting sister and bride-to-be by arriving in the wee hours of the morn’.

The thing about a trip like this is, that it can be miserable and long and painfully boring, even to the point that it drives you nearly mad. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be travelling with such great companions as I had, it goes by in a flash. And before you know it, you’re back home again wondering how on earth you crossed so many miles in such a short time. But you’ve got some awesome memories and great pictures and Mad Libs that have you rolling on the floor no matter how many times you read them!

For me there was the added bonus of being able to go back to Sacramento (thanks SAS!) and visit with so many people who are dear to me. I also got to reconnect with a place that long ago captured not just my imagination, but a piece of my heart. And even better than that, I got to be there for my friend as she made her trek back east and said goodbye to it all…at least for a while. So journey on my friend, your story continues in the east for now. And never a dull page have you written! So here’s to great friends both near and far; spontaneous trips to retrieve all the Sarahs of the world (could there be more than one??); and surviving it all with a killer cat in the car! Oh yeah…meet Princess Kiki!

Sarah: "Kitty...stop growling. That's not nice. And please stop clawing my leg or you'll have to go back in your giant cage."

And if you’re worried about how much time she spend in the cage…check out the left side of this pic…it should ease your mind!

It’s actually a large dog crate…she was ridin’ in style! Smallest passenger, largest cabin…the things we’ll do for love (or survival…whatever you want to call it!)

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Thank you and Screw you!

To the kind stranger on the bus, my appearance must have matched how I was feeling the other day when you offered me your seat. It was a long ride and you didn’t have to do that. I want you to know how very grateful I am for your genuine kindness. Thank you.

To my beloved furry friends, you have been by my side during every high and low of this remarkably long journey. You never waver. We celebrate together, we get knocked down together; and get right back up together…we endure together. You embody all that is unconditional. I love each of you so much. Thank you.

To my Coworker, you are just awful. Daily you put on your little show of friendship while undermining me further and further. You betrayed my confidence and revealed sensitive information regarding my medical condition to our boss all in an effort to take my job. How do you live with yourself? Screw you.

To my Doctor, Thank you for finally being the first to not give up on me. To not tell me that my only option is pain management with narcotics. To commit to finding the real answers, no matter what it took. For not being afraid to admit that you don’t have the answers right now, but we’ll figure it out together no matter how many specialists we have to work with. Thank you for being so committed to helping me stop just surviving, and finding a way to start living again! Thank you!

Dear random person on the street full of judgement and ignorance, you don’t even know I exist. You have no idea I overheard your horrible conversation the other day about the guy from your office who was “annoying the crap out of you” because your boss had agreed to give him a special schedule because “he freaking has headaches or some shit.” You said “it’s a freaking headache, get over it already! If I whined and asked to go home every time I got a headache I’d never get anything done!” Then I heard you say the word “cluster.” You even said that you had no idea what it was! You admitted that you are not educated about what this man is going through, and yet you have no problem judging him or your boss for his need to have an altered work schedule? I highly suggest that you do look up cluster headaches and I pray that you will never have first hand experience of what your co-worker is going through as it is one of the most painful headache disorders known to man! Screw you!

To my Dear Friend, you have been there for me, been there with me, literally, through so many difficult times, and equally, I am so pleased to be able to say, through so many wonderful moments over the years. Ours is a bond that is seemingly unbreakable. I am so grateful to you for so many, many things. Thank you!

Dear Wonderful Coworker, Thank you for being so fair, and brave. We hardly knew one another, but you saw something unjust taking place, and you came to me with the truth just in time for me to save myself. I am so grateful to you for your amazing strength of character, your grace and your selflessness. Thank you!

To my Boss, I know you are still young and fairly inexperienced. I make some allowances for that. Only some. Rather than comment on the past, I will wish you better for the future. I will hope that you will learn from the mistakes that have been made. I will hope that my life will have impacted you significantly enough that should you again work with someone with a chronic illness, you will remember how much more effort it takes to do the same work, and that he or she is coming to work sick/in pain everyday, so if they are calling out sick, it’s because things are really, REALLY bad, and that your remarks questioning the veracity of their claim are entirely inappropriate. I know not everyone who suffers from chronic conditions is a paragon of truth, so of course, use your discretion, but that, I would hope, would already have been done before you hire. Going forward, please keep in mind what people go through. Try to imagine walking in their shoes before you hit them over the head with them. Screw you!

To my Family, I know that my illness has taken a great toll on you all, but you have supported me in so many amazing ways. I know that you have not always agreed with all of my treatment options, but you’ve recognized that all options had to be explored. I know that above all else, it has been so difficult to not be able to fix any of this for me, to not be able to make me feel better, not to be able to make it right or lessen my pain. But you have all been with me along this journey, sometimes literally!…but always supporting me in ways that I have needed. I know you hate all the medication, but thank you for finally realizing that I have exhausted all of the other options. It is not ideal; I do not enjoy it, but I accept it and it makes me better. I am grateful to each of you for all the many ways you have helped me pass the point of just existing, just surviving, so I can get back to living. Thank you.

To my Love, this battle has taken perhaps that greatest toll on you. You have had to live it with me every day. Through every high and every low. Every dashed hope, every failed treatment. Every insurance battle and long night in the E.R. You have weathered all of my positive moments and my hopeless crashes and burns. You’ve played chauffeur, nurse, (despite your fear of needles!), even cook and maid when I could get off the couch for months on end. You’ve gone to extremes I would never have asked or expected. There were good moments. There were not so good moments. But you loved me through all the moments. Each and every one. I am so grateful for the many ways you saved my life. Sadly it cost us our life together.

To myself, thank you for getting up and tackling each day as an opportunity. THANK YOU!

Where is home?

The concept of home is a challenging one for me. There are so many ways to interpret it. Where I was born, where I grew up, where I have spent the most amount of time, where I
feel most connected to (geographically, that is), where my friends and family are, where the man I love is. If only all of those things could be in the same place! But of course, as the case is for most people, they are in quite different places for me. I was born and raised (for most of my childhood and adolescence) in northern Massachusetts. I went to school six hours away in Pennsylvania. I moved to California, a place I had fallen in love with as a child and somehow “knew” was the place where I belonged. I spent 6 months studying abroad in Tanzania, a place I had known I would go to since before grade school. I lived in New Hampshire while I got my Master’s degree and got engaged. I have lived in Virginia for six years, during the most productive time in my career as well as the most painful moments of my life, and all the moments that followed while I put myself back together.  My friends are scattered far and wide across the country. Most of my family is scattered along the Eastern Seaboard from top to bottom. I am not married. I have not worked in my field for three years. I am in transition. But where will I find myself when I begin the next chapter? The place that feels most like home? (Sacramento) Or somewhere closer to most of the people I love – perhaps here in Virginia?

People always say “home is where the heart is” and “just follow your heart; it will always lead you home.” What if my heart is scattered in all directions, pieces of it residing in the places I love most, California and Tanzania, and pieces fumbling around trying to keep up with all the people I love all over the country? For a time, I was convinced that I could not be happy anywhere but northern California. Then it came time to go, and the ties that bind me to the people on the East Coast fortified themselves, and I chose to stay. The pattern has repeated itself. I find that now I am, for whatever reason, inclined to stay here, though I still ache to be back in Sacramento. My mother always taught me that home is where your friends and family are. I know this is the reason I’m still here. And perhaps it will keep me here. But I’m not sure if it will ever convince me that this place is truly home.

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