Sunday, June 14, 2009

USA: "Let's Hear It for the Rainbow Tour"

It's been a phenomenal success. The East Coast Farewell Tour kicked off with a short drive up 95 North into the wilds of Long Valley, New Jersey. The drive up was beautiful, but ominously turned cold when I crossed into NJ. Upon arrival at my cousin Kat's house, I promptly unloaded my three suitcases and various garbage bags, dumped them on the floor, and scavenged a cold-weather outfit out of the random items of clothing and gear that did not make it into storage. This was deeply appreciated by my cousin's daughter, Marin, who employs a similar approach with her toys at bath time:

It had been about ten months since Marin and I had seen each other. And she just turned two. So I expected name recognition would only come with some gentle prompting. What I did not expect is for her to respond to Kat's question "Who's that, Marin? Who's that?" with my ex-boyfriend's name. Wait . . . what?

In the fac
e of such a humiliating re-introduction, I immediately employed my go-to strategy for winning people over: bribery. Plied with Pez and toddler jewelery, she was saying a bastardized version of my name in no time. We became further acquainted when I changed her diaper, washed her hair, and had a short tete-a-tete about the differences between old school Sesame Street and the the new one ("I agree, Marin, Oscar does seem more depressed in this episode.") By the time I left, there were some tears and even a "Noooooo . . . .not MereMere!"


Next stop: Durham, NC and the home of "Triple-A": Anna, Andy, and, now, Aiden. On my drive down, I reflected on the fact that at every major transition in my adult life, I find myself back at Anna and Andy's. Maybe its because I entered adulthood with Anna (we were college roommates) and when on the precipice of another transition I find it reassuring to go back to the place where everything began. Maybe its continuity - her home affords me the opportunity to look back at every other time I've laid awake in her ridiculously soft guest room sheets and wondered if I was doing the right thing, only to come through
ok. Or maybe its because she's always a couple steps ahead of the life curve, and she makes me hopeful about what could come next. For example, anything this cute can't be all bad, right?:

Aiden O'Connell at the beginning of his baby-modeling career. On this day, he waived his fee.

The next day over to Dori and Jack's for some adult playtime. We had a lovely meal in the revitalized downtown of Durham followed by a long stint at the wine bar across the street from Dori and Jack's condo (so convenient). The evening almost came to an abrupt halt when, walking over to the wine bar, I stepped in (and got seriously stuck in) wet concrete. Once I freed myself, I was pleased as punch that my platform heels are forever immortalized in the Durham sidewalk. I'll have to go back and sign my name next to the imprint, Grauman's Chinese Theater-style.

And finally, on to Greensboro, NC. Normally a week in Greensboro would make me want to pull my hair out. Driving into the city, I let a waive of anxiety float over me and just let it go. There was too much to do. Backpacks to decide on, PacSafe equipment to buy, convertible pants to scope out. All of this was assisted by the fact that Greensboro has been undergoing its own little renaissance while I have been in DC, complete with an REI store. Since arriving in Greensboro last Sunday, I've made no fewer than 12 trips to the Friendly's store, carefully mulling over the choices in one or two designated categories and buying only items in that day's pre-selected categories. Its not the most efficient process, but its my process.

More fun than picking out travel gear was visiting with two of my best friends from high school - Jennifer and Debbie - and their daughters - Emory and Molly (respectively). I took my mom with me in the hopes that holding their babies would satiate any immediate need for grandchildren.

Jennifer Leary and her daughter, Emory

Debbie's daughter, Molly (being held by an overly-ecstatic Lois Bailey)


On Sunday, my family bid me "Bon Voyage" with brunch and a cake (see below) at Lucky 32 in downtown Greensboro.

Daie and Wodie at Lucky 32 Farewell Brunch

Align CenterMe with Eight-Year-Old Version of Me Plastered to "Bon Voyage" Cake

If I had it to do over again, I would have left the country a week sooner. At three weeks out, the time has started to drag. Plus, this much downtime makes my going away seem anticlimactic. Nevertheless, its been nice to visit with friends and family on their schedule, and taking my time getting reacquainted with old friends.

Tomorrow I leave for Costa Rica. Hasta la vista amigos!


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