Thursday, April 24, 2008

Faces and Places

Episode I

"If you can wake up in a different time and in a different place can you also wake up a different person?"

Thats how Tyler Durden came to be but I'm afraid I don't have the gumption to pull off that wardrobe. Or the cheekbones for that matter.

I got back from Washington DC on Sunday night. It was the first time I've been back to my mission since I went home and the first time I've seen my cousin's set up out there. All I've been doing since is processing the strange and marvelous experience it is and was. I've tried to figure out a way to put all of into some kind of charming travelogue but all I find is myself recuperating from traveling 6000 miles within 72 hours and the consequential mental fog.

So I'll just dump down what I've got and probably go back and edit about 4 times, like I do with all of my blogs but be forewarned - this might be lengthy....

The week leading up to the trip was, to put it mildly, insane. I was asked to teach at this Stake Inservice meeting and to teach teachers how to teach. I was a bit deer-in-the-headlightsish about the matter because I'm essentially a kid still and have limited experience in many many matters, principally that I'm not a mother (the most basic kind of teacher). So I felt ill-qualified. Taking an instructive position with one older, more experienced person is a bit off-setting so the thought of instructing a room full of leaders left me all but petrified. So I did what any self respecting girl would do in the situation.

I put on my pearls and Oscar de la Renta shoes, slaved over a graphic filled powerpoint and prayed really hard. Wednesday night was when it went down and I was flying out Thursday night.

I didn't have a single chance to get away and buy the boots I've been needing, or the dress I've had my eye on, or to get my toes and/or nails done. Not a bloody thing. I was lucky to get laundry done and make the plane.

I was taking the red eye Thursday night, touching down in Charlotte, NC and then catching a connector to DC. The LAX to NC flight was oversold and I didn't have a definite seat assignment so I was a bit irked and afraid even if I DID make it on the plane that I would get some crappy center seat and not be able to sleep a wink and be a miserable bunch of yuck the whole next day. I didn't want to start my trip off in a twit so I said a few silent fervent prayers in those crusty black leather trademarked LAX seats and when they called my name and gave me my ticket it was window seat at the front of the plane. Miracle #1 (there are a good many on this trip so stay tuned) I got to sleep most of the flight but I kept having disturbing dreams of being trapped at airports, needing to pee and dealing with planes full of the creepy goblins from the Spiderwick Chronicles (NOT a children's move btw) that were trying to take over the airport. Just weird crap. But the funniest part of the flight was before we were even on our way to the runway the woman behind me started snoring like it was an Olympic sport. I mean, everyone on the plane was ready for bed and planning to sleep. Half of us were asleep just sitting around waiting to board but this lady was GOING FOR IT. After about 3 huge ZZZZZZRRRRKKkkskkskssrrssss I couldn't hold it in anymore, broke the stunned silence, and just giggled till I got it out. What was refreshing that the rest of the forward cabin that was subject to the arresting din of that woman's nasal cavity followed suit had a good chortle too. It was like explosive chortle therapy.

AHhhh - plane rides... where would we be without the stories you provide?

So - I landed in NC. It was clean and gorgeous and I was sad and charmed. Sad that I was in the same state as my little bro and couldn't say hi but charmed by the huge atrium that is their central plaza complete with full grown trees and white rocking chairs beneath them. Var var nice. Very very Southern. They were giving out chicken biscuits too. That was lovely. I'll be back NC, just you wait.

So I finally land in DC at Dulles and am totally amazed that the gate I was at was the same gate I got off as a missionary 9 years ago (miracle #2). There wasn't the welcoming committee of my mission president, his wife and the three assistants like there was before, but it was the same gate with the same shops with the same strange and exciting smells. Then I got hugs, they all carried my luggage, and met me at the gate but this time around I had to find my own way and carry my own luggage. Miraculously (#3) my luggage was the first one off of the carousel. That never happens to me.

This trip was funny in a number of ways. One was that I was staying with a group of girls that, honestly, I had never met. Christian (my cousin I was visiting) has this marvelous ability to introduce me to awesome and amazing people. I've noticed that the cousin types and I sometimes share friends like we would clothes. We're all pretty similar personalities with similar senses of humor so we often find ourselves one big group of happy most of the time.

There were two particular girls that had been on the same email list as myself or something sometime a year and a half back and we somehow started chatting. I honestly can't remember how the introduction process went exactly, just that we got wind of each other, started IMing and all was well. Now they're both regulars and people I consider real friends. What was funny that we had never actually shook hands. It's pretty weird how IMing and Facebook photo albums have the ability to make you feel totally familiar with someone but it does.

One of them Jennie (hi Jennie!) picked me up (because everyone else was working) and we went home and gallivanted the DC landscape. We drove in to Alexandria from Arlington and she was patient with all of my missionary ramblings

"we used to tract in there all the time! And we contacted people in that CVS all the time! We weren't allowed to be here after night fall by ourselves, the elders yelled at us once about it........ And that's where I met Roberto. I met him at the metro and 3 weeks later he was passing the sacrament. And we broke down there once and that's where we accidentally went outside the mission"

Would. not. shut. up. And she, in her sleep deprived, medical student with a looming 15 page paper due super sweet way, heard me and we had a lovely proper time.

We grabbed lunch at this Italian place in Old Town Alexandria complete with a quiet back room (that I'm sure was where secret documents were exchanged at some given point) and stogie smoking man in front.

We attempted to hang out at Mt. Vernon but it was this plantation and the actual house was like a mile hike in and it cost $15 and we only had about an hour to do it all, so we just gave ole Georgie a salute. He knows we care, and we headed off to GLADYS KNIGHT

Now - I should tell you...

Two weeks ago Patrick and I went to one of the coolest concerts on the planet. It was called the Hotel Cafe Tour. The Hotel Cafe is this music joint on Cahuenga that is a singer/songwriter zone only. Some of the best acts in town are regulars. Like, imagine the Garden State soundtrack artists having a get together every night - Yeah. Hotel Cafe.

So... anyways. A few of these guys decided to get a single band together and a bus and shack up for 6 weeks and go on tour - hence Hotel Cafe Tour. I was looking for tickets for William Fitzsimmons sometime in January and I came across this gig and started looking at the bill and my jaw kept dropping lower and lower and lower with the names. Cary Brothers, Sara Barilles, Priscilla Ahn, Joshua Raiden, Greg Laswell, Meiko, Ingrid Michaelson, Dan Wilson all of these people along with William Fitzsimmons I had been joyfully listening to were all going to be in one place at one time. Needless to say I WAS EXCITED and the show was one of the single best shows I've ever been to. It's a post all its own, but one of the people who just shone through all of these acts was Ingrid (and that's saying something). Dude - she did a version of "Creep" on a ukulele and it was hauntingly beautiful.

I found out Ingrid was playing George Washington University the weekend I was going to be in DC so I hit up Christian and essentially said

"WehavetogoWehavetogoWehavetogoWehavetogo. Its only $15 and WehavetogoWehavetogoWehavetogoWehavetogo "

and he said

"Well..... I already have these Gladys Knight tickets.... and they're free."

So I said OK, a bit disappointed that I was going to be giving up Ingrid for the Motown Choir and stuff but still super excited to spend time with Christian and to visit the Alexandria Stake Center (one of my old areas).

But I properly repented after this show. It. Was. AWESOME. That little Gladys is one powerhouse of a woman. I can't remember feeling the spirit more strongly when someone was singing "I am a Child of God" and listening to hers and her husband's conversion stories and testimonies was amazing and uplifting, not to mention funny and refreshing. If you ever have a chance to catch her and her choir - DO. I really owe Christian for taking me.

Jennie didn't stay for the show, she went home to cuddle up to her paper so I was trusted to Christian's care and we went back to his place and I met his crew including his HLP. This is the Heterosexual Life Partner. They're rather affectionate best friends that ... happen to have... public... tickle fights...... and tell each other.... how hot they are.... and stuff. I dunno. It gets a bit creepy if I think about it too much so I'm not going to. I'll just say - I've heard about him from more than one person and how he had the nickname "Greek god" on his mission (given to him by the members) and his 6' 8" Ivy League basketball playing self. He is an individual that is hard to miss and did fall going up Christian's basement steps because his size 22 feet didn't fit on the stairs. I wasn't used to someone being so quiet that was a good friend of my cousins though. That was a bit out of character. We're all pretty vocal in our circles so I'm still not sure what to make of him but - yes I've met the HLP.

A few weeks before, with the help of the HLP, Christian's church basketball team won the Stake championship and someone recorded it and Chris wanted to watch it that night. So yes - I sat in my cousin's basement and watched a recording of a church basketball game. That's how much I love my cousin. And honestly, it wouldn't be a family type trip without some kind of sporting event. At one point (in the game) Christian got heated and did the guerrilla arm thing at the ref and I said "There he is! There's my Chris!" because that's how I remember most of his high school games. At least that's the point where things got interesting at those games. We watched Hot Rod after that. This has become canon in family circles and I had yet to see it and for the parts that I was awake enough and energetic enough for I laughed and laughed. It's a strange feeling to find something totally hilarious, not have the energy to laugh, but desperately want to. It's a funny funny funny flick.

That night I crashed in the love sack at the ladies house, very grateful for a soft place and good people to lean on but mostly totally amazed and comforted at how everything still felt like home.


1 comment:

Liz W. said...

I'm glad you had such a fab time! (And, the next time you hear about great live music, let me know!)