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Thursday, March 31, 2011

California: Where Best Friends Reunite

Ever since I got back from California, my intentions have been to publish a blog about the trip and general updates on my life...and every time I got ready to write it out, something else came up. Getting back to my normal routine and time zone after I got back proved to be much harder than I thought, because I experienced very little jet lag or general fatigue while in California. Then I realized, I didn't have a chance to let anything like jet lag set in, since we were practically on the go from the moment I landed at SFO. More than likely, the crazy long, intense fatigue I had when I got back to Chattanooga was actually a crazy combination of both sets of jet lag. I am very glad that I worked the morning I left for CA, and even more so that I worked the night I got back. I'm totally aware of how weird that sounds, but by working up until I left, I didn't have time to let myself go crazy worrying I had forgotten something, and by choosing to go straight into work after I got back into town, I didn't give myself the time or opportunity to feel the sadness of the end of the trip. Pure adrenaline propelled me through the first day of work after coming back, plus I realized that I missed my friends and work buddies, and it felt nice to have everybody so happy to have me back. Once I actually let myself relax a little, however, that fatigue hit hard and fast...and honestly I don't think I fully got over it for a couple of weeks. After going to school at Ole Miss and living in a central time zone for 5 years, I realized I really prefer it over eastern time. So going to California where they were 3 hours, instead of just one, behind us? LOVED IT. If I had to choose what time zone to live in, though, I'd probably go with central--right in the middle and convenient...and then I'd also probably be living in MS (my dream ultimately). In all honesty, I didn't think I'd be in CA long enough to get used to the time change to the point it would affect me, but apparently I did. At any rate, I worked for a good number of days straight after returning, feeling tired but functional, and then I had 2 days off in a row. This is when I realized how completely drained I really was, and I ended up sleeping for somewhere between 24 and 36 hours, waking up only a handful of times to go to the bathroom and get water. When I finally got up from my hibernation, I was dizzy as hell...seeing as how I don't think I am capable of making and eating food in my sleep. Even though I got up for water a few times, I was pretty dehydrated too, so I felt pretty crabby until I drank a few cups of water and ate roughly my weight in food. A cloud of minor aggravation at, well, everything sort of hung around me for a few days, and then I was fine...just in time to spend an extra 7 hours at work over the course of three shifts preparing for our SARS evaluation from our new DM. Totally not EVEN going to get into how the SARS went--I mean, it was fine but the process itself was ugh. Since I've worked the night before pretty much all of the RVP, DM, VP, CEO, etc. visits (seriously, I may have not worked on maybe 2 occasions out of dozens), these actually don't totally mess me up or anything, and being a night person by nature it typically works to my advantage that a lot of the cleaning and extra prep has to be done after the store is closed and the customers are gone. Nonetheless, I'm grateful that the visit happened just long enough after my return to allow me to get out of that weird funk my head was in.

In my head, I was going to give a play-by-play of my time in California, but after I spent a bunch of time making a scrapbook (which I'm ubet proud of btw), I just don't feel like it anymore. I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking, but I'll talk about a little of it. First off, my trip lasted from March 9-14, though as I previously mentioned I did work the morning of the 9th and the evening of the 14th. The Groome Shuttle took me from Chatty to Atlanta, where I had a direct flight to San Francisco (SFO). My friends arranged for a shuttle to get me at the airport--and they paid for it!--because the friend who lives in SF, Iz (the Fizz), doesn't have a car and it was first off much cheaper to have me go alone then have all of them meet me and then go back and it was also late when I got into town and Iz had to work a half day at work just a few short hours after my arrival. What happened when I got to Iz's place, you ask? They were all asleep--quite literally propped up--and I spent 10 minutes on her stoop calling their phones and banging on the door. Poor Iz, who was sleeping in a little guest bedroom at the back of the house, came running and let me in; Karen and Jamie, who were in Iz's room about a small jump away from the front door, didn't even wake up until Iz shook them awake after she had let me in. Yep, good to know things are always going to be at least relatively the same. Honestly, I wasn't even mad because I was so happy to see my friends and be able to go to sleep! Iz apologized about a million times, and the next she still kept telling me how sorry she was that my introduction to SF started that way. As I told her, it made it feel exactly like home. Karen ended up having to go to Sacramento early to help Erika, but Jamie, Iz and I took in as much of SF as we could after Iz finished work for the day. I fell instantly and completely in love with San Francisco as we explored--and all I want to do is visit again since I stupidly combined 2 big trips into one entirely too short amount of time. At a place called The Cliff House, we had alcoholic coffee drinks--mine was chocolate, orange, liquor...and maybe just a touch of heaven. The weather was drizzly, so the hot drinks were even better! I have to give Iz credit for how much she showed us in half a day--we even manged to use 3 of the 4 forms of public transportation (sadly, we didn't get to ride a cable car--next time maybe).

The next day we had to head out pretty early for Sacramento, and we stopped to pick up Jamie's fiance on the way, then unintentionally made him wait on us to get the world's longest pedicures (seriously, 3 hours for 3 of probably didn't help that the one working on Iz was dying her hair at the same time). I got to eat at my very first In-N-Out Burger...and for some reason could not stop cussing (it's a Christian run place for those who don't know, so naturally my mind found a million ways to force me to make an ass out of myself). The rest of that day was spent checking into the hotel, stocking up on liquor (and those freakin' Girl Scouts got me AGAIN!), and going out for sushi. We went to bed pretty early, but somehow managed to still kill half of the handle of whiskey, otherwise known as just the right amount to cause a hangover on the day of one of your best friends' weddings. Between Sprite, Powerade, and BLTs, however, we were able to rid ourselves of them pretty quickly...we were very lucky!

Erika's wedding was absolute beautiful, and I couldn't believe one of us was getting married. In all seriousness though, I don't think there is a couple out there who fits half as perfectly as Erika and Will do. Plus, we had all liked Will within five minutes of meeting him years ago, and I have to say he has bragging rights because we are entirely too harsh and critical of our friends' boyfriends. It's because we are protective, but I'm totally aware it's obnoxious as hell--we're working on it. The reception was almost too much fun, and I knew it was going to be awesome when we were greeted and welcomed with wine and cheese. The dinner was awesome, as were the 4 other glasses of red wine I knocked back in that time, and then they had the first dance, father-daughter dance, and toasts. Oh, and by this point the liquor was also flowing nicely; all of their specialty drinks somehow incorporated Erika and Will's names into them, such as the Lundgreeny (after Lundgrin, Erika's last name) and the Martierney (after Tierney, Will's last name). I planned on trying all of them, but I started with the Lundgreeny (similar to a Sex on the Beach) and couldn't bring myself to try anything else--so I compensated by having roughly 6 of those...and champagne of course. I'm pretty sure the only reason I was falling down drunk, or little more than tipsy most of the night (since I never really drink anymore, my tolerance has fallen 2 beers and I'm pretty good usually) was because I broke the one and only rule I gave myself concerning the reception. Okay, here's the thing--I'm not a good dancer. There are random moments where I appear to know what I'm kind of doing, but more than likely the laws of probability just worked in my favor long enough for me to fall into the rhythm for a few seconds. So, as a general rule, I just don't dance much at functions as a whole...and I told everybody that before we went into the reception in the first place. By the time the dance floor was opened up to everybody, however, I had consumed well over 5 drinks...and alas...the first song comes on--no clue what it was and probably didn't then either--and I jumped up and screamed "This is my jam!" and hit the dance floor. Over the next 5 or so hours, I remember leaving the dance floor less than 5 times--either for the bathroom or the liquor--and I spent the rest of the time actually dancing--alone, with people, in a circle, surrounded by craziness and laughter. Usually I didn't even have to leave the floor to get my liquor (I think one of those earlier trips I talked about was the only time I got my own drink from this point forward)... people just kept showing up with drinks in hand for me. And yes, I'm almost positive my dancing was terrible--and for once it really didn't matter...not only due to liquid courage but also, and mostly, because I was just so happy everything had worked out to allow me to even be there. Erika and Will, both separately and together, made it that much sweeter for me by telling me how happy they were that I was there. Erika told me it wouldn't have been the same if I had been missing, and that all of us being together again reminded her that we mean more to her than she even lets herself realize most of the time. I fully agree--if I hadn't been able to make the trip it would have been very sad, but the fact that I was able to make it reinforced my belief in my friends, and what an important part of my life they are and will always be, which until then I didn't even know needed reinforcing. I love when everybody is in Chattanooga, and that is where we are all home together, but being able to see Iz in her current home and Erika where she spent college and met was absolutely priceless and precious. Unfortunately, the trip also allowed me to be bit by the travel bug, and now I spend way too much of my free time planning trips that are going to take a long time to save up for. All in all, words can not express how grateful I am to those who helped me get from having no hope of being at Erika's wedding to making it happen--and with some vacation days--just know that there would be little else you could ever do in my life that would be as important and precious as this trip became. Thank you.

I always talk about how much I love my friends, so I'm not going to gush too much. That being said, it must be said that, after almost 10 years of friendship with Iz, Jamie, Erika, and Karen, there is no doubt in my mind that we all made the right choice. My life would not be the same in the least without them in it, and I'm certain there would be far less laughter and compassion, but now I realize that the qualities I like about myself--my empathy, love, sarcasm, and everything that makes my personality what it is as of today--would probably be completely nonexistent or lacking any real meaning. Growing up and meeting new people and having new experiences has certainly helped shape me--and all the psych stuff too--but I'm almost positive that none of it would be worth anything if I hadn't become friends with such amazing, smart, funny, beautiful people when we were all just beginning to find out who we were as individuals.

So, while the true catalyst to our friendship was the fact that we had all been simultaneously dumped by our previous group of friends, I'm going to have to say fate probably had a hand in it too.

(oh, I see I've made myself a liar again--I didn't post a play-by-play exactly, but since I hit the highlights and then poured out my heart after every experience, I'm going to guess the play-by-play would have been much shorter in the end. Oh well.

For some reason, my computer and/or the internet aren't letting me load any pictures to this blog :( I promise to get them up ASAP, but they are all on Facebook now, so they can also be seen there!