Home Away from Home

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We all know I am not the Better Homes and Gardens type of girl. I found a pot of dirt on my dresser one time. It took me forever to figure out it had at one point been a plant who died a horrible death.

I spend at least 200 nights a year in hotels and on the road for my various travels. Despite the lame attempts by these chains to make these rooms comfortable for weary business travelers, they are nothing like a home.

Lucky for me I have some friends who excel at making a home wherever they happen to be at that moment. It’s a gift and I really enjoy being on the receiving end of this gift.

Let me tell you a bit about my friend. Her name is Lori and we have had some amazing adventures together. She invited me to come visit her in Oahu and I have to say it is one of my favorite vacations ever!

First of all, Lori is one of those people who likes to plan and worry over the details. I used to be like that, but it got old. Now, I like to just see what falls into my lap. When I am smart, I go visit people who like to plan and worry about whether or not I am having a good time. Score! Best of both worlds! Just kidding. Kinda.

Lori has this charming little house on Oahu. Every time I turned around she was doing something else to make sure I was comfortable or had whatever I needed. She always adds cute little touches like twinkle lights or cute curtains to her space. I never think about any of that stuff. I am usually just proud of myself when I keep my clean and dirty clothes separated while I am traveling. I have learned methods to do exactly this… it comes from a deep seated hatred of packing. Lori introduced me to all of her island friends. They all welcomed me and went out of their way to make sure I had a good time. Who does that? Nice people! Fun people! Generous people! Lori’s friends!!!! 

I will be forever grateful to the gentleman who brought me a kayak, not once, but TWICE! The patience and supportive way he encouraged me was so beneficial. Now, Lori was the one who walked back and forth just off the shore line holding the craft steady so I wouldn’t tumble out for the 907th time. (Imagine a parent teaching a child to ride a bike without training wheels. Now imagine that child is a very large, intimidated middle aged woman.) After about an hour I could finally paddle a little on my own without flipping over. They watched my shit show for an hour! They never grew exasperated and told me to just give it up. They waited me out. It was awesome!

Lori also obsessed over my application (or perhaps in her opinion, my mis-application) of sunblock. For the first time in my life I went on vacation and did not end up with an illness inducing sunburn. Is there a lesson here? Yes! You should absolutely vacation with someone who is going to reapply your sunblock even after you feel like you probably did a fairly adequate job. Trust me, you need this person in your life. 

Lori and I have a lot of the same tastes in music and this is always helpful when you are spending long days and nights with each other. She is also the best Jazzfest partner. Back off! I am not sharing her. 

Lori cooks and she eats incredibly healthy. So, even if I had a few alcoholic beverages, and even if I found a bar that served a bottomless glass of Day Owl, I lost weight on vacation! I never hear anyone say that.

My favorite part of my island adventure? I got to catch up with a woman who has made a big impact on my life. She has reinforced my self-confidence and reliance. She has reminded me of the importance of taking a step back and reevaluating my plans and goals. She is a good example of fiscal responsibility and I appreciate how hard she works to make smart choices.

I struggled for years to make and keep female friends. I did not believe that active, beautiful, smart, successful women wanted to be my friend. I hid from them. I was abrasive and standoffish. I decided I did not like them long before they could decide they did not like me.

Now? I am surrounded by smart, amazing, inspiring, beautiful women all the time. I go on adventures with them. I send them stupid text messages to try to make them laugh. I can call them to cry over the latest episode of This is Us. We are all so different. We came from different backgrounds. We have different political or religious points of view. Some are married. Some are divorced. Some have never been married, and don’t particularly care to be. Some have kids. Some have A LOT of kids. (kidding). Some do not want children. We have different levels of education and different careers.

When I find myself wondering who I am and who I am going to be, all I have to do is think about the women in my life. I get to be  loved and love them with all of my heart. They open their homes to me with shockingly little notice when I realize I have a couple of days free to come crash with them. I love that they give me a home when I am so far from home. I hope I get to keep collecting their spare bedrooms and couches for many years to come. I want to see who we all turn out to be.

Seasonal

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I am from West Texas; we don’t have “seasons.” We have weather events and they are frequently all in the same week. People from the Northeast are constantly telling me how they love the seasons. I am calling Bullshit. 

Supposedly the fall is beautiful. The leaves change colors and the foliage is magic. Or so I hear. I was gone for two weeks back to Texas and I missed the whole thing. Now they are bracing for winter. All the trees are just ugly and sad. 

So, basically they have two weeks of nice leaves followed by 6 months of hell. Down in Texas snow still seems like some strange mystical force that typically only lasts until the sun comes out at noon. The next day it is going to be 80, so why worry? We can shut down the town and snuggle on the couch with our hot chocolate and Netflix. 

So, here’s to hoping Pennsylvania is not as dark as Massachusetts. 

You people are nuts. Texas is much more tolerable. Our weather extremes keep us on our toes. Y’all just run a real risk of losing your toes to frostbite. 

Rental Car Blues

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No, I wasn’t standing out behind your car exasperatedly hitting the trunk open button on the key fob because I was trying to steal your identical silver grey Nissan Maxima. I thought it was my rental.

No, I obviously didn’t notice the trunk pop open on the car not even 2 feet from where I was standing. I was too busy being perplexed at the unfathomable difficulty of navigating a different set of keys all the time.

Yes, I realize what a dork I look like right now. Why did you park right next to me in the hotel parking lot? It’s nearly empty. I park in this spot every time I am here. Don’t you know that? Oh, you are not here all the time. Yes, I am aware most people do not spend weeks on end in the same hotel.

No, I obviously don’t have anything better to do than stand here having an imaginary conversation with you. You didn’t even say anything to me. I was just preparing in case you did.

Yes, I am going to sheepishly climb into my rental car, look intently at my phone, and pretend I am doing very important business things. After all, I would not want anyone to notice I am frequently just one step away from being an absolute walking disaster.

By the way, does anyone want to do my laundry tonight? I hate doing laundry, but I need clean clothes before I head to Denver for my next great adventure. Anyone? No? Fine. I’ll do it myself, but I am NOT matching the socks. I will turn them right side out though. I am not a complete heathen.

Lovely Bridges

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I land in Baltimore and head to pick up my rental car. I am on a highway headed towards a huge bridge spanning an impossibly large body of water. 

I hate bridges. I probably hate bridges more than any other person on the planet. 

As I approach through the toll booth I find myself wondering if this is the only path to my destination. The concrete barriers stand still, but I am convinced they are waiting to jump out and scrape along this vehicle that doesn’t even belong to me. Why is everyone driving so fast? Why aren’t they more afraid? Those big blocks are going to get them! 

Relax. Everything is fine. Wow. This is truly beautiful. I wish I could stop and take a photo. I will never be able to explain how the blue water of the bay is shimmering below me. 

I relax the death grip I have on the steering wheel. I descend onto the next section of the bridge and feel a shocking twinge of disappointment that solid ground is barreling toward me. 

I want to ride again. 

Stranger Danger

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It’s a full flight. It’s almost always a full flight. It’s funny how desperately everyone secretly wishes no one sits next to them. 

Me? I concentrate so hard on not making eye contact so I can avoid sending inviting signals to anyone who may want to make friends. 

So, here we are strapped into a metal fuselage hurtling through the air while cortorting ourselves into miserable back abusing positions just to avoid touching or talking to a stranger. 

I am wearing my new bright red wireless headphones. Sometimes I don’t even listen to anything; I simply use them as armor so I don’t have to get to know my seat mates. I huddle as close to the window as I can get and stare longingly at the ground, wishing my feet were planted in the dirt. 

“Flight attendants, please take your jump seats.” Wait. What? What’s wrong? Oh, holy hell. We’re all going to die. I’m too young to die. I knew flying was a bad idea. Why are the rest of these fools sitting calmly and not freaking the fuck out? 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the air is just a little bumpy as we head for descent. Please make sure you are in your seat with your seatbelt securely fastened.” Oh. Okay. I’m not going to die. Phew. Survived another near death experience. I hate flying. Why is this dude next to me widening his man spread? I am already curled up as close as I can get to the window. I have not moved in almost three hours. My shoulders are killing me from hunching into my seat, all so I can not infringe on his space with my ample body mass. Ugh. I feel fat. I need to pee. Am I bothering this poor guy next to me? Well, if I am… he deserves it! Why are you trying to pretend you are seven feet tall? Your legs are not that long. Close the gap little Buddy! GRRR. 

Finally the plane seems to be making it’s way slowly to the ground. Relief washes over me because we managed to avoid the free fall I prepared for after the pilot’s first announcement. I am quite certain my panic swayed the tides of inevitability from doom. Almost there! 

Oh. Crap. I forgot. I still have another flight to catch before I am in Hartford. Hopefully the next flight will not be as crowded…


Insomnia and 24 Hour Diners

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I don’t know if you can actually call it insomnia. I went to bed too early and woke up too soon. I slept well, so I am up. Not much is open this time of morning. I had to drive 8 miles down the highway to find this little place. Actually, I Yelped. I did not drive around aimlessly, that’s not even a thing anymore. 

I have to be honest this is one of my favorite parts of traveling. I love finding these little places. Usually the food is just okay, but I generally have a great time drinking coffee and reading a book over my solitary breakfast. 

Tip: you usually can’t go wrong with an omelet. Always get a glass of water with your coffee, and hope they are willing to make you a fresh pot. 

Life is an adventure. You have to get away from the hotel from time to time. 

Leaving Sucks Sometimes

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I am so lucky to get to do what I do. I am able to support my family, I get to travel and meet new people, and I get to help people. 

Sometimes leaving is bittersweet though. My family is at home and I am off on my next grand adventure. Sometimes I wish I could pack them all up in my suitcase. 

I’m not complaining. I swear. I just wish my hugs could have lasted a few more seconds. 

I also wish the dog would have been more gracious when I woke him up to get some puppy love before I left. Apparently, Boomer Wayne is not much of a morning guy. 

Waiting

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Disney World is a lot of waiting. 

Waiting at the airport. 

Waiting on a bus. 

Waiting in line. 

Waiting in line. 

Still waiting in line. 

Waiting for those people in front of us to move! 

Waiting for our fast pass time. 

Waiting on dinner. 

Waiting in line. 

Waiting on the bus. 

Waiting on each other to finish getting ready to go in the morning. 

Waiting to put on my makeup. (Just kidding- I didn’t end up wearing any. Why did I pack it?)

Waiting for the Aleve to work. 

Waiting on the Tylenol to kick in. 

Waiting to buy souvenirs. (Don’t want to waste money buying the wrong thing.) 

Despite all the waiting… I’m having a great time! So glad I get to spend this holiday with my good friend and my son. Grateful for the life I lead. Happy Thanksgiving! 

TNT

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My 17 year old was up before 5am. 

Probably because we are headed to Disney World today! 

Ty, Trevor and I are off for our big adventure, so be prepared for vacation ruminations. 

I am stupid excited. 

It’s gonna be great. 

I am still procrastinating from packing. I hate packing. I hate it a lot. 

Niagra Falls

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Niagra Falls was just a short detour on my way to Chicago. I did what I always do. I parked and ran over to the spectacle, oohed and ahhed with everyone else, took a few selfies (for proof I am actually interesting,) and got back on the road. 

I don’t have all day to experience the wonders of the world.