Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh, the Places You'll Go... and by that I mean: Texas!

Well friends, I finally have a few minutes to write about my trip to Texas at the end of June. (pics at the end!)

For those that didn't know I was gone (and since I have not been a good blogger, I'm sure that may be a fair number of peeps), I will give you this overview:

My friend (and former roommate at ol'BU), Sarah, planned to marry my friend, Myles, and they chose a wedding date so that I could be there - for which frankly I was pretty grateful. I decided that my gift (being the cash-strapped, Phd student that I am) would be that of service. In other words, I would come a week before the wedding and do whatever needed to be done to make Sarah (in particular) and Myles enjoy their wedding week and wedding. Luckily they accepted, otherwise they would have recieved a $15 gift card to Books-a-Million. :)

Additionally, I decided I would spend a second week in TX, visiting my friends the Fergasons who live in San Antonio. Many of you know John and Karen, or know of them. Karen is my best friend and over the past 10 years has become more like a sister than anything else. She and John have allowed me to live with them off and on, and to be deeply embedded in the life of their family. I haven't seen them very often since moving back west, so we were all looking forward to an extended visit.

Additionally.... I was also planning to celebrate my 35th (yes, i know, how is that possible?!) birthday right smack dab in the middle of the two weeks. In fact, the day after Myles' and Sarah's wedding. (it was actually a week chock full of b-days - i arrived just a few days after Sarah's, and before the wedding we celebrated BOTH of her parents b-days as well, and then mine the day after).

Finally... Some friends of mine were also invited to the wedding, and a number of others live in Waco, so we decided this would be a fun week to have a mini reunion in addition to the b-day celebration.

In hindsight, this post will be long. Perhaps I should have broken it into installments? Perhaps I should have just posted a photo album and left it at that? Alas, no. I shall press on, I will just say less than I could - which we all know will be a feat indeed!

WEDDING WORK (and play)
My time with Sarah and her family, and her soon to be family, was really great. It was fun to feel like I was useful and that my gifts were utilized. It was encouraging to see how Sarah's and Myles' friends and family came around both of them and helped in so many ways. For example, it was hecka hot, people, SO HOT - like near the surface of the sun hot - and all these people came out and decorated the reception site and didn't complain or argue or fuss. Really neat. I was pleased to get to know a few of S & M's good friends I had not met before, like the famous Sarah (Crum) Rice, and the still more famous Stills; and it was fun to be reunited with those I had, like Anna Walton and Lyndsey Ostrom. Sarah, of course, was super organized, and so at almost every step of the way I knew what I needed to do to run interference and keep things moving. Overall, it was a great time with great people. And most importantly, Sarah and Myles were married in a really meaningful and thoughtful (as is only fitting for those two) ceremony - and fun was had by all at the reception.

OH, and as a special blessing from the Lord, when the people originally scheduled to read scripture could not and S & M asked me and another friend to read in their place, I got to read from my favorite book: COLOSSIANS! I felt so pleased to be able to read a passage from Col 3 to my friends and to encourage them with Paul's words on how to love and serve each other.

So it was a little like having two separate lives all week, because in the days I would hang out with Sarah and her crew doing wedding stuff, and at night I would hang with my BU pals. I stayed the first night at the home of my dear friends (and former neighbors), Joel and Jessica, who were out of town until the wedding. Beginning the second night, I stayed - with gratitude for the generousity - at Dub Oliver's house (former VP of Student Life at Baylor, now Pres of ETBU) with friends from my cohort: Candice, Collin, and Matt (and later Kathryn).

Each night (except the night of the rehearsal) I had the joy of hanging out with my housemates and some other friends of ours - mostly Melissa (her blog is linked on the right) and JT, but occasionally Kristen, Carrie and Marc, Shannon, and Sarah as well. It was super fun to drink margaritas and beers with them, as well as to get caught up on each others lives and the lives of others in the cohort. We had some really hilarious times together those nights and I often did not get home before the clock had reset to a new day! So as you can imagine, as the week went on, I was mostly running on adrenaline and caffeine!

It was such a treat for me to really spend a good amount of quality time with these friends. (I'm not so into one-on-one quality time, as many of you know, it is pretty draining for me - but this was the perfect tiffani kind of quality time - group outings with loud talking and lots of laughing) I felt loved and rejuvenated and encouraged - in ways that I hadn't felt in the last year. It was really a special treat from the Lord that we had so much time and so much fun together.

Now, in reality I always look forward to my birthday. I mean, I'm not married, so this is the one day a year that I get to be totally celebrated. And in my family birthdays are a big deal. So I was excited to be spending my birthday with friends from TX both in Waco and in San Antonio!

Even before the actual birthday, Sarah - who is thoughtful to a fault and did not want to miss my bday - took me out for a pedicure. We both got pedis - and it was her first, so it was doubly-doubly-fun! I was grateful for the gift and for her thinking of me - but especially grateful for the time with her alone early in the week to just talk about our lives. Later in the week, we really only had time to talk wedding talk, so it was special to have this time with her, so reminiscient of our times spent together in Numero Quatro-Ocho.

The reception was the night before my birthday and it was a super fun time - dancing, laughing, drinking, joking, photoing. Afterward, we traveled to Crickets where we hung out longer and ended up starting my b-day at midnight. But boy was I tired by the time we got to bed! On the morning of my actual birthday, my housemates (and Anna) were going to come with me to my old Waco church: University Baptist Church (UBC). I thought the service was at 11. Wrong - actually it starts at 10:30. So we were already late and then when we went to pick up Anna, the Martin family arrived and so Anna and I said good bye to them at length (there are a lot of them after all). Ultimately, church was skipped. Sad that I didn't get to see many of my UBC friends, but I did get to see some of them earlier in the week at Rosa's so it made up for it a little.

We continued with our plans: Breakfast at Cafe Cappucino. Cafe Cap is one of my favorite breakfast places in Waco (pretty much that and IHop. Don't mock) and it was fun to spend a little while there together. After that, we took Anna Banana to the airport and then went back to the house to make sure our stuff was cleaned up (aside: it was father's day and Dub and his family were having people over for a BBQ). Then we hit the road! We saw "UP!" in 3-d (did you even guess they had a 3-D theater in Waco?! its metropolitan, baby!) - which was a really fun time, and the movie was good, too. Next we gathered at Ninfa's (my favorite restaurant in Waco, hands down, delicioso mexican food and margaritas - home of the crawfish enchilada, which I could eat almost daily till I die) with a BUNCH of friends. It was so fun to be together again, laughing and talking and I felt like I was the belle of the ball. Finally, to cap off the night a few of us went out to Lake Waco to enjoy the tail end of the sunset and a twilight (well, by then it was dark) swim out "to the buoy". I love swimming and don't get enough of it, and it was nice to have this be the end of my bday experience in Waco. I felt like "Hey, I'm 35 and I can make it out to the buoy - that's not too shabby!" (OK, haters, it wasn't that far, but it was dark)

Monday morning was kind of bittersweet. I had already said goodbye to a number of friends the night before - who I hope I will see again at conferences and such, but not in the sooooon future. Monday morning I waved farewell to Candice, Collin, and Matt and then after a final breakfast with Kathryn to her, too. And then I drove off into the well, not sunrise or sunset, just distance I guess. I was a little sad on my way to San Antonio, but I decided it was sadness AND exhaustion. Boy, it is really hard to control your emotions when you are running on very little sleep!

Despite my melancholy, Monday turned out to be a terrific day. Karen took me and her daughter Andi out for a birthday lunch (her birthday was earlier this week) at Macaroni Grill where we really had a nice time and they gave us delicious chocolate cake for dessert! Then we traveled to a bookstore where we all got to pick out birthday books, and finally we went back to the house where we read and relaxed together - with no boys! (they were all at Nana and Papa's). It was really a nice girl time! Later we went over to Dorothy and Nick's (Nana/Papa) and had a fun birthday celebration for me with my favorite TX meal: Chicken Spaghetti - and a really nice visit with the Ferg and Martini family.

The next day, Andi and her dad left for Seattle for a few days, so it was just me and Karen and the boys. I was excited to be with the boys and we ended up having a really fun time, going swimming, to movies (we saw Night at the Museum 2), and on awesome trail adventures. Likewise, Karen and I had GREAT friendship time together. Because it was just the two of us at night we were able to not only indulge our shared love for Jane Austen movies (we watched the A/E version of "Emma" with Kate Beckinsdale and "Becoming Jane" with Anne Hathaway), but also to really get caught up with each others lives, to listen and to speak words of life into each other, and to pray. Oh, what a joy those days were for my soul.

When Andi and John came back, the good times were still rolling! I taught Andi how to cross stitch, we went to the pool on the Base (which has 3 water slides), and just spent a good amount of time hanging out all together. Very fun.

If you are still hanging with me this far into the post, I have to say THANK YOU! and also let you know that that is pretty much it. I mean, I could have said more about each of the days, but that seems excessive. I could have described each of the activities in greater detail, but again - excessive. What I will say is that it was such a great time that I had a pretty tough time getting used to being back in LA! Luckily, my friend (and old roommate) Heather, joined me mid-week that week for a terrific 4th of July vacation - we celebrated her birthday in style! But I'll wait to report on that until a few more days! Love you all!! Tiff