I might normally make slideshows of my little vacations and adventures, however that’s not going to happen this time. I was only going to be gone for two nights and my mind was elsewhere, so I didn’t plan on even putting one together for this trip. Once on my plane, though, some humorous opportunities arose, so I thought I just might make it work. I started strong, but once I got there I was more focused on the weekend’s activities than trying to take pictures for a slideshow, so I ended up with a great deal of plane pictures, but very few in Boston.
I’ve tried all day to make it work as a slideshow, but when it became much more filler text than images, I decided to dump it. No sense in trying to stretch out the weekend’s pictures into a full slideshow when I actually have things I’d rather write about. This weekend was more than just a fun romp, it was actual a very special time, so I’ll let my words do the storytelling here.
Don’t worry, though… there are plenty of entertaining photos throughout to make up for the obscene length :). Who would’ve thought I’d have so much to say about 3 days, but this post reads almost like a journal. A very exhaustive journal ;).
So, first of all, why the heck was I going to Boston? In the middle of DECEMBER?? Was I crazy?!
But seriously, folks, it was for a very special reason. One of my oldest friends, Joe, was popping the question to his girlfriend, Laura, and he wanted me to be there for a surprise party he was throwing for her afterward. I’ve known this guy since high school, and we’re BFF’s, so of course I wanted to be there. I’m not exactly Mr. Moneybags right now, though, and I had a surprise car repair come up right before I’d have to buy the tickets, so I wasn’t sure if I could go. He was able to pay for my flights back and forth, however, and I’m glad he did. Of course, trying to not spend a boatload of money while also keeping me on a direct flight could only happen if I flew on Virgin America – out of LAX.
December 11, 2009:
Good ol’ Nick Reiber drove me up from my house to the graffiti-covered streets of Los Angeles. Being the geniuses that we are, he took the wrong freeway there, and while trying to fix the situation, I sent us on another freeway in the wrong direction. Stupid LA.
I finally made it onto my Virgin America flight, seat 19A, and I was happy to see that the seat next to me was empty. It ended up staying that way, and I was blessed with the same luck on my flight home. I’d never flown Virgin before, but it’s very comparable to Jet Blue. They’re both spacious and comfortable, with TV monitors for each seat, and free access to radio and satellite TV. Virgin did have a bit of a different atmosphere, though…
Nick, I think I finally found "the clubs."
I have to admit, Virgin definitely has a leg up on Jet Blue, and I’m not talking about the odd mood lighting. They provide the option to put together a music playlist to listen to, and the choices are fairly expansive and impressive. Once I discovered this option, I excitedly spent time piecing together a long list, and as the first song started…
The pilot informed us that some people were having issues with the system, so they were going to reboot. Dang it. After a little break, though, we were back in action, and I again took the time to put together a list that included Led Zeppelin, Arcade Fire, The Who, Weezer, The Killers, Katy Perry, and- What? I am not ashamed. "Intervention" started me off on my journey, and as I thought about what was going to happen this weekend, I smiled.
As we touched down in Boston (pronounced, locally, as Bah-stun), I noticed the temperature read 24 degrees, and for a Southern California boy that’s what we technically refer to as FREAKING FREEZING. I’d come prepared, though, so just walking about wasn’t too bad. Derek picked me up and we were off to Joe’s apartment for a little "guy" time before the big day. Fun was had, alcohol was consumed (by everyone but me, of course), and great memories were recorded on video. Joe isn’t someone who handles personal/emotional stress well, so we called the night fairly early. "Oh, everyone gets nervous," I hear you say. Yeah, but does everyone end up looking like this?
Yeah, that’s right. This is what the stress of planning the surprise party and proposing within 24 hours does to my friend. Joe and I hugged (in fact, there were numerous hugs this weekend) and said goodnight, but some of the fellas decided to have a nightcap and smoke out on the balcony before we headed back to Derek’s for sleepytime. So, four of us ended up on the back balcony of Joe’s friend/neighbor, and I stood there while the other three engaged in lifespan-shortening activities. As I was getting lodging, a ride, and everything else for free, I didn’t mind. After a little while, though, I noticed that the now 15 degree weather was starting to affect me in subtle ways. Like the fact that I was losing feeling in my toes. We bundled off into to the car shortly thereafter and after a few minutes we were home for the night.
I’ve flown out to Boston twice prior to this, and both times my internal clock has done different things. One time I completely adjusted to the time difference on the first day, and the other time I never adjusted at all. I wasn’t sure which would happen on this trip, but it ended up being an odd combination of both. Since my trip was so quick (getting in at 8pm Friday and leaving at 4pm Sunday), I didn’t really want to completely change my body’s schedule, so I was stuck in this very odd state of mind. Throughout the weekend I never had any clue what time it was, on either coast. This first night, though, I stayed up for a bit after everyone else went to bed. I was in my room for the night, figuring I’d read a book I brought, when something on the shelf next to me caught my eye. Watchmen. I perused the comic for a while, having already seen the horrible movie, and saw some really cool parts. I think I’ll read it from the beginning some time.
Also, this first night afforded me the opportunity to send my first text message. I know, I know… I’m moving up in the world. I’ve received them before, and even responded to one, but I’d never initialized a text conversation prior to this. After my first recipient (Korkie) didn’t respond, I figured I’d send one to Nick Reiber to make sure I was doing it right (Does one have to add anything to the phone number? Does one even USE the regular phone number?? TECHNOLOGY!?!). It ended up coming to be that I WAS doing it right, and after a couple of back-and-forths with Nick and Korkie, I turned out the light and went so sleep.
December 12, 2009:
Ah, the big day. It started off with breakfast at a local diner, but we still had hours and hours to kill until it was time to be at Joe’s to amass for the party. So, Derek, Phil, and I filled that void of time with man’s best friend – the History channel. Eventually it was time for Derek to drop Phil and I off at Joe’s as he went to go get Laura’s dad and her best friend, Pam, from the airport. As we sat on the couch watching a movie, Joe’s roommate, James, leaned over and showed us the text he just received from Joe:
"She said yes."
This is another of many times when I thought afterward, "Oh, I should have taken a picture," but gosh darn it my friend just got engaged and photo opportunities didn’t cross my mind. Folks started to arrive, and eventually we got the message that Joe and Laura were heading back. Everyone took their hiding places, and though it wasn’t a perfect undertaking, the look on Laura’s face when she walked in to see her best friend waiting for her was priceless. I recorded the moment on video, per Joe’s request, so I had a job to do… but as I panned over to see Joe standing there, and as his new fiancee finally broke from embracing her best friend to shout, "Mark!" and then give me a big hug, something welled up inside me.
I’m a very "movie moment" kinda guy, as far as my thoughts go, which is why I wrote a script all about that. In reality, though, I don’t get that emotional. In BIG moments (when my grandpa and Katie died), it’ll get to me, but I don’t always outwardly express what I’m feeling inside. As I stood there with a camera, though, I started to get a little shaky. I realized I didn’t want to be standing there with a camera – I wanted to go hug my freaking friend. So, that was the last video footage of the night. That is also why I don’t have many pictures – I was very wrapped up in the moment. I set down the camera and wandered out to find my pal Joe and give him a big ol’ hug. I was happy. Very happy :). The rest of the evening was filled with hilarious group comments, hugs galore, and the typical small-talk schmoozing. Of course, in a situation like this, as the guys go out on the balcony to smoke cigars and have a drink, I’m much more content to stay inside with the ladies and talk.
And, yes, it was a fine chance to take my traditional picture with a dog named Mayer…
Hm, let’s try that again. "Colonel Whiteside (Laura’s dad), mind helping me out, here?"
There we go. Also, here’s one the Colonel took that I pilfered from Facebook just because everyone looks so nice…
When I first saw that one, though, I immediately thought of something. The common thread of the weekend was my moustached likeness to Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. I can see it, sure, but in this last shot I saw it all the more. I couldn’t tell you why I was caught making the face I was, but because of it I REALLY saw the comparison…
The night wound down, and we all went our separate ways. No texting or Watchmen for me this night, though… I fell right into bed.
December 13, 2009:
I spent the morning at church listening to an Asian man speak somewhat broken English, then went back over to Joe’s one final time to hang out for a bit. It’s strange, because in all the time that I’ve known him, this is the first time I’ve seen him with a girlfriend – let alone his future wife. The whole night prior I kept thinking about it, and now seeing the couple sitting in his living room I thought it even more, just how surreal it all was. I’ve known Joe since we were high school idiots, and most of his "growing up" has been out of my sight (we haven’t lived in the same area for many years), but now he’s an adult getting married.
The time eventually came for my cold/happy adventure in Boston to end, and the newly engaged couple drove me to the airport. I didn’t have much free time to get on the plane, but as everyone got out for a final hug goodbye, I took the opportunity to grab a final picture with the three of us together. Just like a guy who proposes marriage in a Hyndai, this picture couldn’t have turned out any other way…
Back on a Virgin America plane, less than 48 hours since the last time I was, I again set up my amazing song list and took count of the weekend. As a Sigur Rios song played, I found myself getting a little teary. As short as it was, and as much of a whirlwind as it felt like, this weekend was a very special one. I kept myself composed and enjoyed the beautiful sunset as I flew West…
As my plane soared toward southern California, I ended up watching Elf on the satellite TV, and the real impact of the weekend hit me. It was the holidays, I’d been with my close friend and his future wife, I’d spent time around happy couples who are living their lives, and so now, more than ever, I’m very ready to be in that same place. It wasn’t a reaction of sorrow or gloom. I thought about my own future, and being able to invite friends to MY engagement party, and about how one day I’ll find myself as lucky as Joe and Laura – to meet the right person. I thought about how, as much as I love him, one day it won’t be Nick Reiber picking me up from the airport ;). But, more than all of that, I was reflecting on the fantastic life that my friend now has ahead of him, and how glad I am to have been able to be there for such a special occasion in his life. Viva, my champion… viva.
And all was right with the world…