June 26, 2006


I know I promised I'd be back to continue the epic of our relocation, but now we're nearing the day we actually move into our real New York City apartment, and I just can't wait. I'm going to suffer through the next 4 miserable days of pure, sheer, unadulterated anticipation! New York City (while we've been here for a while already)...here we come!*In the meantime, I want to acknowledge the brilliance of my weekend. I have thought and re-thought a fair description of it, and everything that comes to mind doesn't do the experience proper justice. But allow me to begin, in sincere KB fashion, with the beginning.*Last Friday morning, Craig and I climbed into a taxi, which carried us to Penn Station, where we caught a train. Once in Newark, NJ, we boarded a monorail, which delivered us to Newark International. There we boarded a plane, which dropped us kindly at Midway in Chicago, where, and I refuse to omit this from the narrative, we crossed a concrete parking structure to our rental car, which the salesman announced to us proudly, would be a "PT Cruiser, if that [is] okay." Understandably enough, I hope, I laughed, because, seriously? They rent those things? Nevertheless, quick math calculates the sum total of five different modes of transportation in one day (an accomplishment I've been bragging about ever since!)*Craig drove for the first time in 20 days, and we arrived in my wonderful college friend's hometown of Springfield, IL right on schedule. The rehearsal would be held at the church, and rehearsal marks the beginning of what will become an infinitely hilarious new friendship between Eileen and me. Here is the backstory: Jen (the bride) and I met when we were at Indiana University together, living first in the dorms and later together in an off campus house, staying up into wee hours of the morning talking about nearly anything you might imagine the two of us would have to say to one another. One character who constantly crept into Jen's stories was Eileen (they had roomed together at Illinois State University before Jen transferred to IU). The final thesis of nearly any story involving Eileen, when told to me, was, You two would love each other, just love each other if you met each other. It so happens that Eileen was told the same regarding me anytime Jen would talk to her on the phone or see her. So, here at the rehearsal, we met for the first time ever, both of us at least into a 10-year friendship with Jen (it hit me pretty nostalgically over the weekend just how long I've known Jen, and other of my long time friends). One might wonder, How is it that two girls share one common thread (Jen) for 10 years and longer and yet never happen to meet? The only response to that is that the very only time Eileen ever turned up at IU to see Jen, I was out of town. And that's just how it went! So Eileen and I were, respectively, the matron and maid of honor for Jen's wedding. Jen wouldn't dream to choose one over the other (what an honor!) so she opted that we both act the part. And, if I may say so, we so did just that. The second we met one another we were sharing stories about each other and about Jen as if we'd been friends that whole span of 10 years and longer. So incredible, in fact, was our instant bond, that Jen's other friends and family members throughout the course of the weekend were asking, So how long have your matron and maid of honor known each other? Jen's beaming response, "Oh, about 16 hours!" Eileen and I were fascinated with each other. It came as no surprise that her husband Jerry is a die hard White Sox fan (as, so is Craig!) or that we were both terrified of giving the important reception speeches and clung to each other to compose a joint speech (despite how completely talkative and outgoing we both are!) Saturday morning I woke up wishing we hadn't all gone out after the rehearsal dinner the night before (although, that was a small group of us sans Eileen who had decided to go back to the hotel instead - good choice, Eileen) but felt so extremely excited about Jen's day. A few of us rode over to the salon together and there we learned by word of mouth that Jen's fiance had cut his forehead the night before, "rough-housing at Hooters." (Jen kept saying, Who 'rough-houses' at Hooters?) She is so tremendously laid back and easy going, she barely flinched when she found out - in fact, instead she concluded, It will make a good story later. There were 9 women standing up in Jen's party, so it was quite the ordeal, getting us all made up. I had my makeup done before my hair, and Jen cruised past at one point and glanced at me and did a doubletake; she said, (KB), is that you? Then she started laughing and saying, Oh my gosh, you don't even look like yourself! She added, I walked by and my first thought was, Huh, I wonder if that girl is in a wedding today, too! (All of this is very much because I so rarely wear makeup, of course). Eileen and I continued to bond over last minute speech composition. At some point, we posed Eileen and Jen beneath a hair product advertisement to appear just as sensual as the windblown ladies in the ad. Fun times are had when you reunite with old friends, and even more fun times are had when you unite with a friend you should have united with a decade before!*Following the hair and makeup experience, we all headed over to the church to dress and for early wedding photographs. Jen and her fiance chose not to see each other beforehand, which is my favorite way. Before dressing, it was determined that another girl's husband would go pick me up a sandwich (I was the only famished one who had failed to eat the free food at the salon, too busy talking...) from this "unbelievable" sub shop in Springfield called Monty's. I ordered a turkey salad sandwich, and committed to splitting it with Eileen, who mentioned being vaguely hungry but who could not stop talking about these Monty sandwiches. Literally, she just kept circling the subject in conversation. Finally the thing arrived, and I unwrapped it while Eileen fooled with her makeup in a compact mirror and nearby Jen pawed through what would be her silver beaded wedding purse. I took a first bite, and I'm not obsessive when it comes to sandwiches but after the first whole bite, my mouth went through a one-of-a-kind experience. I became more thoroughly captivated as I continued to eat, and when it was Eileen's bite I held it over the wrapper for her to bite into it, and Jen looked over at us and said, Can I have a bite? Before you knew it, it was three girls, hungrily attached to this sandwich by the mouth, one at a time. Jen kept insisting, Just one more bite, but she couldn't stay away for long. I'm even laughing at the memory of it - the three of us surrounding this submarine sandwich and becoming more feverish with each bite. I recall fondly, later in the afternoon Eileen held the paper bag which had formerly held the sandwich to her face and inhaled, then said wisely to me, The smell is still there.*Food actually continued to play significant roles in the day for us. But in the meantime, before I continue, I want to say, of course, that the ceremony itself was beautiful - the flowers were grandly arranged, the fiance choked up during his vows, at which point I grabbed Eileen's pinky finger and squeezed (we were making concentrated efforts not to just weep happily for Jen's marriage!) It was a Catholic mass, therefore long, but completely worth it once we got to see the looks on their faces when they spun around married to each other. More photographs following the ceremony, and a ride in the most giant party bus I've ever seen to the reception. The reception was phenomenal. Jen's parents had rented out a university auditorium lobby, but you would have never known by the tastefully decorated layers of color and theme. The picture above doesn't accurately represent the atmosphere but I wanted to include it regardless. During dinner, Jen, Eileen and I marveled at the flavor of the Ranch dressing, declaring it the Best Ranch Dressing We'd Ever Had. Jen turned to me at one point and wondered, Is there anything else I can dip in this Ranch dressing so that I can keep eating it? And the buzz of the room were the trays upon trays of arancini, which everyone kept terming "cheesy risotto balls." (I only know what they are because of my good friend AB, who has actually attempted to make them, even!) Our speech, our joint effort, was titled, 10 Things You Need to Know About Jen Before Spending the Rest of Your Life with Her, and we drew some laughter from around. We were definitely nervous, even with the help of one another! And later, there was dancing to the extreme fun sound of some St. Louis band that Jen's parents had hired. Overall, the complete picture of the weekend was unblemished (with the exception of the minor scratch across fiance Pete's forehead, of course!) And I walked away from the whole thing one new friend deeper in experience. We even got to see Craig's parents for a nice lunch the next afternoon before flying out of Chicago. I think the best way to sum it up, the weekend, my meeting of Eileen and my reunion with Jen, is that I felt ten again. I felt youthful and giddy and surprisingly funny the whole time I got to spend with them. I felt rejuvenated by like spirits. I felt happy to laugh so much. For this, keeping the best friends you meet along the way is the most significant factor, the best thing.*

June 18, 2006


First, Happy Father's Day to our favorite Fathers!*At last, after an extended hiatus, I'm returning to the chronographic sphere in hopes to begin to recapture the past two weeks as well as look forward to what's to come. I apologize for the weak imagery above (a small photo borrowed from a page devoted to transportation of one kind or another), but I wanted to post something which depicts a fairly significant portion of our days, albeit temporarily, while we await mobilization of our project staff's office in Queens. Presently, as it stands, we not only live in a temporary empty apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan (which I will cover in depth later on, particularly the emptiness) but we also report to a corporate office space in the Met Life Building which is attached to the ever-powerful, ever-hussling Grand Central Station Terminal. While there are unimportant details regarding our inabilities to function in such temporary environments, both at work and at home, I do treasure this time that I've been given to experience living and working in Manhattan. In the morning, we get on the 4 or 5 express train and in two stops, we're at Grand Central, a divine adventure indeed. Before I go any further I do want to back track and remember the intimate particulars of our move to New York City.*As of June 3rd, we were still not completely out of our Richmond apartment. The movers had arrived June 2nd, packed us up, loaded the truck and drove off with our belongings, all of which were to be stashed in a storage facility for the duration of one month plus two weeks. However, June 3rd found us scrambling around, wiping countertops, finishing floors and with a room full of furniture (okay, so it was actually only a bed and a futon) which were to be picked up by our summer intern and a new hire in their trucks to be put to better use (we can in no way fit everything in our new apartment here). My very wonderful friend G had come upstairs with her wonder pup Mister Boy (Mister, this may be your first appearance in here, for which I apologize, but you're never far from my heart!) and she helped in any way she could (she had also helped us the day before with miscellaneous odds and ends; thank you, G!!) The intern and new hire were running a bit behind schedule, which, granted, had me frantic. But everything was accomplished, teary See You Laters were exchanged between G and me, and Craig and I were off to the airport with as many bags as each of us could feasibly transport between the two of us. Without too much struggle, we checked in, found our gate and sunk into a couple of chairs only to learn our flight would be delayed two hours due to weather. I think Craig thought that this would send me spinning into even more frenzy, but I felt calm. What could we do? We were still going, just later than anticipated. And as promised, two hours later we had boarded the plane and were in the air on a one way flight to New York City.* Upon landing at JFK, we collected the cumbersome amounts of bags from the claim area and followed the ground transportation signs to a long line of people waiting for cabs. The cab situation there is such that there are lines of them and the lines of people eventually will all end up in their respective cabs when it's their respective turns. Our last experience at JFK, we jumped right into one, but Saturday nights, cabs must be in high demand at JFK. Nevertheless, from our cab, I called my parents and announced to them proudly that their daughter had moved to New York City. I suppose it was a bit overeager to stake such a claim before even having a set of New York City keys in hand, but I declared it nevertheless! And in the span of 45 minutes or so, we were pulled to a stop outside a high rise building in the Upper East Side, to become our temporary arrangement for the month of June. By this time it was about 7:30 p.m. and my friend, my dear, talented, amazing friend from college, Lauren (I'm transitioning to first name usage from here forward for story stabilization purposes) had already invited us to dinner at our earliest convenience, as soon as we settled into the empty space and so forth. One thing we needed to do was purchase an air mattress from wherever air mattresses can be purchased in Manhattan. As luck would have it, we were able to, with the helpful suggestion of my friend Liz from Richmond as well as the coordination efforts of Lauren, locate a Bed, Bath & Beyond in the 60's, which had a Queen-sized mattress just waiting for us there. That errand accomplished, we returned to the apartment, washed up and headed out, on foot, to meet Lauren and her boyfriend Jeff.*Through all of this, I hadn't completely processed what was happening. I mean, it felt real enough, yet opening a door to a hollow place filled only with echoes of sound felt strangely surreal all at the same time. Anyway, we found Lauren and Jeff seated outside at Cilantro, a Mexican eaterie they had selected for us. Seeing Lauren again after so much time was like walking right into yesterday. That's what it is to have such sincere friendships with people: time passes, but your relationships do not. They linger to be refreshed with each next encounter. So, we enjoyed a relaxing dinner with Lauren and Jeff, then stopped for wine to take back to Jeff's apartment in the 80's. These two will, undoubtedly, become important fixtures in our New York City experience. They already have, and it's only day 15 (we've seen them several times since). We didn't stay too late, because Craig's head was beginning to nod a little and my eyes were definitely heavy. But it was a beautiful beginning to what will inevitably be the best experience in my entire life.*I've gone on long enough, and I do so apologize for the mechanical means by which I've written this morning. I'm out of practice, quite rusty. And we would not have internet access even now if it weren't for Jeff's gracious loan of a laptop to us (we already have internet service in our empty unit). I've got much, much more ground to cover, but as I say that, Craig is showered and ready to head out for a gorgeous sunny summer day in the City. Mark this as my effort to reconnect, my effort to somehow begin to narrate what has already proved to be an incredible, stressful, yet amazing two weeks in New York City. It gets better, I promise.