Monday, July 16, 2012

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

As promised here is an update about my trip to the Nation's capital:

When I first accepted the job in Utah and decided to make a bucket list I knew that the first thing on that list was to make a trip to Washington D.C. After all I could not very well say that I had only driven through Washington D.C. and did not take the time to stop in such a historic part of our Nation's history. At first I was apprehensive of the trip, only because I was afraid that I would have to go see all of the sights by myself, and while I have grown accustomed to doing many things by myself I knew that this trip would be more enjoyable if shared with at least one other person, regardless if I liked them or not. Lucky for me, I remembered that my friends Holli, Annie, and her husband Victor all lived in the D.C. area and I quickly became excited to see them again.
Part of our Group from China 2007
Holli to my R, and Annie to my L
Long story short I had the most amazing trip of my life. Annie, Holli, and I first met in Kunming, China back in 2007. We stayed in contact throughout the years, Annie went on her mission to Romania and graduated from college, Holli got married, had a baby, and graduated from college, and I went back to China and graduated from college, however we had not seen each other for at least 3 years. After a few Facebook messages I arranged to stay with Annie and her husband Victor in Stafford, Virginia. I knew through Annie's blog that she had been taking quite a few visitors on tours of the D.C. area and did not want to inconvenience her by making her see the sights yet again, so I had planned on still seeing them by myself. But that is where I was wrong and when I remembered how amazing my friend's are, because not only was Annie and Victor willing to let me tag along with their plans that weekend, but they also took me to see any of the sights that I wanted, even if they had just been a couple weeks earlier. And you know what, it was amazing, I loved the time I had to catch up with Annie and reminsce about old days. And I loved meeting her husband, they had some great stories, and we shared a lot of laughter! Holli even came down with her little girl, who I got to meet for the first time! It made me remember that although my confidence in making friends has struggled here in Ohio, that I am have been blessed with such amazing friends throughout the years and that I am capable of making friends.

Saturday was spent going to the temple, and then Vic and Annie took me up to Annapolis for a BBQ. Victor went to the Naval Academy there and had a friend who had just graduated who was throwing a BBQ. After all the yummy food I got a tour of the Naval Academy from the alumni. Annapolis was hands down my all time favorite place I have been (in America). It probably had more to do with the people that I was with, but for the first time in 18 months I felt like I could breath again. It probably helped that the weather was absolutely gorgeous, I seriously couldn't have asked for a prettier day.

Sunday was full of more sight seeing. The Marine Corps Museum, where I got to experience what it took to be a marine, as well as see the original pictures and flag from the battle at Iwo Jimma. I loved going with Annie and Victro because they were so knowledgeable in the history behind all the exhibits, they were like my own personal tour guides (hopefully it wasn't too annoying!) Hands down my favorite museum, especially the flag. I have a soft spot in my heart for those men and women who protect our countries freedoms. I get tears in my eyes when the Star Spangled Banner is sung, or when I see a flag that was raised in a battle that was fought to protect my freedoms.
After eating a yummy Indian dish that Annie made, we headed off to Arlington cemetery to see the changing of the guards.  Yet another humbling experience to hear the background story about Robert E. Lee, and then to see all of the gravestones of those who have died in battle. After we were done visiting the graves we decided to see a couple of the sights that would be out of our way on Monday. The funniest thing happened as Victor went to go park. As with any city the only way you are going to find a spot is if you know how to parallel park. Lucky for us Victor grew up in Jersey and grew up parallell parking. We were lucky enough to find a spot and just as Victor is reversing to go into the spot we here a car honking. This man had come up from behind and tried to pull into the spot as we were reversing. As the men were discussing whose spot it really was these men across the street yell to Victor, "He pulled an illegal U-turn, it's yours buddy!" That man tried to dibs a spot from across the street and pull in as we were reversing.... we were not going to back down, it was our spot fair and square. Lucky for us the guy decided he was wrong and pulled away, leaving us free to park there. We went to the classic sights, the Lincoln memorial, the Washington Monument (unfortunately the reflecting pool was under construction so it just looked like an ugly mess of rocks). The Vietnam memorial was probably my favorite, plus Victor was telling me the method behind what each man was carrying and why (extremely, fascinating). Again the weather was beautiful, it was absolutely gorgeous. After such an eventful day we decided to go home and watch a movie. And while you may be wondering why I am putting such a small insignificant event on my blog (I mean seriously everybody watches movies, you don't have to go to D.C. to watch them). It meant the world to me to be sitting next to somebody on the couch, laughing about the movie, looking at pictures from her trip, doing all the things I used to do in Rexburg, that I have been so desperately missing the last 18 months.

Monday was another exciting day, Holli and Charly came to join us as toured the White House, the Washington Monument, the National History Museum (I got to see the original flag that inspired our national anthem as well as the Hope diamond), as well as one other museum I can't remember. Again the weather was absolutely gorgeous and we got to eat some yummy food!

File:Star Spangled Banner Flag on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of History and Technology, around 1964.jpg
Moral of the story: I have amazing friends. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed our paths to meet 5 years ago and that he allowed our paths to cross again.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

3 weeks and counting....

August 4th will be a bittersweet day. It will be the day that I will start my journey back out to Utah. Despite my somewhat sad and depressing posts the last year and a half, not to mention my negative attitude about the people in Cleveland, it might surprise you that I am actually extremely sad to leave. After all, I will be leaving a place that I have grown to love. I love watching the leaves change in the fall, I absolutely LOVE the old houses that are found in my neighborhood, I love my job and all the people that I work with, I love feeling like I can take care of myself, and most of all I love the people that I have met and the friends that I have made. I know that I have seriously undermined their importance in my life, and I just pray that I have not hurt any of their feelings in doing so. Cleveland is my home, I know where the grocery stores are, and where to find the cheapest gas. I know how much to buy at the grocery store and when to buy it. I know what my schedule will be like week after week and have a routine for going to the gym. For the first time in my life I have settled down and have made Cleveland my home.

In everybody's life there is always a place where they can look back and think, "Man, I sure did a lot of growing up here." Whether it's the cabin you went to every summer, or that year in college when the real world came knocking and you realized that you were no longer the care-free teenager who only had to worry about what boys liked her and what she was going to wear to school the next day. One day when I look back and think, "When did I become an adult?" I will remember that the process started in Cleveland. That is where I learned how to find an apartment to live in and set up the gas and electricity in that apartment. I learned how to juggle the demands of work, church, and social life, and to budget my money. I learned how many decorations, appliances, furniture, linens, etc are actually needed to fill an apartment and I learned how to successfully navigate myself around the ghetto. Most importantly I learned who I am, what motivates me, my discourages me, what hurts me, and what makes me happy.

Yes, August 4th will be a bittersweet day, I will be packing up my car with everything I own (hopefully it will not get stolen this time) and driving to MN while singing at the top of my longs to this song by Jerrod Niemann
And of course this one too!!