Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#mysocalleddclife Begins!

Rolling along into September, 2015...
So....I'm here.  And this is my house.  With my car in front of it.  #homesweetdchome


Something that made me laugh really hard when I first got here is when I asked where the nearest grocery store was.  My new roommate Jenny told me where there was a Safeway, but "it's really not very big."   Well, I got there, and compared to the grocery stores in NYC, this place was absolutely palatial.  (To be fair, it is smaller than others in the area, now that I'm used to this place a little more.)  But small?  No.


I had brought some of Jen and Jason's things with me, because did I forget to mention that they live in the DC area too??  Yes!  Jason is in his last year of law school here, and I am so happy to have some family around.  So I got to see them very quickly, and they still definitely had the newlywed glow, even on a rainy Saturday afternoon. 

A week or so after arriving, my friend Danny took me kayaking on the Potomac River.  It was a perfect time of day, and incredible weather.  


I think I may like it here!

Also, a run on the Mt. Vernon Parkway, which Danny also recommended.  I was loving finding beautiful places in my new home.


I also went to an airshow with some new friends.  I had a lot of opportunities to jump into social situations, which was really good for me.  I also got asked out on some dates pretty quickly, which was an amazing, wonderful change from my dating life in NYC.  So my first week or so in Virginia was a success, I would say!

Don't ask me what ANY of the above planes are.  I don't know. But they're cool, right?

Side note: This is possibly the best photo bomb I have ever accomplished.  Erin had no idea and it was amazing.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Roadtripping solo!

After the wedding, I left Texas on my own, in my new car, for a solo road trip!  It was amazing, and I loved every minute.  It felt so good to have myself to myself for a few days, and do something just for me.  So off I drove in the Texas sunrise in my new car, feeling really good about my life.  I will also say that this was the trip of selfies, because let's be honest, no one was around to take the pictures. So I had to get over my pride about taking solo selfies and just take the darn pictures myself. :-)

It just so happened that I had an actor friend named Seth doing a show in Little Rock, AK.  And it just so happened that I hit Little Rock about lunch time.  It was so great to see him!

My first night I stayed in Nashville, TN with my friend Tamera.  We haven't seen each other in years, so we had a great catch up session with the two of us and her husband Sheldon.  Life has changed for both of us since Young Ambassador days, that's for sure.  The next morning I had to go to the Loveless Cafe, on Gary and Melissa's recommendation, and it did not disappoint.  Tamera went with me with her twins, and it was amazing. 



 (Oh hey, North Carolina...)

My next stop was little out of my way in Asheville, NC.  Man, I love this place.  I have been there a couple of times, a few of those times being while I was married, because it was an hour and a half away from Clinton.  There is just something about the Blue Ridge Mountains that I really, really love.  And Asheville embodies that for me.  So this portion of my trip was what I was the most excited about.  Just me, by myself in Asheville. 

I rented a little room in a family's basement that fit my needs perfectly.  I went into town and found some good food, then I went and found some live music.  I really lucked out too, because I found a pub that had bluegrass music playing.  This wasn't just bluegrass either.  It was a sound that felt very unique to the region, very Appalachian.  Like I was listening to these musicians play from their heritage.  And they didn't perform.  They all sat in a circle, with one mic in the middle.  They just played.  And some musicians came to join for a few songs, some left.  It was like they were playing for their own enjoyment, and the rest of us were just lucky to be there, peeking in to their world.  In a lot of cases I wouldn't like that, but it didn't feel self-indulgent.  It was very authentic, and amazing. There was also a woman who, every few songs, would get up and clog with hard shoes, not the clogs I have grown up seeing my whole life.  Again, clogs that felt very regional.  And she didn't face us.  She faced the musicians.  It was all very self-contained.  I loved it.  I couldn't have planned out a more perfect night for myself.  I just wish I had found the music sooner, because that's what I was looking for.

I can't forget a shout out to the Chocolate Lounge.  It happened twice in 36 hours for me.  Enough said.

The next day I got up and went on a hike by myself.  The hosts I had were very helpful in sending me to a great trail, and even lending me a jacket and water bottle.  It was overcast, but beautiful.  Again, I was in heaven!  There was nothing else I wanted to do that morning.  I mean, the Blue Ridge. 

That afternoon, after bidding farewell to Asheville, I went a little more out of my way, because how could I be so close to Charlotte, and not go see Nellie?  I couldn't, I tell you.  I got to see Tiffany, and Tom and Tina that night as well, and it was so good to be with people I have known almost my whole life.  Nellie and I are the type of friends that we can go a long time without seeing each other, and then it all falls back into place as soon as we do.  Those are the kind of friends I need in my life.  I love her.  The visit was too short, but so good.

It was time for me to get back to Virginia. 

I highly recommend road tripping by yourself.  So much time to just be.  It was amazing.  But life must begin in my new home, so off to Alexandria I went.  And it was good to be there.

Texas, Jen's Wedding, A New Car, And All Of The Things...

I was in DC for two days before flying to Texas for Jen's wedding.  Yes.  My niece got married September 5th.  I can't believe it either, but it was so great!  I went out early to spend the week in Texas because, why not?  I didn't have a job or a car yet, so I was pretty immobile in Virginia.  I planned on buying one with Dad in Texas.  So I thought I might as well go early, hang out with family, have the time to look at cars, and give myself a break from life.  It was awesome.

The week was filled with family arriving, helping with a bridal shower and other wedding prep, and buying a gorgeous Honda CR-V.  I'm so happy to have a car again!  Yes.  I think this will be a good match. :-)

It was a big moment, exchanging my metro card for car keys as my symbol of transportation. 

Gary and Melissa threw a great party at their house on Friday night for the two families and close friends.  It was so fun to just relax and chat with my siblings!  I was in heaven.  The only sib who couldn't make it out was Teresa, and we missed her.  But there was no way she was going to leave Layne at this point.  Sarah stayed home as well, and Steve.  But Dave and Becca came, Mike, and Cyndi and I.  And Mom and Dad, of course.

Aunt/Grandma of the bride wedding prep, naturally.  And Gary/Melissa's backyard is stunning.  That's all.

Jen's wedding day was HOT.  But so lovely and fun!  The ceremony in the Dallas Temple was beautiful, with my dad officiating.   I was so emotional, and so happy for my incredible niece.  I'm so proud of her I could burst!  She was a stunning bride, and Jason was so handsome.  It was really wonderful to see them together.

I think they like each other.  A little. 

This.  Oldest and the youngest. 

And these handsome boys!

A wedding selfie with my girl was a need.  Definitely.

It never ceases to amaze me that my nieces and nephews are growing up while I stay the same age. I don't get it. ;-)  But seriously, I love all these transitions.  And now I have a new nephew!  It's the best.

Sisters of the bride!

Love. This. Picture.  (The one with Melissa.  However, I do also enjoy Mike and Dave.  A lot.)

I may look like a football player with the angle my shoulders are at, but I had to post the picture anyway.

Chris was definitely missed!  And I like my family.

Father/Daughter dance, and I cried.  First dance together, and I cried.

"You can take the Ridings out of the cultural hall, but you can't take the cultural hall out of the Ridings." -Cyndi
(Disclaimer: this was after the reception.  So not as bad as you might think.  But still, we are pretty classy folk.)

After the wedding we celebrated Labor Day with a brunch with the Ridings and Spencers, and then headed over to the Riding's to relax for the afternoon in the pool.  It was basically a perfect day.

My kids and me.   And of course, some Amy time in the pool.  And out of it.  Talking about life.  Like we do. 

What a great week.  Just in transition, no job, just the freedom to hang out with my family and witness one of my favorite girls in the world marry her love.  I couldn't ask for anything more.