As I begin writing this I'm still recovering from the jet lag and Sunday night's red-eye flight back home, but I want to recapture it now while it's still fresh in my mind. The following post will be long, sappy at times and inundated in pictures and still it will hardly come close to expressing just how happy I was on this trip. Tears might have been involved on several occasions.
The closer we got to heading off on our trip, the more anxious I became and a jolt of nervousness kicked in as I was washing my dishes Thursday morning. But somehow I managed to get dressed and meet up with A. without throwing up on myself and from then on it was jittery excitement on my end and lots of forehead kisses from him.
Our flight turned out to be delayed an hour, which wasn't so bad because it gave us time to grab a meal, wander around and oh yeah, catch Sarah McLachlan's sound check for the terminal's concert. Who books a show in an airport terminal anyway? Not like people are going to a) know about it before they're about to leave town or b) buy a flight just to catch the show. Either way, it was a cool unexpected surprise.
The flight itself wasn't so bad even though it lasted an eternity. A. gave me the window seat and we spent the time watching TV together and trying to cuddle without catching a cramp. I introduced him to House Hunters, he gave me the play-by-play on a poker tournament and we watched a cool martial arts competition.
We arrived in San Jose around 11 PM and went in search of our rental car. Oh, but not just any car would do for this man's California trip! No, he'd been wishing for a convertible ever since we booked the trip months ago and that's exactly what he got: a smooth Mustang that he simply had to drive out the lot with the top down...even though it was almost midnight and less than 60 degrees out. He even had to fish out his iPod so that his "moment" could have proper background music.
After our routine GPS curse-out, we finally found our first hotel tucked in the backwoods of some commercial plaza and promptly passed out. Too bad this was the beginning of waking up around 5 AM every morning wishing I could fall back asleep. Damn jet lag.
At noon, we headed to Monterey, which is where the wedding would take place. Insert more convertible zen moments for A. (and maybe me too). Driving with the top down with the sun beaming down on us and the wind swirling around us was a bliss I'd never experienced before. I'd turn to look at A. and he seemed completely in his element, a huge smile plastered on his face. Unfortunately, our smiles quickly started to freeze over once we approached the Pacific coast. And do you think he bowed to my requests to put the top back up? No! His remedy: crank up the heat. He wanted to squeeze in as much top-down driving as possible and only relented when it was simply too chilly to bear it any longer. Boys and their toys.
Meeting A.'s Family
I spotted his mom first. We were waiting in the lobby when I saw her outside the hotel and recognized her instantly. There was no time for nerves because before I knew it, A. and I were walking out to greet them and being swept into hugs and hellos. There's something to be said about watching your boyfriend interact with his family - his parents especially; the respect and love between them, how happy his mom was to see him again, how excited he was to introduce them to his girlfriend and how no matter how far away he's moved or how little he calls them, he will still be all smiles around them.
It only took a meal and a couple hours for me to fall in love with them, too.
I remember looking through pictures of the Clement Monterey hotel before my trip and thinking how gray it looked outside, but I figured those were just taken on a cloudy day. Well the scenery around the hotel really is muted with grays and soft colors, but it's so calming and lovely when you're there. I could stare out at the Monterey Bay and people watch for ages. Little tourist shops line the streets and pedestrians fill the sidewalks, but life seemed pretty laid-back.
During our free time, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, checked out an awesome sock shop and gave in to our cinnamon roll cravings. I also bonded a bit more with A.'s older sisters and their husbands during the latter half of our outing. Teasing, jokes and quips were flying all over the place.
As for our room, it was absolutely wonderful. No matter how many times I check into one, I still get excited when I walk into another hotel room. What does the bathroom look like? What about the view? Is the bed comfy? It's a different experience every time and finally having someone share it with me made it all the more better. Then again, we'd probably have a blast in a cardboard box.
At Friday night's welcome reception, I was introduced to a zillion more family members and promptly forgot the names of most. And asking A. who they were later on was of no use since he had as much of a clue as I did. I did get into some great conversations with a few and those were the ones I remembered and took a liking to. One girl even went on to become my awesome dancing/singing partner on the dance floor the following night.
Oh, and my dress rocked.
A. and I were still exhausted from Saturday afternoon's family time and really needed a nap before we started getting ready for the ceremony. Only we managed to pass out before we had a chance to set the alarm! Cue the mad dash to shower and get ready in 40 minutes, which if you're anything like me is nowhere near enough time. A. even called his mom to ask "how forgiving is this 5:30 start time?" Cut to us running through the hotel minutes later.
I'd like to pause here to say that my breath caught in my chest when I saw A. walk into the bathroom so I could see him in his suit. I had such a hard time tearing my eyes away and just kept smiling and giggling as I finished getting ready. I think he felt just as smitten when he finally saw me slip into my dress.
The ceremony was simple and sweet and held outside in the hotel's courtyard overlooking the bay. I kept stealing glances at my boyfriend who'd smile back and mouth "I love you." This was when I let myself get completely swept up in the romance of it all. I imagined walking down the aisle and seeing him wait for me at the other end, eager to start our life together. "I love you, too," I silently replied while squeezing his hand.
And you know what's the first thing I'd order for that special day? A photo booth. Those things are awesome. We spent the cocktail hour mingling around, taking pictures and enjoying the company. A. and I also took this chance to steal back to our room so I could change into more comfortable shoes. Best move of my life considering how much dancing I was about to do. And based on how much time I've spent out on the dance floor at the last three weddings, maybe it's time I just came out and admitted it: weddings are actually fun. Thank God, A. was able to keep up with me. I never had to beg him to join me; he was right there with me and acting as much like a ham as I was right up until the last song, "Let's Hear It for the Boy," which I had to dedicate to him in front of his family. I'm sure we were quite the silly sight, but if that didn't prove how into each other we were, then I don't know what could.
Then came time to catch the bouquet. Now I have to say that I don't typically like to participate in this hazardous activity. Not only could you lose an eye to a stiletto heel, but you know the kinds of questions that will pop up if you do happen to catch those flowers. "Go out there," A. demanded as he pushed me against my will towards the cleared-out dance floor. "And I want you to be vicious!!" So I decided to just go with it and play along, "rubbing mud" under my eyes and giving him a fierce look. "What are the odds of actually catching this thing anyway," I thought right before the girls around me assured me that they did NOT want to catch them either.
But up went the white roses, out went the hands and down came the bouquet just a few feet away from me. I reached out for them, kneeling and grabbing what I could of the dismantled bouquet until I came away with half of it. I rushed back to the table to show off my trophy with a triumphant smile on my face. "Does this make you nervous?" I quietly asked A. after the rest of the family congratulated me. "No," he said. "You already know how I feel about you."
Although the entire trip seemed like a dream to me, the night of the wedding was by far the most surreal. You know those moments when you wish you could record every word that was said because you know that no matter how good your memory is, you will never remember it exactly as it was? Those little blips in time you wish you could capture in some sort of snow globe to peep into and relive whenever you wanted? That night as we laid in bed talking about we felt about each other and what we hoped the future would bring for us, tears ran down my cheeks. Who knows what might happen down the line, but at that moment and to this day, I've never been more sure of where I stand with him and how much he means to me. I wouldn't hesitate to say yes to him when our time comes. And we quietly fell asleep while holding each other's hand.
So what do you do when the wedding festivities are over and everyone is starting to leave, but you still have about 10 hours to kill before your flight back home? You head to Carmel for a 17-mile drive along the bay and convince the family to prolong their five-hour drive back to L.A. to come along. We checked out the huge houses, wondered if we'd ever be able to live there and even caught a few dolphins playing out in the bay.
After lunch, we walked back to our cars to say adios and part ways. "You know you're always welcome at our house," his mom told me as we walked with my arm around her. And once we reached the lot, his dad said, "Come 'ere" and gave me a huge hug. Being the sap that I am, I almost teared up then. I can't wait to see them again.
That left us with about seven hours so A. suggested we drive up to Mountain View to check out the Google campus. Yes, I know we're geeks for thinking that would be fun, but the place was actually pretty cool. Not only did we get to climb all over their sculptures, catch a few Googlers in their natural habitat (playing volleyball) and wonder what it'd be like to work at such a place, but we also got questioned and kicked out by a security guard for looking "suspicious." Geez. I told A. we should've snapped a close-up shot of him and then run away for no reason to give him something to do.
After we were done "infiltrating" Google's premises, A. had a craving for some lazer tag (is he random or what?). Unfortunately, the place was booked for the day so we settled for pool instead.
The red-eye flight to NYC was torture. We were already zombified by the time we reach the San Jose airport so when you add a five-hour flight in which we barely slept at all, you'll see why we could hardly speak to each other on the cab ride home. It simply took too much energy. After a morning nap back at his place, we talked about the trip and our plans to hopefully return for Christmas. "We should buy the tickets now before they get expensive," he said.
"Oh you are NOT doing this to me again!" I yelled.
"Yes I am," he replied with a smirk. "You love it."
*Sigh* So, five months to go, huh?