It Was The Best of Times, The End.

So, Friendfest felt mostly like this during the day…

…and more like this at night…

…and it should be recorded for posterity that a floating beer pong table was mostly responsible for the transition from the former to the latter. Well, the table and these little things, though some people did protest that they contained “too much tequila,” which, huh? I don’t understand those words.

Palm Springs greeted us warmly (110 in the shade, baby), which meant the pool was essentially a giant bathtub. Most of us found creative ways to stay cool, though.

And when we couldn’t, we just reveled in the fact that we were all together. Honestly, that was my favorite part of my wedding weekend (other than the whole marriage part), just handing in my bride card and in exchange getting the people I love all in one place. Getting to do it again a year later feels like cheating…if the correct response to cheating is a total lack of guilt and a desire to repeat your conduct as soon as possible. Seriously, I love these humans in a way I can only express to you in blurry Instagram photos.

So yes, these people and their antics. (Most adorably, the adoption of a “talk like Scooby Doo” rule during King’s Cup, which resulted in our poor new addition being hailed as “RAAANNNE!” all weekend.) Add to that mix an amazing chef for whom “cooking is my vacation,”* and you have created the weekend about which I dreamt during bar study. (Actual dreams were had about eating Salpy’s garlic paste while sitting by a pool. And I am not ashamed.)

Cliff Notes: It was the best collective idea possible, and may it be repeated forever and ever, amen.

*This is a direct quote.

An Affirmation of Previously Held Beliefs

My darling maid of honor and the man I married have a lot in common. They’re incredibly friendly, curious, and athletic. They were probably both puppies in a former life. They are also both blond, which is pretty much irrelevant.

However, they also share a profound love of a game they like to call, “Let’s Convince Her to Go Camping.” The “her” is me, an individual who was recently caught up in that game and is consequently covered in bug bites…but still somehow very much in love with both of these scoundrels.

The Culprits

Now, in their collective defense, I was a willing (if temporarily insane) participant in this latest excursion. Both M and A.Bo’s boyfriend were having birthdays soon, and we hadn’t been to the Cape yet (despite living here for three years…law school, you are just embarrassing everyone). Somehow those two facts merged into a plan to surprise the men with camping at the Cape for a weekend. A. Bo says this was my idea. If so, it was only because I was distracted by the boatload of brownie points that were to be mine once M was made aware that I had voluntarily gone camping in his honor. You guys, I can’t even count that high.

Despite the fact that it involved flesh-eating bugs and sleeping on the ground, (totally understand why people do this for fun) the trip actually gave us a chance to be with several of our favorite people (Andrew came too!) and meet some new faces. This group shot of our Troop Beverly Hills is brought to you by Mike, a dude at a fire pit half-way down the beach whom A. Bo somehow convinced to come play iPhone photographer. Be careful around her, the people-wrangling skills are not to be underestimated.

I will have you know that, actually, camping is not all bad. Since we were at the Cape, there was a lot of time to do this:

You know, play beach volleyball. Or sit on a towel and watch beach volleyball. However you personally happen to roll. There was also time to sit around a campfire and drink whisky and make s’mores. I may not like dirt, but I am firmly in favor of Johnny Walker and chocolate. (Side note: what is it about s’mores? One obviously great ingredient + two elements that in real life would merit a resounding “eh” = oh my everloving melted sugar high. That’s the kind of math to which I could’ve applied myself in high school.)

Chocolate and lounging aside, the best part was realizing how lucky I am to have these two in my life. A. Bo knocked herself out to plan this trip. She coordinated everything while I was in finals, brought us extra tents, shopped for all the food…this kid, I swear. And M really was so flattered that I had faced mosquitos for him that, by the end of the weekend, I was getting “survivor of a personal tragedy” level compliments. “I am just so proud of you…this experience is making me see you in a whole new light…thank you for tapping into these reserves of strength just for me!” (To refresh, we were just…camping. Like, not in Bosnia.)

So despite their love of the (previously aforementioned) game, I seriously count these two tow-heads among my blessings.

You know, when I get tired of counting the mosquito bites.

At Last

We’re done, we’re done, we’re done!!! No matter how often I say it, it still hasn’t sunk in. Don’t think it will, until we touch down back in Boston tomorrow. Right now is still the never-never land of being home, that last keystroke on the paper hit, send button clicked, and the perfect timing of this suddenly blazing sun coming out to meet us.

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It was a pretty intense slog there for a minute (a month-long minute) but everything eventually ends, even if you’re pretty firmly convinced it won’t, this time.

And now I’m back in a coffee shop, but the view is less “a Mac screen is all you shall see for ever and ever, amen” and a lot more…..well, this:

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I just finished the Great Gatsby while watching a Silver Lake hipster hula hoop in the middle of a farmer’s market. There’s honey lavender goat cheese chillin in a cooler ten feet away, paid for and ready to be spirited away. And we’re about to go drink copious amounts of wine from mason jars at Cait’s house.

So, yes, I guess I’m glad I went to law school… But is it ok that, for this moment, I’m far more glad that it’s over?

Even Ate Sunflower Seeds

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This is what I was doing all weekend. Well, let’s be real….this is what I was watching. Eye-hand coordination has never been my forte, so there was certainly no softball bat in my hands.

Every year UVA holds a law school softball tournament, and M had such a blast last year that he convinced me to tag along as team cheerleader this time. Sitting in the sun, watching my husband and friends play softball (but really reading)….yeah. Pretty excellent way to spend a weekend. I loved getting to see my sports-loving guy in his element…

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…getting to hang out with people I rarely see…

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…and meeting some truly excellent humans who had been right under my nose for the past two years.

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Charlottesville is so beautiful, and the cherry blossoms popping up all over were making me seriously rethink the decision to attend law school in the northeast. Add to that our Friday afternoon stop at Chick-fil-A (the southern chicken sister to In-N-Out, in both quality and inducement of devotion), and I am loving some Virginia. (Not to be confused with Loving v. Virginia,* although that is extremely important and awesome as well.

*aka the case ruling that inter-racial marriage was protected by the Constitution. Am I a nerd? Yes.

Reconnecting

Finally back from DC, where we snuck off for the weekend to go visit college friends who have made it their hub of higher learning. It’s so fantastic to reconnect with people who were part of your formative era, and find that you can pretty much pick up right where you left off. Granted, they have a lot more to teach you about Important Governmental Workings than they did four years ago…but that’s only an added bonus.

It’s also pretty great to escape the freezing air of a open-deck cigar bar by huddling in the bathroom with your homie and taking awkward, blurry self-portraits.

Unlike most mad-dash weekend trips, we actually got to see everybody long enough to have real conversations. Which made me realize…I kind of love these people. Not that I didn’t know that already, but forging your way in a new city means you have to make new friends. The people we’ve met in Boston are wonderful additions to our lives, but being with people who knew you “when” really feels like coming home.* We have history with these humans.

They're there for you when you accidentally order a cupcake the size of your head.

We also have brunch with them. Dim Sum brunch with unlimited guava-lychee mimosas. I know.

These two lovebirds were our hosts for the weekend, and they were just unbelievably gracious and fantastic.

Everyone should know the nirvana that is Salpy cooking for them. This is only a tiny sampling of what she just “whipped up.” Let’s just say that she made the garlic sauce from Zankou Chicken from scratch and that I spent a lot of time last weekend standing on the kitchen threshold watching what was transpiring. And learning how to hold a French knife the right way. No big deal.

Maybe the most fun of all was watching M getting to be his silly dude self with the friend that brings out his little boy-ness in a major way. If I told you they spent the better part of the weekend playing Mario Cart, would you believe it? You should.

Just heading back into the week so grateful to have these lovely people in my life, and hoping all the talk of everyone moving back to Southern California “at some point” proves true… I’d sure love to see you all more often. And get more homemade hummus.

Just sayin.

*I am aware that college was only five years ago. But that’s like a fifth of my lifespan. So.

The One Where We Finally Get Ourselves on a Bolt Bus

M had promised to take me to New York for my birthday, but then finals were looming, and the city was being all wicked expensive during the Christmas season (rude), so we put it off.

And so it happened that, just a few days ago, I happened to find myself sitting across from this handsome dude at The Stage, introducing him to the concept of Matzo ball soup.

He enjoyed the concept very much, but kindly requested that I not take pictures of him mid-chew. So much work, this marriage.

We were staying with a friend from M’s summer at the USAO, who was pretty much the best hostess on record. Seriously. If you looked up “superlative host” in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Michelle going across town to stay with her boyfriend so we could have the entire apartment to ourselves. They’re coming to Boston in a month, and I’m already feeling lame about only having an air mattress to offer them. (My secret weapon will be happy hour at Marliave. Who’s thinking about an air mattress when they are delightfully tipsy on Boston Tea Parties* and dollar oysters?)

Since we were staying at her apartment, we spent a lot of time in the subway stop for Columbia University. Not trying to be biased or anything, but it’s most def the prettiest one. Look at that blue tile! Semi-Grecian swirls! Really wishing I had taken art history in college!

We ate at Prune on our first night in the city, and that was the only disappointment of the trip. Not because the restaurant wasn’t great, because it was! It just turns out that lots of drinks plus way too much bone marrow equals sick me. However, by the next morning I had totally rallied in time to embrace my inner Jew yet again. Bagels and lox! Never has such a beautifully perfect food been created. And Murray’s in Chelsea is THE place to admire it up close and personal.

I am not exaggerating when I say I wanted to order everything in this establishment. Bagel crates stacked almost to the ceiling: cinnamon raisin, onion, salt, everything. 17 kinds of cream cheese. It’s a good thing we don’t live nearby.

Or is it?

After consuming our weight in smoked fish, we trudged through the snow to the Guggenheim. Such a cool building.

The exhibit while we were there was Maurizio Cattelan, who apparently is kind of a prankster and displayed his life’s work by stringing up all his sculptures and hanging them from the ceiling.

M and I liked Cattelan’s work a lot more than we anticipated. They’re pretty simple, bold pieces, and I liked the immediate, visceral reaction they evoked. Especially this one:

And this one, which we thought was just a chill elephant decked out in the easiest Halloween costume…but Conrad informed us was instead a KKK elephant.

I didn’t know. I would never have patted his trunk had I known.

This little girl was just the greatest. She was perched on the floor in the Kandinsky exhibit with her sketchbook, so seriously copying the artwork. She was just shadin’ away with her colored pencils, and you could tell from her look of concentration that she saw no reason why her finished product couldn’t match the one on the wall perfectly.

New life mission: get back some of that innate confidence.

Museums make you hungry and exhausted, and then you have to get burgers. (It’s the law). We went to Shake Shack to put the old “In-N-Out versus SS” test to rest. (SS= Shake Shack, not the Gestapo. Let’s be clear, cheeseburgers win over fascism every time.)

Verdict = come on. Seriously? I mean, Shake Shack, your custard is very nice. But my tiny imaginary chihuahua ate one of your burgers and then asked when we were having lunch. You straight cannot charge eight dollars for that little guy.

 Good thing we had (somewhat) fortified ourselves, though, cause then we stood in line at ye old TKTS and got tickets to…MEMPHIS!!!

Do you like gospel music? Soul music? There is only one correct answer to such a question, and as soon as you say it (“YES!”) then I will tell you to get yourself over to this 2010 Tony Award-winner with great speed. (Also, go to Lantern’s Keep in the Iroquois Hotel for drinks first. That’s a very important step.)

Oh man. It was so great. It was GREAT. And the greatest thing about it was that M now truly enjoys going to see shows (even musicals) just as much as I do. And it is so much fun to look over at your partner during an amazing experience like that and be able to tell that they’re loving it as much as you are.

 

The one event of which I have no pictures is our dinner at Hudson Clearwater. It was epic and totally worth taking documentary evidence, but the busboys were so gay-beautiful, and the waitress was so skinny and eyeliner-y, and I felt altogether too nerdy to pull out my iPhone and starting snapping away. However. Some cabbage-y slaw thing, an amazing duck dish and an apple-and-salted-caramel dessert were all filed into the mental vault marked “Please Sir, May I Have Some More?”

The next morning we made our way over to the West Village for brunch at Home. They had $5 dollar brunch drinks, which is clearly the price point at which you become financially irresponsible by not ordering one. So I got a bloody mary (which I always feel like I should like, being such a lover of savory things) and this time I really did like it. Very successful brunch, is what I’m trying to say here.

Afterward, we wandered around an elevated park called the Highline, which was constructed out of an abandoned railway platform…

Apparently these benches slide around (when there isn't a bunch of snow blocking their tracks) and you can configure them into chaise-y couches for you and your beloveds.

…and said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and their absurdly cool city. Before we left, though, we had to make a pit-stop at this place I heard makes a decent cookie.

I can’t even talk about it. We got chocolate-chip with walnuts, and dark chocolate. They were enormous, gooey in the middle, and made out of heaven. We brought one home and now it’s gone, and… seriously, I can’t talk about it anymore.

M’s final shot of the city, the beautiful trees on Columbia’s campus lit up for the winter. Does he have an eye, or what? So, so beautiful.

I love you, New York. See you in three weeks!

*Tequila, Earl Grey Tea and Ginger beer. Check it out. You’re quite welcome.