Well I have been back from my trip to the states for a few weeks now and I had a hell of a time. I have been crazy busy since I got back so I have not had much time to sit and write about it and also organize all of my photos. My trip consisted of what I consider to be three most important things. The three F’s, if you will. Family, Friends, and Food! I only had 17 days in my native land and there were a hell of a lot of people to see and things to do. To those I missed, I am truly sorry. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up on the next trip out. Or just maybe you will make it to Portugal.
I was wondering how it would feel to get on a plane from Portugal, to which I now call home, and then land in New Jersey which was my home for most of my life. The days leading up to my trip left me feeling a lot of anxiety and stress. Did I have enough to bring home, did I pack enough of and the right clothing, will I get to see everyone, and will I have mixed feelings about my move? The night before was spent last minute shopping and spending as much time with my husband as possible. He took me to a wonderful, super traditional Portuguese dinner. I figured that since I would be away for almost three weeks I needed to get my fill of as many spectacular forms of Portuguese food as possible. It was great, to say the least. As always J and I had a wonderful time together. The next morning we packed up the car and it was off to the airport. I got through check in and the interview process with flying colors even though I was nervous as hell. After that it was time to say goodbye. And then it hit me. Damn. I am leaving for three weeks. I have never been away from my husband that long. I lost it. I tried to keep my composure but the tears just started to fall. I am such a punk. I try to keep that hard exterior but when it comes down to it, I am a big pile of mush inside. Guess it could be worse, right? We stood there by the gate holding each other and he told me everything would be ok and to have a good time. That he would miss me. To make sure I called as much as possible. In between sobs I agreed and tried my best to stay strong. But it didn’t work. I was a piece of limp spaghetti. I tried to compose myself as much as possible and gave him one last kiss then turned around and walked towards security. The man at the gate must have thought I was insane. He asked me in Portuguese, “Why are you crying?” I answered in English, “Because I will-sob, sob, sniff, sniff-miss my husband-sob, sob, sniff, sniff.” He said back to me in Portuguese, “No need to cry, you will return.” I agreed and walked through the gate. After a quick clean up in the bathroom I walked to my gate and it was already time to board. Once on the plane I started to feel better. (Thanks to the help of muscle relaxers). As much as I love to travel I really hate to fly. Any slight bit of turbulence and I do the death grip on the arms of the seats and go into panic mode. And actually, it has gotten worse. Upon my decent into Newark I started to feel very excited. I saw that beautiful NYC skyline and was thinking it was only minutes until I was surrounded by loved ones.
The first part of my trip was New Jersey and New York. I started it off by being picked up by my step mom. We got to spend some quality time catching up which was great. My dad was able to leave work a bit early and met us at the house shortly after our arrival. After saying our hellos and having a quick catch up the matter of importance was- WHAT DO WE HAVE FOR DINNER!? My dad knew what I wanted though. It didn’t take long to get that question answered. P-I-Z-Z-A!!!!! (picture me screaming this and jumping up and down like a four year old) Oh my, how I have missed NJ/NY pizza. They say it’s the water that gives it that unique flavor that you can’t find anywhere else. I don’t know. I don’t care. All I know is that I missed that piping hot, dripping with mozzarella, large slice of heaven. We ordered two pies and some buffalo wings (which I definitely missed). I thought this may be too much food but I was surely wrong. The three of us slaughtered those pies and wings. It didn’t stand a chance! We ate, drank wine, looked at photos, and talked tons of shit. It was awesome. The next day my step mom and I got mani’s and pedi’s, drank iced coffee, ate Subway(yes I know. It sucks. But I was sorta missing my half turkey on whole wheat with the works-what can I say!?), and shopped until we dropped. When my dad got home we all got into the car to go pick up my brother and go to dinner. I was filled with so much excitement and a little bit of anxiety to see my brother. It’s been a bit difficult, at best, between us since I left. But when I knocked on the door and he came out, all of those feelings quickly disappeared. As soon as I saw his face and we hugged I knew it would all be ok. Once we were all in the car, we headed off to PF Changs. Yes, I know. It’s a chain restaurant. I get it, ok? But I don’t care. I love me some motha fuckin PF Changs. Besides that, this restaurant holds a significant amount of good memories to me. So I drank my exact measured, overpriced Bloody Mary and ate my nonrealistic Chinese fare. And you know what? I loved every minute of it. You know why? Because I was surrounded by two of those F’s. Family and Food. And how can you go wrong with that?
The next day was a wedding. This had actually been the sole reason for the trip being the time of the year and month that it was. I was excited to see my cousin and tons of old friends. The story behind the people getting married and who was there and why is a long one and not one for this blog. Let’s just say I had a great time. I am not usually one for weddings but these two did a great job at throwing a wonderful party that was both traditional, but not so much that it made your eyes bleed from boredom. Good job you two! It was awesome!
After that it was off to NYC to do a bit of sight-seeing and shopping. That was a bit strange. It was weird to be in NYC as a tourist, and not a local. Though I never lived in NYC I spent 10 plus years working and playing there. I also have a good amount of friends that live in or around the surrounding areas of the city. But I have to say once I got off the train it all came back to me. I was able to maneuver around without any problems and not look TOO TOO touristy! I met up with a dear friend of mine and we had some drinks and played catch up and then it was off to her pad in Queens to drink more, eat like Queens, and catch up with another dear old friend. This was awesome. You know it’s true friendship when almost two years pass and you fall right into place like no time has passed at all. As much as I love living in Portugal I truly miss these people. They have become a second family to me over the years and I don’t know how I could have lived without them. You know who you are. I don’t need to mention names. Know this. I love you both very much!
Anyway after countless hours of drinking, eating, and talking shit it was time to get some rest. By the way- big ups to my girl who supplied me caviar, champagne, brie, and homemade hummus- DAAYYYAAAAMMM!
The next day was filled with more eating and shopping. That night my friend and I met up with some old co-workers of mine and the party continued. After that it was time to say my goodbyes and meet up with another friend and have yet another dinner to remember. See people- It’s all about those three F’s. Family, friends, and food. If you have these things, life is complete. It really is. If you disagree, well, you are surely missing out!
Dinner consisted of a seven course meal at a high end sushi restaurant. My god, have I missed sushi. Don’t get me wrong. I love Portugal and I love the food. But I do miss the variety that the states have to offer. So there were more hours of food, drinks, shit talking, and laughing. Oh how I love to sit back with good company and laugh my ass off! After dinner it was off to drink more and then back to Brooklyn to spend the night at my friends place. Good times. The next day I was off and up out. I had a lot of plans to walk around NYC and get caught up with the city but unfortunately it rained very hard and I was not able to make that happen. I ended up hiding out in a cute little Mexican joint eating and people watching until it was time to train it back to Jersey.
I got to spend a bit more time at my dad’s and then it was off to my brother’s apartment because the next day my mom and stepdad would be there to pick us up. I was really looking forward to this moment. I hadn’t seen my mom in almost two years and I really missed her. I still miss her! I think for the most part the two of us had had a pretty good relationship but we are both strong personalities and tend to butt heads a lot. Upon my leaving I think we really found our groove and have been getting along famously. I was really excited to see her. They called as they were approaching the apartment so I was able to go out onto my brother’s deck and see the car. Once I had a view I ran downstairs. It was like right out of a movie. My mom ran down the sidewalk and so did I. We met in the middle and jumped into each other’s arms. It felt great to hold her, see her, and have her next to me. Though, she would not let me go and I found it hard to breathe. J But it’s all good. She’s a mom. And that’s what they do. My mom, like me, missed the good food of NJ we went on a food shopping spree and then it was off to eat some pizza and have some subs. Oh yeah! Life was good. Nothing like shoving large slices of pizza and sub sandwiches into your mouth. The simple pleasure is life. That, my friends, is what it’s all about.
The next five days were spent living the simple life in Pennsylvania. I loved every minute of it. I loved it even more that my brother was able to come as well. I was worried that I would not get enough time to spend with him and his being able to join me in this adventure meant the world to me. I got to have some one on one time with my mom which was great. We did some power shopping and gossiping, you know, normal mom daughter stuff. The next few days were filled with eating, drinking, shooting guns, talking shit, and relaxing around the house. I love my mom’s new house. It is in a quaint little Pennsylvania town surrounded by lots of greenery. Good times!
As usual good times go by fast and before I knew it, it was time to get back in the car and head back to New Jersey. Saying goodbye is always hard but even harder for a mother and daughter. And even harder for me because remember, I am made of mush. I tried to remain strong but I cried like a little baby. But it was so good to see my mom and have some quality time with her. Awww…yeah!
The last part of my trip was the vacation within my vacation. I was off to Northern California with a friend so we could catch up with friends that moved there from Brooklyn. I was really looking forward to this. The night before was a long one to say the least so for like the first time I was able to pass out on a plane. Plus it was nice that the plane was not full and we were able to stretch out and relax. I will admit one thing. I sort of had a weak moment at the airport and ordered McDonald’s for breakfast. It’s been quite a long time since I have had a Mickey D’s morning and no time is better than when one feels extremely hung-over. Something about that greasy goodness that just makes it all better. I indulged in an egg Mc muffin, hash brown, and OJ. I will admit that it was not as good as I remembered. That happened to me a couple times on this trip. I had all these warm and fuzzy feelings towards food from the past and when I ate them I was left feeling disappointed. Oh well. Live and learn.
Feeling a bit out of it once I got off the plane, I definitely needed nourishment. My head felt super foggy from lack of sleep the night before, shitty plane sleep, and muscle relaxers. J Well we grabbed our luggage, hopped in our friend’s car and it was off to San Francisco. It had been quite some time since I was in San Fran and I didn’t remember much so this was a brand new adventure. We did a little bit of research online and came across a little hole in the wall taco place that had a high yelp rating so we figured we would give it a shot. And it was good. It was very simple, very cheap, and very fast. Just what the doctor ordered. Washed a couple soft tacos down with beer and I was good as new. That’s when the trip really started. We had three full days of fun in the northern California sun. The climate and fauna reminded me a lot of Portugal. There were grape vines and olive trees all over the place. Hahah. Felt like home. As soon as we pulled up to my friend’s house there were a group of deer on her front lawn. That was pretty damn amazing. No matter how many deer I have seen in my life, it never gets old. They seem to have this calming effect on me. I can watch them for hours. Well we got a tour of the house and of the property, relaxed, showered, and got ready for dinner. I guess I won’t give a blow by blow moment of the trip. But I will say this. I got to have AMAZING food, see Napa Valley, the ocean, the Redwoods, ride in a convertible, and just share good times with two really amazing friends. I am still laughing to myself about the fun times we had and the immense amount of shit talking we did. Good times. Good times.
I guess I just want to take a moment to thank everyone that made this trip so completely and utterly memorable. I mean really, I am one lucky girl. Without the help of my dad and stepmom I would have had no ticket, without my husband working so hard, I would have had no cash, without my mom’s generosity I wouldn’t have come home with so many wonderful treats, and without my friends I wouldn’t have had all those amazing meals and experiences. I am not sure if any of you will see this but if you do, know this- I APPRECIATED EVERY MOMENT I HAD WITH ALL OF YOU! I am hoping that 2012 brings better things mine and my husband’s way and that we will be able to get out on our own and have a place where we can welcome you all with open arms.