love finding old family photos every time I go home!
love finding old family photos every time I go home!

We’ve all been held hostage by group text messages; I’m currently being updated on my aunt’s availability to return something to Chico’s with my grandma after her volunteer service at the library. But I kind of like the pain of family texting – from a distance, I keep updated on my cousins’ sports teams, whose dog just got groomed, what appetizer everyone is bringing for the next family birthday, etc. Texting keeps home in my pocket.

our old dollhouse!!!
our old dollhouse!!!

I’m thankful for that kind of technology, especially when I get to use it with my best friends. Friends live in places like Colorado, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and I’m down here in Brazil. Texting is vital, espesh with the bests.

We’ve known each other since we were 18 – we’ve lived, worked, played, traveled, laughed, cried, laughed until we’ve cried, and woven each other into every part of our lives since then. And when three of us got together for the first time in four years, I realized even more the value in the every day group text message. After the initial garage-door opening squealing and group hugs, we all just settled back into what it used to feel like in the college and post-college years, when we swapped clothes and peed with the door open and wore flip flops year round and borrowed each other’s bikes to get burritos or the next 12-pack to meet at the beach, talking until the sun rose the next day.

my loves
my loves

On the first day of 2016, for the first time in our thirties, for the first time in four years, Ry and Traci and I were together. We met at my parents house to spoil the puppy, drink mimosas, invent new kinds of Mexican food based on limited ingredients, snuggle up to watch movies, hot tub, and eat cookie dough. We solved the problems of the world and we screamed like children and told “remember that one guy from Spanish class that I was in love with?” stories. It’s crazy how long it’s been since we’ve been able to do that. But when we’re together, it’s home. How lucky am I to have people I can talk about nothing and everything with and love me through all the ups and downs.

bach-ing it up!
bach-ing it up!

Also in the Bay Area, I had great days with my fam – snuggling the puppy, sister time and mom time. She bought me all the snacks I wanted (and also a book on fasting) and made me meatloaf (“MA! THE MEATLOAF!” but like really). We ate Zachary’s and drank wine and peed our pants laughing at “Sisters.” I went on long walks on the trail, drank pumpkin spice lattes and went to church with my sister, where I saw my high school PE teacher and two girls I taught/coached in volleyball. Ah, life in a small town.

cheers to the "fab five" at The Study Hall
cheers to the “fab five” at The Study Hall

Then Ry and I took a road trip to our old haunts – Isla Vista, UCSB, Santa Barbara – to celebrate a friend’s bachelorette party weekend. We had rented a huge house up on the Riviera, and it was so fun to dance and play silly games and get to know a dozen girls. It’s crazy how different people’s lives can be of relatively all the same age and education, drawn together because of one person. The moms were letting loose and breast-pumping in the kitchen while wolfing down bagels and scaring the rest of us with birth stories, while the wide-eyed mom-less crossed our legs and kept pouring mimosas while reconsidering the rest of our lives. We swapped relationship advice and made the bride open ridiculous gifts and in the on-going theme of my life, had way too much fun.

BAGEL CAFE IS LIFE
BAGEL CAFE IS LIFE

It was surreal to be back in my college town. SB was home for a few years afterwards, too, writing for the local paper and waitressing and “networking” (dancing downtown Tuesday-Saturday) under the guise of a slightly more adult experience. But my time at UCSB, mostly sophomore – senior year, is something I wish I could give to everyone. It was magical to live in biking distance of all I wanted and needed. Mostly my friends and the beach.

iv ucsb bikesThis June means 10 years since I graduated college, which freaks me out, because in many ways it feels like it could be yesterday. We walked around IV and the bartender at the Study Hall remembered us, and we had Bagel Cafe, and looked at the new construction and said bad words about it (“ExCUSE ME but is that a 7-FREAKING-11?! Is that a THREE STORY BUILDING?!”).

We climbed over the storm-swept beach of Del Playa and paused in front of our old houses and drank in the Friday afternoon sounds of beachside college – obnoxiously loud music, reggae band practice, beer pong, bikes refusing to stop for cars, endless happy hours, barefoot surfers making their way to the waves.

still so beautiful
still so beautiful

Remembering all the mischief we got into, I thanked God there was barely any Facebook or digital cameras while I was in college, and wondered where my stolen bikes ever ended up and where all those boys I’d crushed on had gone and if I was too old to buy another hoodie sweatshirt. We wanted to grab every child we saw, shake them by the shoulders and shout “this is so good! Don’t rush this! Adulting is hard! Enjoy the heck out of this life!”

IMG_8278
dont judge

And then I had 24 hours to slam together my luggage full of the comforts of home and make sure they met the weight requirements, have one last family meal, say a few goodbyes, and watch an episode of “The Bachelor” with baby sister. Ma and I headed to SFO at 5am and said a bleary-eyed goodbye in the dark morning.

I miss home already, but I think that is the hallmark of a good trip – to leave with things you still wanted to do, places you wanted to go, (For me, mostly food left uneaten. Couldn’t fit my Rainbow Chip frosting in. So SAD!), and people you wanted to see. It just makes it sweeter to look forward to the return in June!

And if you haven’t heard it today and you need to – you can dance if you want to.

me traci ry I’ll dance with you. Guaranteed. Don’t leave this friend behind.

 

People always wonder what I like to bring back to Brazil, so here is a short list of my “essentials.” Overall the theme is very orange and artificial.

  • cheetos
  • cheezits
  • goldfish crackers
  • salsa verde
  • onion dip mix
  • spaghetti mix
  • taco mix
  • sweetheart conversation candies
  • pumpkin spice oreos
  • Trader Joes pumpkin bars
  • mac n cheese
  • ranch dressing
  • caesar dressing
  • lemon pepper
  • dryer sheets
  • ziploc bags
  • saline
  • tampons
  • cookie butter
  • brownie mix
  • pens, highlighters, scotch tape, binders, post-it notes, stickers
  • iced coffee packets
  • costumes
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