“Wait… you met in Virginia… but neither of you are from Virginia? You were there for a concert? Oh, but you’re both from Minneapolis? No, he’s from New York? But you live in San Diego?” The conversion goes round and round until finally we just laugh, exhale and explain it’s a long story. Long story or not, it’s our story. Each love story has it’s own setting, own timeframe and own tales that reflect each person on that ‘ship.
One of my favorite parts of this crazy, adventurous love story is having friends all over the globe. Each state reminds me of a certain person or persons, a memory or a song. It’s both a curse and a blessing to love so many all over the country. It makes traveling fun but in the same breath, can provide for many sad and painful goodbyes.
Earlier in October, we were making our way to Buffalo, New York. I was finally seeing the hometown of the man who stole my heart. So frequently when we were first getting to know one another, I would fantasize and daydream of where he was, what he was doing and what his life was looked like. Photos and videos weren’t enough; you can never really get a good perception until you see it with you own two eyes.
Now, almost 3 years later, I was finally going to see the house he grew up in, the neighborhood he caused trouble in and the friends who have always been there for him. I was so excited for the weekend that was to come.
David and I packed our suitcases with the thought that we would easily be able to handle 60/65 degrees with our new born San Diego blood. What? That’s like fall, right? What’s a jacket? It has been 90degrees in our beloved little piece of paradise so to me, the thought of 65 degrees was a vacation from the heat. Unbeknownst to us- we would actually be freezing in less than 24 hours…
Because of conflicting work schedules, David left Friday morning while I had to wait and take the red eye Friday night. Of course, on my way to the airport there would be a fight on the city buy. Of course, I would be there alone in the midst of the argument and of course, I would curse to myself thinking I would never again take the city bus, alone, after dark. Sigh. But then again, of course I would make it safely to my gate with a few minutes to spare.
TVs around danced with reports of the most recent mass shooting. Awful, trying to tune out sadness from the real world, I slid into the corner, painted my nails and said a silent prayer for being safe and on my way to being reconnected with my love. Boarding, I was pleased to find the plane was huge and it was nearly empty. For a red eye, this is always the dream- who doesn’t want to lie out across the seats to try to nap? Unfortunately for me, the rest of the country isn’t on San Diego’s weather forecast. As soon as we were off the ground and flying amongst the twinkling stars, the air turned and pierced through my skin. Clinching the thin, nearly see through, Delta blanket I covered my head and tried to get some sleep.
The next thing I knew, I was nearly thrown from my seat as the plane hit turbulence and shifted the entire plane around. It felt like a scene straight out of Almost Famous, except, I had no one to confess secrets with- just the pigment of my imagination that it felt as if I could die on this flight. We still had an hour to go, but I was silently wishing for nothing more than to be out of the sky, back on land and in Buffalo. Still, even when we landed, I was only set to be in Detroit. I still had a two-hour lay over and another flight before I would be reunited.
Cold, tried and a little crabby, I finally in Buffalo, trying to make my way through the airport – frozen sporting just my socks, sandals, dinky little sweater and leggings. Rounding the corner, I was greeted with the old familiar faces of Dave and parents. My bad mood immediately lifted and we embraced in hugs while they wrapped sweatshirts around me. Dave, knowing me all too well, knew that I would come dressed as if it were “winter” in San Diego not Buffalo. Have I said how lucky I am to have him?
Off we went, the four of us, them showing me their home of Buffalo and me taking in as much as I could while simultaneously trying to keep my eyes open and clutching to Dave’s hand as hard as I could. Even though our time apart has come to an end, every time I’m at the airport alone, I’m over come with emotion and the despair that we will be apart for weeks on end again.
Coffee, the mall and breakfast; all essential stops after a long night on the red eye, paired with the good company of the Simmington’s, I was surprised that I was able to keep a smile on my face and some light in my eyes after just 2 hours of sleep. But, there was simply no time to sleep. With only about 48 hours in Buffalo, we had to fit in as much as we could.
Driving through the streets of North Tonawanda, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of home. It felt very much like the perfect combination between the two cities back in Minnesota I consider my hometowns. Turning off the main street that flooded through the town, we ventured into the neighborhood of houses, a small side road with no sidewalk and trees that mimicked those in my mom’s neighborhood. Even more surprising- pulling up to their house, I was taken back by the way the tan siding, deep, dark brown accent color and brick matched perfectly with the house I grew up in with my Mom. The feeling of home I got in Buffalo and North Tonawanda was the same feeling of home I feel when I’m at my home in Minnesota. The people, the places, the smells and the feel of fall- it was all too familiar, as if I had been here before.
There wasn’t much time to dwell on the similarities because before I knew it, we were off. The purpose of our weekend escape to Buffalo was for one of Dave’s longtime friend’s wedding. We were heading to the momentous Niagara Falls for an afternoon ride of the Maid of the Mist. Unfortunately, the weather had taken a slight turn and the rain was splashing from the dark clouds. Never ones to let a little rain stop the fun, we layered on any piece of clothing we had packed, borrowed from Dave’s parents and made our way to the Falls for an afternoon of wet fun.
Catching up with the wedding group, I heard the beloved Australian accent coming from close by. I had completely forgotten the groom was from Australia, and his family was in town for the wedding. How wonderful it was to hear those accents again. The similar Kiwi accent drove me right down memory lane and brought a sweet yet sad smile to my face.
Despite being on the United States/Canada border, I was surprised by how busy the Niagara Falls were for such a cool and rainy day. There were tourists everywhere, people watching at it’s finest. We purchased our tickets and made our way inside to grab some photos near the look out and get one last sense of warmth before heading out on the waters. Down the elevator we rode and out the back door, grabbing some blue ponchos along the way. I wasn’t sure what to expect but if it was anything like the episode of the Office where Pam and Jim get married, I knew there would be a little water splashed into my face.
“Let’s go to the front!” Dave whisked me away to the front of the boat so we could get a nice view. Crowded with a sea of blue ponchos, the mist from the sky above fell down with an increased speed, I however, was perfectly happy. I love these types of adventures. I love when a day becomes perfectly imperfect and all you can do is be in the moment, enjoy the ride and laugh at the misfortunate fortunes. The rain was pelting against my face; then again, I wasn’t sure if it was rain or water from the great Niagara Falls. Our boat had cruised us, slow but steady, so close to the falls, you could feel the wind and water all around you. The high winds, caused the Maid of the Mist to rock, created balance and core control for its passengers. Hair, rain and mist blinded me but I could feel the smile glued to my face. It was just as majestic as I had pictured it would be. Despite the rolling clouds around the Falls, they were there, roaring through the land while effortlessly drawing the center of attention.
The boat ride was perfectly timed- not too long but not too short either. Especially for the cold and wet day, we had ample amount of time to enjoy the views, get splashed and still be back on land before we were too cold. Inexpensive and a great way to see Niagara Falls, I would highly recommend the ride to anyone of any age, no matter the weather. I’m sure the sights during a clear and warm day are unbeatable. Still, the rain added a unique mysterious effect that shed a hint of romance to an otherwise gloomy day.
Another check from the Bucket List, another adventure with my love and another city visited. The 48 hours in Buffalo had barely just begun and my heart was already filled. The weekend was only beginning; we had a lot left to fit in but first, finally I would get my nap.
To Be Continued…