We're home. It was, in no uncertain terms, a whirlwind trip. Averie, Caris and I had a pretty easy time getting to New York. While the first flight from Orange County was pretty uneventful, the second leg from Dallas had its moments. We were seated behind Al and Peg Bundy and a little old lady who was kind enough to spray herself and the three of us with Granny perfume. Ahh, the joys of being in a claustrophic flying tin can with copious amounts of Tabu. Two planes and eight hours of travel time later, we were more than happy to see the smiling faces of Jess
waiting for us in baggage claim.
Not knowing if they could fit us and all of our luggage into one car, the boys brought both of their vehicles. Averie and Caris rode home with Marc, and I caught a ride with Jess. We spoke easily of so many things; the weather in New York in summer, the trip, the kids, the coming days of Averie's meetings in the city, and how at that very minute the girls were probably talking Marc's ear off in the other car.
Before I knew it, we were in East Meadow, pulling up to Jess and Marc's lovely home. Soon, we were ooooing and awwwwing over every little thing on our house tour. They quickly gave us the lay of the land, what rooms were available, and who could sleep where. The girls quickly chose the gorgeous Purple Room upstairs having determined that since I suffer from "Personal Summer", I would be more comfortable in the cool of the basement room. I know that sounds like I was relagated, like a bad child, to the less desireable space. But the truth is, Jess and Marc's basement room is beautiful, and as the girls predicted, perfect in "climate" for me. I was in heaven; surrounded by quiet and coolness, with no snoring husband to compete with for bedspace.
As Marc quickly went to the kitchen to work his culinary magic, Jess introduced us to their kids; Bernice the Matriarch, Princess Mandy, and Dodger the Sweet Rascal. The comparisons between their kids and mine did not go unnoticed by me. Two girls, one boy, organized chaos smothered in lovies. We did not lack for attention, nor were we stingy with the returned affection. It wasn't difficult to lose track of time when we were completely enfolded in dog kisses. The love was mutual.
A few months ago, when Jess first mentioned that they had plenty of room at their home should we ever find ourselves on the east coast, I really had no idea that I'd be writing him and asking him if he was serious. Averie had been asked to come to New York and interview at SNL and Late Night. We were tight on funds and since she's basically a starving artist, I knew we would have to cut corners. So, I wrote Jess an email and presented my plight. He did not hesitate even an iota. On the contrary, he excitedly reiterated that indeed, they had the welcome mat out and they were more than happy to have us come and stay with them. Soon, emails were not only being passed between Jess, Marc, and myself, but between Averie, Caris, Jess, and Marc as well. Happily, my girls instantly bonded with my friends, as I had no doubt they would.
I cannot express to you how far these darling men went out of their way for us. Jess made numerous trips back and forth between train stations to drop us off in the mornings and retrieve us in the evenings. Marc created epicurean sensations day in and day out; mango-pineapple salsa, chocolate chip pancakes, homemade chocolate ice cream, carmelized onions with homegrown herbs. Jess kept us on schedule and gave us the definitive NOT FOR TOURISTS guide. He checked train schedules, and told us how to get around once we were in the city. Marc and Caris talked at length about their love for pickles and Bloody Marys. They shared their favorite eateries and told us what sites not to miss. Miss them, we did not. We ate up not only their sound advice, but their food as well. If there was a need, they filled the desire. If there was a desire, they made it come to fruition. We were want for nothing.
Though our time together was truly brief as the boys had to work during the weekdays and we were in the city most of the days, the few hours that we did have the pleasure of their company was sweet. Time passed quickly as life stories were shared and laughter was plenty. As if they hadn't done enough already, they also were kind enough to ask me if there were other blog family members that I wanted to meet. Yes, I have longed for so long to meet some, but didn't want them to go to any trouble when they had already done so much. The response from Jess was quick; "Oh Pua, what am I going to do with you?" By now, with the amount of gracious hosting extended to us, I should know that it was not too much for them, and Jess and Marc made it happen.
On Friday evening, with butterflies in my stomach, I waited at the house with Marc and the girls while Jess made trips to the train station to pick up adorable Jase
, wonderful Wayne
, my "Kolohe" Patrick
, the irrepressibly divine Deidre
, new to my heart Patrick L.
, and last, but certainly not least, the fabulously handsome and celebrated FARB
. I was honored, and humbled that these people whom I have adored from afar for YEARS would take time out of their busy lives to get on a train and come out to Long Island to meet me. The food was fabulous, the libations flowed, the laughter filled the house, the warmth filled my heart and my soul was fed. I wanted it to last forever, and though time would not allow it, nothing will ever remove the sweet memory of this night from my mind. A mere "Thank you" seems so completely inadequate for the gift of their presence in my world. When the evening was over, my mind replayed the easy conversations, the humor, the fun, AND not only that, I held in my hands TWO of my books, now signed by my friend, the author, Rob Byrnes. No one will EVER roll their eyes at me again when I say that I know him. So there!
On our last day, we all had a blissful morning sleep-in, and after breakfast, Jess and Marc took us on a tour of Long Island. We went through the Hamptons, had ferry rides from Sag Harbor, and to Shelter Island. All these places we'd only heard about, are now places we can say we've seen. We stopped at Jess and Marc's favorite winery, Pindar, and enjoyed some wine tasting. This was Caris' first time experiencing a wine tasting, and she ended up buying three of the five wines she tasted. Then, having never seen such a large field of sunflowers before, the girls couldn't resist a romp through the stand of flowers, which made Jess, Marc, and I all laugh. We ended our tour at the Modern Snack Bar, where we had some incredibly comfortable comfort food, then all of us waddled back out to the car. Poor Jess, he had to make the long drive home listening to all of us snoring since it didn't take long for that big meal and the lull of the road to send us off to Dreamland.
Soon we were back at what the girls and I were lovingly calling the East Meadow Bed & Breakfast, and all of us were thinking that within hours, this trip would be over. We knew we had to get to bed early since the girls and I had a plane to catch at 6 am. Not once did Jess or Marc complain about us having to get them up at the ungodly hour of 3 am to get us ready and to the airport on time. It was hard to say goodbye to Bernice, Mandy, and Dodger. We got in as many kisses and tummy rubs as we could. Charlie called and told me to PLEASE tell Jess and Marc how grateful he was to them for taking care of his girls. "Please tell them Pua. Make sure you tell them how much I appreciate their hospitality and warmth to you Ave and Caris. It means more to me than they can know." I promised, and I delivered his message to Jess before we said goodnight.
The ride to the airport was so much quieter than the ride to Jess and Marc's home a mere 5 days prior. It all went by so fast. It was more than successful in so many ways. Averie's meetings went better than she expected and she came home to a couple of requests for phone interviews. She gleaned so much wisdom from so many people in her field. But more than that, the three of us gained such a heartfelt love for these two people who opened their hearts and their home to three people that they had never met before. There is no overlooking that.
As they helped us unload our suitcases at the airport, we took turns hugging them. It was hard to say goodbye. Very hard. I wanted to linger longer in those embraces. I hoped that they felt my gratitude. Not only for all they did for me, but for all they did for my girls. I hoped that they knew, truly knew how deeply they now live in my heart.Pics of the Trip