California Zen: Life in the Pink House

When I think about the past four-and-half months, my head spins! Since late May, I lived in a Magician’s Mansion (with a 120-lb tortoise named Henry), bounced East to DC to visit friends and family, moved into La Casa Rosada (the Pink House), and hosted an ongoing carousel of visitors. Throw in a side trip to Santa Monica, a highly anticipated Himalayan salt lamp, goat yoga, and a refrigerator full of kombucha, and you have yourselves a fully christened California Girl 🙂

Each of those random things hosts a story all its own, but I have been negligent in tending to my little online garden. Mostly, this means that my life has been busy and full. And it’s true! I adore my little Pink House. In fact, I probably love it a little bit too much. We did not buy it  (we are simply renting) but it’s the first house that Chuck and I found and chose together, and the first time in quite a while that we haven’t been forced to live in something we didn’t want. After 3 years of involuntary, military base housing, I was ready to regain some control and make ourselves a little home.

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Coming Home

The first thing I said to my dad when I got off the plane at Dulles two-ish weeks ago was, “I’m not doing this again till I come home for good in 3 years.” It also happened to be Father’s Day. I am officially the worst daughter ever. But seriously, what a trip! As I’ve mentioned before, my new job sent me back home to the DC area for two weeks of training, which I was not thrilled about only because I had just recovered from the lengthy trip over here in the first place. “What do you mean I have to go back already?!”

All in all though, it was a wonderful visit,and I am grateful for the free trip back (minus the flights themselves and associated recoveries…those really were quite agonizing.) In a serendipitous twist of fate, my aunts and uncles from Florida – one of whom has terminal brain cancer – just so happened to be visiting my Dad during a portion of my stay. It was wonderful to spend time with her, and to take her to the National Cathedral, which was one of her many DC bucket list items. There was prayer, lighting of memorial candles (I lit one for Habu Lily), and tours of all my favorite nooks and crannies. She even found the perfect set of rosary beads to take home.

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I was also able to spend some quality time with my in-laws, which included a tour of the West Wing. It had been a while since I’d visited the White House at all, but this was a particularly up-close and personal view of where all the action actually occurs. I was struck by how understated most of it was, and kind of proud that our President is not entitled to anything overly opulent or pretentious, as many other world leaders are. Still, it was exciting, intriguing, and greatly tickled my fancy. I know Chuck was super jealous to miss out on this one!

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 I was not authorized a rental car, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to drive out to lazy Springfield to see me while I was home on such short notice, but I was lucky enough that a few friends were able to come have dinner with me at my hotel. I took no pictures, which is very unlike me, but we all had a great time with our unexpected opportunity to catch up in person. Houlihan’s was the hotel restaurant that wreaked havoc on my body for the first week before I adjusted to its mediocre fare, but I now associate it with some pretty fond memories, with both old friends and new. 🙂

The training itself was overwhelming at first – at least due in part to my excessive jet lag (who can sit and pay attention for 8 hours straight every day when your body’s clock is on the other side of the world?) – but I learned a great deal and met/bonded with some pretty cool people. We are scattered at military installations all over the world, but it’s nice to know people everywhere. Odds are good that I will run into them again.

I can’t lie, though. While I miss my friends, family, and many things about ‘Murica, my countdown to getting “home” again started rather shortly after I arrived in DC. I’ve only been in Okinawa for about two months, but it’s funny how Home has become wherever Chuck and Annie Bean are. I mean.. who would have thought? 🙂

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This is home…

We are all moved into the new apartment, and Miss Bean (& Co.) couldn’t be happier!

Seriously, it is so wonderful to have all our stuff again, since we have been living out of suitcases for 2 months. I’m especially excited to have gone to the grocery store. Chuck and I are both feeling the benefits of balanced, home-cooked meals again.

People keep asking for photos of the new crib, but honestly, there isn’t much to see – it’s just plain military housing. Now that it’s come together with furniture and such, it’s looking better, but I kinda want to get some Japanese pieces to make it a little more ‘Murica-Asia-Fusion!!

…But there is plenty of time for all that, of course 🙂 In the meantime, I am grateful for the plentiful space, the mini-balcony, and the 5th floor city view! This is home, and I have already learned to love it.

And we’re back!!

Home safe and sound after a EuroTrip that really could not have gone better, in the soft fluffy purring embrace of the Bean, with the news that the first of the grad school programs to which I applied has accepted me. Wahoo!

In the meantime, 1,587 photos are uploading to my computer. I’m gonna have a blast with those…!

Home Sweet Virginia

It’s good to be home for a hot minute. These next few days will be mostly catching up on logistical matters and spending time with family before we leave on vacation. After that, I have a couple of weeks to catch up with friends, too!

I hope to stay busy, regardless. While it is good to be home, that in-between limbo state always wears me out faster than I’d like. In some ways, I never want to leave, and I want my time in the States to be long and fulfilling. In other ways, I am just ready to get a move on!

My Trip Back Home

Whoaaa where have I been?! I was MIA the past two weeks, first because I was sick post-Miami, and then because I went home to Northern VA for the whole 4th of July week. I have yet to fully recover from either…

That being said, the trip was very successful, despite my forgetting the fact that just because Chuck and I had the whole week off, doesn’t mean everyone else did. We still managed to see *almost* everyone from both of our social groups, which almost never happens… so I’m pretty happy about that (just ignore the fact that all the pics I’m posting are only of my friends, ha!)

Anyway, our visit also happened to be during the heat wave of 100+ degrees and no power (post Crazy Thunderstorm of 2012), and fortunately for us, Chuck’s parents (our hotel service) were among the fortunate few with power. The excessive heat made for too much sweating for my taste, but also for lots of pool time! I’d forgotten how much I’ve missed the pool. The beach is nice, but sometimes it’s great to take a dip and not deal with sand and overly-aggressive waves bitch-slapping me in the face and ripping off my bikini. 🙂

4th of July itself was awesome. It didn’t consist of the usual high-end, pretentious Georgetown mansion and yacht parties I’ve attended in the past (those invites suddenly stopped once I got hitched), but of low-key BBQ’s and poolside lounging instead. The fireworks in particular were special for me this year. Last year I watched at the USMC Iwo Jima Memorial, while Chuck was in Afghanistan. Fireworks – particularly ones associated with patriotic pride – always have a way of making me cry, and it was only more emotional with Chuck gone. As fate would have it, I got a phone call from him last year, right in the midst of it. This year, I watched from the same spot, with Chuck actually by my side. Like I said – truly special!

We wrapped up the whirlwind week with a HinJew wedding on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. That’s right folks, you heard it right – a Hindu and Jewish wedding! It was such a fun experience, despite the suffocating heat and a few travel mishaps along the way (exacerbated by the fact we were traveling with a miserable feline.) I learned a lot and it was simply beautiful. Better yet – I got to see even more great friends, and danced the night away with them like old times.

Ultimately, I came away from the week realizing a few things. 1) Old friends are one of life’s truest joys and it’s always good to go back home. 2) Some things never change. 3) Almost everything else does change. 4) At the end of the day (or at the end of a nostalgic week going back) I can see that I am exactly where I need to be to move forward – here, in NC with my husband, starting a new life together.

People tend to fear change, but Life isn’t meant to be static and redundant. It’s truly dynamic. You have your constants for sure, but the river keeps flowing and very little is guaranteed. As I reunited with college friends, work friends, and miscellaneous hometown friends, Chuck and I both saw that while we still all have each other to an extent, we are also exploring different paths…Doing our own thing… Moving in various directions..embracing change. We aren’t all so reliant on each other anymore. It’s not like the old days – some things are not quite like they used to be. And yet, we are all more enriched as individuals because of it. Bloom where you’re planted. Always.

I don’t know if that made any sense out loud, but it did in my head… Anyway. Done waxing poetic now 🙂