What does this mean? This means that my goodbyes to the good old US of A have extended from yesterday through tomorrow morning. Really makes me feel like I'm officially leaving.
My last night in Austin was ostensibly going to be a dinner we ate out at Ranch 616, but we realized at the last moment that I actually wanted to call and say goodbye to a bunch of people in my last night in town, and so eating out and being on the phone? Never sexy.
Instead my darling went to fetch food from Central Market to let me say my goodbyes properly. Turns out, however, no one wanted to keep me on the phone for long. I was done by the time he got back. So instead we got to sit on the couch and cuddle one more full evening before I left. It was perfect. And he bought eclairs for dessert!
Neil almost made me cry yesterday dropping me off at the airport. I didn't want to let him go. And when he stood at the edge of the scanning line, to watch me walk through the metal detectors and through the gates I almost lost it. Really lost it. There is such a thing as being struck through the heart with love for someone, so much so that being parted from them, when you haven't had to do it like this before, it just ... it hurts and it's joyful and it's scary all at the same time.
Then I got to arrive in Los Angeles and get picked up by my darlingest Maija and there was much beeping and shrieking and fantastic hollering and loud "Oh MY GOD"s all over again. She and Jeff have this beautiful house and beautiful dog and ... it was just perfect and fantastic to see my darling girl again. And of course we drank sake and giggled and grinned and hugged and talked some dirty intellectual talk we both love so much.
Woke up, drank the required cup of coffee, washed the hair (and didn't lose too much of the new dye to the towels, thank god) and Miranda came and got us for breakfast of yummy american foods since I'm not going to be eating them in the very near future. At least, I think I'm not. Then we headed off to do some furniture bying for Maija (and good purchases they were too), and some last minute bath stuff for me. By the time we got back to the house and setteled it was 12:30 and we decided that we could have beers. Yep, me, drinking beer. Hey, it's one of my last days of true vacation before I buckle down and do some work. We waited for Hawk to show up and just... were ourselves. I love these two women so much. Miss them so much too. But it wasn't weird that we'd been apart for so long, it was just perfect. Time to catch up and just BE like real people.
Then, of course, Hawk arrived and we did that grinning-hugging damn it's great to see you thing all round again, and after some messing with work stuff and network stuff, we headed out to the ocean.
I can't believe it's been two years since I've seen the Pacific Ocean. It was still there. Still windy. Still beautiful and kind of stinky. We parked, took a couple of obnoxious pictures, and then headed towards Santa Monica to go have drings at Shutters in style.
A word of advice here: don't have drinks at Shutters. Go next door, to the Hotel Del Mar (at least, I think that's it's name). Their waitresses are sweeter, their food is better, their atmosphere is way cooler since the hotel looks like old LA, and even though you may not get a direct view of the beach, you feel like you should spend your whole afternoon there. If you can't figure it out by now, you'll realize we hopped from one to the other, and boy was the second better!
Then we hopped back into the car and took surface streets through rush our traffic deep into the heart of Hollywood. Didn't drive directly by the old apartments, but that's ok. I kind of like to have the memory of them, not the actuality, living in my head. Seeing them again would just make me want to live there, you know?
My favorite silly dinner place! Chicken wrapped in bacon served with a gorgonzolla cheese sauce. We got three plates. There were five of us who were meat eaters willing to dig in. It was INSANE. But fantasticlly yummy. And Deb & Erik came out for dinner, and Cooper too, so there was much jumping up and down and knocking people over with the hugging on my part. I missed Cooper. He's like the brother I never got to have. There's a silly fantasy novel term: soul-sib. I know it's silly. But I've always thought of him as one of mine. And then I got to tease Deb a little bit about work, and steal food from Maija, and generally just be with these fantastic people that I miss so much. That I adore so much. I just wish they'd all move out to Austin. But I love LA too. And I love that they're here. I just wish it wasn't so far away.
I guess it's almost 10 years ago now that we used to go to the Coach & Horses on Sunset on a regular (and I mean Wednesday and Friday sometimes) basis. Some things change so much they go back to being the same. It's a dive. Don't get me wrong. A total dive. And it'll never be anything else. But of course there was the guy in there randomly that Hawk & Miranda & Coop knew. And the tables still have those shitty red candles on each one. And we still shoved ourselves into the big tables at the front because then you can fit 8 people around a table. And Kevin showed up and it was just fantastic to see him looking so well. And Tammy bought me a strange drink - raspberry vodka and soda. We didn't outstay our welcome - a couple of drinks, a hopeful bunch of text messages to another friend who was too lazy to walk down the street from the club he was at to visit, and a bunch of hugging and talkign and geeking out.
Part of me wishes I had longer to stay here. The other part of me knows that if I did that I wouldn't want to leave. And this is the transition point, the movement between my Austin world and my soon to be Japanese world, and I couldn't have asked for better. How good is it to know that, even though you don't want to leave them behind, there is a fantastic man at home that I adore, and all of these wonderful people here too that I love so much, just willing to gather around and say goodbye in this most fantastic of ways?
So, until tomorrow, when I'm waiting in the international terminal to hop on my interminable flight... goodnight.