Whirlwind Weekend

JANUARY BLOG WEEK 4

The last 48 hours were about as packed as one could possibly make such a time period. Our 2 day trip to Los Angeles as exhausting but absolutely wonderful and definitely one of the best weekends I’ve ever experienced. Lately, I’ve been going stir-crazy while trying to fight the Senioritis that is placating me each and every day. Focusing on things like high school, which feel more and more trivial by the day, is becoming so difficult when I can be focusing on more exciting things.. i.e. my future. In short, I needed an escape.

After I got off of work on Friday my dad and sisters picked me up and we headed towards La Habra, taking full advantage of the car’s stereo system as we alternated between Rhapsody UnRadio and This American Life podcasts. We made it to our family friends’ house in 7 hours, arriving at about 2:30 am. They greeted us and we visited for awhile before calling it a night (some of us hitting the hay at 3 or so and others waiting til 5 am to go to bed.)

I slept in a little bit the next morning and woke up to belgian waffles and sausage and eggs and we had a lively breakfast with the Breniers; Paul and Stephanie have 6 kids who have grown to be like siblings to us. We spent the late morning visiting their toy store and eating candy apples and ice cream in downtown Whittier – my dad’s hometown. It was sunny and beautiful and made me feel a world away from reality.

This quick trip did have a more bittersweet purpose however. My dad’s good friend from high school, and Paul’s brother, Don, passed away a year ago and this trip was to help his family celebrate the one year anniversary of his death. Or perhaps more accurately worded, to come together once again to celebrate the life that he lived. We all gathered at his headstone and toasted to him with his favorite drink (Dr. Pepper), ate some of his favorite foods (Ambrose pizza and chocolate chip cookies) and listened to some of his favorite music (John Denver.) Towards the end of the picnic everybody tied messages to him onto the strings of balloons and we let them float up into the sky. The whole idea of a graveside picnic sounded a bit strange to me when my dad first presented the idea to us, but being there felt like the most natural and content way of remembering Don.

After the picnic we watched a bit of his son’s basketball game and then headed out to spend the evening in Huntington Beach with the Breniers and some of their extended family. In total we were 9 kids racing around the beach and playing in the waves under the pier and that evening definitely makes it onto my list of best beach experiences, only trailing the beach in Holland with the swing set. We ate tacos at a restaurant across from the beach and then headed back to the Breniers house.

We swam in their pool, hot tubbed, played games and danced, sat around their bonfire, and overlooked the city in their gorgeous backyard until 2 am or so. Then we all headed inside, with the intention of watching a movie, and all fell asleep in the living room. The day may have ended in exhaustion but we certainly made the best of the short amount of time that we had together.

This morning we got up and said goodbye to the Breniers before grabbing coffee and heading out for a tour of my dad’s childhood neighborhood. As we drove past each house on the twisting road situated on the edge of a canyon, a story would accompany each address. It was some of the most I’d ever heard about his childhood and it gave the city so much more meaning to us. We also went to see my grandma’s headstone at the nearby cemetery, which was also really nice but I have to admit that seeing “Laretta Johnson” on a tombstone already is a little bit eerie.

From Whittier we headed towards Las Feliz, where we visited our cousin and her husband and two adorable daughters. We walked through their neighborhood and had a delicious breakfast at Alcove. It was a beautiful day, of course, and we had a wonderful time visiting with them before heading back to Chico.

We spent the day driving and pulled back into our driveway around 8 pm tonight, making our trip last a grand total of 49 hours. That was quite the weekend, I just wish I could go back and do it all over again now.

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