Our original plan (ha) was to come back to the states for a week in July to celebrate Nate’s parents’ 40th anniversary after traveling for four months. They live in New York, which most flights from South America to Europe fly through anyway. We had planned to travel on from there, and I would travel back to Baltimore in September on my own to attend my best friend’s wedding for the weekend.
As we spent time traveling through South America this past spring, however, we realized something we shouldn’t have been very surprised by: our people are amazing and we miss our people very much.
So we decided to do something few people get a chance to do: backpack the East Coast of the US for a few months. We became intimately acquainted with long bus rides, crashed with all our favorite humans, and simply enjoyed the summer in a place we spoke the language. Nate and I also had the chance to take a few weekends away from each other, catching up with dear friends who we’ve known since before we met.
UPSTATE NEW YORK
In Upstate New York, we celebrated Rosey and Leon’s 40th anniversary with family and friends! Their home is right behind beautiful Green Lakes State Park, so I enjoyed lots of runs around the lakes while we visited. Rosey and Leon helped me throw a very late surprise birthday shindig for Nate, too.
We loved celebrating recent newly-wed cousin Rob and his wife Shawna at their New York reception. We also got some sweet time with our cousins, Chris and Sarah, who took us on a gorgeous hike. Who knew New York could be just as beautiful as the places we’ve been?
I also tried my hand at stand-up paddleboard yoga. I only fell at the very end when I tried a crow pose; but after sweating in the sun, that dip felt amazing!
We got some great time with Nate’s college friends at #themanliusweekend, hosted by the lovely Nelson family.
After a few weeks in New York, it was back to Boston. We had some incredibly gracious hosts and enjoyed birthday celebrations, bar nights, BBQs, babysitting, working out with friends, and exploring our beloved city at its prettiest. I even brought our hammock, which is not getting used nearly enough, down to the Esplanade for a few hours of peaceful reading and lunch with a friend. Experiencing my favorite spot in Boston, no longer quite as a Bostonian, was weird and invigorating.
We also used Boston as our launching pad for the last few weeks of our summer in the states. Staying with friends Ian & Anna and Beth & Graham, both in new homes, was a sweet time dreaming of settling down again and enjoying some incredible meals. Paul and Lauren hosted us for the third time this year and once again, just like in March when we set out, we spent our last night in the states lounging in their cozy living room.
After our initial few weeks in Boston, I visited my home state of Rhode Island for the weekend, staying with my friend Andrea who I’ve known since kindergarten. Brunch with my father, dinner with Rikki and John, coffee with Brad, and a day on the beach with Andrea were wonderful times of connection with the people who’ve known me the longest that my soul was badly needing.
While I was in Rhode Island, Nate took a weekend trip to Cape Cod with a bunch of our friends. He had a blast hanging out at the beach and getting some quality time with them. And he was super happy he got some lobster this summer!
NEW YORK CITY
In NYC, we stayed with our great friend Dana, who was kind enough to tour us around the Nickelodeon office where she works. We caught up with my dear theater friends Colin and Bobby who live in the city as well. It was darn hot, but we loved working out by the water, and getting our daily dose of great coffee and awesome pizza.
I visited Baltimore three times during this summer. Let’s just lump them into one, shall we? We had a blast catching up with Nate’s brother Ben and his wife Maya, as well as our cousins Jason and Kate and our friends Chip and Kelsie. My other friend since kindergarten, Liz, also lives in Baltimore and I had a great weekend with her running wedding errands, getting her pampered, and getting to know her soon-to-be-husband even better.
A few weeks later, we were back in Baltimore for her wedding. Sitting at the reception table with all her siblings was nostalgic; I had grown up running around her farm with Andrea and all these kids. It was a gift to be back together and share a night of celebration of that marvelous, sparkly, woman we all love (and her super cool husband).
Nate’s cousins Jon and Wendy, who live in Philadelphia with their four children, live a unique and intentional life that we’ve always admired. They make their own honey from their bees, have their own chickens for eggs, and have some thriving peach trees, all right in the city. Seeing their family soak up the last week of summer, painting their giant family room together, and watching them parent lovingly and intentionally were truly lovely.
We stayed in DC with our good friend Sara while her husband Stephen was off working in Iraq. Thankfully, we got to Skype with him a few times and we ended up seeing him later in the summer at Marcus and Apryl’s wedding. Sara was incredible to us – cooking delicious meals, taking us all over the city, and even finding a yoga in the park class for her and I to take.
We also got to have lunch with Joel and Heather who I used to be on staff with at REUNION. They recently moved to DC and it was great to connect with them after big transitions for all of us. On our last evening there, we had dinner with newlywed cousins Rob and Shawna and soon-to-be-wed Marcus and Apryl. We felt lucky to be able to have so many good friends in one place and see them while we were there. From DC, we popped down a few hours south and visited my sweet grandma and aunt for the day, too! Aunt Debbie sent us on our way with a big package of her famous brownies and we felt super loved.
WEST VIRGINIA ROAD TRIP
We blogged about our anniversary road trip already, but we’ll take another chance to share how fun it was! After months of being in other people’s homes, it actually felt great to be stuck in a car together for hours on end and have our own hotel rooms for a few days.
The reason we decided to leave for Part Two of our world trip in late September was so that we’d be able to attend Marcus and Apryl’s wedding in Essex, MA. We carpooled and bunked with Sara and Stephen and had a lovely time catching up with all my old co-workers from the Boston Public Health Commission. They are a dear bunch of sassy world-changers and we aren’t able to be in the same place often. Congrats, Apryl and Marcus!
I again want to say a huge THANK YOU to our incredible hosts. With the exception of a few days on our anniversary road trip and the hotels for the weddings, we stayed exclusively with friends and family. That’s a LOT of love and generosity. It often feels surprisingly lonely to travel and even now, on a rainy, boring day in Montenegro (yes, it’s boring everywhere sometimes), I feel warmed by the outpouring of love we experienced in the US. You have made us better people, better friends, better hosts by opening up your lives to us. Thank you for being real. Thank you for being you. We adore you.
Back at our home church, REUNION, we often talk about the value of “sharing life” together as a way to be real and honest in our faith journeys. This time in the states gave us a unique opportunity to experience that in a new way. Nate and I both agree that the coolest thing about this summer, apart from getting time with our incredible friends and family, was being able to see people in their 24-hour lives. Aside from college and having roommates, which seems like ages ago, we don’t often get to see our friends first thing in the morning, brush our teeth in the hallway with them, or see their daily routines and tricks for getting through the week. Over three months we stayed in sixteen different households and got to see how people set up their kitchens and their favorite cooking accessories. We got to see how people organize their homes, and even how they manage moving and their strategy for setting up a new home. We got to see how our friends wake up and start the day, how they juggle all their commitments, and how they choose to relax and wind down at night. It was intriguing and eye-opening and led to lots of questions and conversations. Night after night, we had deep talks with folks about how we choose to spend our time, how we value our priorities in our lives, and how we honor our true selves in this crazy world. It made me want to have more sleepovers when we get settled again.
Now we are off to Croatia, Montenegro, Thailand, Myanmar, and New Zealand until the spring. At least that’s the plan. And we know how those tend to go…