So I went to a wedding in South Carolina last weekend. Anyone who knows me well understands that flying cross-country for the weekend is not something I do often. In fact, I realized as my heart rate raced to match the plane engine whining as we left the ground, the last time I flew in an airplane was to San Francisco for my first marathon when Jude was 10 months old. He's five now. My heart was racing with excitement. I actually like flying. Not the waiting around in the airport lugging my luggage, but the part where I watch the ground drop away to neat brown and green squares, and mountains recede to tiny bumps, and cars and roads to miniscule dots and lines. I like flying into clouds, and I don't get motion sickness even in the worst turbulence. I always ask for a window seat. I like the sensation that I'm on an adventure, and all normal routines, pressures, and duties are suspended just like we are in the sky. I suspect flying is a novelty that wears off with time, but I loved it the first time when I was ten and flew from Phoenix to San Jose by myself to visit my Grammy and Grampy's house, and I still enjoy it today.
I also like weddings. This one was the last of my three first cousins. My mom's brother had 3 sons. My parents had 4 daughters. They lived in Virginia, we in San Diego and then Phoenix. Needless to say, we didn't get to visit much. We always had fun when we did, though, so when Aunt Lynn called me in the spring to ask that me and/or one of my sisters make the wedding, I took her seriously. The cost felt prohibitive, besides the time away from my kids, but thankfully my parents bestowed the gift of the flight and car rental cost, and my sister Linda footed the cheap hotel we found on the web (thanks, guys). [She might not even have to pay that bill, since we found stains on the sheets, ticks in the bed, and a shower that screamed at us when we tried to get clean! We switched rooms, but Aaauggghhhh!!!]
The trip got better. Because Linda and I were relatives from waaayyy out of town, Aunt Lynn invited us to be part of all the wedding party fun, like the rehearsal dinner, the wedding breakfast the morning of, the gala reception, etc, with none of the wedding party un-fun, like standing around for endless wedding pics and holding flowers and fetching something blue and taking things to the tailor for adjustments.
Not only that, I got to run in another state! I love finding new places to run. That's one of the reasons I like to pick out of state races once in a while, as an excuse to vacation and to run new trails. I cracked Pin (Linda) up all weekend by complaining about being hungry every two hours thanks to my overdrive metabolism, and by seeking daily exercise options. In fact, we got to the hotel at 8pm Thursday night, and I told her at 9 that I was going to go check out the hotel exercise room. Hey, it was only 6pm by Arizona time! She came along and got to laugh at the tiny four-machine room, and we watched "Flubber" on TV while biking for 30 minutes or so. On Friday I drove to nearby Peak Fitness (sounded like "Pete's" off the drawl of the hotel clerk, and I laughed when I saw the sign), and did my weight workout. On Saturday Pin and I got up at 6am and drove out to nearby "Paris Mountain" State Park so I could run for an hour while she walked around the lake. It wasn't open until 8am, so we parked down the road and sneaked over the fence. We were still late for the wedding breakfast, but it was worth it. And sweet Aunt Lynn saved us a box with fruit, eggs, sweet rolls, and grits. You gotta love the South!
Saturday afternoon marked the big event, and we got shuttled up winding hills to the small, exclusive chapel on Glassy Hill, overlooking a panoramic view of South Carolina's misty green Greenville County below. Half an hour later, vows and rings and kisses exchanged, we shuttled back downhill to the reception and most everybody ate and laughed and danced the night away. You know my position on dancing, so you won't be surprised that I waited until the whole room joined in before I ventured on the floor. Getting lost in a bunch of people that don't know one foot from another is easier than being the center of attention in one's dressiest dress and high heels. Oh, those heels hurt by the time we limped back to our car at almost 2am!
On Sunday, I got to breakfast with the family and friends at their hotel (I shudder to think what our hotel would have served, had they ventured into foodservice), while Linda went to church with a friend she discovered in nearby Erskine College. Breakfast over, friends and family hugged and waved off, I got to wander down the street to partake in the excitement and expo freebies offered by the 115-mile USA Cycling Road Race Championship scheduled that same day. I missed the photo finish that occurred hours later, won by a two-thousandths of a second, but I enjoyed witnessing the first and second laps that brought them to the halfway point, with cowbells ringing and hollering all along the thickly lined, barricaded roads, while the lean and sweating cyclists whirred by in an airy blur of wheels, helmets, and brightly logo'ed shirts.
I was having so much fun that I entered that sensation of complete relaxation that a good vacation brings. I didn't actually twig on to it until I caught a couple's eye while passing and they excused a second glance saying, "You just look so relaxed!"
Wow, I really am, I thought. How novel. And I bought myself a coffee (decaf, so not to get un-relaxed with the jitters), and ran into fellow wedding-goer Mark Horowitz. Mark hails from Los Angeles, and with his unruly mop of blonde curls and eclectic clothing choices, is frequently compared to Napoleon Dynamite. He introduced me to a fantastic digital version of Boggle on his iPhone on the way back from the wedding, which passed the drive time marvelously. On this occasion, he collected a hug and his double espresso, and bolted for a shuttle sending him back to L.A.
To top off our fantastic holiday, Pin and I went on a driving exploration of Greenville's "Upcountry" north and east of our hotel, and enjoyed a murky, misty sunset view of Greenville County from "Caesar's Head." Not often do you get to enjoy a fantastic veiw from the head of a deceased Roman dictator, I might add. We made hilarious observations on South Carolina countryside from the town of "Pickins" (fodder for many puns) to the looming kudzu vine overtaking the state.
So that was my trip. I ran, boogied, partied, drove, and relaxed marvelously in South Carolina. Now back to reality!!