Friday, July 13, 2012

A Week of Adventures

Hi there!

If anyone is still reading this blog, guess what! I'm back from California, am (finally) fully unpacked from the trip and am currently unemployed (although searching for a job every day and praying for one too!).

I'm so happy to be home. Yes, home. When I was in college I still called my parent's house in Chicago home. But somehow Arlington, Virginia has become home now, mostly because of a certain gentleman who met me at the airport. With a bouquet of roses in his hands, right by baggage claim 9.

This has been a week of adventures. On Sunday Frank and I spent the day getting to know each other again, after half a month of separation. Just talking, looking into each others' eyes and being together. We went to Mass in the morning and a sweet lady turned to us during the Sign of Peace to whisper, "You two make a cute couple!" Then back at his house, we prepared to go on an extravagant "poetry picnic." We gathered our favorite books of poetry (Gerard Manley Hopkins for me, an Anglo-Saxon anthology for him) and Frank proudly displayed what he had purchased for our picnic: a loaf of French bread, 3 kinds of cheese, wine, apples and several bars of high-quality chocolate (the best Trader Joe's had to offer!). I also presented him with a bag of the best-taffy-ever that I bought for him in California. Just as we were about to set out for the park, the skies darkened and a heavy summer thunderstorm poured overhead. We were disappointed for a moment, and then we laughed and decided to have our picnic inside instead! We spread a blanket on the floor, camped out with our food and took turns reading poems to each other. We also began reading The Little Prince (one of my all-time favorites) and have been working through it slowly all week. Our indoors picnic was so much fun that we agreed to have one every time the rain keeps us inside!

On Monday I had an interview downtown. Afterwards Frank and I went to Theology on Tap with a bunch of our friends. I none-too-subtly tried to set up two of them, leading Frank to laughingly call me "Emma" (as it turns out, he's read all the Jane Austen books and is a huge fan, as are a lot of other guys I know). Serena came home with me for a sleepover - we hadn't had one in a while and it was wonderful to catch up.

Tuesday morning I had a phone interview for what is pretty much my dream job. No word back yet, but I am praying hard to get this job with all that in me lies! That evening Frank came over for dinner and I tried out a new, healthy recipe that we both fell in love with. He's been asking me to make it again soon.

Wednesday evening I went to my dear friend Ruth's house for dinner. That girl is one heck of a hostess! She served the most delicious, healthy meal and gave me a tour of her lovely new home. It was a pleasure to sit and just talk and laugh with her and our friend Mary. I can't wait to visit again! (You reading this, Ruth?) ;)

Thursday was a day of many mini accomplishments. I woke up early and went downtown to my favorite place in the universe to meet with a priest there who is my spiritual director and go to confession. I just love having gone to confession. I always drag my feet on the way there but afterwards I hit this gloriously Zen state where everything just seems good. My friend Alex and I joke about the "post-confession high" and how there should be an ad campaign to encourage people to go. After meeting with the priest, I bought a few books for Frank. I recently took the "five love languages" assessment test and discovered that giving and receiving gifts is my top love language, which was honestly a huge surprise to me, but explains why I'm constantly bringing Frank little presents from places I go! I finished up my trip with noon Mass, definitely the highlight of my day.

After Mass I set off for my next destination: the Arlington library! Ohhhh the library. What a minefield for me. I'm like a kid in a candy shop and I want to bring home every book and movie I see (you know the feeling?). That's why I have  to limit myself so I don't go in there too often and bring home more books than I can possibly finish. Yesterday I went in with the intention of just getting one book - the first of a series I love - so Frank and I could read it together after we finish The Little Prince. But nope. The temptation was too strong and I came home staggering under a huge pile, including a bunch of Spanish picture books to share with Frank, who wants to learn the language so he can talk more easily to my Cuban grandparents.

Thursday evening was the greatest adventure of the whole week. Frank and I were planning to play tennis so he picked me up after work and we headed to his house so he could get ready. But then we got distracted looking at Facebook pictures, talking to his roommate and his roommate's visiting dad, and making and eating dinner, so it began to grow dark before we knew it. We decided to go for a walk instead and save tennis for another day. As we walked, I began talking about how much I miss living in the "country." As much as I love my little high-rise apartment, I yearn to have a yard where I can lie in the grass, walk among trees and be able to see the stars at night. Sometimes I feel like Hester Gray must have felt, I told Frank. Frank said he felt the same way and then he had an inspiration.

"I know where we can go to see the stars," he said. "But it's a 40 minute drive away." He described to me the tiny college outside of DC where he went for just his freshman year. Near campus, he said, is a great grassy field with a hill in the middle of it from which the stars appear as bright as they can be.

We considered the arguments against going - he had work the next day and it was already after sunset - and just when I thought Frank had decided against it, he said, "Well, why not? Let's go!"

We ran back to his house to gather our stuff in the car and grab some sweatshirts and water bottles. Then we drove off into the night on a road winding through the dark dense forests of Virginia. I was so excited and eager to get there. We talked a lot in the car, one of those deep serious talks that come when you are very close to someone. Finally we reached campus and he parked the car. A security officer came over to see what we were doing, but Frank knew the guy from undergrad days, so he greeted Frank happily and sent us merrily on our way. Then we walked out into the middle of a vast open field, sat down in the grass and stared up at the bounty of glimmering stars with the wonder and excitement of children.

It was glorious. It really was. I can't remember the last time I saw so many stars - perhaps at summer camp years ago? We gazed and gazed until we'd had our fill (although, can you ever have your fill of stars?) and then we strolled around campus. It's a pretty little place, although tiny. Frank pointed out all his favorite places from his student days and we spotted plenty of college kids (running a summer camp for high schoolers) walking around campus too. Then we got back in the car and drove all around the tiny town of Purcellville, which is charming and beautiful and the kind of place where I would dream of living someday. We got home very late and I, for one, collapsed into bed.

Today Frank is going to a baseball game with his friends and I'm having my friend Meg over for dinner. I've got some cleaning and cooking to do, so I'm off to be productive. Thank you for reading such a long post! I will eventually write about going to California too, and I have so many pictures from the trip to share.


  1. Welcome home, Tess! Your star-gazing evening sounds exquisite. God bless you!

  2. Hey, Tess, I tagged you for an award on my blog:

    God bless you!

  3. Ladies, thank you so much for your comments! Sorry I've been MIA. Summer is not a good blogging season for me. Clare, thank you so much for tagging me and I'm excited to check it out!