Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Maryland Finale

When Team WestEnders makes the journey back to Maryland, our itinerary always includes quite a variety of characters, settings, and events....and Summer 2016's visit was no exception. As I previously mentioned, we began with the College Era--staying at the home of Husband's Penn State roommate and his family, and me meeting up for lunch with my Loyola girlfriends.

Next, Friday morning began in Frederick with Professional Pals: some of my former interpreting colleagues from the community college where I worked before we moved to NC. (Wait...on second thought, that makes it sound like I have to PAY them to hang out with me...fortunately, it hasn't come to that...yet!) We commandeered a table at Starbucks and shot the breeze for hours...while my children entertained themselves walking around and figuring out as many new and novel ways to waste time as they possibly could. (Thanks, guys!)

After a brief errand in Rockville--closing bank accounts at a credit union that we no longer have easy access to, since we're kind of 300 miles away now--we made our way to Olney, the boys' birthplace, and origin of the majority of their childhood memories. As we always try to do when we return, we made our traditional pilgrimage to our favorite restaurant, California Tortilla, for a meal. (Seriously, that's the ONE place that we actually miss; despite the plethora of offerings in Chapel Hill, there's nothing exactly like it. I even hold onto my Burrito Elito card and accumulate points, even though we only go there twice a year. But when I get that $5 off, like this time? Priceless, I tell ya...)

Then, Derek wanted to get together with a couple of his Middle School buddies at the playground right around the corner from our old house. Now...he does this every time we're in town...but M driving over to pick Derek up, THAT was new....and somewhat...disconcerting. However, there are advantages to the kids being 16 and (mere days away from) 13--such as me being able to leave them playing basketball in the park, rather than dragging them to Panera to watch me drink iced tea and chat with yet another friend. So, they got some rec time, exercise, and male bonding, while I got to catch up with a fellow mom from the Playgroup Period--someone I've known since Derek was 5 months old, and who is awesome to talk to about absolutely everything...both kid and completely-non-kid related.

But we weren't done: our last engagement of the (very long) day involved Soccer Families from Derek's and Riley's playing days with the local league. Their coach and his family offered to host the gathering--which included 2 other teammates and their parents--at their house. So let's see...the 5 teenage boys played video games and basketball and pool, and showed their faces periodically to grab more chow...while the adults enjoyed grown-up conversation...and the delightful food, of course. Although we were having so much fun that we could have kept going for hours longer, we finally peeled ourselves away at around 10 p.m. to make the long drive back to Home Base and get some much needed SLEEP to be ready for the following Full Day o'Fun.

Aannnd, before we knew it, it was time to get going for our Saturday Familypalooza. First we over-the-river and through-the-woods'd it (not really, I just felt like saying that...) to my dad's house, so Derek and Riley could do some quality Cousin Carousing. But no moss was growing under our...butts...as we soon piled into 2 cars and trekked to another relative's house, north of Baltimore, for lunch with aunts and uncles and twice-removed-what-have-yous and...I don't really know how all this "ancestry" stuff works, but we're related to everyone somehow, so it's all good. With youngsters ranging from 15 months to 16 years, it was also a bit...chaotic, but that's kind of par for the course for family reunions, yeah?

After several amusing hours of catching up with the tribe, our branch of the family tree got back into our caravan and moved onward. (I know, right? It's like a never-ending parade of activities...) We had a date with the Orioles at Camden Yards, where they would be facing the Astros in an interleague showdown. Oh yeah...more importantly, the first 25,000 fans 15 and older would be handed a coveted Chris Davis bobblehead when they entered the gates...so we wanted to hustle and arrive early for the prize. And I'm gonna be honest: it's a good thing we got those souvenirs, because the game was, shall we say, nothing to write home about. But it was a balmy, gorgeous night, and we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves anyway. (That's just the kind of fans we are...well...until we packed it in after the 7th inning stretch, having had quite enough of the home team's lousy pitching and nonexistent hitting, thankyouverymuch!)

So, an altogether successful and memorable extended-weekend was had by all. Nothing remained but the looong drive home, after one more breakfast with our hosts. Maryland, we love ya, and we'll look forward to making our way back during the Winter holidays--but for now, thanks for everything, and peace out!

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