Day 165: Magical Maine and An Unconventional New Years Eve

snow-stormMaine turned out to be exactly what I’ve always envisioned when I picture a white Christmas. Peering outside, I was mesmerized by the frosty snow-lined roads and towering trees. It was a scene straight from a postcard. N’s parents’ home is gorgeous – the downstairs a maze of antique-filled rooms and the upstairs a compilation of bedrooms with sweeping windows that frame the snowy landscape.

After spending time with his family, I could see how each person helped mold N into the man he is today. He got his love of adventure and his risk-taking nature from his Dad. N’s deep appreciation for thoughtful gestures and nurturing women is a result of his Mom. All of the pieces fell into place, slowly revealing N’s story. My favorite memories from the trip include a tranquil night time hike in the forest where snow rained from the sky like confetti. Playing board games in the library while the glowing fireplace roared in the background. Dining on some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever tasted at one of the town’s oldest restaurants. But best of all, I was able to establish a positive relationship with N’s family, who he cares so much about.

Soon it was December 31 and N and I awoke at 3:30 AM for our trip home. The journey involved an early morning bus ride from Maine to Boston and a two hour flight delay. Knowing we’d be jet lagged, we didn’t make big New Years eve plans for the night. We arrived home with just enough time to shower before dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant – the one where we shared our first real date. Afterward, we laid in bed watching a movie and total exhaustion set in. N leaned over and gave me a kiss as my eyelids fell. The clock struck 9:30 PM. Elsewhere, women were slipping into shiny cocktail dresses and bottles of wine were being uncorked. While the rest of Los Angeles was just beginning their New Years eve celebrations, N and I were already sound asleep.

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Day 163: Long Layovers and the Waiting Game

airport3“Sorry, folks. Your flight has been delayed.”

As the Milwaukee airport sound system clicked off, I could feel the tempers of my fellow passengers begin to flare. This wasn’t just any delay. It was a four hour delay that moved our Boston arrival time from a reasonable 10:00 PM to a very unreasonable 2:00 AM. I was supposed to meet N at the Boston airport where we’d make the three and a half hour drive to Maine. Now with the late arrival, we’d be forced meet at a nearby airport hotel and spend the night.

Normally I’m a flexible traveler, but I’d already woken up at 7:00 AM that morning to fly from Sacramento to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas to Milwaukee. With this extended layover, it would be another eight hours before I finally reached N. My laptop and Kindle provided ample distraction and frustrated passengers swapped airline horror stories, triggering some much-needed laughter. Eventually, it was time to depart and we wearily made our way through the night sky to Boston. After finally landing at 2:00 AM, I secured my luggage and headed outside to wait for the 24-hour hotel shuttle.

I immediately realized that I’d greatly underestimated the weather. Even with my gloves, scarf, and heavy wool coat, the 24 degree air cut my face like a knife. Thankfully, I’d contacted the hotel in advance and the shuttle was scheduled to arrive in ten minutes. But ten minutes went by, then another ten, and then another. After a few calls, the hotel admitted to forgetting about my pick up. I swayed back and forth in a feeble attempt to generate body heat. I cursed myself for not purchasing ear muffs. I wondered if it was a bad sign that my toes were numb. The driver arrived at the barren airport 30 minutes later and we completed the half mile route to the hotel.

I was so exhausted from the journey that I didn’t have enough energy to speak with the front desk about my awful shuttle experience. N was already asleep in the room, resting for our drive to Maine. I slid my room key into the door and the green light that was supposed to grant me access didn’t flash. Two more attempts produced the same disappointing result. Great. Then the handle unexpectedly turned, the door creaked opened, and I came face to face with a shirtless N. My N. The handsome, masculine, perfect N who I hadn’t seen for over a week. It was still a bone chilling 24 degrees outside, but at that moment, all memory of my miserable 14 hour trip melted away.

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Day 152: Late Nights and Visions of Vodka

KetelOneIt’s interesting how your relationship with alcohol evolves as you age. In college, I was a student athlete by day and a wild socialite by night. Vodka was my poison of choice. Back then, we all drank the cheap stuff. No-name brand liquor packaged in flimsy plastic bottles didn’t make us so much as bat an eye. My consumption wasn’t excessive, but with a party-filled schedule, the drinks flowed freely.

As I progressed to post-college life, my nights of partying dwindled dramatically. My focus was now centered on a budding corporate career and a renewed passion for health and fitness. Don’t get me wrong; I still went out on the town now and then and enjoyed an array of cocktails. The difference was that alcohol no longer defined what it meant to have fun. Admittedly, some of my best memories with N involve loose lips, warm bodies and an overindulgence of liquor. But even then, it was the company that made those nights remarkable, not the Ketle sodas.

A group of old college friends arranged a girl’s night out in Hollywood last weekend. We set up camp at a popular nightclub famous for its guest DJs and celebrity sightings. Knowing that I wanted to return home safely to N, I made a conscious decision not to drink that evening. I reconnected with friends, danced the night away and had an amazing time – all without the aid of alcohol. Each time I politely declined a drink offer, I felt infinitely more secure and happy with my pledge of sobriety. When the club closed, my inebriated friends stumbled out, entertaining slurred conversations with questionable men as I returned to N’s warm bed.

While that was an empowering evening, it didn’t make me suddenly turn a corner and want to abstain from drinking altogether. I still enjoy a stiff cocktail at the bar and my weekend dinners wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying glass of wine. But what that experience did reveal was that I’ve grown a great deal since I graduated from college. I’m not the same naive young girl whose small world revolved around late night club hopping and endless bottle service. I realized that during the last four years, my priorities have shifted and I’ve truly come into adulthood. Now that’s something I’ll toast to.

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