Look Out, Mama

I’m comin’ home.

24 hours after departing Manila and soaring over pristine Hong Kong harbors and chilly Canadian airspace, I found myself in Newark airport, appealing to strangers to use their mobile phones to contact my dad, who was wandering around the baggage claim looking for me. It was good to be home.

I don’t know if it was arriving at the ugly cow-milking hour of 1am, or being delayed in Toronto with nothing but a plate of Tostitos and cheap guacamole to tide me over, or feeling steamrolled by a stressful few months at work,  but my jet lag was a real beast this year. I spent most of my first week home in a groggy state of semiconsciousness. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was sleepwalking through dinners and conversations.

Somnambulant and firing on half a cylinder, I’m amazed I survived. Fortunately, I took some photos to document my time, so I’m at least pretty sure some of it happened.

I packed light, anticipating my bedroom full of clothing. This was not to be. Imagine flying home with no pajamas in your suitcase, opening your drawers in hopes of finding some cozy PJ pants and finding NOTHING instead, and then opening your closet to find nothing on the hangers except for this:


Where were my old bridesmaid dresses? My cold weather work suits? I had no idea what this was or where it came from, and I wouldn’t have bothered with it except that Holly told me I had to put it on.


What even is this?

On my second day in New Jersey, I awoke at 3am, ready and rearing to tackle the day. 3am is a lonely place, so I Googled sunrise times and hopped in the truck at 4:30 to swing down to Sandy Hook and capture what I imagined would be the most glorious sunrise ever.


But where is the sun?


Step aside, Nat Geo.

Most of my days at home are spent with BFF extraordinaire, Kacey. She’s always game for outdoor activities, whether it’s paddle boarding on the river, hiking, or drinking wine outside, she’s there. I blame Kacey for my new and crippling addiction to Playa Bowls.


One of my favorite places to be in the summer is on Kacey’s deck.

On Father’s Day, my cousins and sister organized a surprise for our dads. I was not included on the message group, so I was not aware the event was a surprise. On the way home from the airport, I’d excitedly told my dad, “I’m glad I’ll be home for Father’s Day this year!” to which he replied, “Uncle Jerry is going camping this year. We aren’t doing anything.”

I caught a wary glance from Allison, who was driving, and quickly played it off. The event went off with a hitch, and was also the first time I’d caught up with my cousins and family in a long time.


Yeah friends come in handy, but family is family

I Ubered home from the surprise and canceled my evening plans due to fatigue, but managed a run anyway. This marked the first time I felt semi-normal and clearheaded since I’d been home, and it was promising. I also forgot how much I enjoy running in America. There are sidewalks. There are birds chirping. There are neglected hedges that intrude on the running path, but I am so destitute in Manila that I couldn’t care less.

Arriving home 3 miles later, I rejoiced in sprawling my sweaty self in a bed of grass on my parents’ front lawn. If you’ve never sought post-run solace in cool grass, you must. Endure the itchiness. It’s worth it.


My last day in New Jersey – before a jaunt down to Virginia – was supposed to involve a few drinks at Rooneys, an oceanfront bar in Long Branch, which would feature live music and a chance to sing a few tunes. Unfortunately, a storm blew in and canceled those plans, so Kacey suggested we watch the storm down in Sea Bright at a breezy restaurant on the river.

A bottle of wine, scrumptious sea food, and relentless downpour made for the perfect evening — until the sunset. Radiant and coppery, it was divine as it spilled over the river. We drove around the corner to the marina, where Kacey popped her hatchback open and we sat in the backseat of her car watching the sun go down to some twangy pop-country on the radio.


It was one of those moments you fold up and keep in your pocket to savor again later. It spoiled me so hard I almost didn’t want to go to Virginia the next day. But that would have been a real pity, because Virginia was as full of perfect days as my belly was of Playa Bowls.

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