It has been a whirlwind of a few days. Thursday morning I got up at 4:10am CST, went to the airport, and flew to Chicago-Midway. I did not have to go through a backscatter scanning machine, nor did I have to have an invasive pat down. It didn't look like anyone else was going through those processes, either. We all just went through the metal detector, like normal. I got to the airport at about 5:30am, and everything went along smoothly and quickly. We landed in Chicago a few minutes ahead of time, and I was picked up by my dad and littlest brother at 8am CST. We had a lovely drive to Holland talking about politics and various world conflicts.
Our families' tradition, as of the past few years, has been a big lunch and a stromboli cook-off in the evening. Lunch was small and quiet: just me, my brother, parents and grandma. The stromboli competition is always Uncle Dan vs. My Mom. However, since Uncle Dan's wife, my Aunt Mary, was in the hospital, preparing to have brain surgery the next day, their family couldn't make it. Not to bash my mom or anything, but I usually like Uncle Dan's stromboli the best because he puts chicken and green pepper in it. Kara, Evan and our cousin Alex did come over for my mom's stromboli, so the dinner table was much more lively. There was plenty of reminiscing about the old days of our childhood (oh-so long ago for 18 year old Matt). Lacking Peter, though, it certainly didn't reach the levels of raucousness that is possible for our family. It was certainly a nice day, though. I had some old friends come over later in the evening. It was lovely to see them and we played a fun game.
Spontaneously, Amanda and I decided to go Black Friday shopping at Kohl's at 3:00am and to Target at 4:00am. We had never done it before and were kind of excited to see what the big deal was all about. We stayed awake by looking at ads and drinking caffeine at Denny's. Nate joined us there, and we got to Kohl's just in time to be squeezed through the doors by the rushing crowd. There were some pretty good deals, so we did our shopping, and it was at the moment I was looking for the end of the line did I realize I would probably never do this again. We waited a little less than an hour at Kohl's. Our plan was to go to Target next, and so we did. Nate got in line immediately. That line took much longer, almost and hour and a half. We were out of there at about 6:30am and I was exhausted because I had been awake for over 24 hours (except for a 2 hour nap I had taken in the afternoon). I can't even remember the last time I did that. I went to bed around 7am, and got some mediocre sleep until about 1:30pm, because I kept getting texts (I should have turned my phone off).
After waking up and eating (apple pie for breakfast) and showering for the first time in almost 2 days, I went shopping again at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids for a few other items I wanted to pick up. I'm not a big shopper, nor am I a bit fan of buying things (aka consumerism). However, I must say that I did get some useful items that I know I will use a great deal. Because I don't shop often, when I do shop, I make sure to get only the most needed items. I think I'm all set for another year now. I'm most excited for 2 purchases: my new jeans (it's extraordinarily difficult to find jeans that are long enough for me) and my Cuddl Duds (aka long underwear). My Cuddl Duds are another chapter in my quest to be warm during the winter.
I mostly went to Woodland Mall because it was very close to my Iraqi friends' home, which I planned to visit. I was there from about 6-10pm. It was really great to see the family and their latest addition, a baby girl named Hala. I had missed my little Aya and was so happy to get lots of hugs and kisses from her all night. I gave my camera phone to her, and she took about 25 pictures, mostly of Hala, but a few of me. Hala is such a gorgeous baby. She has hazel eyes, not brown like the rest of her family. She was very well-behaved, as was Aya, which is not always the case. I was pretty exhausted, though, so I headed home around 10pm.
For some reason, it never feels strange to be in Holland. I always think of it as the town of my youth. But driving around in GR was strange, because I'm not used to thinking of that as a part of my past. I still had the impulse to drive to the house on Herrick. It hasn't been that long since I was happily living in GR. I miss those days a lot. I miss all those people and all those places and events. I think it would be harder if I didn't have such a great life started in Nebraska, though. I have a fantastic job and an amazing boyfriend in Nebraska (who I have spent time missing in Michigan). I kind of feel like most of my life I have spent missing things, because I have chosen to move around so much. I often miss Korean food, and the excitement of living in a foreign culture. I often miss rowing, and how I was in such good shape and on a team working toward a goal. I miss friends in various parts of the country and the world. I miss familiar places, like seat 4 in a shell and the chicken galbi place in Nowon and Baldwin and the WYCE studio. Over my short years, I've learned to just deal with that. Sometimes the sense of missing something is stronger than other times, and it's just particularly strong for my former life in Grand Rapids.
I shall enjoy the time I have Michigan for what it is, though. Today I will play games with friends some more, and probably do a little dancing. I get to see Zika soon, which will be wonderful. And tomorrow I get to back to my great life in Nebraska.