After our whirlwind trips to Italy and Israel, I headed to the U.S. for a visit. I was really there for a special anniversary party I wanted to attend but I went ahead and took advantage of the long trip home to do some of my favorite things and see some folks. (Jon, unfortunately, had to go back to work. He had meetings in South Africa and ended up having to go to Swaziland, again, for work. As one does…)
First on the ‘to-see’ list (which is too long and is never fully tackled) were Jack and Scout, our beloved cats. (Jon’s, especially…) If you recall, the cats flew back from Africa in December, before our move to Malawi. They’ve been living very well at their grandma’s house, my mom, and she’s been taking excellent care of them. As soon as I walked through the door – after waiting in RDU for almost two hours for a suitcase that was still in France – sacré bleu! – I was greeted at the door by these two loveable creatures. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from them in their 11 years of life so I was extra happy to see them. I started the trip off with a bang by seeing my good friend, Tara, who lives in Winston-Salem. We usually meet halfway, in Burlington, so I took this as a challenge to help me stay awake until bedtime where I was. (We also ate at 5:30 to help with that.) The challenge was easily overcome because hanging out with Tara is a delight. That week, I got to see friends, eat at my ‘Durham places,’ hang out with my mom and take care of some medical appointments.
The first weekend, Memorial Day, I flew to CA to see our awesome friends, Alexa and Jeremy (Jalexa, as they’re called), and their new baby, Lucas. He was only a couple of months old so I was glad I got to see him so early. They used to live down the hall from us in Durham and are part of the famous Penthouse (if you’ve heard of them), so, needless to say, I’ve missed them a lot. I even got to see my childhood friend, Dana, who lives in L.A.! I arranged a long layover at LAX and she came to pick me up, taking me to In & Out Burger for a morning snack. It was delightful to see her! Once I was with Jalexa, we spent the weekend eating, walking around with Lucas, watching movies, going wine tasting and trying to sleep as much as possible, baby-permitting. It was a wonderful weekend!
I got back to Durham and had a day and a half there before I drove out to Seven Lakes, NC, to see my in-laws. My brother- and sister-in-law, Josh and Ashley, graciously hosted me so I could soak up some good time with my niece, Charley, and nephew, William. They’re the cutest and we had a blast. (In our next post, a special guest blogger will share more of what we did that week and the fun we had…) After time with the Crisps, I had a few days in Durham to eat, eat some more and then eat just a tad more. It was my birthday week, you see, so I had to celebrate ‘The Week of the Namps,’ as the national holiday proclaims, in earnest. I got to see friends, take the cats to the vet for their annual check-up (woo-hoo!), go out for drinks and, most importantly, saw Joe Biden at the Durham Performing Arts Center! That treasure of a human came to talk about his book, Promise Me, Dad, and within the first minute of the introductory video, I was bawling. Then to see him on stage and hear his wonderful wit, first-hand, was a real pleasure. (#Biden-Crisp 2020?)
After my week of fun in Durham, I flew to Chicago to see some of my friends from my Israel trip after high school. (I’m not sure I’ve ever said it by name but henceforth, I’ll refer to it as Year Course, as it is called…) Limor, Seth and Matan Raz (one of the cutest two-year olds ever) hosted me and we had a blast. It was a really short visit, but I got to walk around the city, spend time with my friends’ kids and accidentally got my make-up done at Saks, which, WOAH. (Imagine the possibilities if I spent time actually trying…) 🙂 Limor, Caryn, Kate and Alyson took me out to dinner and it was amazing. It was a really fun weekend with some of my best pals (and their awesome partners), in a city that I love, love, love!
I flew from there to Atlanta because a) I missed my friends there, b) there’s yummy food there and c) I had to fly through there, anyway, to get to Chicago from Durham. So it was practically mandatory! I always feel right at home when I return, sometimes like I never moved away from there over 5 years ago. (Can’t believe it’s been that long!) The lovely Rachel and Allen hosted me again (I think they think of me as their roommate at this point, for better or worse) and we had a great time catching up, eating and going to the movies. My cousin, Barak, and his wife, Ge, hosted me for an outstanding breakfast at their house with their super cool boys, Daniel and Ben. I also got to see my friends Karina and Ilana, and their families, and my friend, Sandra. (It was too short a visit due to some unforeseen circumstances that I won’t go into here, but let’s just say that Hillary, Joey and Ben of Durham, NC are a bunch of rock stars…) I finished the trip off with seeing Jann, the mother of the groom from the wedding I went to in Italy (Josh), for drinks before I saw “Hamilton” at the Fox Theater. (I snagged a ticket by sheer luck and good fortune; I feel very lucky.) It was too quick of a trip, but they always are!!
My final stop was in Montreal, where my sister, Noa, lives with her two kids, Ilan and Maelle. These three are extremely cute people to visit because they pamper you to no end and make you feel so comfortable and loved. (Seriously, check them out next time you’re in Quebec.) I was taken to their favorite ice cream place, got beautiful tea lattes made for me, went to a Thai restaurant, and, most importantly, got to visit their local TCBY! Now, for anyone that knows me super well, you’ll know how important this is. Both of the TCBY locations in the Durham area – by Southpoint and in Eastgate Mall in Chapel Hall – closed in the last year or so and my heart has never recovered. So getting to have some of this frozen goodness, finally, was a real treat. My sister and I had a lot of good time together, I got tons of good snuggles with my niephews and ate very well. It was a terrific, albeit too short, trip. (Jon needs to go with me next visit because he’s never been to Montreal! Again I say, sacré bleu! Still works, you know? Because, French Canada…? [wink])
I finished my trip with a visit to the mechanic, a haircut with the awesome Katie and a Durham Bulls game with the historic Boneyard, where we enjoyed hot dogs, drinks and fun on a great night of baseball. Those folks are delightful. Before going to the airport, the NC Crisps came to have lunch with me (and my mom) at Cracker Barrel. Quite an American send-off! What a great trip it was… (And I NEVER get to see everyone that I want to see nor do I get to see people for long enough… It stinks but I’m grateful for what I can do on my visits home…)
Next up, our guest blogger tells us all about the wonderful celebration we attended in Pinehurst, NC. Stay tuned!
– By Naama
p.s. On the way back to Malawi, I spent the night in Johannesburg (that’s the way the flights line up) and I got to have dinner with my friend, Dana, who lives in Pretoria. It was lovely.