Leaving the Tri-Cities was a bit of mixed bag. I was ready to go but I felt sad to say goodbye to my family.
My brother Christopher came to the airport with my family and he stood in line waiting with me to get checked in. He put his arm around me and whispered that no matter what, my family would always love me and be there for me if I needed them and that blood was thicker than water. What a wonderful gift, to know that no matter how imperfect you are or what mistakes you make, there are people out there who will support you and love you no matter what and come to rescue you if needed.
For a long time, I felt that I had no safety net and that I had to shoulder the responsiblity and pain alone, which is stupid because I know I have people there for me. But now I know that my family, all of my family, are there for me.
After the emotional exchange came the humour (as usual). Chris told me the story of how my mother came to own a pot plant. She was given a pot plant by two teenagers who were patients of hers and she didn't realise it for about six months, until one observant doctor pointed it out to her. Hilarious!
Then it was time to say goodbye to the family. Afterwards I boarded the plane, which had propellers as opposed to jets. We flew low and we were able to get very close to Mt. Rainer towering above Seattle. The sun was setting and the pinkish light was reflecting off the glaciers. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest girl on earth; i have fallen madly, completely in love with my life.
I landed and was greeted by my cousin Amy. Strange loops, detours and other such shenanigans took place as we tried to find Jeff and Meaghan. Jeff and Meaghan have been friends for years and I have literally known Meaghan since she was born. We caught up on good times over a good meal.
Amy and I returned to the hotel and tucked in for the night. The flight to Cleveland was fairly quiet and easy; after you have been on 15 hour flights, a four hour flight is a piece of piss.
Now, planning isn't always my strong point. I came off the flight, realising that I didn't have Mike's cellphone number or address or actually any way to contact him. We hadn't even made arrangements about where to meet up. i took a chance and took my heavy suitcase outside, where Mike just happened to be driving past.
As we caught up in the car, Cleveland was flashing past. It is very green, lots of trees and big old houses.
I went to law school with Mike and even though we hadn't seen each other in about 9 years it didn't feel like that much time had past.
Mike has walked away from the profession to open up a bike shop. He is a trained bike mechanic and a generally friendly guy to pretty much everyone. The change clearly suits him; the shop is a happy place with wonderful quotes about bikes painted on the walls.
He lives in a converted old Russian orthodox church, which is pretty much the coolest house I have ever had the pleasure of spending the night in. There are three large gold gilded domes, a spiral staircase, a lovely library and a vintage Elton John Captain Fantastic pinball machine.
Its been a relaxing time just hanging out at the bike shop, catching up with Mike and walking down tree lined streets. It is a very friendly place, everyone you pass on the street says hello. There is a definite lightness around here, despite heavy economic times.
The only disturbing thing is my accent. Despite my best efforts to keep my non regional dialect in tact, I have apparently been slightly "kiwi-ised". Bugger.