Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One final short blog before I leave.

I have spent a nice day with a lot of people. I am packed for my trip. I am both nervous and excited. I will be met at the airport by the coordinator, and possibly members of the family with whom we will be staying. I'm told we will have our own space...small but private. In another twist of events, I've learned that Rob will be there for a short time while we're there. I don't know where or when, but that's normal for most things Rob

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I plan to get online when I can, and I have been told that I will have Internet access. We are both taking our laptops, so that will make getting online more familiar.

My head is spinning and my heart is racing. I'll have a lot of time to relax and do some thinking between here and Indonesia.

This is very important to me, and I an grateful for all of the support you've shown me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On leaving NJ and heading for Bali...

As promised, I'm writing a little bit before I leave. I'm being watched, so I better be I plan for this to be my final blog posting until I'm in Bali. I leave for Bali on Thursday the 22nd. I don't know how much Internet connectivity I will have in the home where we will be saying, but I will make sure to get on. We will be met at the airport by the people who will be hosting us, as well as leaders from the organization.

I'm flying home tomorrow. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed. It seems like only yesterday we were being were picked up at the airport, greeted with the smiling, warm welcome from friends we love so much. Although the flight was late, there was never a word of complaint about flight schedules or traffic. When we finally got our luggage, I had hoped that our stay here hadn't begun on a downer. But this ended up being a truly positive experience in spite of the minor pitfalls, and we were home before we knew it.

I have been saying that this has been one of my top ten vacations of all time, and I can honestly say that it is near the top of the top ten. I've been rushing through a lot of things during the past few months, such as visiting my father, spending more time at my brother's, and of course, spending time with my friends. I won't be seeing any of them for four months, possibly longer. I've done all I can to tie up loose ends, and to deal with all that was important. I didn't have a lot of time to blog, but I know that you all understand, and I appreciate it.

I have done so much here. I am taking with me a lot of wonderful memories. This is such a fun place, and our friends make it that much more fun. Mom and I never needed a thing. It was always there. We don't do anything. Our task at hand was to relax and enjoy, but I was brought up to help out whenever possible.

I was so honored to be able to share in Jeff's 28th birthday. As hard as it has been for him to get used to my being 22, I'm getting used to his being 28. And Devin, my blood brother of the heart, is going to be 25 on Christmas Day. So you see, I am EVERYBODY'S little brother...:).

There's a certain relaxing effect just in listening to the constant activity that goes on in this town. We sat on the deck and I could hear the cars, the trolley bell, people, horns, and other sounds associated with a tourist beach community. I've heard them before, but there is something strangely different here. I was able to relax because I didn't jump every time the phone rang. I didn't jump when I heard a car horn outside the house. I turned my cell off as soon as I got here, and only turned it on in the evening to talk to a certain person who wanted to make sure I was having a good time.

As I had said, my friends are here with me right now. I get sad thinking about how much I'm going to miss them tomorrow, but there won't be any time to be sad. I'll reflect at some point over the Pacific at 38,000 feet. Goodness knows there will be plenty of time to reflect. I'll think of Mom, and how she'll be missing me, and of how I'll be missing her. There will only be a quick good-bye for Alex. I'll hold and kiss Ethan, and I'll remind him how much I love him. Four months can do a lot, and I'm hopeful that I won't have to reintroduce myself to my nephew. I am going to miss him more than anyone or anything else in the entire world! Christine has been too busy to worry about anything else, but that's another story for another blog time.

Two weeks went by very quickly. Four months will go by very quickly. I could be home for Thanksgiving. I definitely will be home for Christmas, and who knows what wonderful plans can come up between now and then?

In closing, I want you to know that I lived up to my philosophy of never passing up the opportunity to tell someone I love them. I love these people. I told them and I showed them. I love you, too. My number of blog readers has dropped almost out of sight, but I plan to continue writing. I might not have the chance to do it every day, as I might have a few years ago, but I will continue to write. I'm sure there will be a lot to tell over the next few months. I can't imagine that it will become a boring routine. There is a big unknown in the near future. It's like a gift that's wrapped in beautiful tropical paper. I can't wait to open it.

I'm going to spend the last few hours of my stay here enjoying everything that surrounds me. I'm not looking forward to leaving, but I am definitely looking forward to that unknown that awaits me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Remembering all the good times in Wildwood, NJ

I should probably start this blog with something like "Greetings from New Jersey." It's that time of year again. Mom and I have made our annual trip east to visit our friends in Wildwood, New Jersey. I'll spare you the long story of how we have known each other all our lives, but you have probably heard about how we visited here every other summer.

It has been refreshing to leave Los Angeles and all that is going on back there, even for a couple of weeks. Although everything has gone well, I needed to get away. Visiting with my friends Devin and Jeff and their family is something I look forward to all year. I've told about how we young kids would ride The Bus, a ten-foot long surfboard owned by a teenage boy, who was less than half the size of the board at the time. We sit around reminiscing about the good times we all had years ago. Strange, isn't it, that our mothers do the same thing!

I was honored to be able to share in Jeff's 28th birthday on the 7th, which we celebrated on the 10th. Although he made it clear that he wanted no gifts from us, he must have been talking into my bad ear at the time. I accepted the scolding graciously.

Another thing I enjoy about being here is how I always seem to be laughing. We sit around and laugh. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. We point and giggle. How strange it is that we know exactly why we're laughing, and we all laugh. It's contagious, and it's wonderful. This has proven to be the most effective medicine for me, as I have been in what at least one person has referred to as meltdown.

We go to the world renowned Wildwood Boardwalk, with food, entertainment, rides and a water park. There's the famous tram car that tells you in an annoying woman's voice to "Watch the Tram Car, Please!" There are several places along the boardwalk that serve some of the best pizza I've ever had. I go there for the funnel cakes and the snow cones. There's the Boardwalk Mall that caters to tourists by selling souvenirs, t-shirts, the old fashioned photos of your family, plus many other items sure to empty your wallet. There are arcades where you can play video gambling games. You play for tokens, which, like any other tourist trap, can be turned in for useless junk. There's something special about a three-inch high stuffed duck that you "won" on the boardwalk...won for a mere $25 in quarters. But it's worth it. It's the same all over.

And as the three of us grease the chute to purgatory, we watch the people. There's something about the fudge shop that attracts people of excessive mass. Not ones to stereotype, but we can usually spot the ones who will go out to their cars in the handicapped spots to eat their special of the day purchase. The banner-towing airplanes make sure that everyone on the beach knows about this good deal.

I've amassed shot glasses from several years of visiting, purchased at the 99 cent store. I usually make it my business to buy one of every Wildwood shot glass offered. Jeff keeps threatening to ship the box to me...collect!

We'll spend several evenings at the boardwalk, just as we have since I was little. We'll spend a lot of money, too, but I notice that the sights, the sounds and the smells envelope my senses with a feeling of happiness. It's a Welcome Home kind of feeling. Mom grew up in New Jersey, and she spent her summers right here, and this is a significant part of her life, and it is, in a way, home to her. There are boardwalks in California. This one is different, and I'm glad.

If we're lucky we'll watch the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean. There are several pictures, taken during all seasons of the year, of a big sun rising over the horizon. I'd love to be here for Christmas to watch the sun rise. I've always heard about walking along a snow-covered beach. One day I will. I've made myself promises to come back more than once a year.

I'll be here until the 20th of July. My trip back home will be a quick one. I'll have just enough time to see the people I love. And then I'll be boarding another long flight, but I won't be traveling alone. I'm so glad that David is going, too. How amazing is it that he would be wanting to do this. He said I talked him into it simply by telling him about my experiences at Christmas. Maybe I'm a good storyteller. Maybe I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have someone like David in my life. But my luck doesn't end there. I'm lucky to have loving friends who are always there for me. They are right here right now. I'm very happy.

I plan to write more before I leave New Jersey.