Days 68-72: Weddings Galore!

I arrived in Denver, dropped off my stuff at my Aunt Lori’s house, and then headed to a cousin’s house for dinner. I had two weddings to attend – one on Friday and the other on Saturday.

I enjoyed a really fun evening hanging out with some family and drinking. I ended up sleeping on a pull-out couch there and when I woke up in the morning, I felt awful. It turns out turbulence from the plane, mixed with not enough sleep and too much to drink isn’t the best combination. I headed back to my aunt’s house and took a very long nap.

My parents and sister flew into town, so it was nice getting to see them. I spent the next day shopping and catching them up on my travels. The first wedding was that evening for my second cousin, Rene.

Rene is in her mid-20s, beautiful, and has the sweetest heart. Her wedding was at a gorgeous resort that overlooked a luscious green golf course.

After the ceremony, we ate an upscale dinner, followed by dancing outside. It was a great time and I was able to see many family members and catch up. We sent the new couple off with a firework arch.

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The next morning, the bride’s father, John, hosted a catered breakfast at his house. I stayed there for awhile and then showered so I would be ready for the next wedding. My Aunt Lori and Uncle Jim’s son, Michael, was getting married.

This wedding was on a large piece of property that the bride’s parents own. They had built a structure to cover an outdoor wedding as well as an indoor structure for the reception. They built both structures and landscaped in six months. Everything looked amazing!

Michael is in his late 20s and it was great to meet his new wife. The wedding was huge and I was seated next to people I didn’t know. One of the women at my table knew my grandmother when she was younger. I was thrilled to hear about her because she passed away before I was born. After the reception, there was a bonfire, dancing, and wood-fired pizza.

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When I got back to the house where I was staying, I started talking with my Uncle Steve. He lives in Idaho, but was staying at the house too. He is a pastor at a small church and we started talking about my travels. He was so encouraging and said he believes God has big plans for my life.

I told my uncle what I had told a few friends in LA before I left. I believe God gives all of us passions, which help direct us to His will. When I moved to California, I didn’t know anyone there and had never even been there before. But I spent the year after college praying and trying to figure out what I should do with my life. I kept feeling pulled to California.

I decided to take action and I asked for a transfer at Target (I was a Team Leader). Within five minutes, two stores said they would take me. I had two weeks to get ready to move. I had no idea where I was going to live, and would be leaving behind a boyfriend that I had been seeing for the last year.

Once I took action, everything fell into place. My sister drove out with me so I had someone to help me; my boyfriend loaned me his truck so I could haul a small U-haul and he drove my car out to me a few weeks later; my mom put me in touch with her cousin in Arizona who I stayed the night with and they put me in touch with their son who was in LA for the summer; and a family friend put me in touch with a friend they knew who lived there. They were out of town, but they allowed us to stay there for free for a few nights and left the key under the mat. To this day, I’ve never met them.

I told my Uncle Steve that story because it was a time in my life where I was at peace, knowing everything would work out just fine. People thought I was crazy. I was moving 2,000 miles away to a city I’d never been to – one of the most expensive cities – at age 23. It’s a time in my life I’ll never forget. I look back now and think that it was pretty crazy, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. I felt confident because I knew that following God’s will would make everything ok.

When I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and travel, it was something I felt pulled to do for about a year. So when I finally pulled the trigger, I felt confident everything was going to be fine. I think God reveals step one to us. He’s not going to reveal steps two-five and the final result because he wants us to have faith. Plus, how boring would life be if we knew each step and the final result?

I think there are so many people in this world that know step one – it’s the yearning you have in your heart. It’s the passion you can’t stop thinking about. But sadly, most people don’t take action. Without action, you’ll never make it to step two. You’ll never know the wonderful things God has in store for you.

My late-night conversation with my Uncle Steve was so fulfilling and inspiring. After two months of traveling solo, it was so nice to be refueled.

I hung out with my Aunt Lori and Uncle Jim for the next two days, getting to know more about them when they were in their 20s. My aunt showed me photo albums and it was great getting to know more about my grandpa because he died when I was five years old.

My aunt and uncle’s daughter, Melissa, was about to move to Wyoming so we talked about her new adventure. Their friends came over to eat a couple of times and I spend those days feeling like I was their own daughter.

It was time to fly back to Anchorage, Alaska, where I had left my car. I needed to make sure I was out of Alaska and Canada before all of the winter snow hit. I had a layover in Seattle again. I got lucky on the flight there and got an empty row to myself. The flight from Seattle to Anchorage gave me an exit row with additional leg room.

I wouldn’t arrive in Anchorage until close to midnight. I reflected on my time in Denver and started to get excited about the 36-hour ferry ride I would be taking soon from Haines to Prince Rupert.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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Day 36: Reconnecting with a Friend

I pulled up to Chanell’s house around 1:00 pm. Her corner house was beautifully decorated, newly remodeled, and I was impressed by how quickly she had unpacked. She had only been living in the house for about one month but it already felt like a cozy home. I was nervous and excited at the same time since I hadn’t seen her in five years.

Chanell and I met at work about seven years ago. We were both supervisors and we quickly became friends. At that time, she only lived about two miles from me in Long Beach so we’d meet up for happy hour, or just to hang out.

Chanell is intelligent, fun, caring, and hilarious. She made me laugh all the time with her comedic timing and facial expressions. We had so many fun times together in Long Beach.

Within that first year of our friendship, she got engaged to her boyfriend, Matt. I was delighted when she asked if I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Three weeks before the wedding, the bridal party went to San Luis Obispo (about four hours north of Long Beach) for the bachelorette party weekend.

We took the train there, went wine tasting in a limo, and had a nice dinner. It had been a great time, until Chanell and I ended up getting into a fight. The fight led to me sleeping in the other room, and taking a taxi at 6:00 am the next morning to the train station to go back home, alone.

I felt like I had ruined her party and upset her, and I didn’t want to ruin the next day too. I cried the entire way home, feeling heartbroken.

After several emails back and forth, we hadn’t solved anything. We had tried to explain our side of the story to each other – things that had built up over the previous couple of months, but we hadn’t been able to see each other’s side.

I didn’t go to the wedding and was upset about it for weeks. I had dreams about the incident because I was stressed, knowing that our friendship had dissolved – and dissolved so quickly.

Five years had gone by but I would still think about her from time to time. I heard through mutual friends she had moved around a little because her husband is in the Navy. They also had two kids. It made me remember that at one point, we talked about having kids at the same time so they could grow up together.

Then this past June, Chanell sent me a message saying a mutual friend had informed her of my upcoming adventure. She now lived in Mount Vernon, Washington and she offered me a place to stay and a friendly face. It worked out perfectly because it’s only about an hour and a half from Seattle and was on the way to Vancouver, British Columbia.

She apologized for how things ended and said she valued our friendship. I had been surprised to hear from her but I took her up on her offer to stay with her and her family. I was nervous upon arriving because I didn’t know if things would be awkward and I’d be meeting her kids for the first time, she had a 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 year old.

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised when we talked as if no time had passed. She showed me around her new house, which was clean and modern. Her kids are absolutely adorable, sweet children, and it was such a joy to meet them.

The heat wave continued and they didn’t have air conditioning so we did what we could to stay cool. Hanging out by the large ceiling fan in the living room and drinking lots of ice water, we spent time relaxing and laughing.

Chanell cooked a delicious crockpot roast dinner and I updated her and Matt on my life over the last five years – my divorce, buying and selling a house, and quitting my job. She updated me on the places they’ve lived, their experience being Airbnb hosts, and the news that she was a few months pregnant! Unfortunately, she was feeling very nauseous.

After dinner and hanging out with the family, Chanell and I watched some episodes of the new season of Orange is the New Black. It felt so good to reconnect with her. It reminded me how much I valued having her friendship, and had missed her presence in my life.

We both apologized for how things ended but didn’t talk about what happened in detail. We both seemed to realize we’d played a part in the dissolution of our friendship and had both been in the wrong. Looking back, we definitely could’ve handled things differently.

Thinking about this incident made me think about issues I’d had in my marriage. It led me to understand something about myself, that I’m a runner. I always thought I was someone that would stay and fight when it came to “fight or flight” situations because I love a good debate.

But the truth is, when there is true conflict, I choose flight. Conflict terrifies me and I run. I don’t like upsetting other people and discussing my feelings is very hard for me. In debates, it’s not usually about me personally so it’s much easier to discuss. Going forward, I’m going to work at confronting my feelings with other people, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Time and life experiences changed us. I discovered that while friends fight and sometimes friendships end, there can also be reconciliation. There are often other stresses involved in someone’s life when a friendship falls apart. Sometimes we need to learn to let go. But other times, the friendship is worth repairing.

I’m grateful that Chanell reached out to me and I had a great time catching up with her. She made me laugh, as always, and it was nice to see her friendly face before continuing on with my solo adventure. I left her warm house feeling content with the lessons I had learned about myself and at having rediscovered someone I had thought I had lost.

Post Edited by: Trisha Harmon