Kissing babies and attending weddings

Peter and I hit the ground running when we got back to the states.  We had A LOT to do in a short period of time.  We were back home because Peter’s close friend Joe and his lovely fiancé, Andrea were tying the knot so we wouldn’t have missed that for the world.  Peter was happy and excited to fulfill groomsmen duties. The wedding was fantastic timing for us.  Our nephew Luke had just been born, plus a few of my friends had just given birth, and my roommate from Santa Barbara, Brooke, was getting married a couple weeks after Joe and Andrea’s wedding.  It worked out really well.  Thanks Andrea and Joe! Great timing.

When you live out of your country for a year and a half and you only go home a couple times it can be hectic trying to fit it all in and see everyone that you love.  This post will reveal just how crazy being home just shy of 3 weeks was.

Our first few nights we rented an airbnb in Manhattan Beach which was the area we were living before we packed up all our stuff in storage and started our world journey.  It’s always nice to come back to the South Bay.  The South Bay has a sprawling strand situated right next to a beautiful beach with a laid back surf culture vibe, plenty of bars and restaurants AND some of my most favorite people in the world live there.

My first morning back I was suffering from severe jet lag and found myself wide awake at 5:00 AM.  As I aimlessly scrolled though FaceBook I noticed that my friend Nicole was posting that she was up and suffering from insomnia.  I sent her a text, “Want to meet for coffee?” 30 minutes later we found ourselves together at the local Coffee Bean on Manhattan Blvd, literally a 3 minute walk from where I was staying.  Thus beginning my load up on quality friend time.

Later that day my friend Shastin drove out from Orange County, to see me and bring me some dresses I had ordered to possibly wear to Andrea and Joe’s wedding.  Shastin was super prego at the time, despite that and the long drive she was in great spirits and full of energy.

That night I met up for dinner with my friend Tara.  She graciously offered that we go for sushi, knowing my love for it and knowing I had eaten it since I left the states.  We met at one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan Beach, IZAKA-YA.  We had exorbitant amounts of sushi, white wine, and girl talk.  Three things that I greatly missed while traveling.  So I proceeded to over indulged on all three.  It was fantastic.















That’s an empty bottle of white wine.  Was it our first? I love you T!

The next day I got to meet the first new little bundle to come into the world, Nico.  Nico is my soul sister Gina’s 2nd born and first boy to her growing family with her hubs Johnny.  Gina, Johnny, Mia(their daughter), and Nico to put it candidly…are the bees knees.

I was lucky enough to catch all of them the afternoon I visited.  Everyone was in great shape and spirits.  Gina was a pro having just given birth and taking care of now two kiddos.  It’s not lost on me that I look more run down in these pictures than Gina who had just gone through labor.
















That night was my friend Shannon’s birthday and she was grabbing some drinks at another favorite restaurant of mine in Hermosa Beach, Palmilla.  Another cuisine I desperately miss while traveling: Mexican and of course margaritas.

I joined Shannon and some of her friends, who were fantastic, for more girl time and talk.  My soul was filled.  I had missed my friends.



To keep up with the non-stop fast pace, the next day I drove to Orange County so that my hair wizard, Brittany, could do her magic.
















That evening I was able to meet up with my friend Jenelle.  Our friendship has a pretty fun background.  We met in Indonesia on the island of Gili T.  We have a mutual friend, Brent who was aware that we were both there at the same time so he connected us though the powers of Facebook.  It was friendship at first sight.  At the time Jenelle was living in Hermosa Beach and I was living in Newport Beach.  Fast Forward 6 months later and Peter and I moved to Hermosa Beach… just 2 blocks away from Jenelle.  We have remained great friends since meeting on that beach 3 years ago.  If the universe delivers you an awesome woman on a beautiful exotic beach, you gotta make sure you don’t take that for granted.
















Just when everything was going great, I walked home after hanging out with Jenelle and wouldn’t you know it? My car was towed.  Welcome back to America, especially Manhattan Beach.  Long boring story short I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  Peter and I had to scramble around the next day going from the tow shop to the DMV.  Nothing like feeling more American than an afternoon spent at the department of motor vehicles.  It’s these moments that I remind myself,  I’m lucky to have a car.  This is a good problem.

Are you tired yet? It’s only day 3.

After the car debacle we moved to an airbnb in Brentwood that we would be sharing with Andrew Ralston, Andrew Waits, and Andrew’s girlfriend Theresa.  Let the wedding festivities began!

We all had a blast our first night together.  I met Theresa for the first time and instantly liked her to the point that I really needed her to like me to.  You know when someone is effortlessly cool, smart, fun, funny, and pretty? That’s Theresa.

The lovely, about to be married couple joined us for a little bit and they were cool, calm, collected, and really happy.  Ready to get wed.

The next day our little crew took a trip over to Venice Beach where we strolled along Abbot Kinney and ducked into a restaurant for lunch.  I think it’s safe to say we were all pretty stoked to be together.

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That night we celebrated at the rehearsal dinner.  The guys had worked on a joint poem/speech that they delivered to Joe in front of the crowd which turned out to be a big hit.
















The next day was the wedding! Everyone was excited! It was a fancy black tie formal wedding so I had searched high and low in a short amount of time for a dress.  All my clothes are hidden away in storage.  Andrea and Joe had the spouses of the bridal party escort their significant other down the aisle so I was excited and humbled to get to be an intimate part of the wedding.  I also put a lot of unneeded pressure on myself to find an acceptable dress.  Even going back and forth with the bride over email with pictures of dresses for her to give me her opinion on.  Because she wasn’t busy enough.  Thank you again Andrea for amusing me.

I went over to the synagogue early for bridal party pictures and was nearly knocked out by Andrea’s beauty when I saw her.  My first words were actually, “Can I touch you?”
















The guys also looked fantastic in their tuxes.  Handsome devils.



The happy couple looked picture perfect.
















I was fortunate to get in on the all the happiness and joy.  Although I didn’t really blend in with my color choice.



I find it a daunting task to relay the details of one of the best, most fun, and elegant weddings I have ever been to.  I had never been to a Jewish Persian wedding before, but after being to one I seriously hope it won’t be my last.  It was over the top, in all the right and best ways possible: fun, food, opulence, energy, sophistication, and beautiful people.

After pictures we got to witness the ketubah signing which is an intimate ceremony with just family and bridal party where the bride and groom officially get married.  It was very moving to witness, especially their self written exchange of vows.



After that we all exited to an enormous ball room where they had a sushi bar and passed trays of champagne.  Enough said.



This was all before the “real” ceremony even started.  After sipping on champagne and downing a myriad of sushi rolls we were off to the main event.

It was explained to us that walking down the aisle is more like a party, not a casual walk.  Do whatever, but mainly have fun and get the energy going.  Peter and I started the bridal party train by being the first to walk out.  As the music pumped through the synagogue we did our best to get the crowd excited.
















We did alright, but it was honestly the groom who brought it.  I had no idea Joe could even dance like that.



In the above picture of Joe you will see a rather large wall behind him.  Right before the bride came out, the music changed, the lights dimmed, then suddenly the wall lifted…like some sort of futuristic spaceship situation.  The theatrics were outstanding.

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The ceremony was emotional, beautiful, and touching.  I somehow snagged a great seat to witness the entire event.




Then the party officially started! We were moved into a new ballroom with more food, an enormous dance floor, live band, and quite possibly the most beautiful wedding table settings of all time.
















The next 5 hours were filled with nothing but fun, food, dancing, happiness, and laughter.















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Here I am trying to show Theresa my cool moves; a not so subtle attempt to gain her approval.  Unfortunately it looks like it wasn’t working.


The beautiful bride’s smile was as big as the room.


A fun surprise and highlight of the reception was when Andrea’s brother got up on stage and performed a saxophone solo with the band.  Everyone stopped dancing, crowded the stage, and then watched in amazement.  It really was rather remarkable.


At 2:00 AM while we were walking out I grabbed a sandwich from the panini maker station (fed 3x’s in one night) in awe of such an incredibly beautiful event.  The combination of elaborate design coupled with sheer happiness, joy and love between Joe and Andrea made for an extraordinary evening.  As their guests we all were able to enjoy the details and hard work that were put into planning such a special wedding.  Thanks Andrea and Joe for having us.  We had an absolute blast.  Now who’s next?



The pace didn’t slow down from there.  In the morning we went to a lovely after wedding Sunday brunch then I had to make my way to Orange County for a surprise sprinkle we were having for Shastin.

I drove straight to the hotel we would be staying at for the next couple of nights where Jen met me (girl slumber party) and then headed over to Corrine’s for the surprise festivities.  This was also my first chance to see my girlfriends from “Wine Club.”  It all worked out with everyone arriving before Shastin and she was 100% surprised… success!

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Following the Sprinkle we headed to The Playground, an awesome restaurant in Santa Ana where we were served 12 courses of culinary delights all decided on by the chef.  We had a wonderful time catching up, eating, drinking, and just being together.  It was a bit surreal being there with everyone.  I remember my friend Elaine saying, “I can’t believe you are actually here… sitting next to me.”

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The next day was fairly relaxing, but I did get to meet another bundle of joy, Logan, my friend Courtney’s son and she graciously made me my first home cooked meal in forever.  Girl talk, dinner, and wine.  All good for the soul.



Up next we took the long road trip from Newport Beach to Oakland to stay with Lisa and Devin and meet our nephew, Luke.  We were excited!

We had a wonderful trip of quality time, delicious home cooked meals, wine tasting in Sonoma, laughter, and ease.  My in-laws are the easiest people to be around.  It’s always very calming being around them and it was exactly what we needed.  It had been non-stop since we landed.  We still did quite a bit, but there wasn’t such an urgency in the air.

It was inspiring to see Lisa and Devin as new parents.  Knowing them as being exceptional at everything they do, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that they were both pros in their new roles as Mom and Dad.  Also, I don’t feel biased in saying this, but our nephew is ridiculously cute and perfect.  We fell in love immediately.

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We also got to do a brief stint in babysitting.  Lisa and Devin hadn’t been without Luke since he had been born so we encouraged them to go out for dinner and let them know, “we got this.”  Well as Peter worked I pretty much took over with Luke.  It started off well, but I believe that a baby can sense that the familiar is gone and he got pretty bummed out about their departure and communicated that by some pretty hefty crying.  Peter was inquisitive and concerned, “Why is he upset?” “What’s going on?” I proceeded to cover the bases of baby needs: diaper change, rocking him, holding him, feeding him.  When it was said and done he was just very tired.  A good lesson for Peter though as we think about babies in our future.

Oakland also gave me the opportunity to connect with friends in the area.

I met up with my college roomie, Nicole, in the city for lunch and a yoga class taught by the much loved Rachel Brathen otherwise known as Yoga Girl.  We had a fabulous time, albeit too short of a time together.



That evening I also got to meet up with another good friend, Ally, whom I met in Florence 5 years ago and seen hadn’t seen since then.  We had such a strong bond that we have remained in close touch.  It was so much fun to reconnect.  We didn’t skip a beat despite all the time that had passed.

There was one last friend I got to see before heading back to So Cal and that was my friend Lisa.  I have known Lisa since growing up in Fairbanks and she and her husband Eric are also living the nomadic lifestyle.  Over the past year she and I have reconnected after realizing our soul sister travel lives.  There had been attempts to meet up overseas but we just barely missed each other in a couple different countries.  We now found ourselves back in the US in the same city.  Peter and I got to steal some time with Lisa and Eric the morning before we left over coffee.  It was an incredible dose of soul food, with the Alaska and travel connection.
















After our good-byes to Lisa and Devin, last minute kisses to Luke, and many thanks to them for having us and spoiling us we got back in the car and drove to Manhattan Beach.

We had a few days there where I did my last little bit of squeezing in time with friends anyway that I could.

Dinner with Tara and Kara.
















A hike with Alex up to Griffith Observatory.
















A glass of wine with Jessica.
















Dinner with Johnny, Alysha, and Jax.

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We also met up with our friend Adrian.  At the very start of our trip we met his girlfriend Christina while we were traveling in Rome.  When Adrian was on holiday in Italy he met Christina and had a love at first sight moment.  At the time we met Christina, they were doing the long distance thing and I even mentioned back then that maybe he would marry her.  Sure enough 6 months later, they are in fact married and Christina has moved to the US.  One evening we joined them at their home where she cooked us an incredible dinner and we all celebrated the newlyweds.
















Our last big event was my friends Brooke and Bill’s wedding in Santa Barbara.  We drove from MB to Santa Barbara the morning of the wedding, of course making stops along the way to see some last minute folks.

We stopped off in Westlake Village to see “Granty” and “Papa,” in other words the best people ever.  The kind of people that make your heart sing and your soul soothed.  Love them to pieces.  They are very special people and very dear to my heart.

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When we arrived in Santa Barbara we had the opportunity to join our friends Nelson, (my childhood friend) and Valeska at their home in the hills for lunch.  Nelson and Valeska are the epitome of cool.  They have a cool house, cool jobs, a cool dog, and a really cool life together.  There home is like being put inside a breath of fresh air.  Such a gorgeous view from the entire second story of their home coupled with a calming, peaceful vibe.  Valeska is a celebrity chef and cooked us up an incredibly delicious lunch.  We are spoiled! We really really enjoyed our time with them.

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We got ready for the wedding and were of to witness the nuptials of Brooke and Bill.  I was so excited to see my friend get married and all the happiness that goes along with a bride on her wedding day.  She exuded such joy and was glowing all evening.  There isn’t much more that you can wish for a friend, other than happiness.  Peter and I had a blast together, especially tearing up the dance floor.






























Brooke and I shared all kinds of stuff when we were roommates so I didn’t hesitate her offer of a swig of her beer after working up a sweat on the dance floor.
















Are you tired? I am. Wow that was a lot.

All of these stolen moments with friends and family is what helps carry me over till the next time.  It’s a super dose of soul food and what I can reflect upon about if I start to miss loved ones.

However, now that it has been 4 months, these moments have started to fade and I have been feeling a bit homesick lately.  Although, after writing this it made me realize that I don’t ever need to feel that way.  I am incredibly blessed and lucky to have so many wonderful people back home that I know will all be there -no matter the time apart or the generous difference in time zone.  If I ever feel homesick again, I’m going to read this post as a reminder of all you exceptional people.

With love, gratitude, humility, and many thanks to friends and family.