Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Days 5 & 6

It’s good to be home


We grabbed some food and coffee around the Avalon Hotel for Christmas eve right before checkout.

Her: The coffee was free!
Me: Why?
Her: (shrugging) Christmas?

And then had some traditional Christmas Persian food.

But we got in one last swim pool before we got ready to go.

The Gymgirl has an odd way to sunbathe:

Afterward, we met up with my brother and his girl for dinner at a Chinese joint near him.

Him: I think we ordered too much food.
Me: I don’t think so. The Gymgirl and I eat a lot.
Him: Why don’t we see if the food we already ordered is enough.
Me: (30 minutes later) I think we need more food.
The Gymgirl: We need more food.
Me: See?

The owner gave us a calendar for the new year.

The rest of the night was them singing karaoke. Everyone else had a good singing voice so I just let them sing while I enjoyed it.

Me: Sing for me, you singing monkeys!
Brother: (laughing) Why would you say such a thing?

The next day was Christmas. We woke up super late and the Gymgirl and I exchanged presents.

Me: Do you like it?
Her: I love it! No on has ever bought me anything like this.
Me: (laughing) Good. I like to be first.

Her gift to me was at home as it arrived late but she got me some Firefly-related things to tide me over.

My brother’s girl also got us a gift; a tiny waffle maker.

Girlfriend: It’s just a little something.
Me: It’s the perfect size for the kid. Thanks! Shoot, we didn’t get you anything…

Later, the Gymgirl and I went for a walk to do some reconnaissance and see what was open for dinner. We decided on some Thai food, followed by some coffee.

The rest of the night, we all played board games, like Midnight Taboo, which kinda made me realize how much The Gymgirl and I thought alike.

Me: Our friend V is covered in…
The Gymgirl: Tatoos!
Me: Yes!
Brother: What the heck?!

We woke up the next morning and stopped by Lucky Boy, the greasy spoon I went to the last time I was in town, for some brekkie before heading to the airport.

Unlike the trip there, the trip back went completely smoothly. When we landed, we took a cab home that was only five days old.

Me: This is the nicest cab I’ve ever been in. And I’m a native New Yorker. Can I take a picture of it?
Driver: But of course!

We got home and I sighed yet again.

The last time I went to California, Alison ran out to greet me when I returned by shouting, “He’s home, Logan’s home!

This time, as it was so late, it was completely quiet when we got back.

So I turned to the Gymgirl and said, “We’re home.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding, and putting down her bag, “it’s good to be home.”

Location: in front of screens all day
Mood: super busy
Music: Just tell me if you wanna go home
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 3a

Grappling with some scooters and Zankou’s Chicken

Actually, one of the first things we did after we checked into the hotel was to look at a grappling school just a few blocks from the hotel.

Me: Wow, it’s only two blocks away from here. Did you plan that out?
Her: (pause) Yes?

We were planning on seeing a few schools but I neglected to factor in the holidays so we only got to visit the one. But  we were fine with that because it was so nice and welcoming.

In fact, the woman that worked at the front desk used to live just two blocks from me.

Her: I loved the Upper West Side.
Me: Correction, it’s the Upper BEST Side.

The main instructor is a pretty famous practitioner named Ryron (pronounced “he-ron”) who was just the nicest guy.

We spent two really enjoyable but challenging hours there early on Saturday before we went back to the hotel to get changed.

Her: That was a lot of fun.
Me: I know! I think we’ve been brainwashed to think that grappling schools are fulla screaming and impatient instructors (because of our old instructor).

After we got cleaned up, we ended up taking an Uber to a Zankou Chicken.

Driver: I haven’t seen anyone read an actual paper in years.
Me: I’m as old as dirt.

Interestingly, while we were there, it was the first time I’ve ever asked anyone to take a picture of us and they said no.

Woman: I’d rather not.
Me: That’s unexpected, but ok.

Instead of taking a car back, the Gymgirl suggested that we take one of the several electric scooters around us. It took us a few tries but we ultimately got two going.

Unfortunately, while mine was pretty zippy…

…hers was decidedly not:

There’s more but you know that I don’t like to write super long entries so I’ll have to continue this tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Ryron (the guy on the bottom) and his brother Renner, doing what they do:

 

Location: heading out to see some friends with the boy
Mood: hungry
Music: they shine for you and all the things that you do
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 1b

Making a Corolla look like a Ford Fiesta

While I was up in the air, I decided to get the wifi on my phone – the one thing I had on me beside my clothes and my wallet – to see how The Gymgirl was faring with the bag recovery.

Turns out, pretty well. She somehow got in touch with the person at NJ Transit and convinced them to (a) Find our bags, and (b) put them on to a return train.

Her: The woman said to meet the 5:40 conductor on the platform at the first car.
Me: Hopefully, they found the right bags.
Her: (laughing) I doubt there was someone else that left a blue bag and a red bag on that train.

She took the train back to the platform, stood in the rain, and ran up to the first conductor, who was – amazingly – holding both of our bags.

Her: I literally cried for joy for the first time in my life.

But she wasn’t done yet as the next flight was in 45 minutes.

Her: I have my ticket so I will go straight for security. Running to catch the plane. Wish me luck!

Somehow, on the busiest travel day of the year, she got to her gate in 40 minutes, but the gate was supposed to close 15 minutes before the flight took off.

Me: You gonna make it?
Her: Sprinted from TSA to gate 95 in 4 min…and they aren’t even boarding.
Me: God, I’m so impressed.
Her: Don’t be, I’m sweating waterfalls.

Turns out the flight was delayed a few minutes so she made it – with all of our bags in tow.

As for me, I landed in LAX and told my brother, who was supposed to pick me up, to not come for another two hours so he didn’t have to make two trips to grab the Gymgirl as well.

When he finally came to pick us up…

Me: I’m starving. Where’s the nearest burger joint?
Him: Carl’s Jr, right outside LAX?
Me: Let’s go.

I got a half pound burger and wolfed it down as I chatted with him. This is where I mention that he’s an iPhone snob.

Me: I wanna show you something. (taking out phone) This is Android skinned with a Windows launcher. So it’s like what Windows woulda been had they made their own Android phone.
Him: Why would you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Just to piss you off.
Him: (shaking head) That’s like taking a Corolla and making it look like a Ford Fiesta.

The Gymgirl finally touched down and I picked her up a half-pound burger – animal style, of course – for her.

Me: God, I’m proud of you.
Her: Eating. No talky.

We both finally arrived at my brother’s pad, some 12 hours after we first left our place in Manhattan. We’d only just arrived and already had a full adventure.

I thought about the last time I was there. Alison and I said she’d come with me the next time I went. I sighed but then my brother made me laugh.

Me: (to brother) What do you have in the form of diet Coke?
Him: (handing me one) A Diet Coke?

Location: on my white couch
Mood: rested
Music: over love and over hate, through this iron sky
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Boston 2018: Purgatory and jerks

Face planting and stuffing, all in one day


We actually made it to the Purgatory Chasm Trail. Within the first ten minutes, I totally – embarrassingly – face-planted.

Her: This is a children’s trail!
Me: (standing up) My leg gave out from under me! (turning to shocked family behind me with a child and baby) I meant to do that.

In my defense, it was my bad knee but it was still ridiculous. Still, it was fun and I liked being out and about in nature. There’s a ton of evidence that being in nature is a good thing for mind and body and I’m going to try to do it more when I can.

After all, it’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

Her: Look (pointing) Turkey Tail Mushrooms.

I had told the Gymgirl a while ago about them; I gave them to Alison constantly when she was sick as they are a first-line defense against cancer in Japan, with strong clinical evidence behind them.

I was touched that she recognized them, somehow.

We ended up making it through the trail without my taking another really bad fall. Or her.

Her: I’m pretty sure I could make it up that wall.
Me: How ’bout we just say you did it and you don’t?

We finally hit the road to go home but we had one more side trip to make.

Her: I’m starving.
Me: Me too. What’s the closest thing to us?
Her: What do you want to do?
Me: Soul food?

She found this place called Carl’s BBQ & Jerk, a Jamaican joint that was truly a hole-in-the-wall. We had to do an illegal u-turn to squeeze into the small parking lot right off the road.

And, man, was it killer. We polished off pretty much everything you see in that pic and then had two additional Jamaican beef patties that you don’t see in the pics above.

Her: This is amazing.
Me: (mouth full) Don’t talk to me, I’m eating.

Then, we finally made it home. It was a great road trip.

Me: We’re home.
Her: Yes – you’re fun to road-trip with.
Me: I’ll take that as a compliment. (thinking) We’re still not dating right?
Her: (laughing) Nope.
Me: OK, just wanted to be sure.

Location: a few hours ago, at the gym
Mood: tired
Music: I feel like giving up, but I just can’t
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Boston 2018: We pretty much just ate the first night

Walking with the Gymgirl around Boston Commons


It was a bit later than either of us expected once we got to Boston. The cheesesteak and wings from earlier in the day didn’t really last us that long.

Me: We could do reservations at Legal Seafood…
Her: OK.
Me: …or we could get some food from their takeout and eat it on the way to a sushi joint.
Her: Oooh, let’s do that.

We ended up having some clam chowder at Copley Square near the Khalil Gibran Memorial. One of the these days, I’ll tell you about the poem that my brother sent to me once about parenthood. It’s stayed with me my entire life.

We ended up at a place called Wabora a few blocks away and ordered all the food.

It was probably too much but we were both hungry and I think that food on a trip doesn’t act in your body the same way as food at home.

We decided to walk off what we could and ended up going past a wall of sewing machines and I thought of Rain again.

Then we went into Boston Commons.

Her: I remember coming here during the wintertime over a layover. Everything was covered in snow. I was here by myself.
Me: That’s not the case this time.
Her:  (laughs) No, no it’s not. It’s nice to have company.

Location: a black desk again, no bourbon
Mood: thoughtful
Music: been walking for a long time. I still don’t know where it goes
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Boston 2018: Stopping in Connecticut for Philly’s and a Waterfall

A lucky pitstop


The boy’s back home. There’s a lot more but I’ve written enough about hospitals for several lifetimes.

He’s ok. That’s all that really matters.

Him: Pappa, I wanna go home.
Me: You and me both, kid. You and me both.

My confusing relationship with the Gymgirl continues in it’s confusing-ness.

Her: I need to use up vacation days and hotel points. Do you want to do something?
Me: Roadtrip?
Her: Sure. Boston?

So, while the kid was with my mother-in-law, we hopped in her whip and went.

We had gotten outta the city when my hunger got the better of me so the Gymgirl pulled up the closest thing she could find that sounded interesting: Philly’s A Taste of Philadelphia…in Connecticut.

Like good ole Tony, I love simple delicious foods so off we went.

We got there just before it opened up and two fellas were there waiting for it to open as well. We asked if they would take a picture of us.

Him: Sure! (later) Hey, if you’re not around here, you should go two blocks that way. (points) There’s a huge waterfall that you gotta see.
Me: No kidding?
Him: Yeah, you gotta see it.

The Gymgirl and I went in and ordered a sandwich and some wings. For $2.25, you could get extra steak, a bargain in my book.

While we were waiting, I was disappointed to see that coulda gotten a buncha wings for free.

That’s actually not true; I can eat a lotta quantity but not a lotta heat.

We inhaled the food after it arrived. It didn’t disappoint.

Her: God, that was so good. Hey, do you wanna go check out that waterfall that guy told us about?
Me: Sure.

It was exactly two blocks away and called Yantic Falls Indian Leap.

Her: This is so cool!
Me: Yeah, and we’re not even anywhere close to Boston yet.

We ended up taking a two hour detour for lunch but life is all about these serendipitous detours, when they come about.

 Her: That was awesome.
Me: Totally worth it. (pause) And the waterfall wasn’t bad either.

Location: a black desk, with a glass of bourbon, of all things
Mood: relieved
Music: I can see you through the curtains of the waterfall
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A lie is the truth, until

Giving and getting dating advice

JF1: Welp, I just ended things with the guy I’m seeing too. Heartbroken and disappointed again.

I think because I’m recently single, people are reaching out to me (a) to check in on me and (b) to relate their own dating issues.

A girl from my past – she’s been in the blog before but I’m renaming her JF1 –  just dropped me a line because almost exactly what happened to me with my last major girlfriend before Alison, happened to her. And she handled it the same way I did – better, even.

Dunno how much I can tell you, since it’s not my story to tell. I will say that little impresses me more than true bravery.

Cause she decided she’d rather be alone than be anyone’s second choice – and she’s a tall drink of water, so that guy’s an idiot.

There’s something about someone that stands up and is honest and brave, come what may.

It’s actually why I fell so hard for Alison; you get points in life for being brave. Alison was the bravest person I’ve ever met. Still is.

Just like everything valuable, bravery’s valuable cause it’s rare and difficult to find.

Me: You just walked out and bought a plane ticket that moment? Balls! Wow. Legit, impressed. You’re a rockstar.

Her: Yeah. I (packed my stuff), left him a note, and left.

Other friends are asking me for advice about their love life.

Find this amusing cause I’m great at having people enter my Venn Diagram. Having them stay is a wholly different matter.

Him: Hey, one last question, since I have you.
Me: Sure, hit me.
Him: What do you think about someone who’s life’s motto is: “A lie is truth, until it is uncovered and labeled as a lie.” Thoughts?
Me: (thinking, slowly) I think that when someone tells you what they’re all about, you should believe them. Even more if they show you…
Him: Smart. Super smart.
Me: I’m not just a pretty face, man.
Him: Oh, I’ve known that since the moment we made eye contact.
Me: Thanks…wait…(you heard I said “just” right)?

Got more time to write so I’ll write more later/tonight/soon.

If I can clear my head. Insomnia is a special form of torture.

1834.08.04, in case you were wondering.

Location: coming back from the world. I prefer being in my head
Mood: dull and vicious
Music: I’m a sucker for the way that you move, babe
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Bermuda 2018, Pt 3

Heading home

Me: I need to get a frozen pina colada while we’re here.
Her: Why?
Me: It’s something I always did with Alison and I want to do it here again.
Her: OK.

We went to Horseshoe Bay right before we were going to leave.

It was fun being back – especially with my cousin, her guy, and the Gymgirl – but I did think about the other times I was there.

Everything is bittersweet.

The rest of the trip was more my speed.

We pretty much just ate…

…and watched shows…

…and ate…

…and played board games like Codenames, Settlers of Catan, and Good Cop, Bad Cop:

Cousin: Bang, @#$@#!
Gymgirl: I’m on your side!
Cousin: Oh. Sorry.

The best thing about this type of cruising is that there’s no jet lag.

Which is not to say that we didn’t have sleeping problems once we were home.

Her: (in the dark) I miss the rocking of the boat.
Me: It’s a ship, not a boat. (reaching over to the nightstand) And do you want a melatonin?
Her: Sure. (pause) You’re putting it up my nose.

Some crazy stuff happened once we got back, but that’s a story for another time.

Location: still at home
Mood: thoughtful
Music: Come home. ‘Cause I’ve been waiting for you for so long
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Bermuda 2018, Pt 2

You’re cliff-diving?

Gymgirl: Wait, you’re using the picture of me cliffdiving? I thought you were so against that.
Me: (shrugging) It’s still a cool pic.

In all the times I’ve been to Bermuda, never went snorkeling. It was just something that Alison and I never had an interest in doing.

But my cousin, her fella, and the Gymgirl all wanted to, so I booked us on a catamaran where we headed out to a quiet place to snorkel.

It was actually really cool; the Gymgirl’s a licensed scuba diver so it was old hat for her but new for me. Don’t think I ever did it before anywhere, actually.

Turns out that I was allergic to the snorkling mask and my entire face looked like a nervous teenager’s the day after. Which is just as well…

Gymgirl: I’m going with your cousin to cliff dive. Do you two want to come?
Cousin’s Boyfriend: No. / Me: God, no.

So I spent the rest of that day in the cabin and did what I would have done in the past – read and write.

There’s a story I told you about over a decade ago about how friends and family bring something out of you that only they can do.

In a weird way, I wish the Gymgirl knew me better when Alison was still here. I was different with Alison, just like I’m different with the Gymgirl.

Which is neither a good nor a bad thing.

It’s just a thing, I suppose. Everything’s just a thing now, and I’m just dulled to it all.

Well, that’s not completely true.

Me: Did you survive?
Gymgirl: Barely! We had to hitchhike back to the ship, and…
Me: Hold on. (getting up) I’ll need more food for this.

There’s more, but I’ll tell you tomorrow or something.

Location: still at home
Mood: thoughtful
Music: She got my heart in a chokehold
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Bermuda 2018, Pt 1

Trying to go back

Me: I never thought of you as a nervous traveler.
Gymgirl: I’m a control freak and I have no idea what’s going on.

Went on my first vacation in over four years thanks to my friends over at CruiseDirect.com, who are just amazing.

Went to the exact same place I went all the other times before: Bermuda.

You see, I always wanted a place that I just went to regularly. Lots of my friends, including the Gymgirl, want to explore new things and new places all the time. Not me. I like familiar.

In a way, Bermuda was the perfect place to go: Familiar, close, easy, affordable. And, for the most part, this return trip was just great.

This was the first time I’d gone with the Gymgirl but also the first time I went with another couple: My cousin Ras and her fella. It was also the first time I’d left out of New Jersey and not New York.

Me: We’ll see you guys at the park in Herald Square and head out to NJ from there.
Ras: See ya.

Before we knew it, we were on a ship heading out to pink beaches.

Gymgirl: I’ve never been in the middle of the ocean on a ship before.
Me: What do you think?
Her: It’s like my worst nightmare.

The Gymgirl was the only one of us that had never been on a cruise before, so she had to get used to it a bit. She was much more of an adventure-seeking traveler.

Her: You’re not an adrenaline junkie?
Me: I went to the ER 17 times in a year. I’ve had enough adrenaline in my life.

Which is not to say I didn’t have my heart-racing moments. This is cause I neglected to consider that it might not be a good idea to go to someplace that I’d gone to so many times with Alison.

One stormy night, the Gymgirl and I were at sea. She was impressed and scared at the violence of the waves. So was I, for different reasons.

The word sirens comes from Greek mythology where these sea creatures had beautiful voices that tempted sailors to either shipwreck against rocky shores or leap to their deaths in stormy seas.

There were moments when, looking out at the rough waves, gotta admit that I heard them.

A fleeting thought for a fleeting moment. But that’s the thing with those types of thoughts. All it needs is one moment to take over.

Her: We should go back in.
Me: Yeah. That’s a good idea.

I’ll tell you some nicer parts of the trip soon, if you’re interested.

Location: home again
Mood: rest(ish)
Music: Pretending that it’s all fine
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