Vegas Adventure.

So it’s been a while.

I could totally dive into all the things that have happened since my NYC adventure.  We found a house, got hitched, welcomed another fur-baby into our lives…it’s a lot of big stuff.  Lots of BIG, MONUTMENTAL, LIFE-CHANGING stuff.

You know, the stuff I was craving last summer when blogging was difficult because life was just so CALM.

I’m actually not going to write about any of that today.  Because today is dedicated to Vegas.  Even more so to Francis and Lisa.

I’ll be honest, of all my travel destination desires, Las Vegas was never one of them.  I’ve never been a gambler, I hate crowded pools, loud all-day bashes, and I was also too scared for my liver to make a lengthy visit to Sin City.

However, two friends of ours (yes! you’re right! Fran and Lisa!), decided to get married there, and little Las Vegas soared to the top of our Travel List.

Ryan and Francis became friends while serving in the Marine Corps together.  They have this man-love for one another that just doesn’t happen after “hanging out a lot.”  It’s an incredibly bond that formed after hours together of hard work and sacrifice.  They spent days of exhaustive, relentless, and punishing training.  It’s a bond that builds after countless hours practicing dangerous scenarios, knowing full-well that they could come to fruition, and in those cases, your brothers beside you would die for you.

….Like I said, it’s a serious man-love.

And it’s the best.  They are constantly embracing in these muscle-y bear hugs, and making each other roar with laughter.

Lisa has a heart of solid gold.  She is witty and funny and will tell you what you need to hear.  She doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and that kind of honesty is FRESH AIR.  She is down-to-earth and easy-going.  Not only that, but she is over-the-top, stop-dead-in-your-tracks beautiful.  Wrap it all into one human and you have Lisa. I’ve known Lisa for a little bit, and finally met her last summer when she and Francis visited Michigan.  I knew the minute I met her I wanted her as a friend for life.

That’s what it’s like with these two.  It’s fresh and easy.  We can talk about the serious and the mundane, the important, gut-wrenching stuff that shapes us, and we can talk about how good Francis looks in a man thong.  It’s a friendship we hold dear to us, and booking those tickets to Vegas was the easiest click of the button.

So why did they choose Vegas?

Fran and Lisa decided to get married there for a very specific reason.  New Jersey.

These two have been together for years, and had plenty of time to decide exactly what they wanted for a wedding.  In Jersey the weddings are over-the-top, and after they started the planning process in their hometown, they decided they didn’t want that.  They didn’t want the pressure to spend thousands and invite hundreds and undergo the pressure of “how big can we make this event.”  For them, it was never about that.

So they sent out an e-mail saying they would be going to Vegas, and if you wanted to join, they would love your company.

I love them.

SOLD. We were going to Vegas.

So first of all, Vegas is quite beautiful, which I never really imagined.  Everything is glamour and glitz, and then it’s surrounded with jaw-dropping mountains.  IMG_4771.JPG

That’s a random plane picture…but still, gorgeous, right?IMG_4788.JPG

the night before the big day…clearly unable to focus.IMG_4797.JPG

Day of the wedding!

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I mean…unreal. (Photographer was www.tylerfreear.com and he was FUN and amazing.  If you are looking for a photographer in the Denver area…or clearly Vegas area, check him out. )IMG_4798.JPG

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The wedding was to take place at 5:00pm at the Elvis Wedding Chapel.  The lovely couple rented a party bus to bring us from the chapel, to the Vegas sign, to Old Vegas, and then back to the Strip where we would dine and party.

Things got interesting.

The party bus was 15 minutes late and traffic was crazy.  Francis and Lisa missed their 5:00 wedding.  I have to tell you, Lisa stayed so calm.  (Francis was clearly stressed, which I don’t blame him, he just wanted to marry his girl!)  They were able to reschedule for 8:00, and we moved on to Old Vegas for some photos.

It was here that one of Lisa’s friends was called out to dance for a crowd of strangers, the couple got a photo with an Elvis impersonator, a tiny old lady with Cheetos all over her face and holding a Sephora bag stalked me asking for $5, I lost Ryan on several different occasions and found him conversing with random new “friends,” and I began to worry that not all of us were going to make it til 8:00…the Vegas fun was flowing.IMG_4815.JPG

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We made it.  All of us.  Most of us coherent and some of us on the way out of that realm.  We watched and laughed and even got teary eyed as Elvis married our dear friends.

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It was unlike any wedding I’ve ever experienced.  And despite the costumes and the singing and the humor in it all, it was still beautiful and heartfelt.  I don’t think Grand Rapids could pull off weddings like that, and I don’t think New Jersey could either.  It was something that only Vegas could get so weirdly right.IMG_4872.JPG

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Oxygen bar we tried before leaving…don’t waste your $40!IMG_4883.JPG

Sad to say goodbyeIMG_4886.JPGSeth, Francis, and Ryan.  All served together.

Vegas was everything I thought it would be, but it was also beautiful and surprising.   I didn’t know any of their friends, and I think the raw spirit of Vegas broke us out of our comfort zones and our shells.  We were quick friends.  In the busy, crowded pools we were forced to sit close together for conversation.  We bonded on the Strip in the chaotic evenings, trying to decide if we wanted a grand dining experience or pizza in the hotel.

We have these expectations for things, places, people, moments in life, and I love when the actuality destroys those expectations.

Vegas, you were a lovely reminder that things may not be what we imagine, that friendships break barriers, that our preconceived notions may be inaccurate, degrading, or even complete bullshit. Thank you for reminding me that beauty is immeasurably more than what we may expect…

Francis and Lisa, we are so blessed to have shared in your amazing weekend, and even more so by your friendship.

To Vegas, surprises, and mostly to the new Mr. and Mrs. G,

CHEERS!

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Finding Home

 

Yesterday, April 1, marked two years since I’ve moved back to Michigan. It was also my mother’s birthday.

Two years ago I walked into the house I grew up in after driving 26 hours across the country to surprise my mom on her birthday. What a fun birthday surprise, right?

What she didn’t realize was that I also had my car packed full of all my junk to move back into her house (for what would turn into a two year visit).

This video is of that moment, caught in all its awkward splendor by my sister, Rachel (she and my Dad were “in the know”). I remember being terrified, shaking, wondering how she would react. I also remember that I was terrified and shaking for more than just that reason. (um, i’ll work on the video…not tech saavy)

I made the decision to move home pretty quickly, and I had no idea if my soul was ready to be plunked so suddenly back into the town I grew up in.

I made the decision to move out to Wyoming late in November, 2009, after many conversations with one of my best friends in the world, Betsy. She was already living out there, and had grown in so many ways – personally, spiritually, etc. I craved the same experience, and finally, I told her, “I’m coming out there.”

She was the only reason it came to fruition. She found the apartment, put down the deposit. She made every single plan, and in a very short time, because just over a month after I made the decision to pack up and go, I was on the road. January 3, 2010, and told myself I would never live in Michigan again.

I can’t imagine that now. I’m going to be very real with you for a minute: I was a part-time waitress at Applebees. I had saved up just over $500. I had no job waiting for me out there.

I think about it now and wonder, how the heck did I dare to do that?!

There is no way it would happen today. I can’t commit to purchasing a brand new computer, for goodness sake.

But it’s because Michigan no longer felt like home to me. I felt suffocated, branded, and judged by it. I felt like it accused me of not fitting in (and feeling like an outsider in your hometown isn’t fun). I also had this free-spirit-wanna-be-hippie-but-totally-not thing going on inside of me that was the most tumultuous roller coaster, and the only way I can describe it is that I was at a loss for an identity. Which makes perfect sense. Because if you don’t feel at home in yourself, how are you supposed to feel at home in your hometown?

But that brought on another issue: If you have no sense of who you are in one place, you are not guaranteed to find it in another.

I thought Wyoming would solve my problems. Small town, mountains in your backyard, how could that not fill your soul every day with answers to life?

Well, it doesn’t. There were times out west when I felt more detached, more lost, confused, anxious, and angry than I ever felt in Michigan. I know without a doubt that the emptiness I felt was as present as my physical self. If I thought leaving Michigan would only make things better, I quickly found out how wrong I was.

Okay, the point I’m trying to make/the blessing. (I know, I know, thank you God there is a good part, because seriously, super depressing here)

Things slowly began to heal inside of me. I thought I was so tough and so (eek, this is hard to write) right, (No seriously, I thought I was always right) when I actually had NO idea what was going on in my life or where I was going. If anyone asked me what I believed, what I thought was important, or even what my goals in life were, I had no answer. They would receive from me some confused babbling (trying to sound philosophical, probably). And seriously, when you don’t know this about yourself and then you realize it, you suddenly know deep in your core where you are really supposed to be; where “home” is for you then.  It’s whether or not you take the step to get there.

I packed everything, including anxieties and fears, into my little spaceship-looking car and headed back to Michigan. You can see in the video how unsure I am. I mean, come on, I’m looking the mother who loves me beyond my wildest imagination in her eyes saying “I’m home” and then I just stand there. (No wonder she didn’t get it.)

Michigan may not be my home for the rest of my life, and I hope that you can see by now that that isn’t the point. Home is knowing/finding/being comfortable in the search of what you believe in and physically and emotionally stand for every day. It’s the very core of who you are. It’s surrounding yourself, no matter where, with those who bring out the absolute best in you. It’s being caught in the scariest, saddest, most heart-breaking time of your life and having someone to turn to. Those people that will see you for you and, even after you’ve broken their heart time and time again, and love you beyond your shittiness.

Right now, y’all, I’m home.

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Can I give any advice?  Okay, I will

If you’re looking, start by looking at whom you are surrounding yourself with.  It’s everything.

If you think I sound like a crazy person, well, congratulations, because you have probably never had an overdrawn account, broken bone, lost a loved one, or had any other sad moment in your life. Or maybe go take a shot of whiskey and re-read once your emotions are a tad more revved up.

To kicking off your shoes,

Cheers