Posts Tagged ‘vacations’

We are deep into the season of vacation and visiting, which means not only anniversary trips to the Cape and planning for my parents to visit (next week!), but also visits from friends. Last week, J and I made a late-night trip to the airport to welcome Shanna back to Boston.

shanna katie beach

Shanna & me at our beach

Shanna is a fellow West Texas girl, a fellow alum of my dear Christian college, a fellow English major and book nerd. For the first two years of our sojourn in Boston, she was also a fellow transplant, the first one of our Texas crew to get accepted to graduate school and decide she was moving to the Northeast. (She may also have been the bravest one, since she is the only one who had lived in Abilene all her life.)

We all ended up at the same tiny church (prompting jokes from other members about “the Abilene invasion”), and for two years, she was part of our Sunday morning gatherings and Sunday night potlucks, our Turkeypalooza celebrations and our weekly girls’ coffee night. We had been friends in Abilene, but we became soul sisters in Boston, commiserating about Northeast winters and discovering the joys of apple picking and picturesque little towns together.

Since Shanna moved to Atlanta last summer to pursue a Ph.D., life here hasn’t felt quite right without her. We know she’s building a life down there, living in an adorable house with her dog, studying the literature she loves, easing into a new church and new friendships and routines. But without her, all our gatherings here are missing a piece.

For a few days, that missing piece clicked back into place. And it was wonderful.

shanna abi katie

We sat at the breakfast table for hours on Friday, sipping tea, talking about families and travel and work and school, about books and movies and friends, about everything and nothing. J joined us for lunch, and then we took the subway downtown to browse at my favorite used bookshop, right off the Common.

Then we met Abi and Nate for dinner in the North End, and the five of us feasted on pasta and gabbed for hours, the way we used to. We bought pastries at Mike’s and sat at a table on the Greenway in the gathering dusk, laughing and eating and talking some more, till it was fully dark and we walked back to board the trains together.

shanna north end dinner

There’s so much you miss when a friend moves away, especially when that friend was one of your go-to people, one of the people you call first when you need to vent or celebrate or simply catch up. We keep up with Shanna via Facebook and text message, but it’s not the same as having those hours of face-to-face time, those rambling, wide-ranging conversations that veer from silly to serious and back again.

Due to a missed flight on Sunday, we had an extra evening with her, but it still didn’t feel like enough. Come back soon, friend. Your place in Boston (and our guest room) are always here waiting for you.


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Gone to Texas

Last week, I hopped a plane at Boston Logan one morning, wearing a shirtdress with tights, tall boots, a scarf and my plaid wool peacoat. Several hours later, I landed in sunny West Texas, where I spent the evening – and the next several days – in jeans or shorts, short-sleeved tees, and bare feet.

After two (more) feet of snow recently, the warm sun on my skin felt miraculous. But even better was the chance to spend time with this little guy:

ryder cheering

That’s my nephew, Ryder, who came straight to my arms even though I hadn’t seen him since Christmas, and who will (I have no doubt) be walking any day now. Meanwhile, he’s a speedy crawler. He loves flipping through board books (especially those featuring Sandra Boynton’s crew of quirky animals), knocking down towers (which my mom builds for him over and over again), and clapping for himself. And anything with wheels. (My uncle has already bought him his first few John Deere tractors.)

ryder reading

Time seems to slow down when I go back to West Texas, especially when it’s not a major holiday and there’s no real agenda. I spent lazy mornings sipping tea and reading the newspaper with my parents (we have a longstanding tradition of finding typos in it – they abound). We ran through Rosa’s three times for chicken fajita burritos dripping with queso and paper bags full of warm tortilla chips. My mom and sister and I browsed junk shops for the perfect table to put behind Betsy’s sofa, then spent hours in my brother-in-law’s shop, painting and sanding and staining. (Their new house, which was still a construction zone at Christmastime, is finally finished, and gorgeous.)


I love many things about my life in Boston, including my new job (where my supervisors were kind enough to let me take this already-planned vacation). But every so often, I feel the urge to get back to that dusty oil town where I grew up, to eat fiery salsa at Mexican restaurants or juicy steaks grilled by my dad, to travel the familiar roads of my childhood and teenage years. To laugh with my sister and quote old movies with my dad and hug my mom, and to watch the dusky pink and orange and purple of the sunsets I still miss. To go to the church where I grew up and hug my parents’ friends, who are also my friends, and tell them about my life so far away.

Despite last week’s crocuses, it’s still cold and snowy in Boston. But I am warmed by the memory of four days of sun and salsa, and spending time with a few of my favorite people in the world.

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