We drove back up to Massachusetts after the wedding, this time headed towards Western Mass to see Alan’s mom for a few days. It poured rain that day, which was perfect because we had no intentions of doing anything productive. Alan and his mom watched some football games while I finished my book – The Marriage Plot. It’s written by the guy who wrote Middlesex, which I read a few years back and absolutely loved. This one picked up slow, but the second half of the book was fantastic. There was one simile that I so enjoyed. Eugenides describes a scene in which the manic-depressive character faces an emotional event, its effects thwarted by the lithium he was taking. The way he explains it is just magic: “[He] stood rooted to the floor. His eyes were filling, but if he kept blinking fast enough, no tears fell. As much as he hated his lithium, here it was his friend. [He] could feel the huge tide of sadness waiting to rush over him. But there was an invisible barrier keeping the full reality of it from touching him. It was like squeezing a baggie full of water and feeling all the properties of the liquid without getting wet. So there was at least that to be grateful for. The life that was ruined wasn’t entirely his.”
We spent our days in Longmeadow catching up on some much needed exercise, looking into visas for our international trip, and other fun and riveting errands like obtaining flu shots and dozens of passport photos.
In more exciting news, we met Alan’s grandparents, Frieda and David, for dinner and I saw their new home in Longmeadow for the first time. As always, they were wonderful company, and Alan and I came by again for lunch with just them the next day. Afterwards we visited the Longmeadow farmer’s market where Ronnie sets up a stand selling her jewelry. I bought a beautiful vintage piece from her to give to my mother as a gift. Since Ronnie had plans in the evening Alan and I went out to dinner at a new spot in his hometown – Max’s. It’s primarily a burger spot, and Alan enjoyed his Alfred burger, covered with Comté cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli, though I went with the seared scallop salad, which was less impressive.
I headed back to Maine the next day to squeeze in a couple more nights of mom and dad time while Alan bonded with his mother. It was great seeing them (and Bey) again and I of course ate some more lobster and drank some more wine. My last night there we checked out a new restaurant in Kennebunk called the Village Tavern, which was impressive! We went super early and were surprised to have a substantial wait. The pan seared shrimp, sea scallop and lobster stew with truffle oil drizzle was phenommmmmmenal. The fried clam appetizer we shared was also divine. Highly recommend this spot.
That Friday I, Alan, his mother and Rich, aunt, grandparents, brother and cousin, each set out to New Hampshire for a weekend celebrating Frieda’s 90th birthday and her and David’s 70th wedding anniversary. The journey there was crazy for almost all. While I think Kenny, Leslie and Sam made it in relatively with ease, I heard from Alan that after getting a delayed start to have all four tires on their car replaced last minute, the five of them headed out on the highway only to have one of the brand new tires blow out while going 75mph. Yikes. Glad Alan was driving and safely handled the situation. Meanwhile, I was driving from Maine by myself on a route for which no highways existed, meaning a million turns on residential streets. This was absolutely beautiful and idyllic with the incredible foliage except for the fact that the cell coverage was in and out and my sense of direction is lacking even with my iPhone telling me where to turn. I made it there with no directional mishaps, though my own trip was delayed by the strangest stop I’ve ever had. I made a turn onto a one-lane road where I was soon stuck in a line of incredibly slow moving traffic. It was then that I noticed helicopters flying above, and cop cars up ahead. Then I looked closer and saw lots of black SUVs and men wearing jackets that said “FBI” on them. This is when I started panicking. I tend to expect the worst (often of people and definitely situations), and this is when I pictured a shooter on the loose and me stuck in my car with nowhere to turn. Well, it turns out, as usual, my imagination is unnecessarily panic inducing, and my life was not the one at risk. The FBI were searching for and stopping everyone to see if they had any information on a young girl who had gone missing the day before, as well as take note of everyone’s license plate numbers and ask them where they’re going, whether they’ve seen this girl, etc. This was my first ever encounter with the FBI and they must get some really good training, because I felt like the agent could see into my soul. My heart still racing, even after I understood why I’d been stopped, I had to ask him if it was safe to continue driving the way I was headed. His response? “I have no reason to believe it isn’t safe, ma’am.” The bellhop eyed me strangely as I was checking into a fancy hotel with a missing girl flyer in my hand. [As far as I know this girl is still missing. My heart goes out to her family and friends].
After everyone finally made it safely to the hotel we were able to relax and enjoy a weekend celebrating a very special woman and their inspiring marriage. There was lots of tennis played, and I was blown away by David’s skills on the court at age 91. We also played a handful of games. Leslie introduced us to a new game called Anomia, which I believe she said was created by an Oberlin grad. Really fun – I would definitely recommend checking it out (http://www.amazon.com/Everest-Toys-0001-Anomia/dp/B00363B5FC). I also learned how to play “Patterns,” which I guess is a family tradition where the group comes up with a pattern of answering questions when one person walks away from the table. When he or she returns, they ask everyone else questions and try to guess the pattern they are using to answer them. We definitely enjoyed a few rounds. I am always down for a good game.
On Saturday night we had “the” celebration and Frieda opened her gifts. The gift giving ended with a “rap” written and performed by her three grandsons, which was witty, funny and touching. Alan also donned his tuxedo for the occasion knowing his regal grandmother would approve. We had a lovely dinner (among several other great meals on the property that weekend). The boys, Leslie and I checked out the hotel bar “late” night and we were wowed by Leslie’s dance moves.
It was great spending this QT with the Lawrence side of the family, and to celebrate a woman and a couple whom both Alan and I very much admire.