Missing Pieces

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June 15th 2009
Published: November 20th 2009
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As June approached, it was already coming up on an entire year since I had been home! I couldn’t stay away from my best friends and family any longer, and I was really looking forward to a trip back. My ticket was to return to Las Vegas, and this was just the relaxation I needed after the last two weeks of May in Placencia! With my roommates gone, our house turned into the teenage day camp for boys! Brad, Tyler, Eric, Ant, and Dave would wander in and out all day to play video games, drink beers, and use the internet. Dave was actually staying with me, along with his new dog, Dash, and so with A&Z’s dog Max, we were a full house. Therefore, it was worked out quite well in Vegas that I had a few days to relax and unwind with some of my favorite peoples. ! Kristina was right at the culmination of the largest project of the year, and was hosting over 4,000 global Amway employees during the exact days I was planning on visiting, but still offered her home to me! Imagine the sheer coordination needed for 15,000 bottles of water on the buses, 4,000 tours to the Grand Canyon, and 1,000 planes, trains and automobiles running these people around the city for a week! Of course she’d pulled it off without a hitch, and subsequently went into an “Amway coma” where we enjoyed sitting around in our pajamas, eating, drinking, and being merry for an entire weekend! Also, all that time with her working allowed me some quality time with her fiancé, Rico. Welcome to the family Ric!

Next I flew to Los Angeles, and couldn’t wait to see Bonnie, Megan, Charsey & Shane, and Hermann. I also had the pleasure of sharing some wine and steak with my old work buddies in Pasadena! Revisiting LA is always so fun for me - I really loved the city so much and have the warmest of memories from those streets of West Hollywood. Yet after living abroad for the last few years, the chaos and consumerism of LA felt so artificial! I mean, I know what it feels to be intertwined with those buildings, billboards, and beautiful people, yet now I feel like an outside observer protected by a bubble of … consciousness. Absolute liberation from a rat race!

Even though I felt so detached, I still knew I needed some basic grooming after living in the jungles and coral reefs, so while Bon was at work, I went right for a haircut. I went to a tiny hole in the wall on Crescent Heights and Santa Monica and it had a most interesting cast of West Hollywood characters both working and patronizing it! A quick scan revealed a drag queen, gobs of fake pearls, and a pink Mohawk. The man cutting my hair had a ponytail and was wearing denim, head to toe! Despite all that, it felt right, and I’m sure it’s the best haircut I could have gotten in WeHo for $25! Nice!

Bonnie and I played the culture card one night, and went to the Mark Taper Forum to see the play Oleanna, starring only two actors, Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman. The play was a thought provoking study of power, but at the end of the play, I found the building more impressive. Afterwards, we went to the new downtown sports complex/ESPN Zone to meet up with the Lakers fans after the game. Only we met some interesting dudes that were downtown for a video game conference - leave it up to us to find the only other nerds in the bar!

After the long weekend, I jumped on a flight and headed back to Green Bay, gotta love the tiny airport (although it's huge compared to my Placencia airport!)! My entire family was at there waiting for me, and as usual, it felt great to be home! I had a mountain of real-world things to catch up on, with banking, insurance, registrations, and doctors’ appointments all long overdue. But I also managed to fit in all of my favorite hometown activities. (Including a road trip to Canada with my sister Alyssa, to be my next blog!) My dad and I went up to the Shack for a day and cut the lawn, trekked the four corners of the property, and rode the 4-wheeler to clear the trails! On Father’s Day weekend, the entire Warren family was assembled at the Peshtigo Palace and we had grilled foods, many cheeses, and of course boat rides on the River!

We also got out on Lake Michigan, with the sailing clubs annual Free Sail Day! We were divided up on a few boats, and had a perfect sunny day with enough wind to cut through the small waves…it was Mom’s first time sailing, and since I’ve been doing that so often in the Caribbean, it was great to be able to share that with her! As we got off the boats, all my cousins and uncles started yelling about how the captain of their sailboat knew me….from a chance encounter in China in 2002. He and my family were exchanging stories about how it’s a small planet, and the captain told a story of two girls from Peshtigo that he met in a bar in Beijing. My uncle asked if one was a tall blonde named Stephanie and the other a short brunette artist named Sarah. Why yes indeed! I remember thinking how AMAZING it was to meet a guy from Marinette, Wisconsin, when I was all the way around the world in China….but the more amazing thing is that we are both still referencing that chance meeting, and found each other AGAIN!

Speaking of Sarah, the artist, I had a blast with her and Charlotte at a leaf-molded birdbath making workshop one afternoon in Marinette. We used hand-picked large leaves from the gardens, and then covered them in dyed cement to make a most unique yard decoration! So awesome!

Finally, I was able to spend a couple full days with the Ganiere-Brieling family in Milwaukee. Evan and Thomas and I spent time going over the new international money I had collected for them in the previous 9 months (Guatemala, Belize, Canada, Switzerland, and Denmark!) and all of us spent a lot of time in the yard playing baseball, volleyball, and of course some hot trampoline action! I even got some time with Jess and Frank alone - the 30 minutes between kids jumping around and bedtime - when everyone is passing out from exhaustion!

A special thanks and love to all who hosted and entertained me over those 3 weeks in the States! I can’t wait to do it all over again in a few months; I miss you all so much! xxx

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