Yesterday was my last day in New Jersey and, because she’s real smart like that, Liz thought we should go out to breakfast and do a little more local sightseeing in the area rather than sit around at her house, crying because we had to say goodbye in the afternoon, which totally would have happened.
During a lovely walk in Thompson Park—which is NOT named after Liz or her husband Garth (Not His Real Name); I checked!!–we talked about our week and I told her that I didn’t even have a favorite part; the entire visit was my favorite.
That was only a little true. I have some favorites, but not the ones you might think.
Seeing the World’s Tallest Sandcastle was pretty cool.
Going down the Shore and spending time on boardwalks and beaches was awesome. Even Seaside Heights, Garth (NYRN). Just sayin’.
Hunting for sea glass was really fun.
Strolling through Central Park in Manhattan and finding a bridal photography shoot and a ballerina who was dancing for tips at the very same place was downright awesome.
Sure, all of that was special, but my very favorite parts of the trip were things like these:
*Talking with Liz’s oldest girl about her career aspirations and, after knowing her for only a couple of hours believing that not only will she do what she says she’s going to do, but she is going to excel at it because she has a mind for business, is responsible (and wise) beyond her years, and she’s a people person.
*Connecting with Liz’s middle girl over a college scholarship conversation and totally identifying with her Type A, light-sleeping, creative, would-rather-be-behind-the-camera-than-in-front-of-it self because Hey! Doesn’t that sound familiar?
*Watching Liz’s son gradually open up throughout the week so I could experience his true, funny personality, and seeing his face light up when I told him that the next time I visit I’ll make him potato pancakes since he’s dying to try them.
*Catching Liz’s youngest girl looking at me in amazement and in full chin-drop mode when she walked into the kitchen with her nail polish supplies the night I cooked dinner and caught me singing along with Nicki Minaj. She told me that her mom doesn’t like Nicki Minaj and she just couldn’t believe that I did. Two minutes later we were singing “Super Bass” together. Oy. (Of course her mistakenly calling me “Mom” was pretty sweet, too.)
*Having a sitcom moment early one morning when Garth (NHRN) went to pull Liz’s coffee cup out from under the Keurig for her and subsequently getting coffee all over the place because she had put it in there upside-down. After he jumped back a couple of feet as graceful as a gazelle (a really manly one, of course), we both laughed together and shook our heads because “That’s just Liz before her coffee!”
*Staying up super late on Thursday night with Liz and sitting arm in arm on her couch, watching “Will and Grace” and drinking rum and Dr. Pepper and giggling like crazy about how funny it would be if I showed up at her door again on Monday and how even though I’ve had a juicer since the summer, I haven’t used it yet because I still need to do a little more research, and how funny that guy we passed in Manhattan who was gruffly telling his friend, “The thing is, here’s the thing…” was and so many other hilarious things. It was the perfect cap on a perfect week.
The thing is, here’s the thing. The reasons that I wanted to visit New Jersey had less to do with seeing all the sights (that was a bonus!) and much more with spending quality time with this friend who I identify with more as a sister and getting to know her amazing family. As it turns out, I got to do it all: the sight-seeing, the connecting, the getting-to-know. I hope that the Thompson clan had one-tenth as much fun as I did.
And if they didn’t, it’s okay. I’ll be back on Monday.