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April 6, 2002
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Tom and Donna's Wedding

11:38 am: Our little Kia beat a Beemer off the line this morning. The driver of the BMW was totally asleep, as we were headed up the Topanga Canyon, and there was a broken down van with a pancaked tire in our lane. So John just lashed the hamsters, and we beat the little 330 handily across the intersection. Hee.

We did more this morning before checkout time than I believed was possible. Before Jet I don't think I would have believed that we'd have a great breakfast at a full-service diner that we found by driving around and go explore the beach before checkout time at the hotel. I normally consider checkout time in a hotel minus exactly half an hour to be the time I usually wake up. Today we were up at 6, Jet got a bottle and we were off to find a good diner for breakfast. We just went down Topanga and found a little place with lots of cars in front at 7 in the morning.

There weren't all that many of them. The one that was easy to get back to was only a few miles from the hotel, though, and the sign looked pretty odd. It seemed to read "Meletes and Things", until I suddenly realized that the egg surrounding the M was supposed to be read as an O. Ah...

They had a specials board up front that said that they had not only a Portuguese sausage omelet special, but also a three sausage special plate, some kind of sausage strudel, and other various, intriguing things. At 7 in the morning they were already half full, which boded well for the food. We got seated in a booth and instead of asking for a high chair, that would block part of the corridor to all the other tables in the back of the restaurant, we decided to ask for a booster chair for the first time.

Jet got to sit in the middle of the booth seat, and he immediately grabbed all his silverware and put it in his lap. He chortled at that, and we rescued it all and he eagerly explored the easy to reach expanse of table in front of him. He went through a creamer, a jam packet, his spoon, a napkin, and eventually started chowing down on his jar of food and various bits of our breakfasts.

The menu looked, at first glance, to be much like most diner's, egg and meat specials, omelets, griddle specials, early bird specials, and a few grain items. The emphasis, however, seemed to be on a far larger number of variations of omelets, and the griddle items had a few surprises, like French crepes, Swedish pancakes with loganberries, and cheese blintzes. The more tender pancakes that aren't always found on menus, and given that the sign seemed to indicate an egg specialty, it seemed fitting if they did those things well.

John got the Portuguese sausage omelet, specials are nearly always good at a diner. I got the blintzes, with a side of an over medium egg and two slice of bacon. Before our breakfasts even came, our waitress gave us each a crepe with marmalade with our coffee. They were eggy, tender, and just crisp around the edges. Perfect.

Jet even ate a bit and then started tossing the second part of it. When our breakfasts came he did eat an orange slice of John's plate, some of my bacon, and most of a jar of food. We packed his food in our suitcase and it was good to get more solids into him while we could. He doesn't ever seem to eat much when he's feeding himself. Especially compared to when he was even smaller and far less mobile and he'd go through two entire jars of food at a time, now he rarely eats a full jar, and the bits and pieces he picks at from our plates never seems to be that much food. Then again, all the books say that toddlers eat nearly nothing, but to try anyway.

After breakfast, we headed towards the coast, and Jet fell asleep on the winding, steep roads of the Topanga Canyon road when he didn't fall asleep all of yesterday on the smooth, straight highways. I was mildly surprised, but very pleased.

The canyon, itself, is gorgeous. It's rocky and rolling in the way of older hills that have been worn with wind and water. There was green everywhere, not the tall growth of Washington, certainly, but there was still green everywhere. Now I know why Hubert always used to say it was so green in the Bay Area when it looked to arid to me fresh from Seattle. Now LA actually looks lush and green to me. And this valley was pretty obviously not cultivated to be like this, as it wasn't wall to wall houses, there were fewer houses along the winding road and the valley itself was mostly wild growth on the local rains. The Topanga valley had a few red rocks showing through the green growth, not like in Nevada or anything, but bright contrast amid the green.

I could live there, I think. I don't know if I would, but I could. With the beach so close and the major freeways to the rest of the city only ten minutes away. It seems like a place I could live if I didn't *have* to commute and it would be no more inconvenient than where we are now, where any grocery store is at least fifteen minutes away anyway.

When we got down to the beach we followed the 101 for a while into Santa Monica. Just to see. I remembered taking the 101 through most of L.A on our honeymoon, and it seemed so very, very long ago. Yet everything seemed to be pretty much the way it was. The little houses perched precariously between the highway and the sea. The stone beaches, the little shabby shack businesses, and everywhere was the sweet scent of the sea. Eventually we had to turn back.

We stopped at the Topanga Beach just before heading back up the canyon. We fished Jet out of his seat and took him out to the beach and he watched the ocean, mesmerized. We let him walk a bit on the sand, but he sat down pretty quickly on the uneven footing, and got pretty damp from the wet sand pretty quickly. I didn't really want him to start eating the sand, so John picked him up and we just waded back and forth a bit.

The water was really cold. The surfers were in wet suits and the fishermen were bundled up, with thick boots and heavy coats. The sky was overcast, threatening the possibility of rain, and the stiff wind was from the land. It was chill enough that I was glad of my jacket, and Jet didn't pull his hood off from his jacket at all. He simply stared and stared and stared at the ocean. I was glad that he hadn't just walked out into the water when he had been set down. The things I worry about...

Eventually we had to go, and we got back to the city with plenty of time so we stopped at a Starbucks and got drinks. Jet walked around while we were waiting and he immediately went over to a display of pound sized bags of coffee beans and pulled one down and hugged it to himself and chortled as he staggered around with his prize.

We still had an hour until we had to leave the hotel when we got back to our room. I nursed Jet, we changed, and I wrapped the box of spices I'd bought for Tom and Donna. We packed everything up and John went to get the car while I played with Jet around the room one last time. He really liked playing with the baby in the full-length mirrors, he enjoyed walking under the desk, and he pulled all the drawers out of the chest of drawers.

We all walked down the hallway to the elevators when John came to get us. It took us a little while, but Jet enjoyed everything he saw as he went. The elevator stopped to add a man and his two kids. They were very careful around the rather unsteady Jet, and the man said, "I remember when you two were that small." And the kids looked at Jet with mild disbelief, he simply looked back.

It astonishes me, mildly, to think of him as walking, talking, running, and actually staying *with* me when we go somewhere. It'll happen, and I'll welcome the capabilities and independence they imply, but it seems like such a huge leap from here to there.

When the doors opened, Jet blocked the way for a bit and then headed out in entirely the 'wrong' direction for getting out of there, but we followed him around for a while. Eventually John picked him up and we went to the car and headed out to the wedding.

The map on the invitations was obviously not to scale from the very first. We couldn't' even see the cross street the map said went to the reception house. But I figured that if we could get to the wedding someone there would be able to give us more detailed instructions on how to get to the reception. The church was, happily, on a majorish intersection and it was large enough to easily spot.

It was very reassuring, however, to find Tom in the parking lot. He was alone out there, looking rather pensive and tense and even a bit worried. We pulled in, waved cheerfully at him and he waved back when he realized who we were. We pulled Jet out to say Hi and both John and I gave Tom a big hug in congratulations and it was really good to have just that minute to be able to really talk with him before the crush of events happened.

Poor Tom had been relegated to the parking lot until they could figure out where to put him so he wouldn't see the bride before the wedding. Soon the best man came and squirreled Tom away in the church. Jet got to play on the sunny patio of the church and he watched the fountains, dug in the dirt, tried to pull up and eat nearly every flower in the garden, and almost added a few rocks to his gut as well. He was good about pulling things away from his mouth if I said, "No!" But he had to try.

We went into the very beautiful, open sanctuary of the Catholic church just a few minutes before the wedding started. Jet was great through the first half of the wedding, and while he was intrigued by the pamphlets in the pew slots, he was okay with just going back and forth while John and I kept taking the pamphlets away and not letting him have them at all. Eventually, though, he got frustrated, and I had to pick him up and carrying him to the back of the church, where he could run around and look out the windows and I could hear the last of the service.

It was a nice wedding, well customized to their tastes, with some really great readings, no homily or admonishments, and very, very clearly heard vows. The priest was really great about putting the microphone right up to the mouth of the participants and gently prompting them without himself being heard. That was really good, I thought.

It was soon over, and the ushers forgot to ush people out of the pews, so everyone milled uncertainly for a bit and then broke for all the exits, only to discover the reception line at the back of the church. That was pretty funny. Instead of throwing rice or blowing bubbles, everyone just made a concerted effort to get to the reception. There was a far more detailed map on the back of the bulletin for the wedding. That was cool.

It was a fun reception. Every table had its own very bright color scheme and the center pieces were birdhouses in that same color. There was even a raffle for all the birdhouses. There were infinite appetizers, and people made rounds every time something new was brought out, and nearly all the good food was brought by some of Donna's friends. Eventually Donna and Tom made it and we were treated to the story of how they met by the best man. Yay! And then the meal was served.

Our table had me, a lady that had met Tom in the computer rooms while they were both undergraduates together out East, a lady who used to talk with Donna on the phone all the time when both their businesses needed to talk a lot together, and a guy who had known Donna from grade school. The other half of the table were associated spouses or SOs and then there was Jet. Jet actually slept through the first hour we were there. Then he ate stuff for a while, eating a lot of the rice from dinner, bits of strawberry, crackers, and he really liked the Martinelli's cider for the toast. He wanted to walk right into the pool, but after being warned away once he was great and didn't go for it again. He did want to try and taste and dig through a lot of the garden, though, and I had to watch him to make sure he didn't eat plants as I had no idea what was poisonous and what wasn't.

John watched him, too, but it was really hard work for me to talk with a whole table full of strangers and feel like I was making any intelligible conversation. It was just really hard for me to be social, and I felt not only really rusty, but just really bad at doing this anymore. I really felt my lack of social ability in this situation and felt far more comfortable just following Jet around and letting him make contact with as many people as he wanted to. He talked a few grandmother types into picking him up and holding him and he'd hug them back or snuggle into them happily. He and they had a great time with that.

Eventually it was 4:30, just before cutting the cake, we said our good-byes and congratulations and ran for the airport. It was good we left when we did as we only got to the gate about fifteen minutes before the plane started loading. I had a pretty tense time of it, but we made it just fine. Jet and John wandered around the gate area, Jet trying to get into the duty-free shop with all it's colorful bottles, and eventually just heading for the bar, or down the hallways after intriguing people or baggage or just something that caught his eye.

Jet then proceeded to spend the entire airplane trip home playing. He walked up and down the aisles, he played in one of the empty rows, jumping up and down on the cushions, tackling the pillows, climbing the backs of the chairs. He squawked and talked and flirted with all the stewardesses whenever they checked on him. Thankfully the plane was mostly empty and he could stomp around and explore lots of empty rows without bothering anyone or waking anyone. John and I took turns watching him and drinking our drinks and resting up a bit.

We got to our car around 11 pm, which was soon going to be midnight. Jet fell asleep nearly as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot. He was awake all the way through getting our baggage and getting to the car, which was nice, as we didn't have to haul him in his seat the whole way. He even walked part of the way around the baggage carousel. That was nice.

He slept the whole way home, and missed the Krispy Kreme donuts John and I got to get us all the way home. We just put him in his chair in his room and we went to sleep. He didn't get up until 4, and he just was up long enough to eat and fall asleep again. The hours from 8-10 was a little more rocky in the morning, but he mostly slept all the way until 10 am! That was very nice indeed and a great ending to a great trip.

I was very glad that Jet traveled so well this time, and that he took everything in stride, pretty much. It really makes it easier to contemplate more traveling with him, and with all the naps and sleeping pretty well in the hotel room, it was less exhausting than I thought the trip would be. Yay! Hoorah for a walking Jet! Yay

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Copyright 2002 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.