Like what I did there? You see, I technically had a “layover” in Seattle. A six hour layover in between Orlando and Honolulu. But rather than carb up on airport pizza and snooze at the gate, I was lucky enough to have my Seattle-based pals scoop me up and bring me to a nearby mall for an afternoon of giggles and hanging out. A playover, if you will.
Thursday, March 10th 2011 – My afternoon in Seattle!
This story really starts in Orlando, actually. My Mommy dropped me off at MCO (my 4th time there in like what, eight days?) for my first flight of the day. It poured rain on the way to the airport and the roads were slow, so i was actually nervous about making my flight. And then my beloved “expert traveler” lane was slightly more congested than usual. But it all worked out and I made it to the gate in plenty o’time.
So the start of this story involves the BEST flight ever. Alaskan airlines, Orlando to Seattle, and I had the middle of three seats. At first thought, the middle seat seemed like a super bummer. But, it was great! To my left was the kind, sweet, gentle grandpa I never had. This adorable Canadian man was to my left. He and his wife (both tall and long-legged) had two aisle seats next to each other – and they were traveling home after a family vacay to Disney. He told me so many lovely things about Canada, I was ready to pursue immigration as soon as I landed in Seattle. I actually think he was a plant from the Canadian government, because he was so pro-Canada I literally was taking notes on where to move, to go talk to the Canadian Consulate, etc. This gentleman is also a woodworker, specializing in Native American Art (like totems) and he was teaching us a lesson on the Thunder Eagle that Alaskan Airlines uses on their napkins. So cool!
Who is “us,” you ask? Who was this gentleman teaching this lesson to? Well, to my right was a sweet, smart, well-dressed, way mature for her age, unaccompanied eleven year old girl flying to meet up with her dad in Seattle. A child of divorce, she’s logged way more solo air travel miles than any eleven year old should. She was both precocious and gregarious, and I was eating it up. I had my puzzle book open and I was doing this crosswordy type puzzle. She leans way over.
“Oh, sorry, I’m just looking,” she says to me.
“Go right on ahead,” I tell her.
A couple minutes later she taps my arm, “I think I know the answer to seven across.” And so it started there. She was woefully unprepared for a six hour flight, so I hooked her up. We did puzzles together, I made sure she had snacks, we chatted about her family and the fashion line she wants to start.
Between Grandpa Canada and my Long Lost Little Sis – best flight ever!!
Seattle – no more plane stories – this is about me actually being in Seattle!!!
My friend Jenny is my official Seattle airport scooper-upper (we’ve done this layover hangout thing before you see) – so she got me and whisked me off to the South Center Mall where we’d be meeting up with my pals Rain and Brandi (and their kids). Like the meet up I had in Minneapolis, these friendships are based off an internet support site for military spouses I joined a couple years ago. I’ve met Jenny IRL (in real life) before, but this day would be my first time ever hanging out with Rain and Brandi. Rain and I have logged hours of skype calls, phone dates, and endless amounts of IMs and texts – so at this point, she feels closer to me than many of my in-person people I know.
Okay, so Jenny picked me up and I chatted her face off. I was all hyper and excited to see her and going a million miles an hour (which I often do). I love Jenny so much, its hard not to get all crazy caught up in just rushing her with enthusiasm when I actually get to be with her in person!
Jenny is a badass driver, and getting to the mall was half the fun, for sure. If she’s reading this now, I know she’s giggling 100%. Sometimes you just gotta get aggressive and drive like you mean it!
So. We got to the mall, and we all met up. I was so excited to hug everyone. And we did that brief and fun thing you do when you meet interwebs friends in person for the first time. The, “oh my! you’re shorter than I thought,” or “your hair is so pretty in person!” (me to Rain on the first one, and me to Brandi on the second).
We decided lunch was a priority, and we headed to the foodcourt. The lovely and generous Jenny bought me some Indian food. I wish I would have snagged some pics. I love Indian food, and I hate making decisions, so the kindly gent at the restaurant let me do this awesome mash-up of getting half and half of everything. I had two different curries, one on chicken and the other on potatoes and cheese. It was just awesomeness all around.
Then we sat in the food court and goofed off. We did indeed take pics of that:
After I was sated with delicious Indian food, and I’d had plenty of fun times playing tag and ring around the rosie, we decided to just wander and window shop. Which obviously means that we decided to molest some mannequins.
After being wacky and annoying the general public who just wanted to shop in peace, we decided to find a place where we could plop down and chat and hang. So there was a little a drink stand with some tables out in front of it, and we just spent some time there being silly and shootin’ the breeze.
I love that we literally sat around in the mall just hanging out like it was one of our living rooms. Playing patty cake games, making silly faces, talking story and just being goofy. I love that I have the kind of friends who are so comfy with themselves and just being real, that we got to have this kind of a random, awesome, relaxed hangout. Think about it – we all know each other from the interwebs – yet we’ve somehow formed such a connection that we had a more natural and casual rapport amongst ourselves than I’ve had with “real life” friends I’ve known for decades. Isn’t that so cool?
So yeah, we just did our thing and I laughed a lot. Rain kept saying she wanted me to come back home with them and we could tie dye, make bracelets, eat pizza and watch movies. They also have a REALLY cute puppy girl at home. Moving into Rain’s house pretty much sounds like heaven on earth. Why didn’t I totally just go live with her for deployment? It could have been girlie fun pizza-induced craft time for seven months, aka: best possible scenario evar.
Whew. What an awesome day I had! A total win-win for me in every way possible, mostly because I got to spend the afternoon with my Seattle friends, and when else will I get the chance to do that? I love the way my life sorta floats around and everything always works out (being a free spirit totally has it’s advantages, hehe). My FB status during this Seattle g2g was something about, “when air travel gives you layovers, make meet-ups.” And a pal of mine commented that she loves how I have friends wherever I go, and I make stuff like this happen. I mention this now not to toot my own horn and boast of my own “popularity,” but rather to point out how totally freaking lucky I am to have such reliable, generous, and awesome friends. I just get overwhelmed sometimes when I think about how fortunate I am to have all these people in my life who are just so good to me. And well, there’s something to be said for modern networking, social media, and keeping up friendships over long distances. I am a huge lover of the snail mail – but the majority of my far flung friendships are up-kept on this here computron.
To sum up: I got to meet Rain and Brandi in real life (“IRL”) for the first time, as well as their daughters. I was so ready to sneak Dia, Lyric and McKenzie into my giant carryon and bring them back to Hawaii with me. AND, I got to see Jenny again! Jenny is really one of my favorite friends and a day spent with her is just such an awesome prize for me. Goofing off at the South Center Mall is about ten billion times better than hauling from one terminal to the next with a quick fast layover. And clearly so much way better than having a long layover and sitting around the gate doing nothing for hours. Or worst of all: changing planes in Milwaukee.
The whole day we kept wandering into some really fun stores, they have some really unique and funky shops in that mall. Eventually, Jenny found these really sweet buttons and she got me a lil gift. My button says “peace junkie” – how perfectly awesome is that? Jenny is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known, and its so cool that she gets me and she thinks I’m cool. Life is cool!
Thank you so much to Jenny, Rain, Brandi, Dia, Lyric and McKenzie for a totally wonderful day in Seattle. Much love to all you ladies, muah!
Next stop: HAWAII, MY HOME!!!
**** Photo credit time. The pics with “*r” are from Rain, and the ones with the “*j” are Jenny’s. They both have fancy cameras and take way nicer photos than I do with my iphone, so you know I totes had to steal those up. Thanks ladies!