The Last Year

fotor

As an old fuddy-duddy wrapping up another year, it’s hard not to feel that particular wave of anxiety every time my birthday approaches.

OMG, what have I done with my life? I haven’t accomplished anything! I’ve wasted a whole year!!!

…You know, that.

That was me yesterday, the last day of what could be called, at a stretch, my mid-20s.  I had a sharp sense of disappointment in myself, about not doing, seeing, experiencing more.  I’m almost 30, dammit! I don’t have much time left! ::sniff::

Thankfully, I saw a few fortuitously-timed tweets by my pal @bkroz_, who, aside from catfishing me, is also wiser and more articulate than I ever was at his age.  They read as follows:

@bkroz_: This is weird, but today I realized my 2013 travels include Orlando, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Williamsburg, NYC, Philadelphia, and Puntarenas.

@bkroz_: In other words, I’ve had a pretty great year and I’ve seen a lot. I’m proud and thankful for what I’ve seen and done! I’m a globetrotter!

…And those got me thinking.  It’s always easy to think about what you don’t have or haven’t achieved.  It’s easy to never be satisfied, to not put things into perspective.

I’ve done a lot since my 27th birthday.  I traveled (a lot!): Walt Disney World and Dollywood at Christmastime, Chicago to see my favorite singer, New York to see some amazing shows.  I went to Hawai’i (twice!) and Kaua’i stole my heart.  Lance and I spent a day with new, awesome pals at Hersheypark and I almost threw up.  Oh, and we went to freaking Japan (!!!) and rode the shinkansen and ate udon in a tiny little shop in Kyoto and made a traditional Japanese meal in a family’s home.  We went to Tokyo Disney and have no regrets (except not spending more time there.)

I got to go back home to Michigan several times this year…oh, and I went skydiving!

I earned a promotion at work and have been able to work on some really great, challenging projects.

We were lucky enough to meet some amazing people because of this blog, in person for the very first time!

And, of course, I got to do all of the above with friends, family, Ripley, Kitty Boo, and especially Lance.  Even though I have the itch to do more, I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.

It’s been a good year.

Travels With Lance

[Continuing our series on the origins of Lance+Jeff! You can see our other entries here, here, and here!]

It was never a conscious choice of ours, to travel so much, but looking back to compile these posts, it’s pretty clear that going on adventures is a fundamental element of our relationship.

Our first trip together was actually the start of a rapid-fire succession of mini-trips, about five months after we began dating.  We went to New York for the day to catch the original off-Broadway production of future Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, starring Lance’s fave stage actress of all-time, Alice Ripley.

[Sidebar: Lance’s obsession with Alice Ripley started in a Tower Records.  “I just saw her name on the back of a CD and I KNEW I had a connection with her!!” he describes. Stalker, much?]

lanceandalice

Since this was supposed to be Alice’s big Broadway comeback show (“It’s a RETURN!” says Lance) after an unsuccessful detour to Hollywood and rock music, Lance was terribly excited…and nervous, since the show was still working through some kinks in this limited off-Broadway run.  At that point, it was doubtful that it would even transfer to Broadway…and then what would happen to Alice??

So, after we saw the show that weekend, we decided to bus it back to New York to see it again…twice…the following week.

collage
It was obviously windy that day. This is why Lance no longer has his Milo Ventimagina hair.

New York, twice in one month (not the only time we’ve done that)–a test for any couple.  But wait, there’s more!

Some four days after this second NYC trip, we flew to Chicago!  Lance was checking out grad school programs at the time, and both of us have a mad metropolitan crush on the Windy City.

collage2

Since that chilly March in 2008, we’ve travelled a bunch. Probably too much.

There was Universal Studios Orlando in May 2008…

collage3
Yes, those are cargo shorts. 2008 was the darkest timeline.

DC in January of 2009 (for Next to Normal’s off-off Broadway re-tooling run):

collage4

…then Atlantic City…

collage5

…Finally back to NYC to see Next to Normal play on Broadway, just a few months before Alice won her Tony for the role (and will be forever remembered for her Tony acceptance speech.)

collage9

…Then to Las Vegas…

collage6

…And back to Chicago in October 2009…

collage7

…And then to Hawaii in April 2010, where our Lance+Jeff story will continue tomorrow:

collage8

Our first trip to Hawaii also marks quite a significant event in the long slog of our relationship (I bet you can’t guess what it is!!!1!), a turning point for our relationship, but also for our travels.  Ever since this trip, we’ve gone even more travel-crazy, going back to NYC multiple times, back to Vegas two more times, then to New Orleans, Dollywood (x2), Disney World (x2), Tokyo…and I think there was even a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska in there somewhere…not to mention our trips home to Michigan…

Why does it work for us? That’s hard to say.  If you don’t like the bussle and anxiety of travel, this might not be for you. Thankfully, both of us like travelling and like spending a lot of time together, though we have, over time, established guidelines and agreements so that we don’t kill each other.

This isn’t to say that we’re the world’s most-traveled couple. Obviously not! Nevertheless, our desire to hop on a plane together, to hold hands as the wheels slip free of the runway, and go off exploring somewhere…that’s in the chemistry of our relationship.

Jeff and Lance, Big In Japan Part I: The Chicago Opening Act

It begins here, folks…our super-sized report of our trip to Japan!

Why Japan?  Well, it sort of became a question of, “Why not Japan?”  I had spent two years amassing enough frequent flier miles to get Lance and I to Europe for free-ish (those pesky fuel surcharges’ll get you every time!), but suddenly we were significant over the amount we needed, and within striking distance of enough miles for two roundtrip tickets to Japan.  We scrambled to liquidate our hotel points programs to transfer those points into miles so we’d have enough.  Finally, right after Christmas 2011, we were able to book our two round-trip tickets to Japan for the hefty price of…like $180 total (taxes be damned!).

Of course, this gave us PLENTY of time to plan.  Or, more accurately, it gave me plenty of time to plan.  I researched hotels and transportation, did language audio lessons, booked tours and classes, etc., etc., and then rearranged everything a dozen or so times.  Lance admitted a few days before the vacation, “Wow. I have no idea what we’re doing on this trip.” All the while I’m panicking trying to keep everything straight in my trusty day-by-day planner/binder full of confirmation e-mails, train passes and so forth.

Finally, the big day came: October 20, 2012! We drove to the airport bright and early that morning:

Is Lance smiling, or is he just about to sneeze?
Requisite airplane photo!

Since we had a frequent flier mile award ticket, the routing from Philadelphia to Tokyo was not fantastic, and meant that we had to stay overnight in Chicago before connecting on to Japan.

Problem? NO!  We both love Chicago.  It is my super-favoritest place in the United States.  I so badly want to live there it’s not even funny, so when we had the chance to actually get a “free” day in the city, I did not complain. (more…)