Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There's no place like home

Last weekend I went to Kansas City and had the best time.
My trip started out by taking the New Jersey Transit to Newark airport.  This was my first time taking this train, and I highly recommend it if you have to get to EWR from the city.  It's only $15 each way and it's pretty quick, and a nice scenic ride.  Bonus, you can use your train ticket for the airtrain at the airport as well.  Nice!
When I got to the airport I was surprised to see I was flying out of the first gate!  Well....I thought anyway.  Here I was thinking I was going to disprove Jason's theory, and then found out I had to take a shuttle bus to another terminal.  Guess you really don't ever get the first gate.
When I got on the plane, all proud of myself for carrying on, I was surprised when the flight attendant told me to leave my bag in the tunnel and I'd get it after the flight.  Since this is my tiny suitcase I always carry on, I asked, "I have to check this??"  She responded with, "Yes, the bigger bags have to be checked."  I was totally annoyed, as I'd worked hard to not have to check a bag.
When I got on the plane I was floored, to see the smallest plain I'd ever flown on (minus the one-seater when I went skydiving.)  There was one seat on one side, and two seats on the other.  The ceiling was probably only 6' high.  There were only overhead bins on one side, and they were half the normal size.  Weird.
Flying into Kansas City was nice.  It made me reflect on my trip to Chicago the weekend before and think about all the different states in the US.  I thought about how different areas have different things to offer.  I wondered how it would be to take the next 50 years and live in every state for one year, and how cool that could be.  Every place is unique and there'd be so much to learn, and so many great people to meet.  But obviously, I just can't get myself to leave New York, at least not right now.  :)
Curtis picked me up and we headed out for a night he'd planned.
We started out at The Plaza where he told me I could pick the restaurant.  I decided on Cheesecake Factory.  He said that was fine, but that we had dessert plans later.  I got the Crispy Chicken Costoletta and Curtis got the Mesa Chicken.  New choices for both of us and we both LOVED our meals.
We had a really pleasant time, as the weather was perfect (all weekend) and we could eat outside.  We were also entertained by a little boy who was leaning over the fountain reaching for coins, getting his sleeve wet and inches away from falling in until someone yanked him back.  I think we were both slightly disappointed.
*Side note, did you know that Kansas City is the City of Fountains?  It has over 200 fountains, and claims to have the second most in the world, just behind Rome.  We seriously saw fountains everywhere.  It was really pretty.

Dinner at Cheesecake

After dinner we took off, and I didn't know where we were headed, other than we needed to be somewhere a little before 7:30pm.  As we got a little closer I noticed people dressed nicely (he'd told me I could wear jeans, but look somewhat dressy) and people of all ages, all heading to the same building.  I thought maybe we were going to see a play or something.
I was really excited to find out we were going to the ballet!  Other than when I was really little, the only time I've been to a ballet was last year when I went to The Nutcracker.  It was especially fun because one of Curtis's friends was in the ballet.  There were three different shows, the first being really funny.  It amazes me that something that has no dialogue really can have the whole audience laughing for 40 minutes.

In between performances.

Outside in front of the Kansas City Ballet, after the performances.

Curtis got so sick the week before I came, and was still sick over the weekend.  As we all know, men tend to be whiners when they don't feel bad, and Curtis is no exception ;), but I really did feel so bad for him.  He was popping pain pills for his throat and coating his mouth with lidocaine every one to two hours.  This was the face I saw pretty much every time.

After the ballet we went back to The Plaza for dessert.  As we were driving through the parking structure I saw a sign for The Melting Pot.  I gasped and mentioned how I'd heard it was so good, but had never been there.  He asked me what it was like he'd never heard of it.  As we were walking to our dessert place we walked past The Melting Pot, and then he yanked my hand and pulled me back.  He'd planned on going there all along!  I was SO excited.  I've heard great things about this place and let me tell you, they're all true!  It was honestly AMAZING!!

I couldn't be happier.

We opted for the Yin-Yang dish; white chocolate on dark chocolate.  SO GOOD!  I honestly almost made myself sick because I just couldn't stop.

Saturday morning we were pretty lazy, sleeping late and then going to breakfast.  After breakfast we went to my old neighborhood!

My old house, 1985-1987.  When we lived there it was blue.

We knocked on my next door neighbor's door, as our friends the McCrackens still live there.  Kevin was home and when I told him who I was he immediately got a huge smile on his face and welcomed me inside with a big hug.  It was so great to see him, and hear about his wife Karen, and their kids.  Their oldest, Lindsey, and I were best little friends when I lived there.  It was good to catch up.  Kevin shared the story with Curtis about the first time he saw me, when I was two years old and jumping on the gas line.  My strongest memory of Kevin was when I'd gotten a tic while playing in a field at one of my brother's soccer games and Kevin had to come over and hold a flame to my arm to make the tic back out because my dad was out of town.  I remember not understanding what was happening and being so scared, but Kevin was so gentle and sweet.
We chatted for a few minutes and then Kevin said he'd take me next door so he could show me the backyard, as he knew the guy really well who lived there and said he was very nice.  I was so excited, as I didn't anticipate that!
We knocked on the door and Kevin introduced me as "Rachel Hope, of the Hopes....the original homeowners."  The man's face lit up in recognition and he immediately said, "Oh!  Come in!  Come in!!"  I asked if he was sure, as I felt a little awkward walking into a house I hadn't stepped foot in for over twenty years, but he insisted.
Kansas is where I have my first memories.  Most of them are more like photographs in my head, just flashes of images, however when we walked in the house so many things came flooding back to me.  It was actually sort of overwhelming.  I immediately noticed my heart started pounding and I was talking really fast and was somewhat flustered.  I know, I'm weird.
The first thing I saw was the stairs.  This reminded me of sitting on the stairs while my older siblings would leave for school and I was so sad.  
Then I looked to the left and saw the living room and remembered the time I'd had disappearing ink.  (Who knows where I got it??)  I remember telling my mom I wanted to pour ink on her shirt because it would disappear, and getting annoyed that she wouldn't let me do it.  (Sorry for getting mad Mom, I wouldn't let a three year old do that to my clothes either.)
Then we walked into the kitchen, which borders the family room.  As we walked in I remembered the step down from the kitchen to the family room.  I commented on remembering my mom carrying me in there once and tripping down the step and twisting her ankle.
Then I looked in the kitchen and so many more memories came back.  I immediately checked to see if the intercom was still there, which we used to torture our babysitters (it's still there.)  And looked at the fridge and remembered pulling a chair over to climb up on it to get to the counter, to then climb up the fridge to get to the colored mini marshmellows that were kept in the cabinets above.  Random memory?
Then I walked to the back of the kitchen to look outside onto the deck.  I remember going out on that deck and feeding the chipmunks that'd come up and eat out of our hands.  I also remembered the hot air balloons that got freakishly close to our back windows one day.
Then Kevin took us to the backyard.

Reminiscing in the kitchen.

Curtis was snapping photos of me while I was tripping, remembering my childhood.

Remembering in the backyard.

Talking with Kevin about how I remembered hanging out along the side of the house while my dad trimmed the trees.

Marvelous Mastin.  Such a great cul-de-sac.

Our tree lined street.

After my trip down memory lane we went to get Curtis a haircut, which for some reason exhausted both of us so we went home and napped until dark.  We finally got our act together and went out for so much fun.
We went to dinner at The Plaza again at McCormick and Schmick's.  We ate outside on a platform that was sort of elevated from the street.  It wasn't the roof, but sort of a third story terrace off the restaurant.
While we were eating our (again, delicious) meals (I got a chicken caesar, natch, and Curtis got the Mako-I tried shark! both so good) we were entertained by some performers on the street.  It was a little 14 year old girl backed up by her dad and she was honestly phenomenal.  Her name's Shanice Hayes.  They had quite the crowd around them.  Curtis and I went down to enjoy the atmosphere a little after we finished eating, and joined a few other couples in dancing during the slow songs.  It was such a nice environment.

Not the most clear picture, but it was the best I could do from the terrace.

The next part of the night was my favorite part of the trip.  Curtis took me to the Power and Light District.  This is basically the best place for the singles nightlife scene.  There's a whole bunch of bars that outline a central area.  All the bars open up to this big open area in the middle.  It's pretty sweet.  There's all different kinds of bars, 80s bars, sports bars, etc.  We decided to go into a country bar called Big Sky.  We thought we'd just hang out for a bit and then check out another scene but ended up staying there most of the night.  It was such a blast.  There was a dj playing music when we walked in, and were entertained by watching people ride a mechanical bull.  There were a lot of drunk girls trying, and every now and then someone who worked at the bar would hop on.  These guys were so good.  One guy would ride backwards with no hands, another guy would straight up ride the bull standing on its back.  Pretty cool.
We decided to head over to the dance floor and it was about that time the country band started playing.  They were really talented, and played great hits like The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Friends in Low Places, and even a country version of Sublime's What I Got.  We had a lot of fun dancing together, but the most fun was when he taught me how to country swing dance.  I'm not usually that great at picking up dances like this.  Over time he's taught me a little of salsa but I just don't pick these things up quickly.  I was able to catch on a fair amount, however, and to say we had the best time is an understatement.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was sort of like in the movies when people are dancing and everything behind the dance partner's face is just a blur of lights.  We were spinning so fast and he was dipping, twisting, and turning me, and even at a few points picking me up.  (I know, I'm not 5'2" and 90 pounds.  I love his arms.)

Taking a little break from dancing at Big Sky.

We finally got so hot we headed out of the bar into the central area to cool off.

Having so much fun, but obviously so tired at this point.

Sunday we got up and went to church at the singles ward.  He actually belongs to a branch but there's a ward nearby.  It was still really small, but I met a lot of people and they were all so genuinely friendly.  I got a really great feel from everyone, as I did all the people I had contact with in KC.

The old 'hood.

After church we went home for some of our favorite past times- biscuits, a movie, and a nap.

That night Curtis's work soccer team had a double header game so we went to that.

Monday morning we went to breakfast and then Curtis dropped me off at the airport.  The weekend flew by, as I knew it would.  As I've now stated so many times, we had such a blast.  I was glad to get home at 2pm to have the rest of the day to relax.  Taking a car, plane, train, and subway to get home after a weekend away is exhausting!


Nerak said...

Wow, sounds like quite the fun-packed trip! I'm glad you got to see your old house, that kind of stuff is really neat.

Trish said...

Ok--so is this Curtis guy a childhood friend? Did I miss that somewhere? He is Cute! Even when he makes that face. :)

Glad you had such a great time in KC. I can't remember if we visited you there or not years and years ago but other wise I don't think I've ever been out that way. I've heard it's really pretty, though.

And seriously--that cheesecake and strawberries, etc dish? OHmygoodness.

Nadia said...

It looks like Curtis planned a great weekend for you guys. Your old house looks so cute. And that Crispy Chicken Costoletta is soo good, I get it all the time. :)

Kate McNeil said...

This weekend kept getting better and better I swear I was waiting for a proposal at the end!

You guys are cute...

michellekae said...

Rachey! You are quite the traveler... and who is Curtis? I know you are getting so many people asking but I have never heard of him. So when is your trip to Colorado? You know Mike is out here too?

Elise said...

have i told you i love those gold earrings? cause i do.

glad you had fun.

Jhope said...

Two comments:
1) You went to Kansas City and decided to go to Cheesecake Factory? The place is known for steak and BBQ and you went to a chain restaurant. Next time I come to NYC we're going to Applebees.

2) My predicition - you will move to Kansas City and live there for a long long time.

Maria said...

I'm glad you had such a fun time. Melting Pot is to die for. I love it so much.

People who don't know who Curtis is....umm....just look back in some archives. You will figure it out pretty quick. :)

Steve and Rebecca said...

OH MY GOSH, Rachel!! That is so cool you got to go into our old house!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like you had a ton of fun!!!

melissa said...

hahaha!!! maria is so helpful - i love her. the costoletta is my fav... i got it TONIGHT. and ummm i am soo behind on our BOM reading. i'm on page 40 something... yikes.

meggan said...

Totally random, but I grew up with Caitlin Cooney and used to go see her do the Nutcracker in Seattle all the time! You and I are so connected...

Meggie and Russ said...

Look like so much fun!! Russ goes to KC all the time for work! And so when are you going to marry this guy?! HELLO, he seems like such a keeper!! Whats taking so long?!

Shannon said...

I LOVE KC!! Went there for a business trip with HR Block last year and fell in love. Who would have thought it is such a great place?!

(ps, was also waiting for a proposal at the end of this post!)