Friends, he took me to California. To visit my sister.
Let me start off by saying that I surround myself with liars. Liars, I say! Zack, my mom, my sister…they all spent weeks – MONTHS! – lying to me about my birthday plans.
“Come up and we’ll do a whole spa weekend for your birthday! Make sure you pack a bathing suit for our massage appointment because they also have an indoor pool!” – Mom
“I hope you aren’t TOO disappointed with your birthday gift. I mean, yes, I arranged a secret day off for you, but it’s a Tuesday and it’s not the Tuesday after your birthday [I’d already taken the day after my birthday, Monday, off] and I’m not taking you anywhere. Psh, like we could afford that!….Did you hear it’s supposed to be warm this weekend?” -Husband
“Tony got a 96 this weekend! How unexpected! We are probably going to go to Vegas since we’ve been planning to go and now we have the free time!” -Sister
He woke me up at 5-goddamn-30 AM on Friday and told me I wasn’t going to work that day, and that I had an hour to be ready to leave. So, of course, 30 minutes later I was pretty much set to go. We arrived at Midway airport and Zack took me to a gate departing to Baltimore, which is where we fly into to visit my dad. Aaaaaand this is where my acting skills failed me. I felt my face do a little crumply-type thing and I couldn’t seem to rearrange my features to make the smile I was trying to create believable in any way. He burst out laughing and told me that he was kidding, but that we probably shouldn’t tell my dad I was so disappointed at the thought of seeing him. BUT! In my defense, I am trying to get out to my dad’s to celebrate HIS birthday at the end of the month, so it was more about being confused by the timing than actual disappointment. In any case, ActingFAIL.
Finally we arrived at our REAL gate, departing to San Jose. Zack tells me we are going to Napa Valley, which I haven’t been able to shut up about for a good nine months or so, and I completely believe he is taking me there all throughout our five hour flight. Right up until we reach the gate and I jokingly tell Zack that it’s a good thing we’ve arrived because if I have to spend another damn minute on a plane I might have to strangle someone (or, you know, him) . And that is when HIS acting skills failed and his smile faltered and I saw that AHA! WE ARE IN FACT GETTING ON ANOTHER PLANE! (Jesus, I hope our children do not have high aspirations to be actors, because those genes are all dried up in this here pool). And Zack finally confesses that no, we are not going to Napa Valley but that yes, we are visiting Meredith. MEREDITH! My sister who got herself hitched to June and then moved to California and who I miss sort of pathetically.
SO MANY LIES! But it’s okay, because they were lies for a good cause. And also I ended up figuring it out before Zack told me what was happening so I feel all smart and not gullible and stuff. I am not known for my – ahem – deductive reasoning skills when it comes to people telling me shit that is in no way true or even plausible.
When we reached Burbank* and my sister it was all happiness and sparkles and butterflies. And then it was traffic. Hours and miles and sadfaces of traffic. We spent about four-and-a-half hours in traffic and all I could think was “I CANNOT SPEND MY BIRTHDAY TRIP IN TRAFFIC OH NOOOOES!” But then someone shoved a cheeseburger in my face and the situation improved dramatically. And then there was pizza and beer and OMG A PUPPY! and life was good again. Actually, good Lord, there was all kinds of terrible-for-me food, which we will cease discussing because I’m pretty sure just recalling everything I ate will move the numbers up on the scale. UGH. But I will tell you about the delicious sushi boat we had for lunch on my birthday. And guys? It seriously came ON A HUMONGOUS BOAT. Like, piled all over it! It was hilarious and I kicked myself for the bajillionth time that I’d left my camera resting comfortably on our coffee table in Chicago and cursing my iPhone camera for crapping out on me exactly when I actually needed it. But thanks to a handy Google Image search, a similar boat can be seen here:
Not EXACTLY the same, but you get the idea. It was Zack’s first time trying sushi and while he was a total trooper and tried everything on the boat, he proclaimed it “Just Okay” and said that while he could eat it just fine, it probably wasn’t something he’d seek out in the future. I told him to work on his chop sticks skills.
We tasted at these two wineries in Temecula, which were both really good, but I was not feeling the wine. After each tasting I felt really nauseous and blech, so we decided to call it quits with the vino and returned to the spectacularly klassy beer.
The last event highlight was our trip to San Diego. What a cool little city! We walked around an outdoor mall, saw a girl carrying around a tiny gray-and-white kitten with blue eyes that just about killed me or forced me to steal the little guy and flee, and then walked around on the beach at Coronado Island, which…just gorgeous. We were there at sunset and my iPhone miraculously recovered itself and I took the only pictures from the weekend. It was pretty chilly because of the wind, but the water was pleasantly warm.
Meredith (who would not go near the water because It’s Cold! and Sharks! (this lady has an irrational fear of sharks)) and Tony, who’s all “Whatevs!”
Zack strolling through the waves
All in all, it was an AWESOME birthday and an incredibly thoughtful gift. I kept thinking all weekend how lucky I am to have people who love me enough to go through the trouble of planning such a trip, paying for it, and then keeping it a secret for months. It was really no small feat and I am so grateful. Thank you guys. Really.
*Don’t fly into Burbank to get to Oceanside. DO NOT RECOMMEND! Traffic, traffic, and more traffic. We learned our lesson good.