I would’ve put this up several days ago, but I’ve been writing and rewriting this thing a lot. Covering a week’s worth of travel takes a lot of words. I keep reorganizing and reordering the tale, and the length was ridiculous too.
So I’m splitting the account into three separate posts — the second of which will be picture-heavy, by the way — so that I can cover as much as possible without causing readers eye strain.
The gist is this: Overall, it was a lot fun, though there were a few bumps in the road.
Disagreement about “vacation”
It turns out that Tim and I had different visions of the trip.
I had pictured leisurely days spent alternating between chilling out in the hotel — complete with junk food from the nearby grocery store, the hot tub and, ahem, anniversary activities) — and meeting up with friends.
Tim was all for the hot tub and, er, activities. But he didn’t want to spend too much time in the hotel. He pointed out that he could watch TV any time — with his pets, no less — so he wanted to focus on seeing people.
Disagreement about “visiting”
Problem: His idea of seeing people involves less of “Hey, when do we meet up?” and more “Hey, I’m here and at your home/work unexpectedly!”
I, on the other hand, had no desire to interrupt people at work. (Admittedly, this was only in cases where people were working non-office jobs. Still, I don’t like potentially getting someone in trouble.) Alternately, Tim is apparently also fine waiting around someone’s house until he/she gets home. Potentially for hours.
That sounds exhausting to me, when I can know for sure that someone’s home and actually available to hang out. I don’t want to wait in a car or uncomfortable fast food restaurant’s seating. So that was a point of contention.
Also, I think he got a false sense of “dropping in” on people:
- His Tacoma friends’ employment situations tend to be a little iffy. This means that someone — even if it’s an adult child (since they often live there too) — will pretty much always be home. If it’s not the person you’re hoping for, you have a place to chill out until the specific friend gets there.
- He actually stayed with a couple in that area for part of the trip. So he always woke up to at least one person in the house. And the other friends in that area were all up and down the same block, so he could wander over on foot.
- The last time he was there, his friend Seth had a temporary, part-time gig at the state fair. Tim knew exactly where he was, Seth was more available to chat, and Tim could wander the fairgrounds for something to do if Seth got busy. Additionally, they did still make a (gasp) plan for meeting up on Seth’s day off.
- Tim’s cousin was, at that point, only working a few hours a day — or she might not have been employed at that point. (Small town job opportunities. Yay.) So it was pretty easy to surprise her on a day that she could, in fact, hang out.
He did spring himself on a Seattle friend, but then they also scheduled to meet up a second day. So, yeah, “dropping in” is a relative term.
This time around:
- We were skipping his Tacoma friends (long story)
- Seth works in a call center four days a week for 10 hours at a time, then has a 45-minute commute home.
- Tim’s cousin works the night shift full-time.
So I maintain that we would’ve had far less success with a loose, we’ll-drop-by-when-we-feel-like-it approach.
I tried (a little)
I did attempt to go with the flow, sorta.
We were meeting up with someone Thursday night, but had most of the day to kill. We visited the University District, but that was mainly for a place to eat. Tim was grumbly about going back to the hotel, and I realized that my aunt and uncle only work part of the day on Thursdays. So we swung by unannounced.
Happily, it worked out well. My uncle was there to chat until my aunt got home. They were both there for about an hour before he had to leave for a bit. So then we chatted with just her for an hour or so. At that point, I wanted to go lie down, and she had to leave for yoga.
It really was the best day to visit them — and not just because of their schedule. Thursday was actually our anniversary, and my aunt had been our Internet-ordained officiant — one way we kept our wedding affordable. So it was a very fitting day to drop by.
Unfortunately, the other drop-in wasn’t a success. It was actually pretty negative.
One of our friends is terribly flaky about returning calls, so we thought nothing of his not getting back to us. We figured it was fine to swing by, which we did shortly after getting settled in the hotel.
He pretended to be excited to see us, then completely blew us off. We had a sinking feeling after our first interaction, but we did leave a couple of messages. I even painstakingly texted (flip phone) because I know some people hate actual calls.
We were both pretty disappointed because he’d been one of the main people we were looking forward to seeing. I had us staying in Seattle four days to make sure we could see him a couple of times while there. But apparently that wasn’t in the cards.
To be fair, he just lost a close relative. So he may have been in a weird mental place. Or maybe, for some unknown reason, we’re personas non grata with him now.We assume it’s the former, but he’s a little strange sometimes. So there’s no telling unless he eventually gets back to us.
In the end, I left a voicemail telling him that we would’ve been okay if he’d just been upfront with us. Better, actually, because then we didn’t have to wonder if he was going to suddenly want to hang out. I also pointed out that he has a built in white lie: As a business owner, “I’m swamped” is completely plausible. So he had a couple of options to politely get out of the situation. It’s a shame he didn’t use the.
I concluded by saying that next time we were in town, we’d leave a couple messages and, if he didn’t get back to us, not pursue things further.
People we did see
Not everyone flaked on us, though. A Phoenix friend now works for Wizards of the Coast (every Magic nerd’s dream job), and he drove up to Seattle to hang out for a night.
He’s doing well. He loves his job, and apparently has found some kindred Magic-player souls in a couple of Seattle Seahawks. We don’t pay attention to sports, so I couldn’t tell you which ones he said. But apparently, they’re kind of a big deal. So we’re happy for him.
We also got to grab lunch with two of my bridesmaids, who I’d lost touch with after moving down here. It’s always been a big regret of mine.
They’re both doing well.
One has been promoted to supervisor and owns a place with her long-time beau. And the condo is in a pretty cool (read: expensive) area of town too. So I’m happy for her.
The other got married about a year after we moved down here, and she now has two young, painfully adorable sons. We also learned that she and her husband bought a duplex and do AirBnB as side income. Which means we now have a standing offer of a super low rate for a place in West Seattle. Rewards travel might still make it cheaper to use a hotel, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Anyway, it was great to catch up with them. None of us could believe it’d been eight years. The only real signs of the passage of time (beyond photographic evidence of children) was that one of them has, like, five gray hairs. Which doesn’t count because I had way more than that while we were still in Seattle. It’s just that I’ve since gotten vain enough to start coloring my hair.
We also got to see our friend Seth.
We hung out on his day off. We took him to lunch, chatted and played some trivia games — apparently I do not, in fact, know Jack — and some rounds of Magic. They were actually playing a different form of Magic than I’m used to. In other words, most of the time playing Magic was Tim, Seth and Seth’s roommate Chad (who I apparently met during our strip club adventure) gently/politely/patiently pointing out things I’d missed.
Seth had us over the night before we left. We got to meet his girlfriend — a quiet, but seemingly nice gal — and the guys once against held my hand through more Magic playing.
We also saw Tim’s cousin Patti, but… Well, that’s what the next post is about.
Do you guys feel comfortable dropping on people while you’re on vacation?