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March 24, 2014 - Carrie Olson
We have had quite a few visitors in the past couple years, and each time is both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. Not because we are seeing family members or friends, but I can get overwhelmed in my quest to show them a good time. A good time entails events, festivals, parades, theater, museums, monuments, etc. And by etc., I mean all the restaurants, bars, shops, and other quirky places that we have deemed “awesome.” So for a couple weeks beforehand, I will jot down ideas or think up all the crazy things that can be squeezed in a two or three day trip.

When you live somewhere new and exciting, sometimes it’s expected that you’ve hit the hot nightclubs or the sporting centers or know a lot about something, anything. Unfortunately, for us, we don’t. We’ve tried a lot of cool pubs. Friends have taken us to various places around the city, but we aren’t as adventurous as some. One, it takes a lot of money, and two, well, we are pretty comfortable in what we know. Lame, right? We know we like burgers. We know we like pizza. We know that we like to be home by 11 p.m. If someone asked us what our favorite weekend activity is, it’s not waiting in line at one of the hip new bars in Brooklyn. No, it would be hitting up our favorite movie theater for some buttered popcorn and a large coke.

Maybe that’s the result of moving to New York in our late 20s. We aren’t fresh out of undergrad, ready to mingle. We don’t feel like staying up into the wee hours of the morning or boozing it up at every bar as we watch our bank accounts slowly dwindle. We are a married couple on the brink of settling down. We know what we like and zooming around the city isn’t always one of them.

So when my parents came last week, I was a little stumped. We had done all the touristy stuff on their first trip out. What to do? I’m so afraid that I will disappoint our visitors that I overpack schedules so that I make sure they did it all. I want them to go home satisfied with a crossed-off checklist. I kept asking them for their ideas, what they wanted to and see, and they only came up with two things: One, Dad wanted to go to an NBA game, and two, they wanted to see what we did during the week. The first idea was perfect. We lined up tickets for the guys to see the Brooklyn Nets, but that was only one evening. And what would my mom and I do? Should I line up a night of vintage clothes shopping in the East Village? Should we scour local wine bars? I felt so frustrated by not coming up with ideas. So I joked, “Let’s go to the mall.” “Okay,” my mom replied. Wait, what? Really?

While the guys were enjoying amazing seats at the game, we headed into Macy’s. And JC Penny. And The Limited. And while we thought of going out to eat, we ended up just getting snacks and watching The Voice at my apartment. And we talked. And talked. And talked. “This is what I missed,” she said. I agreed. We could have gone and done some magnificent shopping at one-of-a-kind stores in Manhattan, but instead we did what we usually did on a Saturday in Des Moines. We Skype and talk on the phone all the time, so it doesn’t feel like I miss out on too much. But we soon realized that we hadn’t shopped and gabbed together in almost a year, a pastime I had always treasured. We had so much fun, I didn’t want it to end.

The rest of the time we showed them where we hung out, the bars we frequented, and they journeyed to my workplace. And while we showed them a lot, my other favorite moment from the trip was watching the newest episode of Parenthood together while we waited for their flight back home.

I’ve realized a few things since last week. I was more homesick than I thought. Skype is amazing, it really is, but being in the presence of your family members is a whole other ballgame. While I don’t know when we will be moving back closer to family, I do know that I want that in my future.

The best, most memorable parts of their trip were when we were doing things together that we had done before. Not visiting new places or eating new foods. It was the shopping, watching TV, joking around while grabbing a drink. You know, the things I didn’t plan or schedule.


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