Lauren wakes up and leaves early Tuesday morning for her drive back to Arizona. She says thank you at least four times and then makes sure to stop at the market nearby for the awesome bread I used this weekend for breakfast and sandwiches (it’s that good).
Mike has off again (yay!) and Rich and Tara just got back two days ago (yay!), so we’re going to head up there this afternoon – we have all their mail. I’m excited for Sarah to meet them and see their place. I get really nervous driving to their house – it’s been a while. I’m nervous for the drive but more nervous to see them. What’s wrong with me?
Hugs and hellos and introductions. We all hang out and have a beer and Tara gives Sarah the tour. Then she can’t help but put out a spread of chips and hummus, bean dip, and cheeses. Tara proceeds to tell us about their trip. She sits on the couch with photos on her laptop, while Rich follows along with dialogue. Tara cuts him off at one point. “Rich, start with it was really hot when we left and really cold when we got there. Go.” Rich doesn’t miss a beat. “It was really hot when we left and really cold when he got there.” He continues with what he was saying, with no mention again of the weather change. These two.
After a bit, we decide to drive back down to the PCH for lunch. Rich and Tara suggest Reel Inn. It’s close by and I’ve never been there – always up for a new spot. It’s Taco Tuesday. I think Taco Tuesday is celebrated everywhere in California, and this is the first Tuesday I’m taking advantage. Two fish tacos for 4.50. What a deal. Of course, I get two shrimp tacos for 4.50 each and go halfsies with Sarah. I always prefer shrimp to fish, but these tacos might have changed my mind. The fish is amazing.
Reel Inn is much like a lot of the joints around here: form a line to order and then wait for your name to be called. There are picnic benches set up outside so we grab a table. Mike and Sarah have a beer, chardonnay for me, and root beer for Rich and Tara (they’re detoxing after two straight weeks in Sea Isle, NJ – enough said).
By the end of lunch, my stomach hurts from laughing so much. Mike tells stories that are funny, but I think I laugh more at Tara laughing at him. She really gets a kick out of Mike. Right before we leave, he uses the restroom. He walks to the front of the place where the surfboard sign is. It sort of looks like it’s pointing outside, even though the bathroom is really just beyond the sign. He walks outside to a little shed, opens it, and sees cones. This is not the bathroom. We say our goodbyes – we’ll be back to their house Saturday night for dinner. We’re due! So glad you guys are back!
Mike drives us back to the apartment where we relax and watch the Olympics (the theme of Sarah’s trip). Sarah and I are exhausted even though it’s been a low-key day. It’s her last day in California. I think the trip has caught up with her, and she’s ready to decompress – but not until tomorrow. You better believe we’re drinking tonight.
At 7pm we take a mile walk down the boardwalk back to the Venice Ale House (took Mike some convincing). It’s crowded, but there’s a tiny table outside the hostess offers us, so we grab it. Definitely only meant for two people, but we don’t care. Mike orders a beer, while Sarah and I order skates of wine – which is basically a flight of wine, but they bring out the glasses on a skateboard. She asks if we’d like to take a picture but it’s really crowded and busy so we tell her not to worry about it. The only bad thing about this deal is that the wine is served in big shot glasses – not exactly how I like to drink wine.
We order food and Sarah and I talk while Mike stares at his phone. I always get mad at him for being on his phone while we’re out somewhere, but I don’t say anything because Sarah is here and maybe he’s bored with whatever we’re talking about. Sarah doesn’t care. “You’re being rude. You’re attached to that thing. I try to not take my phone out when I’m doing certain things.” Mike smiles and just says, yea, knowing he’s bad with it, but it’s like an addiction.
We find out that Sarah is a freak. She knows every number for every letter (A=1). I mean, if I really thought about it, I could figure it out, but as soon as I say a letter she can say the number that corresponds with it. When she was in 5th grade, she started a true love survey. Take the full name of the guy and the full name of the girl, add up their letters until it’s down to a one-digit number. So Sarah, other people could figure it out, but you could figure it out so much faster, so did they just ask you to do it? “Yes. This made me really popular in 5th grade.” For fun, we have her do me and Mike. If we have the same number, it means true love. Sarah gets down to my single number and it’s 8. I look at her math. No, you added wrong, it’s 7. She checks, and yes, it’s 7. She then does Mike’s name. 7. Boom! True love. We seriously freak out like it’s the most amazing thing. It’s hilarious. If I didn’t correct her, I would have been an 8 and Mike and I would not be true love. That was a close one.
We walk back down the boardwalk. I’ve never been out here when it’s dark – definitely sketchy, but I’m comforted by all the cops driving around. And the beach looks awesome. It’s Sarah’s last night. We continue drinking – Sarah only has a little wine while she packs – and watch the Olympics. Gymnastics is by far, my favorite. It’s a little disappointing compared to when we were glued to the TV in 1996. First of all, the highest score was 10. Now, you can’t even get a 10. Second of all, they’re constantly showing the girls and the coaches and everyone staring up, waiting for their score, and then they see it before us. Sometimes it’s not shown at all. We only know how well they did by their reaction. The girls are still amazing and it’s fun to watch, but it’s lost some of its excitement. This might also be because Mom and Dad let us stay up late to watch – and they were watching with us. Sarah and I would walk on the back of the couch like it was a balance beam. I start thinking back to the “dream team” and find the clip on youtube of Kerri Strug on the last vault. I get choked up watching every time. It’s so good.
We’re in bed by 12 and I have to wake up at 4:15 to bring Sarah to the airport. It’s dark and quiet. Nobody’s on the street at this time. I pull up to Delta and unbuckle my seat belt to give Sarah a hug and say goodbye. Have a safe flight. It’s always sad to say bye to someone who visits. I probably won’t see her again until April when I come home. But we had fun. July was a good month. 4th of July in Huntington Beach, got into the Groundlings program, my first Dodgers’ stadium experience, an awesome concert with Mike, and a four day visit from my sister. I can’t complain.