I took a little trip over the weekend...to New Jersey! I had been really missing Abbie and my hubby kindly suggested that I go visit her. He didn't have to ask me twice :). We started planning this trip about a month ago but it took this long to find the right weekend...we had church activities, Katie's birthday, the beginning of the school year, and the Nashville HLAA elections filling up the last few weekends. We settled on the date and on July 28th I ordered my plane tickets! :D
I got to Philadelphia Friday afternoon around 3:30 and by the time I had located baggage claim (thanks to the kindness of strangers) and located my bag Abbie texted me to say that she was just around the corner from the airport. She pulled up in that incredible inedible eco-egg of hers and we had ourselves a hug party right there before throwing the bags into the trunk.
She took me on a brief tour of South Philly (with doors locked and bated breath) then we got on the freeway and headed for Cherry Hill, NJ. We met Wayne Roorda and his wife Lili for dinner at the Mandarin Buffet there. The buffet was huge and I lost count of how many plates I had and how many fortune cookies Abbie got before settling on the perfect one! We headed home from there and I got to meet Abbie's mom and her wild baby Bella! Bella is an adorable, feisty shih tzu furball who gave me several hours of careful consideration before deciding that I was acceptable company for Abbie...she and I bonded over about half a slice of zucchini bread that I allowed her to confiscate from my plate. Abbie's mom, Abbie and I stayed up way late that night talking and laughing before heading to bed!
Saturday Abbie and I went out to brunch at one of New Jersey's famous diners...can't remember the name of it. I had a hard time choosing what I wanted to eat...I was torn between the omelets with home fries and the french toast...so I ended up with the french toast and a side of home fries. The "side" was ENORMOUS...I probably only ate about half of it...and yummy...I'm a huge hash browns fan :).
After that we headed out to Woodbridge, NJ to the mall there to meet one of our CI buddies and one of my very favorite people, Sam Spritzer. I first met Sam through his blog in the spring of last year. He and Laurie were some of my first buddies to go bilateral and they were some of my biggest cheerleaders, first when I was trying to decide whether to go for the second implant and then when I was going through all my insurance drama. He and Abbie and I got to be good buddies when all of our blogs were listed on the Advanced Bionics blog list last fall and we all joined the HearingJourney family. I've known him so long that when we met for the first time it wasn't at all like meeting a stranger...I knew him on sight and felt immediately almost like he was part of the family. After the initial flurry of greetings and hugs and inadvertedly knocking magnets off (one of the hazards of hugging a CIer), we decided the quietest spot to sit might be outside so we found a comfortable spot and talked for a while, even engaging in some listening therapy with Abbie's Bluetooth (which is really, really cool, and I have decided that I need one). At some point I volunteered the fact that I needed coffee (I actually attempted to sign it but that didn't go so hot) so we headed back in and found the Starbucks. We sat there for so long that it was a wonder they didn't toss us out...then we shopped for a bit. Shopping progress was slow...we actually spent more time trying to watch where we were going than shopping, since it's hard for three deaf people to walk and talk at the same time :). At least it didn't feel awkward...this is the way our lives have always been and we are comfortable with it and can find the humor in it. We finally left Sam in the parking lot outside the mall after making him promise to consider coming to the Nashville convention next year! It was such a great visit...I'm so glad we all managed to get together!
We went out to another Chinese buffet for dinner afterwards but French toast, home fries, and Starbucks were still sitting fairly heavily in my stomach so I couldn't eat much. Abbie's mom and her neighbor Jan came with us and we had a great time sitting and visiting. After a couple of hours of that we dropped off Mom and Jan back at the house and then headed out to Point Pleasant to the boardwalk! I hadn't ever been on a boardwalk before...carnival rides and places to eat and games and lemonade stands :). We skipped all the rides and headed out to the Atlantic. I dropped my bag and my Birks at what looked like a safe distance from the shore (it would have been a disaster if they had been washed out to sea!), rolled up my jeans, and headed into the surprisingly warm water.
It was a special occasion for both of us because neither of us had heard the ocean since our activations. The last time I had been to the ocean I was in possession of one CI with issues and one dead ear...I didn't hear it at all. The time before that, what I heard with a hearing aid was just a roar...all the sounds blended together. This time was different...we could hear the water as it crested and rushed towards the shore...could hear the soft "pshhhh" as it dispersed along the sand and headed back out to the ocean...occasionally, a wave coming in would meet one on the way out and there would be a loud splashing sound as they collided together...that crash was always enough to make me stop talking and turn to look. We could also hear people's voices as they walked on the beach, a few radioactive birds as they flew overhead, and the chirping of Abbie's BlackBerry and a couple of patrol cars back on land :). I had heard the ocean before...but never like this. And to be honest, the last time I heard it, I didn't appreciate it like I do now...I had no idea that soon all the tiny hair cells in my cochlea would be gone...that the one ear I'd depended on for years would soon be useless, hair cells replaced with a shiny curling electrode array. I didn't know how much I was missing until I stood there beside the ocean at Point Pleasant and heard the virtual orchestra of sound...amazing :). It was incredible to be there with Abbie...because she understood exactly what I'd lost, what I'd regained, and everything in between. We kinda joked that anyone else would have been looking at their watches and heading for the car after about ten minutes of listening to water...but we must have been out there about an hour, just taking it all in. This Southern girl gets cold when it gets below 80 degrees at night during the summer, and it was a bit chilly, but we had come prepared with sweaters and the night air felt perfect. We finished our excursion by walking down the boardwalk and purchasing a huge pretzel and large lemonade from a friendly *cough*, polite *cough* vendor before heading back to the car.
The next afternoon, running on mostly coffee and very little sleep, we climbed the Barnegat Bay Lighthouse. By the time we got to the top, we were both too exhausted to do much more than throw ourselves on the railing and huff and puff and admire the view in between gasps. We both made some rash vows to get in shape (I've already forgotten what mine was) and then tottered back down all nearly 300 steps (it was much easier going down but I felt like I had gotten off a merry-go-round when I hit the ground at last!). We never did regain momentum after that...we loaded up with Sonic burgers, with Diet Cherry Limeades (Abbie had never had Sonic before so I got to introduce her to my favorite Southern treat!), and Dunkin' Donuts coffee...to no avail...we were worn out. We headed back to the house and attempted to make conversation but were too dazed to talk. It just seemed too early to go to bed on our LAST NIGHT TOGETHER so we pulled out the laptops and got our synapses firing a bit. We both idly threatened to blog but it was probably a good thing we didn't...it wouldn't have made much sense. We finally agreed at midnight to call it a day.
The next day I had to be at the airport at around 11:30 so we attempted, albeit grudgingly, to get up and moving and out the door. Reluctant to put me back on the plane, we drove at snail speed all the way to the airport, even stopping for coffee, but luck was against us; there was no wait at Dunkin' Donuts, traffic was nonexistent, and we didn't get lost even once...got there in plenty of time. I started sniffling as Abbie pulled away from the curb and sniffled all the way through the check-in and security. I found my gate and got my preboarding pass FOUR MINUTES before boarding...I got preboarding pass, sat down on the floor by the door, and then announced it was time to get on the plane! Good-bye, Jersey...I miss ya already! :)
I miss Abbie terribly already...the Nashville convention seems so far away! I'm so grateful that we live in an age where we can stay in touch with IM and our phones...the distance between us doesn't seem quite so far :). It was hard leaving that girl...when she asked if I'd consider letting her adopt me as a pet and perhaps we could raise my kids via webcam, I had to choose between laughing and crying and the laughing only lasted about a second before the tears took over! it was a great weekend...one I won't ever forget! :)