I recently had the privilege of heading back to California to see two of my good friends get married in the month of October (thank you, you two for getting married in the same month - made travel easy for me! #coordination) I was only planning on one month but for those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed with skin cancer for a small mole on my shoulder. The Dr.'s in Okinawa suggested I fly back to the US as soon as possible to have the skin removed and a lymph node tested to be sure it had not spread. Spoiler alert - everything turned out fine and I was taken care of by some of the best surgeons and dermatologists at UCSF (thank you!). Fun reminder: Get your skin checked! Use sunscreen! BUT, all of this meant that I got to spend 2 whole months in the states instead of just 1! #moretimewithfriendsandfamily
Since I was leaving for the states earlier than expected, I was able to jump on my first space-A flight from Japan back to California. Space A is essentially unused seats on a military plane that you can reserve according to priority. It took 3 days to get back to the US from Japan with stops in both Guam and Honolulu, but all in all - the 3 flights weren't bad at all and were quite an experience. The first two flights I was on one of the biggest aircrafts - this meant our seats were on the upper deck, no windows, and facing backwards (what?!) And on my final flight from Hawaii to California - I literally had a fire truck in the plane that I was sitting about 10 ft from on the fold down seats on the side of the aircraft. Quite an experience indeed...
Once I arrived back home, I got to spend time with my mom and dad - catching up, enjoying my dad's delicious cooking, golfing, etc #bestbuds #lovethem And I got to meet their new golden retriever - Maddie - one of the weirdest, unique, sweet dogs I've met. She kept me thoroughly entertained while I stayed with my parents. One of the nights I was home I also got to enjoy dinner in San Jose with some of my dad's old Japanese work colleagues. They took us out to a delicious izakaya style Japanese restaurant and I got to practice some more of my Japanese while I was in California :)
I also got to enjoy some things that I missed while living abroad - this includes but is definitely not limited to: Trader Joes, Zachary's Pizza (chicago deep dish style mmmmm), Target, Les Mills classes at the gym, grocery stores with fresh veggies and fruits that don't cost an arm and a leg (like at the commissary) and are written in English so I don't have to use a translator app, In N Out, delicious and authentic Mexican food, a large selection of craft beer, good wine, and the list goes on. (I now see it largely consists of food and alcohol.....) It did take me a while to get used to driving on the right side of the road again though #surprising #leftsideiseasier
Since I was back early - I also got to participate in my amazing friend Nicole's bridal shower and meet the other bridesmaids before the wedding. Meeting her group of bridesmaids made me have a large case of FOMO from the bachelorette party because these ladies were f*ckn awesome and I would not have expected any less from Nicole
Luckily, I was able to squeeze in my surgery for my shoulder and lymph node 5 days before Nicole's wedding #thankyouUCSF My parents were great for taking care of me - especially my mom who came with me to SF and stayed with me, and my lovely little sis, who drove up from LA to help take care of me and spend a few days. It definitely helped relax my nerves knowing I had an experienced nurse there with me - plus she recommended the best meds ;) Like I said, the surgery went well, and I even got to chow down on some yummy Mountain Mike pizza (pepperoni of course) with my family that night (hard not eating all day! Made up for my lost calories that night ;) )
On October 1, I got to be in one of my closest friends weddings. I've known Nicole now about 11 years - we met back in college through ex-boyfriends but we have still remained close friends - sharing countless memories backpacking through Europe together, and enjoying the sights of SF after college. I told her I would come back from Japan to be in her wedding no matter what :) Watching her and Nema get married was a blast and you could truly feel the personality and love of the couple come through that wedding weekend. I also can't say enough great things about the bridesmaids - that group of girls (especially Nicole 2) kept me on my toes and laughing constantly (sarcasm was also their 2nd language). Thank you Nicole and Nema - for allowing me to be part of your beautiful wedding, and to the bridesmaids and bride for being so fun and just plain awesome.
The weekend following Nicole and Nema's wedding, I headed down to Big Bear to celebrate my buddy Mel's 30th birthday! We had some yummy coconut champagne to celebrate, an 80s dance party with the neighbors, a beautiful hike, and finished the weekend going to Big Bear's Oktoberfest celebration. I even convinced my sister to come join the fun for a night! So fun getting to see part of my crew from San Diego after a year or so - missed them so much!
The following week, I headed down to San Diego so I could spend some time with old friends before Jaime and Danny's wedding. During the week - my awesome friends let me crash on their couches and took time out of their day to hang out with me and keep me entertained - which I thoroughly appreciated and took full advantage of! And I got to drink some delicious brews at Stone's Dark Beer Festival with my old gals from the San Marcos MBA program :)
The second wedding I got to attend was our good friend's from San Diego - Jaime and Danny. They got married up in Temecula at Wiens Winery. It was gorgeous, delicious, and a lot of fun! Got to hang with my girls, Jess and Mel, where we enjoyed pre drinks at Wilson Creek before heading over to Wiens. It was so fun getting to watch these two finally tie the knot and hang with my good friends from San Diego who I dearly miss :)
On my way back up north after Jaime's wedding, I was able to join in the festivities for the Walker's Oktoberfest party #Walktoberfest Here I got to see family friends, meet old colleagues of my dad's, listen to a polka band, chicken dance, eat yummy German food, and drink delicious German beer - and wear a chicken hat. Had a great time party'n with Papa Whittey before I had to head back.
All in all, I had a fantastic time when I was home, and was so happy and grateful that I got to attend two of my good friend's weddings (and be in one!), celebrate Hella Mel's dirty 30, see old friends from San Marcos MBA program, hang out with my old crew from San Diego, see old sorority friends and babysitter growing up, and meet new ones - bridesmaids up in SF, friends at Mel's party, and my dad's golf friends. And of course, spend some time with two of my favorite people - mom and dad. Although I had a blast, I did miss my man back in Okinawa and my dog child :) But that's what Facetime is for! Looking forward to moving back to California in the summer of 2017 !
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!