I have been traveling. All in all, I think I have traversed over 3,000 miles in the last 2 weeks. I will be doing 2,000 more before this next week is over. Although my adventures began only nineteen days ago, it seems as if I’ve been moving around and doing things for several months. [Names are not revealed due to request of privacy.]
May 13th: L was supposed to arrive that day, but she called in the morning about her dad being ill. Honestly, I did not believe it. I thought it was just an excuse, but common sense told me that such an event was too serious for her to use as an excuse. Besides, what was she excusing herself for? I was just upset about not seeing her and was being paranoid. Late in the afternoon, she called and informed me that her father went to the hospital and was diagnosed with gastric (stomach) cancer. I bought a last minute plane ticket to Philadelphia that night.
May 14th: I arrived into the Philadelphia airport late in the afternoon and took a taxi to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (or HUP). L met me down in the lobby – a hug and a kiss and we went up to see her parents. Both were very appreciative of me being there for them and for their daughter. Mr. L looked tired, but there were no obvious signs that marked him as a person with cancer. Mrs. L said his face was much better than it was the day before since he received several pints of blood. Apparently, he was functioning with less than half of the amount of blood that is in a normal human body. What a feat of endurance! My presence allowed L and Mrs. L to go home for a short time to refresh themselves (they were at the hospital overnight). While they were gone, I held a nice conversation with Mr. L. He reflected on his good fortunes until now. Although this sudden news was a tragedy, he felt he has a lot to be grateful for. He told me about his early days in America. My girlfriend came back a couple hours later and we stayed with her dad until J, L’s younger sister, came to pick me up.
May 15th: I went back to HUP with Mrs. L in the morning. I got some breakfast at McDonald’s and we all stayed with her father until the afternoon. L and I went back to the house so that we could eat and rest. We went back in the evening and I stayed the night at the hospital with L to be with her dad.
May 16th: J brought Mrs. L in the morning. L and I had breakfast at McDonald’s again. We went to Penn Tower to get a room for L’s uncle and grandfather, both of whom were coming that evening to be with Mr. L. His surgery was going to be the next day. I stayed at the hospital with L, again.
May 17th: Surgery day. Mr. L was supposed to go under the knife that morning. Delays after delays, he was not operated on until four in the afternoon. We were not able to see him until ten o’clock at night. Thankfully, the surgery was a success. Additional samples were taken to see if the cancer metastisized. L and I stayed in the family waiting room overnight.
May 18th: Mr. L seemed to be recovering without any complications. So, L and I went back to the house so she could pack for the trip to L.A. Her older brother and sister-in-law were finally holding their wedding ceremony after years of delay (they were legally married, but he was serving his country first in the Army then in the National Guard, where he was recalled due to the Iraq War). L and I went to visit Mr. L in the evening and to pick up Mrs. L.
May 19th: The taxi never showed up. So, L and I had to wake up V, her 2nd eldest brother, to drive us to the airport. A private airport transporter took L and me back to my home. He worked for GE for several years until he was laid off. Unemployed, he decided to shuttle people to and from the airport as supplemental income. Tough circumstances, but I was glad to see he was trying to make things work. L stayed at a hotel close to my home. I kept her company.
May 20th: Helped out with decorations at the bride’s reception house. Had dinner with my family in the evening before going to pick up Mrs. L from the airport.
May 21st: Forest Lawn in the morning, then Chinatown, dinner with L’s extended family where I was announced as her boyfriend (finally, I am known to her family!) L and I picked up J and her boyfriend, M. L, J, M and Mrs. L stayed at the same hotel that evening.
May 22nd: The Big Day. Preparations at the groom’s reception house. Went to the bride’s reception house and the “negotiations” began. Pictures were taken and the tea ceremony was observed. Back to the groom’s reception house where the tea ceremony was observed for his side of the family. Took L to the hair salon. I took more time than L would’ve liked to prepare for the evening’s large reception.
May 23rd: J and M went back to Philly in the morning. Mrs. L’s plane did not depart until the evening. A huge fight of proportions that I thought only happened in my family occurred between Mrs. L and J. Christ… I thought I could avoid the type of hysteria that my mother exhibits, but apparently L’s mom and younger sister has it, too. L knows how much I do not like such behavior. How far removed is she from it? Is it in her blood?
May 24th: In the evening, L and I began our trip up to Monterey. We slept for a couple hours by the highway, out in the middle of nowhere. The stars were so aplenty that we couldn’t locate any familiar constellations. We continued our drive and got to the Travelodge in Monterey around 6am the next day.
May 25th: We slept in until afternoon. The Housing Information Desk at MIIS was closed for the day. So, I had to hunt for listings on my own. Not much luck since all single rooms started at $850. My budget was $600 per month including utilities. My only hope was the room that was available in a house out in Pacific Grove. I got it… a very nice house in a quiet neighborhood. Relatively good privacy – lots of storage space, a patio, a furnished kitchen and livingroom. My own bedroom and a private half-bathroom and a shared shower. All for a low, low price of $625 per month including utilities. L and I walked The Cannery Row and had dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Restaurant.
May 26th: To Oakland/SF/San Jose. L and I first stopped by Oakland to meet up with my old friend Sou. Then we went to SF to meet up with Solana and her boyfriend, Ezra. L’s friend from pharmacy school, John, rendezvous there, too. We had a extravagant sushi dinner in SF. Sou went with L and me to San Jose, where we stayed at my great uncle’s house.
May 27th: Sou stayed with us because we wanted him to accompany us to Lake Tahoe. We drove out in the morning. We arrived around the afternoon. The water was hypothermia cold. We had a picnic and walked around the park. Parts of it were burned – controlled or wild, I don’t know, but the devastation was evident. We drove back that same evening. After dropping off Sou in Oakland, L and I went straight to Monterey. The Munras Lodge turned out to be such a romantic room (fireplace, bathtub and king-sized bed) that we decided to stay until Saturday.
May 28th: Woke up late. Went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We walked to the Fisherman’s Wharf and had dinner at the restaurant at the end of the wharf. Huddled in a blanket by San Marin Beach, we watched the sunset.
May 29th: The drive back to LA didn’t really begin in earnest until afternoon. We stopped by Point Lobos State Reserve. Showed L China Cove, where Thanh, Sheila and I went the last time. We did not get back to LA until evening.
May 30th: Dim sum with Steve and Aya. Went to IKEA as a double-date. Then to the West Covina Mall where all four of us started plans with Verizon Wireless. Now I can talk with L anytime I want for free!
May 31st: I was snailing around the house (according to L) while she used my car to visit her brother and relatives.
June 1st: We flew to Philly. My flight was over 14 hours. God… am I exhausted.