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Today, we continue the post begun yesterday, which highlights my favorite experiences from some of the most notable places I have traveled.

Washington DC

I have been to Washington DC so many times for many different occasions. I’ve been with my family more times than I can easily count (at least three, but maybe four?). I’ve been with my high school choir, when I sang at the first presidential inauguration of George W. Bush, which was one of the best trips of my life, despite the fact that we were singing for George W. Bush. I’ve been with my college choir, and we got to sing in the National Cathedral.

So, I am trying very hard to pick one experience, and I think I will say that it was the evening after the inauguration. The ceremony itself was cold and rainy and depressing, but that night, the night before we left, we stopped by the Lincoln Memorial. The rain had turned to light snow and the lights on the National Mall were all twinkly, and my choir spontaneously started singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which echoed off the memorial’s columns and the marble walls. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that I had been a part of a messy, historical, American event. It was really kind of magical.

California

I kind of feel like it’s cheating to pick the Golden Globes story as my favorite moment in California, but what could be more epic than that? Where else could it have happened but California? I still refer to it as The Greatest Story Ever Told, and nothing can compete with the giddy exhilaration of finding the back entrance of the Golden Globes, camping out there for a few hours, and then meeting Zach Braff, at last. Plus, it’s the experience that introduced me to the benefits of spending time in back alleys at night, which has served me well. (See below, under “Chicago.”)

New York City

Visiting New York was a delight from start to finish. However, there was one thing in particular that fulfilled a life long dream–and that was seeing a musical on Broadway. The friend I was visiting and I went to see Avenue Q, which was a fantastic show. More importantly, after having spent years of my childhood begging my mom to take me to New York so I could see shows on Broadway, I finally was able to make it happen for myself.

Runner Up: A very honorable mention goes out to Central Park, which I found to be delightful. And it was complete with a sighting of Jerry Seinfeld–who could ask for more in a stereotypical New York experience?

Chicago

No question about there. In my many wonderful trips to Chicago, there was never anything more awesome than going to see This American Life Live and accosting meeting Ira Glass. As Abby and I approached the theater where the show was being held, I saw many people on the sidewalk taking photos of the theater’s marquee, which said “THIS AMERICAN LIFE LIVE” just like I was. “You’re with your people!” Abby said. I was. I love being with my people.

So that’s that! I can’t think of any other particularly interesting places that I have traveled. What about all of you? Do you have a favorite moment from a favorite vacation?

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Today, I thought it might be fun to talk about my favorite parts of some of the more notable places that I have been. I have not traveled extensively, but I have traveled a little and I have had some unique experiences.

I have broken this post up into two posts, because it was getting lengthy. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

So, come along with me as we travel through space and time to visit some of my favorite places!

Florida
Florida was the go-to vacation throughout my childhood. The first time we went to Disney World, I remember that my mom told us how she had gone to Disney World in her teens with her parents, and how her absolute favorite ride was the Haunted Mansion. Prior to the trip, I had seen a big, glossy book about the various rides at Disney World, and grew to love the Haunted Mansion myself, before I had even been there. It has always been my favorite ride at Disney World, which is funny, because I have always been terrified of ghosts.

Runner Up: I can’t help but honorably mention the freaking awesome Carousel of Progress, which my mom, my sister, and I all thought was the most hysterically delightful thing ever. We never fail to go to this when we visit Disney World, and it cracks us up every. single. time.

Italy

Is it wrong if I say gelato was my favorite thing? Because I mean, the sense of adventure about being out of the country for the first time was very exciting, and I particularly enjoyed Assisi, and the fields of sunflowers, and sure, singing for the pope was an honor of sorts at the time. It was kind of mind boggling to see the Sistine Chapel, and also kind of mind boggling to watch episodes of “The Nanny” in Italian. But honestly, I was fifteen when I went to Italy, and I was a fifteen year old who liked her ice cream (as evidenced from the awkward above photo). One of my most vivid memories is my first taste of chocolate gelato. I had never had anything like it before.

Austria and Germany

I took this trip with my high school choir, and it just so happened that it was smack dab in the middle of a “oh no, he doesn’t like me back and my life is OVER” situation, so I was relatively absorbed with angsty teenage drama, which makes up my most vivid memories of the trip. Fortunately, I was smart enough to take pictures, which help me remember the less pathetic parts. Something that stands out was climbing through the ruins of a castle where King Richard the Lionheart was held captive during the latter part of the tenth century. Or something like that. It seriously blew my ever-loving historical mind. Of course, now I can’t even remember what country this castle was in, or the actual history behind it apparently, but you know, still cool.

So ends Part One. Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!

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My last day in Boston, I was so busy patting myself on the back for being extraordinarily competent at remembering how to do something as simple as knowing when to get on and off a subway car, I failed to be competent at something as simple as correctly reading the time of my departure flight.

The day I left Boston, I woke up at 8 a.m. and leisurely packed and got ready to go to the airport. My flight was to leave at 12:35, so I figured that if I left the hotel at 9:45, that would give me ample time to get to the airport and get through security. It would give me more than enough time, really, which is what I wanted, because I get anxious when I travel.

I arrived at the airport and went to the self check-in machine. I inserted my credit card and the machine searched for my reservation. And then the machine politely informed me that I was checking in too late for my flight.

I didn’t know how that was possible, because it was 10:30 at that point, and my flight wasn’t until 12:35.

I was checking in too late for my flight? Well, yes, I was, because my flight wasn’t at 12:35. My flight was at 10:35. My flight was scheduled to land in Chicago at 12:35. It was not scheduled to leave Boston at 12:35.

Idiot.

I tried to quell my panic as I realized that I must have incorrectly read the travel itinerary that I had printed off before my trip. What was I going to do? How was I going to get home? Most importantly, how much was this stupid mistake going to cost me?

Meanwhile, the machine helpfully asked me if I would like to re-route my flight. Uh, YES PLZ AND THANK YOU.

I was put on standby for a flight that actually was supposed to leave Boston at 12:35, and then put on standby for a connecting flight to Louisville that would get me home at 8 p.m. that night. Somehow, I was lucky enough that I got on both flights, and I arrived in Louisville right at 8 p.m.

After my initial hours of self-flagellation, I became unnerved by how little I was being punished for my mistake. Certainly, I had luck working in my favor, because if those flights had been full, then I would have had a much harder time getting home. But I did get lucky. And I was not being punished. Why in the world was I not being punished? That’s obviously what’s supposed to happen to people when they make a stupid mistake. You aren’t supposed to make a stupid mistake, and then “luck out” and get on the next flight.

I got home that night, and took a look at my credit card bill online, to see what kind of damage I had done in Boston. I noticed that there was over $400 in “pending charges” that was lurking on my credit card. I could not figure out what that could be, except for one thing. The airline must have charged me some crazy fee for missing my flight, and they never told me they were doing it.

I can understand being punished (I DESERVE to be punished!), but it seemed unconscionable that they would have charged me money, without telling me first and give me an option. I mean really, HOW. DARE. THEY? The money that this would cost me! $400! ARRRGGHH!

For nearly 24 hours, I continued in my anxious, indignant state, until my mom finally told me to call my credit card company and make sure that the $400 pending charge was from the airline. I called the credit card company and was informed that it was merely a holding charge the hotel I had stayed at had put on my card. I would not actually be charged that money.

There would be no punishment whatsoever for my mistake.

Say what you will about the airline industry. I have said most of it myself, particularly when I found myself trapped in the hellish Newark airport. However, I am impressed with a company that says, “Hey, you screwed up? Well, here’s what we’re going to do. I am going to re-arrange my schedule to accommodate for that screw-up. And you know what? I’m not going to charge you a single cent for being such a complete dumbass.”

Thank you, American Airlines, for getting me home, despite the fact that I can’t read a piece of paper.

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On Sunday, I came back from a trip I took to Boston, where I had a wonderful time. It was a mini-reunion with my friends from college, and I immediately felt like no time had passed since the days when I spent nearly all of my conscious hours of these people. I found within myself the person that I was when I lived with those people for three years. All the old dynamics were there, despite the fact that all of us have grown up a little bit more since the last time we saw each other.

Before the trip, I had agonized about whether or not I would still remember how to navigate the T–especially since the MBTA had gone to a fancy Charlie Card system since I had left. How dare Boston update their antiquated T system and expect me to readjust, after two long years of driving a car wherever I need to go?!

But I had no problems whatsoever. As soon as I walked into the airport T station, I said to myself, “I’ve got this shit. Why did I worry?” (The answer is because I am a first-class worrier, and why give up that piece of my identity?) It may have been two years, but Boston was still my city, and I could get to where I needed to go.

My friends and I spent one day on our college campus, Wellesley, which is just outside the city of Boston. I was truthfully a little worried about how I would react to being at Wellesley, because it is a place that represents to me, some of the most pure feelings of belonging and self-worth. I associate Wellesley with the happiest version of myself that I have ever experienced.

When I was getting my graduate degree at BU, trapped in a terrible living situation, and spending as much time as possible at Wellesley with my friends who still technically belonged there, when I had to leave campus, every time, I had an overwhelming urge to throw myself down on the ground, right there in the snow and dirt, and refuse to ever leave that spot.

But Wellesley, just as with Boston, and just as with my friends, it felt like I had never left. And when it was time to go, I didn’t feel like I needed to throw myself onto the ground and absorb the soil of that place into my skin, so that I could never be separated from it. It didn’t feel like I had ever left Wellesley. It felt like I continuum of where I had been and where I would continue to be. I mean, I actually took a nap in the student center. I can’t think of another public place where I’d feel completely comfortable and justified in sitting my ass down on a couch, putting my feet up on a table, and falling asleep.

My time in Boston and at Wellesley was incredibly comforting to me, because it told me that I could go away for years, and then come back, and I could still feel like I belonged there. Boston, and Wellesley especially, will always be a little bit of my home. This trip made me feel like I can go away, and I can come back, and it will all still be there waiting for me. That part of my life isn’t as over as I had thought it was. It’s still there, and I can have it back when I need it again.

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