Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So Small

"So Small" - Carrie Underwood

This post has been started and left unfinished so many times in the past week.
Like, last week, when I snuck quietly out of bed to write, only to find myself wanting to be tucked right back under the covers close to my husband.
Or like last Friday, when I sat in a Cincinnati airport restaurant, sipping a celebratory diet coke,
waiting for my lunch...

When all of the sudden, my boring layover became not so boring
 with an hour long evacuation due to nearby tornadoes.
It was my first time flying alone.
When Steve and I said our goodbyes at the security gate, I was whimpering like a baby.
It wasn't being far away from one another I was scared of.
Or the flight that frightened me.

I'm horrible when it comes to directions.  
Absolutely atrocious.

And I guess the fear and "what if" of it all was...
What if I don't find my way?

Steve and I waved to each other as I made my way through the long line.  Within ten minutes, I was calling him with good news.  He was right. It would be way easier than I thought.  It wouldn't be as confusing as I imagined.

And, I would find my way.

The evacuation didn't startle me too much. They assured us we were safe.  Of course, I wondered what I'd do if my flight was canceled.  And was worried because my phone cut out in the midst of my frantic phone calls to Steve and my friend.
After all, I was so close to truly taking on this adventure...
 About to do something crazy...
I was hours away from flying across the country to meet my friend, Aleisha,  in Utah.

I met her here.
In this sweet little blog land.
Last summer.
We clicked. We shared stories. We shared laughs.
We emailed. We texted. We chatted on the phone. We skyped (another first for me).
We talked about meeting and how totally awesome it would be, even if it seemed like we were just daydreaming.
We squealed like little girls, when Steve found a great deal on a last minute flight.

And on Friday night, after one hell of a day, as I was coming down the escalator...
There at the bottom, was Aleisha. Full of life. Spunky and beautiful,
with her homemade "Welcome to Utah, Tacohead" sign.

She skipped and danced her way towards me.
She proudly held up her sign as everyone watched us laugh and scream.

I snapped a quick photo of the amazingly sweet and hilarious sign that she and her daugher, Lilly, made - complete with an animal print cutout of Utah and a lounging cartoon taco.
And then we hugged and jumped and screamed some more.
We didn't care how obnoxious we looked.
It was such a rush...
A *Wow...I'm really here...this is really happening.*

Before we left, a man in a suit, with a thick accent asked us how long it has been since we've seen each other.
His face and reply when I said, "never" is one we will always remember.

There's so much I want to write about...
All that I learned...
All that I saw...
All that I loved...

I loved her idea of getting Taco Bell at 1 in the morning for 2 $5 boxes...
Sitting at her kitchen table talking as if we'd known each other for years.
Meeting her sweet and funny husband who introduced me to THIS video.

I loved the mountains.  No, I'm in love with them.
The snow.  The feeling of being somewhere so different but feeling so comfortable.

I loved the gorgeous drive to Park City.

I loved her sweet babes, Lilly, and Camren. 
Lilly asked if I would sit next to her each time we were in the car.  How could I say no?
She loves having her picture taken.  She's my kinda gal.  This is 1 out of 283.

She is a fan of funny faces.
Reminds me of a mini Mira Sorvino.
And she can rap for 20 minutes straight about mountains, wiggling and pretty hair.

I loved Park City and all it had to offer.
I couldn't stop proclaiming my love for it.

I loved the colorful line of endless shops and restaurants. 

I don't love yetis.  But, I loved this shirt.

Buffalo loves Aleisha.

Cowboy Camren

I loved our soup and salad lunch at this cute Western spot.

I love this picture.

and this one...

And, yep, definitely this one.

I loved their tiny pup, Sally. She was a sweetheart and full of pep. 
I wanted to stuff her in my bag and take her home with me.
Hello, from Utah, peeps!

I loved visiting Sweet Afton's.
And being surrounded with sugary treats in the company of these two ladies.

I loved their wall of buckets
 filled with bright and pretty taffy.  With flavors like,
chocolate chip cookie
chilli mango
and pina colada.

I loved watching Lilly make the most of her 5 bucks.

I loved our girls' night in Gardner Village.
The way the sky lit up with all the white lights.
The fresh air and mountains by our side.
The perfect shop we found to ohh and ahh over things for a good hour.

I loved these three guys...
who quacked their way on over to us.
I wanted to take them home with me too.

I loved Smashburger.
It was everything Aleisha said it would be.
The rosemary fries. The awesome burger with extra pickles.  The fizzy soda.

I love this girl.

I loved letting time get away from us as we chatted away, sharing loud and animated stories.

I loved the charming cupcake shop she introduced me to.
With a name like, "The Sweet Toothfairy,"
I knew I'd fall instantly in love.

Whatcha eyein' up there, Aleisha?

I loved the brotherly and sisterly love between these two.

I loved our trip into Salt Lake City.
All the detail and beauty in the buildings...
The blue skies and warm weather...

The churches and temple were stunning.
So much that you couldn't help but just stand and stare.

I love these people.
They showed me more than they know.

I love that Lilly asked to hold hands.
And how she refused to let go the whole day.

I loved the Cathedral of the Madeline.
It was breathtaking.
And it was 4 o'clock when we decided to crash the beginning of mass.

Looking through the glass doors weren't good enough for us.
Aleisha walked us right on and in. And in seconds, bajillions of people were kneeling in prayer while we stood and clung to one another, nervously laughing and sweating.

Was it worth it?


My sneaky photo turned out to be one of the ceiling, so I improvised with a few more sneaky shots.

I loved our long and scenic drive to Logan to visit Aleisha's family.
My eyes were glued to every bit of it.

I loved Aleisha's parents...so welcoming and kind.  They were funny and witty and awesome.
Her Mom put out chocolate chip pumpkin bread during dinner and her dad made us brownie sundaes.
(and her dad is hot.)
 That's to make you laugh, Aleisha! LOL

I loved staying up until 2/2:30 talking and laughing.
And still, waking up rested.

I loved Utah. 

But, not as much as I love this girl.

We didn't love saying goodbye.

We were doing fine until a sweet girl asked if we wanted a picture.

We hugged tightly one more time, crying and waving as I walked towards the security line.
I wiped my tears, looked back and smiled.
I was wiping different tears than the ones I did just three days prior in Philadelphia.

I wasn't scared.  There wasn't an ounce of fear. 

I found my way

And damn, am I ever so grateful I did.

I gazed out the window as the plane took off and felt such a rush again.
Such satisfaction.  Such emotion.  Such thanks.

These past few years have been full of surprises.  Welcomed or not.
And this...
This was such a truly beautiful experience.  An opportunity I'm so happy I took.

If I've learned one thing in this life...
It's that love does make you do crazy things.

Crazy is good.
Crazy isn't as crazy as you think it is.
Crazy got me to where I am at this very moment.
And I'm so happy I'm here.

I could say I left my heart in Utah.  I could say I left it so many places. Your heart can be so many places at once. That's the beauty in it all...
The beauty of finding your way.

With writing that, my next post is already brewing.

I got off the plane to this guy.
He made me cry.
(is it me, or am I always crying?!)

And, I came home to this guy standing proudly by the door.
Ready to greet me.
Ready for treats.

After a very late dinner with Steve,
I sunk into my favorite spot on the couch and
lit my "Welcome to Utah candle" from Aleisha.
Muffin and I watched it flicker and light up the dark corner.
I looked through my photos and gave thanks one more time before I said good night.

I will leave with these two words...as they mean so much to me at this very time in my life.
I picked up this piece in that "ohh and ahh" shop in Utah.

My next post might be a doozy. :)

Brave Lovin',


Kelly @ Stay at Home Trader said...

Oh my gosh, Maria! I am bawling like a baby! 1) Because I can't believe you got to take such an incredible trip 2) You got to meet our ever adored Aleisha (and her amazing family) 3) The pic of Steve with the flowers.... ahhhh!!!

I NEVER IMAGINED IN MY LIFE that Utah would be so absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!! I never really "got" why people loved it so (sorry Mama Leisha!). I thought it was all deserty. I am so taken back by the absolute beauty of the mountains, the shops, the scenery, the churches....amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am blown away at how Aleisha brought you into her home, and took you to all her favorite places. Her family is BEAUTIFUL! And I can see that she is just as wonderful as you and I had imagined! MAYBE EVEN SOOO MUCH BETTER!!!!!

You so deserved this trip, Maria. I think it did something beautiful for your soul, and maybe for Aleisha too!

I am so happy you got away, and got to do something completely spontaneous, and fun!

I can't wait to talk to you and hear all about it. The pictures are absolutely breath taking!!! I am actually at a loss for words for how completely beautiful Utah is!!! And how freaking amazing Aleisha is!!!!!!

Love ya so much, and so happy for you getting to take this trip!



Unknown said...

What a wonderful post! It looks like you had a wonderful time!! I'm so happy for you! I did get a little teary eyed though when I saw the picture of Steve with the flowers!! I just love you!! So glad you had fun! Thanks for letting us share a little of it with you!! xoxo

Nicole said...

I loved reading this and all of your pictures are amazing, you soooo deserved such a beautiful trip and I'm happy to hear life is treating you well. Thinking of you :)

Moosey Mommy said...

Aww, I am so glad you had a fabulous time!! We drove through Salt Lake City over the summer, and it was so beautiful! You totally NEEDED to eat at In-n-Out Burger though! LOL

Irish Carter of Dedicated 2 LIFE said...

What an inspiring post. I am so happy you got to meet a true online friend. How SWEET! Utah is beautiful and the two of you sparkled like the snow there. What a truly awesome post. I loved every single bit and part of the story. Congrats.


V said...

So this is where you've been! Looks like you had an amazing trip! I love all the pictures :) you guys look like friends who've known each other forever!
To answer your question we are not "too far" from the falls, not too close but it's a drive we did regularly pre baby. Not sure how often we'll do it now lol I'll msg you on facebook tho and explain better ;)

Carlia said...

i am SO excited for you to have met, IRL, your friend! that is so awesome! i wish i had a connection like that with someone in the IF cyberworld. oh, and i'm totally jealous that you got to go to utah. that's where my husband is from, where we met, and where we used to live (still own a house there). we even honeymooned in park city! i completely understand your love of the mountains. i miss them so much! anyway, SO happy for you and that you made it there and back safely. what a wonderful experience for you! thanks for sharing. :)

Kerstin@TheRealHousewivesofIdaho.blogspot.com said...

You look like you could be long lost sisters!!!! It kills me that you were so close to me! Well, 5 hours, but still! We have a time share in Park City, love that place! So glad you got away!!!

Brittany said...

Oh Maria, I could write pages on this post! I loooooove Utah! I spent three months there is '09-'10 working for the Sundance Film Festival. I lived in Salt Lake and worked up in Park City, so many of your pictures are familiar to me. Isn't it just beautiful?! And the people are so incredibly kind. I miss it every day. How wonderful that you got to spend time with Aleisha....that made my heart happy! And Steve is SUCH a sweetie. Flowers are always a day-maker :). So glad you had a safe, amazing trip!!

Cami said...

I adored this post. SO MUCH. What a beautiful story - with beautiful photos. I'm so happy you had such a brilliant time - you deserve that and needed it <3
I'm so happy that you were safe, too!!

Adore your little vacation :)

Kerry said...

Maria! I am sitting here in tears, trying to read your words. When you answered that man's question about how long it's been since you've seen each other with 'never', my tears flowed down my cheeks. How can I, halfway across the world, feel such emotion about two people I have never met, coming together for the first time with a friendship that was obviously so meant to be?
I'll tell you how...because as you said, and it's so true, "your heart can be in so many places at once. THAT IS the beauty of it".
Your weekend sounds amazing, your time together you will always cherish. Your pictures are beautiful and I really felt like I was there with you both :) Utah certainly looks like a great place and what a gorgeous family Aleisha has, right? I can only imagine the fun you two beautiful ladies had, you definately did find your way!!
And what a loving husband to greet you with flowers and a smile. You are blessed my friend, i luv you xoxoxox

She Calls Me Mama Leisha said...

Hip hip hooray! This post made my day! It was beautiful in every way! HA HA!!! (Imagine Lilly rapping that. LOL! What the heck? She was crazy that night! Hopped up on some of Grandma's magical pumpkin bread, I guess.) And speaking of my parents, that pic of them is so stinkin' cute. It's very sweet.

AAAAHHHH!!! I loved this post! I loved looking at all the pictures too, and remembering. It got me all choked up. I've been in a bit of a fog since you left--part of me can't believe you were really here, part of me is sad it went by so quickly, and the other part of me is a little glum. I miss you already! (And yes, I have already looked up flights to PA in June. $583! YIKES! I'll keep watching!)

SO, SO happy to hear that you loved Utah and Park City and our mountains, etc, etc, etc. Kelly's comment was cracking me up about Utah being all deserty and wondering why people loved it so. WHAT THE HECK, KELLY!?! YOU COME HERE AND I WILL PROVE YOU WRONG! HA HA HA HA!!

I wore my little ring I bought with you and thought of you today. I wasn't joking when I said that whenever I wear it I will think of you and saw a little prayer for you! Thank you again for coming to Utah. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for being kind and generous to my family. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for all the fun and the memories. Thank you for "rolling with the punches," as my kids can be a bit nuts and it can be hard to hang with my crazy fam. You were great! LOVE YOU FOREVER, GIRL!

She Calls Me Mama Leisha said...

P.S. The pic of my parents is kind of funny too, because it looks like my mom has one leg! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

Misterio Vida said...

absolue beautiful pics...and the kids are super cute :) liked it... have a nice week..

Ashley said...

Maria, what a beautiful post! Seriously amazing. You have such a wonderful way with words and make me feel as though I am there. I loved what you said about that man asking when was the last time you saw each other!

How wonderful to have made such a connection with someone and then getting to meet!

I spent about a day in Utah when I was passing through and those temples are breathtaking! I would love to go back and spend more time there. Seems like such a beautiful place!
Wishing you lots of love and a happy week!!

Ashley said...

Maria, what a beautiful post! Seriously amazing. You have such a wonderful way with words and make me feel as though I am there. I loved what you said about that man asking when was the last time you saw each other!

How wonderful to have made such a connection with someone and then getting to meet!

I spent about a day in Utah when I was passing through and those temples are breathtaking! I would love to go back and spend more time there. Seems like such a beautiful place!
Wishing you lots of love and a happy week!!

waitingforarainbow said...

Maria you're so fun! I love that you go on so many adventures!! This story is incredibly awesome, and I think it needs to be shared with the world so thank you for sharing. Did you take cammy with you on this trip?? every picture is breath taking! I felt like I was right there with you. I love all of the love and happiness in this post, and I'm glad you had such a fantastic time. :) As soon as I saw the pictures of her skipping toward you, I knew this was going to be a super awesome post!!!
Thank you for your comments. I'm seriously going to take you up on those emails. I sit up late a lot with my thoughts, and could really use my vampire sister :)

waitingforarainbow said...

Oh, and the picture of Steve with the flowers is too cute. What a perfect way to be welcomed home. :)

Maria said...

Wow! What a beautiful trip! I love all of your pictures and more than anything else... Be Brave. Looking forward to coming out from under my rock and catching up with you!

M said...

So glad to hear that you had such an amazing time! The pictures are amazing...feels like I was there with you. And that camera...I might just need one ;)

And I know what you mean about worrying about every little thing, no matter how small. Sometimes you just need to stop, realize things aren't so bad...and that you WILL make it through!

Unknown said...

Hello there Maria,
I hope you are fine. It sure is wonderful to meet someone for the first time and everything goes so well. I can see that you had a whale of a time with Aleisha and her family. Wow! There are such breathtaking places to see and visit in Utah. All the pictures are beautiful! A wonderful post as always. Take very good care of yourself and Lots of Love, Friendship and Best Wishes to you.

Stephanie said...

Ahh, I've missed you! I'm glad you're "back". :)

How AWESOME that you've met such a great friend in blog land! Seriously -- that is SO cool and I'm so glad you had such a great experience. Utah looks BEAUTIFUL and I LOVE all of your pictures!

It sounds like you had a great experience -- life changing, even! I'm so happy for you and that you were able to enjoy such a great, eye opening time. The way your write about it makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time -- I'm just happy for you! :)

...and I can't wait to read that "doozie" of a next post! :)

Hope you're having a good week! <3

Unknown said...

That is so cool that you were able to met a bloggyland friend:)) Looks like you had an amazing time. And your pictures are AWESOME! I love the way you write and express yourself, such a great post but I don't like the last sentence...I hope its not too bad. So happy you were able to get away for a couple days.

Kari said...

Great post, my dear!! Sorry you had such an eventful pre-flight. Those tornadoes were CRAY-ZEE. (P.S. When you were at the Cincy airport we were only 40 minutes away from each other!!)

Love all the pictures!! Hope things are going well for you and Steve!!

Our Journey Through This Lovely Life said...

Maria! What an amazing story about an amazing friend and your trip to meet her! I love the part about the guy in the dark suit asking how long it had been since you had seen each other! Never! That made me cry! It's such a lovely story! & I love love love all the pictures! you have such a beautiful heart! Have a great end of the week!

Anonymous said...

Well my goodness! I have goose bumps traveling up my arms, honest to pete. This is what you needed and more. You sound completely refreshed and ready to take on what lies ahead. I love the song you choose to place with this post. One of her best in my humble opinion and on constant play around here. You sound great & I am so happy for you. Huggers. Tammy

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Oh my goodness- I got tears in my eyes. I am so happy for you! I would love to meet you one day and I truly believe it will happen! Sorry to hear about the tornadoes but so glad you got the trip off after the initial scare. I just love your posts- I look forward to them every time one comes up! They give me goosebumps and make tear at the same time. Not sure any other blogger can do that to me! xoxo

Danielle said...

Glad you had a safe and fun trip, although, your dad was worried sick and basically begged me to text. : ) Everything looks beautiful in Utah, next time, im coming with! I still dont know how you didnt poop your pants in the airport basement. Oh and BTW, who doesnt LOVE YETIS???

lovejoy_31 said...

Beautiful pics and beautiful trip. I am so glad that you actually got to meet a bloggy friend in person. Once again, it is truly amazing and almost indescribeable how close you can become to someone you have never actually "met"

Heather Nelsen said...

Oh my goodness! What a great post! I'm so glad you were brave and made the trip! And my, you are becoming quite the photographer! ;) I loved all of your pictures! What a visit. Hope you have a great rest of your week!!

JP said...

Such a loving and wonderful post. I recently returned from Utah. Salt Lake City, specifically. My SIL is starting a new job in Park City next week. I can't wait to go visit them again when there is snow on the ground.
I know there's a lot of water under the bridge since this post, but I still love it.

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