Tuesday, May 12, 2009

magical memories - J's baby shower

J is one of a group of friends that I made in college. I went to Cal (aka U.C. Berkeley), but because of the student housing shortage, I stayed at a dorm off-campus which was really a dorm building for another college that rented the space out to us Cal students. J was a couple of years younger than me, so when I graduated, she was still at Cal, though she moved to an apartment with other mutual friends.

When J was graduating from Cal, she sent me an invitation to her graduation, and since I'd been making regular visits to Cal anyway, I decided I'd go. I met her parents and her sister and her boyfriend, and she had other friends who also attended her graduation. Her parents hosted a dinner after graduation at a terrific Korean restaurant (J and her family and her boyfriend are all Korean), and I think that was my first introduction to Korean food, which I really liked and still do.

When J went back east for grad school, we stayed in touch, writing letters. Yes, pre-email, at least the home version.

Some time after that, J got engaged and then was getting married in Berkeley, in a rose garden north of campus, and I accepted the invitation she sent. I had a terrific time at the wedding - her mother was dressed in traditional Korean clothing, and the groom's best man was actually a woman - decked out in tails and everything and looking great. I ended up getting lots of great pictures and made an album for them.

Again, some time later, J announced that she was pregnant, and closer to her due date, I got an invitation to her baby shower. My first thought was that I wished I could go, but I'd come home to L.A., and while J's husband's family lived in L.A., J was from Sacramento, and J and her husband had decided to live in San Francisco.

And then I thought about it some more. Why couldn't I go? It wasn't like they were living in the North Pole or another continent or even the other side of the country. They were at most a 6 1/2 to 7 hour car ride away. She was only going to have her first baby once. I was out of college and had a decent job and had started to accumulate some spending money. So I sent word to the friend throwing the shower that I would be attending.

Before I actually made any travel plans to go, though, the friend throwing the shower called me and said the shower was postponed. J was several months away from her due date, but complications in her pregnancy were arising, and she'd been put on strict bed-rest, which she was having a hard time with anyway because she's such an active and outgoing and outdoorsy person. We obviously couldn't have the shower without her, and the extra stress and people and stuff associated with a shower would not be good for her or the baby, so the decision was made to postpone the shower until after the baby was born. That would have the added benefit that we'd actually all get to see the baby.

J suffered through her bed-rest, which required quite a bit of reprimanding from her husband as she really wasn't supposed to get out of bed AT ALL, except maybe to go to the bathroom. However, eventually, she made it through, and she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Once everyone was pronounced well and healthy, plans were made for the rescheduled shower.

The shower was set for a Saturday afternoon, but it was during a time when I really couldn't take any time off work, as I'd planned to take the Friday off to drive up there. So, I decided to splurge, since I had some disposable income anyway. I decided to fly up for the day to go to the shower, which would mean I wouldn't spend any extra money on a hotel room (just the flight itself and parking at the airport and such), and I could go to the shower and not miss any days from work.

The shower was booked for something like 3pm, and I think it was at a teahouse of sorts in San Francisco - I can't remember exactly. I know it wasn't in a home or a full-fledged restaurant. I remember having finger foods, but there were also couches, and it was very homey.

I had booked a 10:30am flight, and with the hour flight, it would get me there in plenty of time. I was flying from Ontario to San Francisco. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit - a subway/metro system, and I'm not even sure if it's still called BART now, since it's been so long since I've been up there) had a train that went from the airport to a couple blocks away from where I needed to go. Perfect.

Since I was only going up for a couple hours, I didn't need a change of clothes. I had on a nice blouse and skirt which were dressy enough for the shower but comfortable to travel in as well. I brought the gift, but even back then, I knew I couldn't bring something wrapped, so I brought all the fixings - gift itself, gift bag, tissue paper, card - that I could assemble once I got there. So all I had with me was a purse and a tote, all as carry-on.

I got to the airport when I needed to and waited. And the flight was delayed half an hour, now not departing until 11am. No biggie for me, I'll just keep reading my book. Others scrambled to the pay phones (pre-cel days, you know) to call people who would be picking them up at the other end to tell them the change in plans.

Then another announcement - flight was delayed another hour, so now, it wasn't going to leave until noon. More panic in the airport, more phone calls to people and being upset that people would now be missing connecting flights and such. I think I was the only person not panicking. I had all kinds of time to spare.

Our flight did finally leave at noon, and I got to the San Francisco airport at about 1pm, and then I took the BART train to the San Francisco stop that I'd mapped out. Originally, I was going to have a couple hours to get something to eat, wander around, put the gift together and kill time before the shower. Because of the flight delays, I didn't have nearly the amount of time I had thought I would. I think I grabbed something to eat once I got there, and then I looked for somewhere I'd be able to put the gift together.

I walked for a bit, and eventually, I found a laundromat with nice big tables for people to fold their clothes. It wasn't very busy at all, so I settled myself at one of the tables, wrapped the gift with the tissue that I'd brought and then put it in the gift bag, wrote out the card and then put it into the bag as well. And by then, it was pretty much time to find the location of the shower.

The tea house was maybe a couple blocks from the laundromat, and when I arrived, most of the guests were already there. I don't remember details of the shower other than that J was really happy to see me and was glad that I'd been able to make it, and I enjoyed being able to meet her daughter, and J's mother spent a lot of time holding her first grandchild, and it was a lovely picture. It would have been lovelier if any of the pictures I'd taken had actually come out, but I wasn't a very good photographer back then, so most of the pictures sucked.

During the shower, I talked to the other people in attendance, and of course, questions arose about how everyone knew J, and when I mentioned that I'd gone to Cal, I was asked if I still lived locally, and I said that no, that I'd gone home to L.A. and was just in the area for the shower. They asked when I'd arrived, and I said a couple hours ago. They asked when I was leaving, and I said later that evening. Most were surprised that I had literally just come up for the day to go to the shower, and I explained the whole "too bad I can't go/wait, why can't I go?" thought process that I'd gone through. And really, the slight expense was really worth the whole trip and being able to see J and her family and the new baby.

The shower ended probably around 6pm, and I had booked a late flight to make sure I'd have plenty of time, so I think I had something like a 9pm flight. I was one of the last people to leave, and J had eventually learned about my travelling up for the shower. She thanked me for coming, and she and her husband (and of course their little baby) ended up taking me to the BART stop so that I wouldn't have to walk.

I took the BART back down to the airport, waited a bit for my flight, and made it home just fine.

J and her husband came down for the wedding when I got married, and they have two daughters now. We keep in touch mostly at Christmas time through cards/letters.

Most of what I remember from that day is just the journey itself, how relaxing it was, even with the setbacks, how much fun I had meeting everyone and just being at the shower and seeing the joy on the faces of J and her sister and her mother and everyone there. And it probably sounds stupid, but the fact that I was actually flying up for the day to attend the shower was huge. I've subsequently driven and/or flown to other cities and states to attend weddings, but this was the first time I attended an event by flying to it, and at the time, it was a big deal to me. And all worth it because I still have the picture in my mind of J's mother smiling down lovingly at her granddaughter in her arms.

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