Farmfest, family, and intimate moments with a storage locker

My flight left LAX around midnight, and I got into Boston in late morning. Rob picked me up at the airport with my car (thank you, Rob!) and after a shower in Harvard Square and lunch with Justin (a somewhat unexciting bowl of pho), I hit the road for Andover (well, Lawrence) to renew my driver’s license, which I was unable to do online. Apparently they needed to do a vision check. It was all very exciting.

Then I stopped by and say hello to friends Chad and Kathryn who I met in Cape Town, and who just happened to be in the state for the weekend. They were staying in a house right by the Andover campus that I used to walk by sometimes when I worked in town there at Exit41. It was a super fun visit: we got to catch up a bit, talk about the Games, news at CCF and with the people there, and talk about their upcoming move to St Paul’s. I really cannot wait to hear what it’s like for them to work and live there. There may even have been a cookie or two involved.

Speaking of Exit41, my ex-co-worker Claudia was throwing a reunion of old co-workers because she happened to be moving on to a new job after something like 8 years at Exit41. As this was on the evening that I was in town I stopped by and I am so glad I did because I got to see some people that I hadn’t seen in years, as well as meet the new CEO and his wife. It was interesting to talk about the challenges they’ve had in the time since I left but it also reiterated in my head how very much over working there I am. It’s in the past. Fascinating how something that can be so absorbing and that can make you so miserable can a few years later generate little or no emotional response whatsoever (I remember maybe May or so of 2009 when my frustrations with Exit41 literally led me to drinking to excess on a couple occasions).

Sadly I had to leave there earlier than I would have liked because I had a 3-hour drive up to J’s place in Vermont, where a party was taking place the next day (and informally starting that evening). But mainly I wanted to make sure I got where I was going for the night safely, because I was quite tired. Having safely arrived, I got to meet the infamous brother Troy and I’m not sure I remember too much else of what happened that night. I do seem to recall not being terribly mobile because my leg was hurting.

The next morning J, Troy, and I did a workout. I modified the workout because I was unable to grab onto the top of the swingset for pullups (my hands are too small is my excuse), so I subbed handstand pushups. 10 rounds of 10 pushups, 10 situps, run to fence, 3 handstand pushups. 16:44.

Then the day got much more exciting. This bumble bee had been flying around and landing on people. It landed on one guy’s head, another guy’s nose, etc all without incident. So when it landed on my bright purple Reebok sports bra I didn’t think much of it. Until about 1 second later when the thing stung me! Apparently you are not supposed to wear bright colours around bees. The pain wasn’t that bad and I was laughing about it and put some ice on the sting then I went outside to drink from my water bottle. Feeling a bee inside my mouth I spat out all over the floor (much to the amusement of the crowd).

Now I wish this were the end of the story but it actually isn’t. Apparently I’m somewhat allergic because over the next few hours I began to swell up like a balloon. Even when showering an hour after the bee sting, my normal t-shirt size felt too tight so I had put on the next size up. Not to belabour the point but it was actually pretty awful: literally all my joints swelled, including all of my hands and feet and I was drinking a lot of water because at first I assumed the swelling was from the airplane + some alcohol, and in the end I wound up gaining something like 10+ pounds of water weight! I saw some pictures from the weekend and I literally look like another person. That’s enough right there to keep me eating paleo, I tell you what!

But, fun party. We had a variety of outdoor drinking games (I went for the sandbag toss which didn’t involve drinking, but allowed me to test my accuracy pretty decently), a grill on which we burned some sausages and scorched some handmade jalapeno poppers (Lindsay also made 7-layer dip much to my thrill because I hadn’t had any in over a year), and there were some terrific Mexican chocolate cookies. I am still waiting for the recipe so I can paleo-ize them. Later on in the evening one of my best friends from the Boston hash came by, and we got to catch up a bit. I even got roped into playing flip cup which is a team drinking game where you face off across a table and each person drinks some (about a mouthful of beer), then puts the cup on the table facing up (part of the cup extends off the table) and then flip it such that it lands reverse side up. This is trickier than it sounds, but I was actually amazingly good once I got a little practice in: something like 60% of my flips stuck on the first attempt. This is way better than my previous attempts at this game. I thank CrossFit for my increases in accuracy. Better that than dumb luck.

We eventually went to bed when the power went out around 2am. Apparently this wasn’t our fault, but it made for a good story.

This was also the first time that I noticed a change in my friends. When I came back late last year there was a possibility in some people’s minds that I might be moving back. This time, not so much. And that created a bit of a distance in our conversations. Not that I am any less of a friend, but a different sort: the sort you see once a year, not the sort that you are super close to who happens to have been away for a while. Time moves on, people move on. New jobs, moves, and not-entirely-surprising breakups and hook-ups.

The next morning (by this time it was Sunday, you somewhat lose track of days of the week when you’re on vacation) I headed down to my parents place in New Haven. The goal for this part of the trip, in addition to catching up with family, was to clear out my storage locker. Unfortunately, between the fact that I didn’t realize that there was also furniture in it and that I had intended to get a whole half day of sorting in on Sunday but as a result of the bee sting I was ailing, I did not accomplish my goal. But I did manage to go through all of my possessions and sort out the ones I wanted to keep, and drop off the rest for donation. I’d say I donated about 80% by volume, and the remainder of what I kept was books, kitchen equipment, and some clothing. It all fit neatly into my car, along with my suitcases.

So that was a somewhat unpleasant weight to have hanging over me. I did find time to train with J at his CrossFit gym, Champlain Valley CrossFit. The workout was as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of 10 push presses @85 pounds (38kgs), 10 kettlebell swings, and 10 24” box jumps. Now this was a sort of unpleasant workout both because after about 2 rounds the push presses got VERY heavy and I had to keep dropping the weight, and because after about 9 minutes in I was just done. That is unusual for me: usually the difference between 12 and 20 minutes is pretty negligible from a metabolic conditioning (cardio) standpoint. But not today. It all made sense the next morning when I woke up with a sore throat.

It was great to see my family again: mother, father, brother, and aunt. Although I really wish I had had more time with all of them, and that I think we all were distracted by the purpose of my visit. Next time I will take more time, that I really should have done this time around. They seem so far away right now, which is sad.

Sorting through all my possessions was a bit surreal, especially deciding what to keep and what to throw away or give away. There were some tough decisions in there, mostly in things to throw away (childhood journals, for example). You know how when you move or go through a spring cleaning you are very ambitious the first two hours or so, then you just get attached to things and are less rigorous with what you choose to get rid of? Maybe it’s just me.

One of the things that I loved about spending over a year in South Africa is that it is honestly true that if I never saw any of my possessions again, I would be ok with it. There are some things in there that came from my parents that it was important to me that they get back but the removal of attachment was a healthy thing. Of course there is a difference between in theory being ok with not having things and actually going through the act of giving or throwing them away. So actually doing the deed was a bit hectic and there were some moments where I thought well, I could just ask my parents to store this …. But that’s just postponing the inevitable isn’t it? If I didn’t want it enough to take it with me, and I might look at it out of nostalgia once every few years …. Is it really worth taking up the space? Shame about the landfill, but so it goes. Those things served their purpose. It’s time to move on.

• “Wait, can you even drink beer?” – Nelson
• “Instead of ingesting the beer he kinda just spilled it.” – Brian
• “We may have to make you sign a waiver.” – Troy
• “Girls are weird.” “People are weird.” – J & Ellie
• “Well it is a cult, right?” “Yes.” “What?” “Nothing….” – random CrossFit guy, Ellie & coach
• “I was going to tell him: ‘You destroyed my ass yesterday.’ But then I thought about the words that were about to come out of my mouth.” – J
• “I almost went to bed without my fish oil! Yes, I know how that sounds!” – Ellie


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