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Happy New Year 2017 - The Literary Exhibitionist
Happy New Year 2017

Hey, guess what? This past weekend yielded my second-largest New Year's photo set! At 57 shots, it's only 2 shots less than the 59 shots I got for when we rang in 2008. That was the year Gina and her then-boyfriend Eric, and Brandi and her then-boyfriend David all came up from Olympia, and even Eric's best friend Andy came over to our place. We all watched the fireworks that one year from the roof of our condo complex. That was our first New Year's since moving in October 2007, actually, and I figured out after that that I would always want to be closer than the 2 miles away that the view is from up there. Although last year I did still watch from Capitol Hill; I just walked down to watch from Melrose Avenue right by the freeway -- still over a mile away but much closer than my building.

Every other year I've been in Seattle, I've either gone down to Seattle Center or to a place very close by. Such was the case this year, the first New Year I was able to ring in from the comfort of my office's indoor, fifth-floor location. That made it easily one of the best and most enjoyable. But, I'm getting ahead of myself!

Because this was an unusually whirlwind New Year's weekend, starting with dinner at Shobhit's cousin Abhishek's, and Abhishek's wife Vinaya's, house in Bothell. They wanted us to get together over the holidays, and now that Shobhit is back in Seattle permanently, we're all vowing to get together more often than just once or twice a year.

Vinaya is from the South Indian state of Kerala, so she specializes in South Indian dishes -- which are distinct from the North Indian dishes that Shobhit specializes in, so that actually works rather well. She made several dishes, one of which was actually pineapple-based -- a very new one for me for any kind of Indian dish, and it was great. Although her sambar was my favorite of the dishes she made. It was delicious.

Their daughters, Nikita and Ishita, have grown up quite a bit in the years we have known them; Nikita is now fourteen! It occurred to me that she'll be an adult and off to college before I even know what hit me. I can't remember exactly how old Ishita is now . . . ten, maybe?

They have neighbors they are apparently close friends with who came over, sans the husband/father who was apparently working. I can't remember the woman's name, but she was nice enough; she brought her two children over too. So it was all nine of us there for dinner. The kids had made what we had for dessert, some simple yet spectacularly delicious recipe involving an Oreo cookie crust and added berries and syrups and whipped cream. It was much more Western than anything else we ate; they did also have carrot "halwa" -- a carrot-based dessert that I've never been crazy about. I did have a small portion, but still: adding sugar to carrots has never made sense to me.

I spent a fair amount of time watching Shobhit that evening, and to me, he seemed to be in his element. I really appreciate that he has at least his cousin (technically, Abhishek's late father was Shobhit's mom's cousin, but Abhishek was born the same year I was, making him only three years younger than Shobhit) around to give him some family to spend time with locally. He's much more relaxed with them, I think, although he did ask me at the end of the night as we were leaving if he had talked too much. What? No, he was fine. He kind of held court for some of the time but that was fine, and I do feel like I'm relatively practiced at seeing when people are annoyed with or tired of him. There was none of that at Abhishek's house, as they all seemed perfectly pleased to have him, and also me, there.

I often find myself acutely conscious of the fact that I am the only white person present when we visit all-South Asian environments associated with Shobhit, which is relatively rare but does happen. Their neighbors were all South Asian too. I feel like it gives me an experience that is rather rare for most white Americans, or at least the ones in the whiter areas of the country (like, say, Seattle) -- unless, of course, like me they are partnered with someone who is not white. Mixed race couples, I'm sure, have a wide variety of experiences and even most of them are likely more often than not in more diverse environments and thus rarely the only white person present. But it happens occasionally. I always find myself thinking about it when it happens.

And: someone was vacuuming upstairs when we got there -- a housekeeper that Abhishek and Vinaya and the visiting neighbor and also another nearby neighbor all apparently share. I can't remember her name; she wasn't really introduced, even though Vinaya told us she's worked for them for so long "she's like family now." She did pipe in a couple of times from the kitchen where she was cleaning during our conversations. She even hand washed every single dish we used for both dinner and dessert. She was a relatively short and thin white woman with long blonde hair, which of course would rarely be relevant, especially since most of us already know plenty of white people who clean houses for a living. (Some of them, and these would be nutcases to my way of thinking, actually enjoy it.) I just found it an interesting reversal of the stereotypical image of upper-middle-class families and "the help" -- in this case being a white woman cleaning for brown people. Granted, people of Indian descent are more likely to be earning from higher tax brackets than other minorities in America, but the picture is still a reversal of the stereotype. This is especially the case when you consider what's usually portrayed on television and in movies.

Mind you, I'm writing much more about it here than I spent actual time thinking about it on Friday. All I'm saying is it's something I always notice, but I only thought about it briefly. I spent more time thinking -- and talking -- about things like what we all do for a living (they all dutifully asked what I do and/or how my job at PCC is going, even though was the only one there who did not have an IT job and probably only the children there made less than I do) or how fantastic the food was. It was a very pleasant visit; Shobhit was very pleasant as well; and it was just a nice evening overall.

Saturday was New Year's Eve, and as soon as early evening began, heralded the arrival of three (technically) out-of-town guests: Dad and Sherri came up from Olympia, and they arrived not long before Danielle came via Light Rail, direct from SeaTac Airport after returning from a several-day trip to Spokane. (She lives in Renton, which as far as the rest of America is concerned is Seattle, but hey -- suburb or not, it's still its own incorporated city, which makes her from out of town too!) I stayed with Dad and Sherri while Shobhit walked to the Capitol Hill Light Rail station to meet with Danielle, and walk with her three bags (one had a bunch of presents that had been given to her, I guess) back to the condo.

Something rather odd happened with Ivan. I had invited him to join us for dinner and also for the fireworks at my office, but I think now even though in both cases he initially said, "Well all right," perhaps he really never intended to actually come, perhaps being uncomfortable going out with several people he didn't know. Ivan is a peculiar guy (who I still usually find delightful to be around), mostly due to his having Asperger's. I think maybe for some reason in this case he just didn't know how to turn me down, accepted the invitation at the beginning and intended to back out at the last minute for whatever reason. He even left for a while in the early evening, asked when dinner was, and said he would meet us there. He probably never would have met us there; wherever he went, I think, ended earlier than he expected and he wound up back at our place before we left. Sherri felt like she made a wrong first impression when she left his bathroom and quipped, "I think somebody is as OCD as Matthew!" -- because of how neatly his stuff is arranged in straight rows on the bathroom counter. Ivan was just coming in the front door when she came out and said that; he did respond to her that "I'm probably more so, actually." (And trust me, he's right about that.)

But, as truly pleasant and even warm as I usually find Ivan to be around, at that moment he seemed to be in a bad mood. Shobhit asked if he was coming to dinner while Ivan was literally starting to prepare his own dinner, and he said, "I don't think so." Shobhit said we were going to offer to pay for his dinner (not sure that was necessary) and Ivan just kept offering pretty short "No"s that were rather apathetic in tone. At first I was convinced that wherever he had gone had something associated with it that had brought him down. I assured Sherri that it wasn't her and I was sure whatever his problem was had to do with something different. But then, after we all returned from dinner, Dad and Sherri went back to their room for a failed attempt at a nap, and when Danielle and Shobhit and I returned to the condo, Ivan was back to his usually friendly self again. He was planning to have a friend over to watch a movie, and he was in the middle of vacuuming. He even smiled when he chased Shanti a little with the vacuum cleaner; chatted with us in a very friendly way when he was done; and petted Shanti while she was laying in my lap.

But then Dad and Sherri were in the condo again yesterday while Ivan was making himself his brunch, and Ivan was right back to the standoffishness that he'd had when Dad and Sherri were over the previous evening. So now I have a new theory -- and I could be wildly off base but I'm going to theorize anyway: maybe he just has a weird issue with parental figures in general? If this is the case, it would be neither Dad and Sherri's fault nor Ivan's fault, really; I know he has a significantly strained relationship with his own, deeply religious and conservative parents (his dad is a professor at a Christian college and they keep sending him overtly religious cards and tracts that they know very well would be lost on him). I know from experience that he would emotionally retreat from me asking if I am anywhere near right about this theory, so I likely won't ever bother. I may just decide that was it, even though I might be wrong.

It may make Sherri feel slightly better, at the very least, to hear that at one point I did tell him that Sherri was afraid she had offended him, and when he said, "Why?" he genuinely seemed not to have any idea what I was even talking about. I mentioned the OCD comment she had made and he just said, "Oh, no [I wasn't offended]." It's too bad, though, that when they left the final time yesterday and Ivan was eating at the table, Sherri told him "It was nice to meet you, Ivan," although he did reply with, "It was nice to meet you too," it was almost curiously deadpan and emotionless in tone and he didn't even look up from his phone when he said it -- just as he had whenever he or I asked what he was making because it smelled so good: always offering a response, but rather dispassionately.

He clearly has no reason to dislike my parents, and I truly don't think he thinks about them one way or the other. I think he just doesn't know how to engage with parents generally. I really, really like Ivan so I am just prone to coming to his defense; I just hope this offers some illumination and thus at least a possible explanation for Sherri. (Ivan once told me he is usually rude to people, which I found hard to imagine because he was always so warm, kind and pleasant to me. This was when he lived with me in 2014, and he said at the time, "Well, that's because I live with you and I like you." I think now I've gotten a taste of the Ivan that exists around people he hasn't had a chance to decide he likes. Come to think of it, my theory about his perhaps just retreating from parental figures could also explain why he never did use the gift card I gave him to the Shipwreck Café while he lived in Olympia, which he confessed to me last week.)

Okay, enough about that. Dinner on Saturday evening was at The Elysian Brewery, at Shobhit's suggestion. We already agreed we could cover everyone's dinner, but I was a little annoyed that he ordered three starters in addition to the entrees we all ordered. It was a shit ton of food. Not that we had any problem consuming it all, mind you. Still, we could have done without at least one of those starters. Shobhit's thought process was his memory of coming there regularly with classmates at the Acting Conservatory back in the day. But, apparently the Elysian is under new corporate ownership and the starters aren't as good as they once were -- at least the nachos weren't. The pita platter with Kalamata olives was still pretty great, and the flatbread pizza was spectacular. My falafel sliders were merely decent, but Sherri said her butternut squash penne was excellent, so I do want to go back one day just for that.

I might have liked to take a nap myself, after we all got back from dinner two and a half blocks away and Dad and Sherri had gone back to the guest room to make their attempt at it. But, we still had Danielle over, who wasn't all that thrilled about us all just killing time silently in our living room. Danielle said, "Can we play a game?" Shobhit suggested Yahtzee or Cribbage but Danielle didn't want to have to do math, so she suggested Cards Against Humanity, and that's what we played -- although playing with three people is far from ideal. I think Ivan would enjoy it if he'd have been open to joining us, but when I invited him to the exchange was quick and to the point:

Hey, Ivan?
You want to play Cards Against Humanity?

Well, all right then! Danielle and Shobhit and I still had a pretty good time on our own, at least until Dad texted me that they were ready to go. They were on their way up but the three of us got ready to go and wound up meeting them right at the elevator, so they just turned right back around and got back in.

The whole impetus for this visit from Dad and Sherri was when Dad told me some months ago that they had been thinking of doing something different for New Year's this year, and considering coming to Seattle, and when I mentioned the availability of the guest room, that pretty much sealed the deal. Seattle has insanely high hotel tax rates and the last time they stayed at a hotel at which the taxes and fees jacked up the list price by a huge percent, he decided he'd never stay in Seattle again. But that was before he found out he could just send me a check for $65 to stay in our guest room, which does provide towels and a bed with linens on it (and our building apparently even hires a cleaner, although Dad said that after wiping the baseboard's dust, it could really use a deep cleaning), and there are no added fees or taxes tacked onto that. He mentioned more than once what a reasonable price it was, even for a pretty small room with just the bed, a closet, and a bathroom. (It did also include a dresser with a TV on it, a coffee pot -- albeit with no cups anywhere apparently; they had to swipe some from the community kitchen -- and even a mini refrigerator.) Sherri said, "All we're doing here is sleeping," which is a fair point. Splurging on hotel costs rarely makes sense. Although I do prefer to actually be on the Strip whenever I go to Vegas; there are always considerations like that.

Dad and Sherri really did seem to have a good time -- kind of a blast, actually. I even had to write in my email photo digest from this morning how it hit me while looking through the photos (as always, click either the photo at the top or the photo at the bottom of this entry to be taken to the full photo set, complete with captions -- many of which are pasted from said email photo digest -- on Flickr) that they even really look in the pictures like they're having a great time, a realization that genuinely warmed my heart. I genuinely feel like this weekend was the makings of some long-lasting wonderful memories for all of us.

Because, of course, the other part of the deal was taking them down to the office on the waterfront, so we could watch the fireworks from the comfort of a 5th-floor indoor location with a few of the top two thirds of the Space Needle, away from any cold, rain, or crowds. Not even a crowd of coworkers, this year at least: my email photo digest may convince some more people to come down next year, I suppose, but there was literally no one else here on Saturday night. I was honestly surprised and figured there could be at least one or two others. Sara W did tell me this morning that she and her son had gone to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra show at Key Arena that night, which she called one of the best shows she's ever seen, and it let out only fifteen minutes before midnight. She considered coming down to the office from there, although now that I think about it I'm not sure she even would have made it down from there in fifteen minutes, and in any case they decided to head home in an attempt to beat the crazy traffic.

But us? We were here maybe 45 minutes before midnight, and Sherri and especially Dad spent some time happily exploring the office space; they were both especially impressed with the skyline view from our deck. In fact, when Sherri stepped out, she immediately exclaimed, "Oh Matthew, this is so neat! It takes your breath away!" Indeed. Imagine getting to see it every day!

Shobhit kept wanting me to turn the lights off earlier than necessary, but I waited until around 11:55 -- you know, so we could actually see where the hell we were going until then. And then, as you can see from the video embedded above, I got a pretty great video of the very first minute of the fireworks display, proving what a great view of them we really had from here. (As I post this, the above is a link to the video on Flickr, which for some reason stopped allowing embedded videos; I think tonight I will load it to YouTube so by tomorrow you should be able to play the video right from here without having to link to a new page.)

It's almost too bad I didn't get video of the entire fireworks display, actually, because although my memory is shit and I couldn't tell you what year was better or worse than another in the past, I don't think I've ever been more impressed with it. And I do remember some years where it was disappointing enough that I almost thought it wasn't worth going to Seattle Center. (I love it all too much though and always feel it's worth it.) The fact that we have this new, awesome location to watch from was just icing on the cake. Sherri appreciated it so much she even wrote a "Thank you Matthew! note, complete with a heart, on the Merchandising wipe board otherwise covered in quotes people have written up there -- it's still there even as I type this.

I have a feeling this will be the default location to view the Space Needle every New Year's Eve for years to come. This year, we all rode down in Dad and Sherri's five-person SUV which we had them park in our garage the rest of the time; Shobhit has a neighborhood Zone 4 parking permit so he took the car to park it outside, across the street on 15th. Dad found a parking spot literally right in front of the building.

During my conversation with Sara this morning, she did ask me if we had been drinking here, and if I got any specific permission from anyone. Nope. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission, that's what I say! Okay, although I didn't go through any "official" channels to gain specific "permission," I did mention to Scott multiple times that I intended to come here for New Year's Eve. Scott is my immediate supervisor (what Stephanie once was, years ago) and really, if there were any potential for an issue, surely he would have said something -- and he never did. In fact, when we talked a little about it this morning, all he did was ask, "Was that your champagne bottle?" I said, "Oh, in the recycle bin? Yep!" And Scott just chuckled. Clearly, I am not in trouble.

I would be, of course, if we'd all gotten wasted and made a big mess. But my sixtysomething parents and fortysomething husband and friend are hardly prone to such shenanigans. Shobhit poured champagne in the tiny goblets he'd gotten for me at the Dubai airport after his trip to India a year ago, which I then got for my last birthday. I think I had only one tiny goblet full; others must have had at least two, but clearly it didn't take long to turn through the one champagne bottle we brought. I did bring a thermos of hot buttered rum as well, and that made for one mug full for Shobhit and Danielle and me. Dad and Sherri didn't want any of that. In any case, that was the extent of our drinking. And I did mention to both Dad and to Sara this morning that we have now had two different events at work here at the office with beer and wine served, after all. It's not like no one has ever been drinking here before.

It will be interesting to see if anyone else gets hip to the awesomeness of this as a new New Year's Eve location next year, though. As much fun as Dad and Sherri clearly had, I do expect their coming to be a one-time thing and do not at all expect them to come again next year -- although they do indeed plan to come back and use that guest room again. Sherri has never been to the Museum of History of Industry and really wants to go, which I would love to do with them. Anyway, perhaps next year, then not preoccupied with visiting Croatian in-laws like he was this year, Gabriel can come and join us. I actually think there's a pretty fair chance that he could, considering how many past New Year's Eves he's come up to Seattle Center. (Apparently they all stayed home this year. Why, I don't know, but whatever.)

Shobhit and I bickered perhaps a little too much in the car ride back home after the fireworks, because he was obsessed with a) leaving immediately in a clearly vain attempt at beating traffic; he will never convince me it would have been smooth sailing by leaving at 12:10 instead of, say, 12:20; and b) back-seat driving with the idea that he knew better than anyone's GPS how best to get there. At one point he had guided Dad to turn up a road he felt was a better choice, only to wind up facing a DO NOT ENTER sign that caused us to go right back to the same route GPS was saying, and he finally shut the fuck up about it. I think he genuinely felt bad about our arguing (maybe I should too but I don't, only because I'm still convinced I was right) because he mentioned more than once since Dad and Sherri left that he thinks we were bothering them with that, at least for those few minutes. (Sherri did ask me during a brief moment without Shobhit around if I was struggling with the transition of having him home, and yes, to a degree, I think we both are -- but we'll settle into a groove again too, I think.) As annoying as Shobhit can be, and he can really be too much about it, I still think it does well to remember one key thing: most of the time, he's behaving out of a sincere desire to be helpful. That doesn't mean he needs to be bitchy and ridiculously uptight about other drivers on the road, though. As Sherri felt compelled to note, we weren't in any hurry and we had all night. I mean shit, what deadline are we on here? None!

But whatever, Danielle literally slept through us bickering and eventually we got home around 1 a.m. To my surprise, Ivan was at home and evidently asleep; he usually stays up later and he must not have had his friend over for very long (I think he deliberately timed that visit to be during our absence). Dad later said he had considered coming up for one last drink but ultimately changed his mind and stayed down in the guest room, which was just as well because Danielle, Shobhit and I were all in bed and pretty much zonked out ourselves by about 1:30.

Shobhit actually tried to get a little frisky in bed yesterday morning but I was kind of not about to allow that. I mean, we have sex seldom enough that I'd usually refuse to let an erection go to waste, but -- Ivan can pretty much be counted on to sleep through anything he might hear through the wall, but I have zero desire to risk Danielle hearing anything. Gack! I suppose it shouldn't matter but I was way too self-conscious about that possibility. Also, I keep the bedroom door open just wide enough for the cats and always have; I'd have had to get up and close the door at the very least, but the cats were both outside in the living room eating, which meant they almost certainly would have interrupted us with meows at the door once they wanted back in. Too many complications! And well, we had Saturday morning anyway.

I often fantasize about putting a cat door in our bedroom door just so I can keep it closed at all times. But that probably won't ever happen. With Shobhit home for good, whenever Ivan moves away we'll probably never have another roommate anyway. Although we'll surely have guests occasionally.

Everyone woke up relatively early yesterday, actually, given the uncommonly late night for both of us. (Oh, by the way -- what made it easier for Danielle to come stay the night is that Patrick has the girls on a trip without her to Hawaii. They left the day after Christmas and get back later this week.) Danielle texted Shobhit and me while we were in bed: "Where's the coffee?" Shobhit got up to brew some, and even took some down to Dad and Sherri as promised. Their room had the pot but did not have any actual coffee. I think there was tea.

So we all went out for brunch at 10:00, once again just two blocks away: at Skillet Diner on 14th and Union. Danielle was taking her sweet time getting dressed and so Shobhit asked me to go find out how long the wait was, which I was happy to do just to get a brief break from him. (Sherri was outside smoking when I got downstairs, so I was delayed slightly talking to them as naturally they wanted to know where I was going.) The guy said he could seat us right then, but I had to tell him we wouldn't all be back until about 10. I walked back, waited just a few minutes for Danielle to be ready, and then we all walked together to Skillet -- where Shobhit got an especially delicious veggie burger that I want to come back for. I had just gotten two over easy eggs with grilled potatoes and the potatoes were decent but not great; nothing about my dish was special. Everyone else seemed to love theirs, though, especially Sherri.

We all walked back to the condo again; Dad and Sherri had already packed up and only needed to leave their room key in the room. They came up to the condo for a few minutes and then we all said our goodbyes; Shobhit and I walked down to open the gate for them to leave the garage. Danielle hung out for a bit more, and then Shobhit and I drove her home to Renton, complete with her excess amount of luggage. We hung out at her place for a while, even seeing Danielle's mom, Gail, briefly, who had been pet sitting. She left almost immediately, though, as she had been hit hard with a cold while there and didn't want to get any of us sick.

Danielle turned on the football game and we drank mimosas. We had thought we might help Danielle take down her Christmas Tree (which I plan to do with mine tonight) but I got a call from Gabriel while we were driving down, asking what I was doing in the evening. He wanted Shobhit and me to come hang out with him and Kornelija and Kornelija's Croatian parents who speak almost no English and had never hung out with a gay couple before. Sure, let's do that! We actually were game, although there were some calls back and forth with near misses as far as miscommunication about logistics went. Still, in the end it all worked out.

In the meantime, when I had texted Gabriel that we'd be more likely to go if we could eat on the Seattle side so we didn't have to pay for our own vehicle, Gabriel responded that he'd be driving us. He thought he had made that clear, but no: how was I to know without him telling me that after a fender bender in Leavenworth he's driving a loaner car that seats six? So, when it became clear we would not be driving, Shobhit suggested I share that joint with Danielle that someone gave her and she had in her backpack after all.

I had already eaten half a chocolate edible in the car that amounted to 5mg of THC. I took one drag off Danielle's joint -- she took two -- and I proceeded to have the same coughing fit I always have when trying to smoke that shit. I think I've heard that coughing actually makes you higher, so maybe that was part of this -- but I proceeded to get, like, really stoned. And in a way that was . . . interesting. Usually edibles give me this delayed and brief period of unpleasant anxiousness, but there wasn't too much of that this time. Instead, I sort of felt tingly to the point of almost numb all over, and sort of snoozed for a while. Shobhit took my picture sleeping on Danielle's love seat. Maybe part of it was also the mixing with the mimosa, but I don't know. I'd already had half of one of those chocolates before and did not get so stoned, so I really think it was that joint. Thank God I took only one drag off of it.

I should really look into vaping.

After a while it totally wore off, though, and seemingly out of nowhere, all of a sudden I was totally alert and lucid again. A good thing, as being that stoned while hanging out with Kornelija's parents would have been a disaster.

Shobhit and I decided to leave Danielle's -- her neighborhood was still covered in snow, by the way; we got a dusting in Seattle on New Year's Eve but it was all melted by this point -- at about 4:30, getting home by 5:00 and giving us about an hour before Gabriel came by to pick us up. That was just enough time for me not only to edit and upload the weekend photos I had taken up to that point (I still need to caption some and put tags on most), but also help Shobhit with these electrode things to put on his neck and lower back that he got from a doctor after one of his cater waiting injuries in L.A. He lay there on the bed in his underwear with those electrode pads stuck to him while I worked at the computer.

And then, shortly after 6:15 or so -- Gabriel was trying his hardest to rush Kornelija and her parents out of a brief visit to the Space Needle gift shop -- Gabriel came by in his white car. I don't remember the make of the car. But I want it to be known that Kornelija was just as bad: Shobhit asked what kind of car it was and she said, "I don't know. I just know it says 'California' on it." I said, "You mean on the license plates?" Yep. Ha! I laughed pretty hard. "I don't know anything about cars and even I know that's funny," I said.

Kornelija and her mom, Mara, tried to offer us the middle seats. Mara shook my hand and introduced herself when she got out. But then Shobhit, thinking he was doing them a favor, insisted we get in the very back seats, which were super tight. "We're smaller than you are," Shobhit said, which Gabriel noted is not something you ever say to women. Well, Mara clearly didn't even know what he was saying and as far as I could tell Kornelija didn't give a shit so whatever. Shobhit was referring to height rather than weight but that didn't seem to matter. I still wish we had gone with the middle seats to begin with, because I had to be a pain once we got in line at the ferry and ask everyone to let me out. I was literally getting a cramp in my leg, I was so squished, and then my whole leg started going sort of tingly-half-numb in a way that was rather painful. (And this was not the same kind of "tingly numb" as the stoned part had been, mind you. This really was because my leg was in an awfully cramped position.)

When we got back in, Kornelija and Mara got in the very back seat, and they insisted they were not uncomfortable. The middle seat was not hugely more spacious than what I had been in before, but it was still just enough to keep me from feeling like I was going to lose a leg, so that was something. When Shobhit was asked if he was okay, I did say, "I'm the only one who's a whiny baby," and Gabriel was just like, "Yep." Okay, fine. But he can try sitting back there next time. (This would never happen because he is a giant and it would be impossible.)

So, we got on the ferry, and this was the whole point of this trek, aside from Kornelija's parents meeting Shobhit and me: giving them their first-ever ferry ride. We all got out of the car for the ride, thank God, and Gabriel even bought beers for himself and Slatko (Kornelija's dad, who introduced himself to me in the car) and Shobhit. We all sat at tables near the concession stand as that was the only place the alcohol could be consumed -- the lady at the register was very weird about the whole thing, eyeing me constantly in a way that felt to me like she had the hots for me. I know I'm this huge narcissist and all but that's really how it felt. I wanted to tell her to stop looking at me like that. She stared hard.

She did ask more than once if we were all of legal drinking age, to which I replied that she made my day because I am forty. She had this very "you can't be too careful" attitude about it, except you know what? She never did actually ask to see ID from any one of us. What a fucking weird lady.

Shobhit had gone to sit down elsewhere, but I had to go fetch him to let him know Gabriel had gotten him a beer and we had to sit in the designated area. We sat down, and I'm pretty sure that's where I proceeded to set my beloved sparkling purple shoulder bag I got at Pike Place Market the day after Christmas 2014 on the chair next to me -- and then forget about it and leave it behind when we got up to leave again. I didn't even realize this until Gabriel was literally dropping us off back at our condo again at the end of the evening. Fuuuuck. I had to explain that nothing inside the bag was super valuable (although I do love that Nightmare Before Christmas travel mug Shobhit had brought wine in, and I had brought binoculars I spent a fair amount on back in 1998), but it was the bag itself that was the item of highest value -- both monetarily and sentimentally. I love that bag.

I found the number for Washington State Ferries' lost and found at home, and called and left a message. Apparently their hours are only Thursday through Monday, but surely they are closed today due to it being New Year Observed, which means I likely won't hear back until Thursday. The one cling to hope that I have is that it was one of the final ferry rides of the day and the boat was mostly empty, which significantly increases the chances that an employee found it rather than some schmo who might have just taken it. I guess we'll see.

Aside from that unfortunate turn of events, the whole evening was rather nice and pleasant. We had told Ivan about these evening plans we suddenly had -- the only thing we did this weekend that I did not know would be happening until merely hours beforehand -- and Ivan got it into his head that there would be some sort of confrontation. No no, it was nothing like that. Gabriel just wanted to expose Kornelija's parents to some cultural differences they weren't quite used to, and honestly they were supremely gracious about it.

And apparently Mara had been especially eager to meet me, having heard plenty about me before. I guess Gabriel had suggested maybe they invite Shobhit and me to join them, and when she heard my name, Mara immediately said and enthusiastic "Yes!" While we were in the car, Kornelija translated for me that her mom said I have a nice smile. Aww, how sweet! Gabriel dutifully acted put out by the idea that now I would just spend the evening beaming with my ready acceptance of compliments. Later, on Bainbridge Island when we finally found a restaurant that was open (called Doc's Marina Grill -- check it out if you're ever over there; it was very good), Gabriel had gone to order a drink at the bar and Shobhit had gone to the bathroom, but the rest of us were still waiting by the front door, and I can't remember what it was, someone's expression I think, made me laugh. Kornelija then told me her mom likes my laugh, which just made me laugh more. Hahaha, get in line, lady! Actually I'm delighted that I can now say my laugh is loved by people literally the world over. Who needs genuine fame? This works for me.

I really wasn't too self-conscious about being "gays on display" like I thought I might be -- not that I thought that's what Gabriel was doing to us, I must stress. Even he felt compelled to say he wasn't trying to make tokens out of us when he first called, and I totally get it. You can't truly open your mind about what you don't understand until you meet people of the sort who seem difficult to understand. I did think about this when Shobhit and I engaged in pretty normal couple-type behaviors -- and I don't mean just the few times we bickered slightly even in Gabriel's car (though this wasn't as bad as it had been in Dad's car). I especially thought about it, actually, when Shobhit and I both cut the different sandwiches we had ordered and swapped halves, so we each had half of both dishes. We do that a lot. Honestly we would do it less if it were up to me, but often I do appreciate the variety it offers when we do that.

Shobhit and Gabriel have their own tendencies to butt heads, though. I don't know what the hell they were talking about at one point on the ferry when Shobhit said "Whatever" before turning away from him, and I chose not to ask. Maybe it was nothing. It was before Gabriel bought him a beer.

We caught the 9:45 ferry back, which got us home at an actually pretty decent time. I only took a few pictures on this outing, and the one shot I took with Mara and Slatko in it, they are in shadow and unrecognizable, which may be for the best at this juncture. I honestly don't really know, which was why I chose not to be as slaphappy as usual with the picture taking. Under normal circumstances I would have asked the waitress to get a picture of us all at the table and I would have posted it to Facebook. But, like with some of Shobhit's relatives, I don't know how much of a burden it may have been for them to have to explain who we were to the folks back home.

If Kornelija ever posts the photo she had Gabriel take of her with them on the ferry with the Seattle skyline behind them -- which looked like it was going to be lovely -- I may download that and add it to my Flickr set, if nothing else. It was very cool to meet them, and I genuinely felt like they were happy to meet me. I'm really glad the evening worked out the way it did, and also appreciate Shobhit's willingness to go along with it all at relatively last minute's notice.



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positive energy please