I recently had the pleasure of picking up my Londoner friend Ryan from the O’Hare International Airport,and then tearing off towards Michigan with May for the weekend. He was a companion of mine during the three years I had spent in Japan, and this was the first for us to cross paths in some 15 months. We obviously had some catching up to do, which three hours in the car accommodated nicely. We all rode off into the dark night and wisps of blowing snow. The goal for the weekend would be to have my guests at least meet my family, and then to fill in as many gaps in their knowledge and understanding of my origins as possible, a process that started with a stop at Jimmy Johns.
It wasn’t too late by the time we arrived home, so I was at last able to introduce the two of them to my family and also make something of the night. It was Halloween, so there was an added amount of life to the evening as many were out celebrating. We first tried going into New Holland Brewery, but they turned a 26-year-old Ryan away for not having proper identification. Though he was able to furnish his Press Pass bearing his face, a couple matching credit cards, and also his British Driving Permit, it wasn’t enough. “Do you at least have a college ID?” “No. I’m 26. I work.” This was clearly an instance of some jobsworth with no common sense. Miffed, we walked on over to Our Brewing Co., which had no issues with making sense of the situation.
Once we closed them down, it was a short walk over to the Curragh to grab a couple more drinks and chat. The scotch was warming, and then the sambuca hit the spot. Parker was of course dressed like a fool throughout our excursion, though he did meet a doppelganger of sorts. After a while longer, we decided that it was now time to hit the road. Parker chauffeured us through a dark Hope College campus, and then stopped off at Bedrock for a little fraternity fun. May took this gem of a photo.
We walked into Bedrock just as a crowd of people were leaving the remnants of a party. We had just missed Piano Man, unfortunately, but there were enough people remaining to justify sticking around. It was of course great to see some of these people again, but it also lended credibility to the idea of ‘frat’ whenever everyone there was pleased with my presence. Parker’s interest in the evening was certainly waning, and he was also very concerned about getting his minimum 8 hours so that he could he could play tennis with some old man the next day. Way to see past the significance of me visiting… Parker and May deserted us, while Ryan and myself stuck around to Brawl, mingle, and catch a cab back to mine. He picked up the cab, and I directed it through Taco Bell…a fair deal indeed.
The next morning we woke to a delicious breakfast of quiche and coffee cake and then set out to do a little bit of good ol’ Holland tourism. Of course we had to hit the glorious golden shores of Holland State Park. We parked up and climbed the wooden steps to reach the top of Mt. Pisgah. I wouldn’t exactly call it a mountain, but it does offer an unrivaled view of Lakes Macatawa & Michigan. It was also a great place to pause for a few photos. Big Red made snuck into the frame as well.
Our remaining time was spent strolling briefly through downtown Holland. We did stop into the Peanut Store, and also the hipster oasis that is Lemonjellos to get some exotic coffee. May was very pleased with her Mexican bean selection. Time was running short before we had to get home and ready ourselves for the wedding, so we took off, leaving much of 8th street untouched. May traded a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my mom for a lunch of Big Apple Bagel sandwiches, and then we started putting on our faces, getting dapper, and just getting classy. Throughout all of this, feckless Parker was failing to keep up with our swag. Ryan had never looked more British after borrowing my dad’s jacket.
The wedding took place at some church, starting promptly at 4:00, and finishing a short 40 minutes later. I’d say that this is the perfect duration – short enough to keep people’s attention, and long enough to infuse that tincture of meaning. We left the church and traced below the beautiful autumn canopy of Lakeshore Drive up towards Grand Haven. We went to a golf course clubhouse where we had a cocktail reception before being seated in the room. We went on in and enjoyed our premium location right near the wedding party, which is so much better than being sent far away from the action. Here we have all but Ryan, who was stuck being the photographer. Parker, fix that collar, you look like a schmuck!
Highlights included some tasty food, the rare inclusion of wine and beer, and also a photo booth. May and I enjoyed it a number of times, often wrangling in others to join us. I give May full credit for talking Grandpa into joining us.As things were wrapping up, the crew drove on over to Grand Rapids where we popped into Yesterdog for some glorious food. We also met up with Adam and Bri for a couple of drinks at Hopcat and their homestead. The night was great for all involved. That next morning we spent a little time in the ‘garden’, playing table tennis, and also getting everything set to make the return trip to Chicago. We had to wait for fellow Japan friend and Michigander Saad to come on over as well. He was going to share in a Tex-Mex lunch and then take Ryan off my hands to keep the tourism going while I was putting in my time at work. May and I needed to hit the road so that we could get her moved into a new apartment, which was no problem. We grabbed some new bedding along the way. It was a great weekend.