Tag Archives: Australia

An unexpected joy

We left our house for the Huntington airport early on a Thursday morning. An hour into our trip south, the rising sun filled the sky with that warm, optimistic, hazy glow that’s only found at dawn.

A seedy gas station outside Ravenswood (is there any other kind?)

Our guests, Megan and Craig, Jess’ sister and her Australian boyfriend, were coming in on the only 9 a.m. flight that morning. We got there a little early and enjoyed the rocking chairs lined up down the only corridor in the airport.

That is the bored look that only a Huntington airport can provide, rocking chair or not.

To kill time, we talked to a woman who had brought her 4-month old pug with her to the airport. As can only happen in West Virginia, this dog, this poor, poor dog, was wearing a pink camo jacket. As can also only happen in West Virginia, we overheard an elderly lady tell a biker dude that she couldn’t wait to pop the champagne and see someone get popped in the head with the cork.

By this time, I was getting nervous. Craig grew up in Sydney and his American adventures so far had included Florida and California. I love the Mountain State, but to a Floridian and an Australian, well, these things might be hard to explain away as charming quirks.

Nonetheless, after landing we quickly whisked them away from the airport and on toward one of the best restaurants in the state, the Bluegrass Kitchen in Charleston. This was to be the first adventure of many to come over the weekend they were with us.

There’s nothing like a visit from out-of-towners to make you appreciate where you live. You get to show off all the cool places to get coffee and eat:

Craig and Megan at Donkey Coffee in Athens

Megan, Craig and Emily (Jess and Megan's super cool vegan cousin)

Even if a lot of those cool places are 45 minutes away.

You also get to show off the cool parts of your self, too. Like how I dominate in Apples to Apples and make a killer vegetarian sushi and waffles (served separately, of course).

The best part about this visit, though, was getting to know our guests better. I learned to never play Trivial Pursuit with Craig because the man knows his Japanese current events and history and somehow every question in the game falls into this category. I learned that Craig peppers his speech with the word ‘beautiful’ to describe good looking food and that that can make me, the chef, blush like a school girl getting inadvertently told by the junior high heart throb that she looked cute that day. I also learned that Megan is less than impressed when someone lights a fart on fire.

But what I enjoyed most was seeing my girlfriend in a different light. That of a sister. I had only met Megan once before, and it was a rather hurried and harried short weekend back in the summer. But seeing them interact and laugh and regale us with stories of childhood — that was a joy I didn’t expect.

And so when the weekend adventures were over and Tuesday rolled around and we hauled their luggage into my Vibe and drove off to the Akron airport, a certain bittersweetness hung in the air, as you’d expect.

We said our goodbyes and gave our hugs, though, knowing it was only temporary and that we had all gained something much more permanent and meaningful from their visit. We had gained new family members.