There and back again.

This winter break, I got to do a few things I never thought I’d do. Not that they were super extraordinary, just different.

Right after my exams ended, a small group of SMSP friends and I drove to Kentucky to visit some of our other friends. It was a great time of fellowship and best friends. I truly love them.

This is the closest I have to a group picture from that weekend.

Right after we got back from Kentucky, I drove through the night back to New Jersey. It took twelve hours total. I hate driving long distances during the day because my eyes get tired, there’s traffic, and it just seems to drag on forever. But there’s no traffic at midnight, so night driving always wins.

The day after that, I met my friend Brianna in New York City (from here on out referred to as “the city”) to do a little sight seeing. I took the train in with my dad because he works right near Wall Street, got breakfast with him, met some of his work friends, then went out to brave the subway system by myself. I quickly learned that it’s not as scary as I thought, but I became somewhat obsessed with hand sanitizer.
I met up with Brianna at Grand Central, and then we went to Greenwich Village (lovingly referred to as “the Village”) to see if we could meet/see/drool over some of the beautiful men on Gossip Girl. It turned out that they were shooting inside a place in the Village, so we couldn’t really see them. Although we did see one Chace Crawford as he was walking inside the building. I couldn’t breathe. He is more gorgeous in real life than you can ever imagine. Whew!

Too gorgeous for words.

Then Brianna and I traipsed around the city for a while, went to Rockefeller Center (I’m currently obsessed with 30 Rock), saw the Christmas Tree, went to the NBC store, walked along 5th Avenue, went to Dylan’s Candy Bar, and then said our goodbyes. It was a glorious day of visiting places in the city I’d never been to before (except for Rockefeller Center and the tree).

At Dylan's Candy Bar

After the city, I had a pretty quiet time at home for a few days. My family and I finished Christmas shopping, I spent a lot of time with my little brothers and sisters, and we celebrated my birthday two months late (I wasn’t home for my 22nd birthday, and they didn’t want to just send my presents to me).

The next week, I got to spend time with old friends I hadn’t seen since May, so my nights got busier since I was hanging out with them a lot. It was a wonderful chance for all of us to see each other again; we went to the diner for a little reunion night, and hung out at this place called Porter House where my friends Megan, Sam, and I left smelling of cigars and coffee. I met Sam’s amazing grandma (who I’ve seen at church all my life, but didn’t realize that she was his grandma), and she gave me some awesome ideas for Cru Prayer.
I got to see a large portion of Dad’s side of the family at the family Christmas Eve party, and got to visit my dear Grandma in the hospital. It was probably the saddest Christmas Eve I remember because, well, she wasn’t home with us. Krista and I went together to see her, and I sang “Silent Night” for her in the hospital. Krista started crying, and so did Grandma, so of course I did, too.

I think I did more crying this winter break, especially in the last three days of my time in New Jersey, than I have done in a long time. My grandparents, both sets, are getting older, and there’s not much we can do to keep them from the effects of age. We don’t know how much time we have left with them, and it kind of sucks that I’m so far from home and don’t get to see them as much as I’d like.

I love my family so much, but as all children do, I sometimes think to myself: “I’m so raising my children differently than my parents raised me.” That’s usually a thought I have in a dramatic state of mind; a lot of how my parents raised me is to be praised. If you know me and like me at all, that’s thanks to them. However, there are those moments when I swear up and down that things will be different for my (future) kids. But I have to remark on the wonderful way my parents have instilled in me a sense of the importance of family. In the first season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Caroline Manzo says these infamous words: “Let me tell you something about my family. We’re as thick as thieves and we protect each other ’til the end.” My family’s not even a little bit Italian, but we have an Italian mindset about family, and we’re all very close with each other. That’s something I’ll gladly use from my parents’ child-rearing arsenal.

On December 26, I left home and drove to Greensboro, NC, for Cru’s winter conference. But that’s a post for another time, because there’s so much I’d like to write!

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