I’m Comin’ Home, I’m Comin’ Home [Don’t] Tell the World I’m Comin…

Home.

Here’s to the last trip I’m taking on my own as [the engaged] Elizabeth Ricketts, as my next trip will be ending with me as [the newly married] Mrs. Elizabeth Strong[!!]. Anyways, I’m on a dual-purposed trip to California. The biggest reason is that I am in California was to surprise the ish out of all my friends who were graduating from Life Pacific College. They had no idea that I came out to see them graduate, surprises are fantastic! The other reason I came out to California is because I needed to do some hands-on wedding stuff. I was there to talk with the photographer, hair stylist, go to the Los Angeles Flower Market for flower ideas to tell the florist, check out the venue [haven’t seen it in person since they renovated] and various other things.

It was so weird not telling anyone (besides my family and Patrick – my secret insider) that I was coming, I desperately wanted to tell people so I could go visit; but alas I couldn’t, I had a busier than busy week home, plus I wanted to surprise my friends on Saturday and I’ve got some chatty friends and word would’ve gotten around quickly that I was in town.

The trip out to California was interesting that’s for sure. My flight left New Hampshire at 5:30 a.m. Which meant I was up at 3 a.m. which was midnight California time. Because this was the only time that I’d be able to fly home to California before the wedding, I had to bring my wedding dress with me. That was interesting and kind of exciting actually. I was at the airport super early, even before the line opened to go through the scanner-things. So I’m standing in line with my suitcase and this huge white bag labeled “David’s Bridal” and everyone around me is staring trying to figure out what the bag says; I found this to be quite comical especially because they were trying to not look like they were creepin’. Anyways,  the TSA guy starts to stare at the bag trying to read and figure out if it’s a wedding dress and just decides he’ll ask me what it is. “Is that a wedding dress?” he asks, “yes, it is” I tell him, “are you on your way to getting married, already married, or just bringing it there before the wedding?” he asks me. At this point the 30 or so people waiting in line around me are staring and starting to check out the bag (and me…awkward). So the TSA guy and I continue our conversation, I tell him that I’m not married just yet and that I’m on a pre-wedding trip to drop the dress off. Of course he asks me where I’m getting married and when I tell him California, he has this shocked look (for some reason everyone’s shocked when I tell them I was born and raised in Southern California and moved out to New Hampshire) and kind of stutters, “Aaannndd whyyy are you here in New Hampshire of all places??” So I give him the quick “for work” answer, sometimes going into the whole back story is hard so the quick answer tends to work best. The line opens a few minutes later and he wishes me and my future husband luck and sends me on through. I got tons of looks, words of congratulations, and people parting when I walked through the airport when they saw me carrying my dress; I don’t know why they all did that, but it was kinda fun. Then I get to my gate and the lady at the gate is like I’ll have you get on with the old people (yes, she literally said that) so that you have time to figure out what to do because there’s no coat hanger/closet on the plane since it’s a small puddle jumper. Sad news. For both flights I had to roll my dress up and put it under my seat. I don’t know what’s wrong with planes, but not having a place to hang things is just wrong. Plus I kept cringing each time I thought of having my wedding dress rolled up at my feet (I still cringe at the thought).

So I get to Los Angeles and of course the first thing that I do is go to In N Out with my aunt. Going there has become a tradition for me; each time I get off the plane one of my first words to whoever picks me up is, “Um…can we hit up In N Out?” Once my mom got to my aunt’s house, we went to grab some Mexican food (another one of my traditions) and stumbled upon this great cardboard cutout of two mariachi players (made sense since it was Cinco de Mayo weekend) . Naturally, my mom and I figured we just had to take a picture with our faces in it (you can ignore the giant beer between us..I wish they hadn’t had that in the cut out but they did.) The next thing on my “traditions” list was Yogurt Land, happily, it was in the next plaza so we walked over and grabbed some fantastic froyo. Once we’d gotten through just about my entire “traditions” list, my mom and I headed home to Santa Barbara.

The next day, Thursday, was a particularly busy day for me, even though I got to start the day off enjoying the new hot tub my parents just put in. Thursday I met with the hairstylist, the photographer, the cake baker, and got a surprise visit from my cousins (also known right now as my little flower girls). When I met with the photographer, we got to go and see the church that we’re holding the ceremony and the reception at. I haven’t seen the church since it had been renovated and so it was great to be able to finally see everything and walk through where everything is going to happen. The church is perfect and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together; it’s so much easier to picture how everything is going to look and flow after walking through the church. Shortly after we met with the photographer, Joanna, who’s going to be making our wedding cake, came over to my parents house to design the wedding cake and such. After showing her a few photos of what I’m thinking I’d like it to look like and the flavors that we’re thinking of, she drew up a sketch and told me that she’d try to get me a sample of what it’d look like by the next day. Uh yeah you read that right, she told me she’d bring over a mini version of the wedding cake. And she definitely delivered; Joanna came to my house the next night and brought over a small (2 layer) version of the cake, complete with the flavors we were wanting. Ridiculous isn’t? I thought it was ridiculous and fantastic. Plus it tasted fantastic; I’ve always wanted to do a cake tasting but since I knew who’d be doing the cake and knew the flavors I didn’t see a real reason to taste test, but to have gotten a mini version of the cake and flavors, was more than I could’ve asked for. After Joanna had left (Thursday), my mom and I got a chance to sneak off to the beach for a wonderful walk. Going to the beach is always a high priority on my “traditions” list, I have to go at least once (typically I go more often but due to the craziness of what had to be done I only got to go once). While we were on our way back to the car, I got a call from Natalie, my cousin Seth’s wife. But when I answered it, it wasn’t Natalie; it was her daughter Sierra (5 years old). Sierra and her younger sister, Savannah (3 years old), are going to be my adorable flower girls. So Sierra’s calling me with Natalie in the background telling her to tell me that they’re on their way down through Santa Barbara and want to stop by the house and see me. I haven’t seen them since Christmas, so a little more than 5 months ago; in that time Savannah’s started talking a lot more and Sierra’s started reading. Time definitely flies when you don’t see people often. So they came over and I got to hang out with them for a couple of hours, “eating” play food that they’d bring me and chasing them around the yard. When it came time for them to go they cried because they didn’t want to leave, so I had to keep telling them that I’d see them next month when they got to dress up and be in my wedding. That’s some thing that they apparently never stop talking about, being the flower girls in the wedding. Natalie was telling me that they’re always asking when the wedding is, what dresses do they get to wear, and when do they get to see “Goose” (that’s me) and that guy she is marrying (Logan). Once they found out that they had to leave they decided they’d run around the front yard so that they wouldn’t have to leave; my solution, tell them that I’m so fast they can’t catch me. The youngest, Savannah, fell for that trick and tried to catch me; so when she ran at me I picked her up and started to chase Sierra because she got the trick I had pulled on Savannah. When I couldn’t catch her trying to carry Savannah, I told her I could give her a piggy back ride until they had to leave, that one worked. So I ended up running around the yard with Sierra and Savannah on my back until they had to leave, let me just tell you, that is a work out.

Friday wasn’t particularly busy, it was just long and started early in the morning. My mom, Tracy (wedding coordinator), Judy (flower coordinator/florist) and I went down to Los Angeles around 5 a.m. to the Los Angeles Flower District to pick out all of the flowers for the wedding. I’d never been to the Flower District before and so it was crazy and awesome to be able to see so many different flowers in one place. We only had a certain amount of time before we had to be back in Santa Barbara, so it was great when we were able to get all of the flowers figured out for everything and be able to go to a store next door for decor/centerpiece things and have time left over. When we got back to the house there was a package for me at the door, invitations! I love getting packages, especially wedding ones. I didn’t think that I’d be getting it while I was home because it was missing half of the address (the post office is amazing!). 

Since I was on a secret trip to California (more on that soon), I couldn’t just go out and see friends when I had a few minutes. There were a few people who knew I was there (and had been keeping it secret) one of them being Katie, I had seen her 5 months earlier when she was pregnant and then Friday I had a chance to go and meet her beautiful baby girl, Ellie. Growing up, Katie was (and still is) a huge role model, inspiration and influence in my life, so being able to catch up with her and see Ellie was more than worth not seeing anyone else (sorry to everyone I didn’t get to see). I also had a chance to say goodbye to family friends who were moving to Texas as church planters. At dinner time I had a chance to meet with Tina, our wedding DJ, during our meeting was when Joanna came over with the cake. Once Joanna had left (well she hadn’t really left, she was visiting with my mom) Tina and I dug (literally) into the cake. Both layers had a huge chunk missing. They were delicious. And of course, what’s a trip home without having a daddy daughter date? Well, it’s not a trip home that’s for sure. I had seen that the Avengers had come out that weekend and thought it’d be the perfect movie to go see, and it definitely was!

Saturday was the day I’d been waiting for for two long years. The day that my best friends graduated from Life Pacific College! Ever since I’d move to the East Coast, I knew that I had to be at that graduation, and that it had to be a surprise. So after trying to avoid the looks of my friends when they walked past going to their seats and to receive their diplomas, one of them, Kaitlin, saw me and screamed. Yes, I’m serious, she screamed. Once she screamed everyone, and I mean everyone, turned to see where the scream came from;  She was pointing and jumping and basically what I’d call freaking out (in a good way) that I was there. I tried to tell her shhh…don’t tell anyone I’m here, but that was kind of pointless, Kortni found out immediately after Kaitlin had screamed. I did however get to surprise Nizi and Jared, oh the faces of truly surprised people is one of my favorites. From there I went with my brother to Westminster to hang out with his friends and stay the night at one of the girls houses so that he could take me to the airport the next day.

Sunday morning was great, I got to hang out with my brother and Zach (a friend from back in New Hampshire who moved to California for a program that my brother happened to be in) back in the sound booth for a little bit before we had to leave for LAX. We were early to LAX for my flight so I got to relax a little bit, which was the last time I really relaxed before I finally got back to New Hampshire. When my flight out of LAX was about to get in line to take off, they announced that they had to redistribute the weight of the baggage which took 40 minutes (ugh). The layover in Philadelphia was only 55 minutes long; their airport is huge, to get to the right gate you have to take a bus to the other side. So I had a feeling that I’d be missing my flight out of there, plus since it was about 10 o’clock at night, it was the last flight anywhere for the day. When we landed they had everyone who had a connecting flight get off first and pick up a voucher for a flight in the morning and a room at the Marriott next door just in case we didn’t make our connection. I was the first to get off the plane and pick up my vouchers, I took of running at full speed (carrying a purse and laptop is difficult) through the airport to catch the flight. During my full speed run through the airport I had about three asthma attacks or maybe it was just one that flared up three times (fantastic, I know right?) so at each attack I had to stop running, catch my breath and keep running. When I was at the bus to get to the other terminal I had a chance to take my inhaler and get the attacks under control, but once I got it under control and got off the bus I continued running full speed to the gate. I get there and (still wheezing) I asked the employees standing there if the plane had left, and to my dismay it had. Apparently they had just pushed back the moment I arrived at the gate, I missed it by that much. So off I headed to my hotel for the night to catch the next one in the morning. The next morning I got on my plane home, everything was on time and I was finally able to sleep in my own bed.

Overall it was a great trip, I got to spend a ton of time with my mom, work out wedding details, go on a date with my dad, see my best friends graduate, and hang out with my brother. It was the quickest and most jam-packed week I think I’ve ever had. Yet it was fantastic.

I’m looking forward to the next trip that I take, where after six days of waiting, I will be married to my best friend and the love of my life!

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