As We Go On, We Remember

15 May

So much to talk about that’s happened the last three days! It was just a short, three-day weekend, but I don’t think I could have packed in anything else. It was definitely a much-needed long weekend and a trip out of town.

On Friday, my mom, grandmother and I drove down to Asheville to visit the Biltmore house. I drove separately, because I was heading down to Spartanburg after our adventure to go to graduation. This caused me to get a little lost and separated from them for a bit, because they had the GPS and I didn’t, but it wasn’t too bad. Lucky for me, my phone can get me almost anywhere. I’d been to the house before, but it had been a really, really long time. They’ve opened up several more rooms since then, which was exciting to see. We started outside in the gardens, which was really our main reason for going. It was my grandmother’s Mother’s Day gift from me and my mom – to go and see all the flowers and gardens. They really were pretty; I feel like we walked ten miles, but really we barely covered a fraction of the grounds. It’s amazing how much land the Vanderbilts owned; I’m sure it would take you half an hour to get across even on horseback! We walked all the way down to the bass pond and back, which was quite a hike, but nothing compared to the extensive grounds. Anyway, we enjoyed the gardens for a while, then when it started to get hot and rainy, we headed up to the house. We stopped for a pretzel and a cold drink, a bathroom break, and a breeze through the gift shops. Then we actually made it into the house, which was just as lavish and pretty as I remembered. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live there, or even just visit. It’s pretty impressive. We were even in the dining room when they started playing the organ, which was a treat!

After touring the house, we drove around to the other end of the property to see the little village, the winery, and stop for a late lunch. We ate at the bistro, which was delicious and so posh. We had the most amazing desserts – creme brulee (my absolute favorite) and some kind of lemon pudding with a strawberry-basil sorbet. It doesn’t sound that appetizing, but it was amazing. It was just the perfect thing to add for that extra kick of flavor. After lunch, we walked around through the winery a little bit, and some of the village as well. We didn’t stick around very long after we ate, so Mom and Grandmother headed home, while I headed down to Spartanburg.

Even before I left Asheville, I got hit by a massive storm. It was incredibly rainy with lots of lightning – nothing like the one we had a few weeks ago, but definitely not something you want to be out driving in. I made it through the storm OK, though, but the rain followed me almost all the way to the NC/SC state line. Once I got into SC, though, it was clear and pretty again. I got down to Melody’s house, and we just sat around for a bit chatting and looking at ridiculous videos. We went for a late dinner at Mellow Mushroon, where her boyfriend, Wes, eventually joined us. We shared their amazing spinach dip and a hot potato pie – a pizza with loaded baked potato toppings on it. Doesn’t sound appealing? You’d be wrong.

After Mellow Mushroom, I stopped by to see Cullen, one of my little sisters, and Keeli, who were up late packing to move out of their dorm rooms. I got a graduation ticket from Keeli, and the three of us chatted for a bit about post-grad plans and such. I don’t get to talk to them that often, so it was very nice to catch up for a bit. When they headed off to bed, I met Melody, Wes, and some other friends at a new bar downtown that I’d never been to before. It felt like everyone I know was in there – Elizabeth, my other little sister, Mari and Laurann and Gia, Bea and Megan, Lee, Anna, Michele, and Ridgley. So many Converse girls in one place! It felt like a mini-reunion. It was great to just hang out for a bit with them. I hardly ever get to do anything like that when I’m at home, and certainly not with friends like that!

The next morning was graduation. I met Mari and Laurann outside the auditorium so we could all sit together. While I was waiting for them, I saw Sarah standing outside, who I knew from art history classes and from a study-travel trip one January. By the time we were in our seats and graduation was getting started, our whole row of seats had filled up to include the three of us, Bea, and Desiree, who I was so pleasantly surprised to see. I miss her so much – she’s got to be one of the most entertaining people I know. She’s one of those people who you see far away and think, man, I’d like to be friends with that girl. And then before you know it, you are, even though you didn’t think it would ever happen.

Anyway, the graduation ceremony was lovely, as always, and somewhat long considering how few graduates there are every year. It’s a nice tradition, though, with lots of pomp and ceremony. There’s always a lunch on the front lawn afterwards, with lots of picture-taking and farewells. I stayed for a long time talking to people, including Gia and Victoria, both of my little sisters and Keeli, Desiree, and a few professors as well. I found my art therapy professor and talked to her for a long time, which was especially nice since I have an official grad school update to talk with her about. I must have stayed at lunch for two hours, at least. I was one of the last to leave, and didn’t even eat anything! When I finally did leave, I stopped by a couple of the dorms to see Bea and Desiree, who, as part of the res life staff, were in the lobbies to check people out as they left. They invited me to see a movie with them later than evening, which ended up happening. More on that later.

I finally pried my way off campus to go get something to eat. I was absolutely starving by this time! I went to Groucho’s, a local little deli down there with some amazing sandwiches and the best dipping sauce you’ve ever had. I miss it terribly. I drove all the way back to Melody’s house to eat it, and called Katy on my way. It’s been so long since we’ve talked! I can add her to the list of people I really, really miss. She’d been extremely busy and stressed with her thesis, which she’s finally finished with. I can’t believe she’s already completely finished with her Master’s! It doesn’t seem like that much time has passed since we were in class together. We had a nice, long chat about absolutely everything. I ate my lunch while I talked to her, then hung around Melody’s house for a bit. She’d gone to Charlotte for an opera audition, so I was on my own. I played on Facebook, watched a movie, and took a little nap. It was quite a lovely afternoon. Melody and Wes got slowed up by some rain on the way back, so we had to put off our planned dinner until after the movie. I went with Bea, Desiree, and a few other girls to see Bridesmaids, which was so, so funny. I really don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in a movie theater. It made it even better because we all, being Converse girls, understood exactly how awkward and funny the situations were in that movie. I highly recommend it.

After the movie, I headed back to Melody’s for some fabulous shrimp and grits that Wes made. He’s been perfecting his recipe, and I must say, he doesn’t have far to go to get it absolutely perfect. For dessert, he made bacon ice cream. You heard me. Maple ice cream with candied bacon. Amazing. We had a lazy night in that night, and woke up really late the next morning. We had a late brunch at the Converse deli, then I haded back home. It was such a nice, relaxing weekend, full of good friends and good food. It really made me nostalgic for my college years. I can’t even believe how quickly it went by. The whole weekend just made me wish I could relive that part of my life over and over again. I don’t know that I’ll see days like that again. It was the best.

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