You know that episode of “Full House” where DJ, Stephanie and Michelle’s cousin, Steve comes to town? DJ is nearly beside herself with excitement because Steve is her favorite and has this list of everything they can do while he visits San Francisco. That’s how I was when MY cousin (who just happens to be named DJ) came to California last week. Unlike DJ and Steve, though, the age difference and changes in our lives didn’t stop us from doing spending time together. In fact, it was probably better than it’s ever been. I haven’t seen DJ in at least 7-8 years, which was right after my grandma passed away and he came for the funeral. Those weren’t exactly super fun times, so I was happy that this would be a chance to hang out on much happier terms.
I believe everyone has at least one really cool relative that occasionally comes to town with the most legendary stories or just exudes a certain chill attitude. The Tanners had Uncle Jesse (and Steve) and our family has DJ. DJ has always been this really cool character in my life, I guess you could say. I don’t see or talk to him much at all, but when he comes to visit, I know we’re going to have a good time. He’s someone that I’ve always really admired for unapologetically being who he is. He tells it like it is and doesn’t wait around for people to get on board with the way he’s living his life. Plus, he’s just always up on the latest pop culture news, like me, so we always have something in common with that.
He got here on Wednesday and left this morning, but we were able to squeeze in a couple trips to LA in that short amount of time. Friday, I took the day off from work and the two of us went to Universal Studios. It gave us a chance to catch up on life and what we’ve been up to, while also rocking out to a variety of music, which made for an entertaining time. Where words fail, music speaks, right? We parked, then made our way through CityWalk and watched Mario Lopez (AKA AC Slater) film Extra in front of the Universal entrance, then decided to head into the park.
We rode everything except for the Simpsons 4D ride and missed the animal actor show, but went around the entire park and made the most of our day. We even got to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which isn’t set to open to the general public until April 9. I was so surprised to see that it was open (apparently they’re having ‘soft openings’ and dress rehearsals right now before the main event). For the sake of it, we went in, though neither DJ or I are Harry Potter fans, nor have we seen more than one of the movies. But I have to say that Universal did a fantastic job of making the land look so believable and realistic with the details on the buildings, rides, shops, food and drink. Now, I know nothing about Harry Potter, other than the character names and the general idea of the franchise, so I wasn’t geeking out, like at all. But, we had fun checking it out. The Hogwarts ride is one of the craziest rides I’ve ever experienced, because it makes you feel like you’re on a broom, riding along with Harry and his friends. It’s a bit bumpy and jerky, but was easily one of the highlights of our day.
We didn’t have a game plan, so we just wandered through the park until something sparked our interest. We ended up doing the tour next because we ran into it. Not much about the tour changes, like the earthquake set or the main facades, like the houses on Wisteria Lane or so on. But, they have added a couple 3D features, including King Kong and the new Fast and Furious attraction. We thought Fast and Furious would actually have a ride, but it was just part of the studio tour. Either way, I am fascinated by the behind-the-scenes and inner workings of studios that produce some of the biggest names and films. I’ve always had a passion for TV, film and writing, and the older I get, the more that dream stands out to me.
We stopped for lunch, then got right back to it with the Minion ride and a couple shows, including the Special Effects and Waterworld. And, of course, there were plenty of photo opportunities along the way. We were able to take our time with what we wanted to do and there were hardly any lines at all, so we didn’t have to wait much for anything.
After we’d seen and done everything we were going to, I wanted to get a sweatshirt and some Minion cotton candy, so we did that and walked around a bit longer, then headed home. Because we left around 5 or so on a Friday night, there was a lot of traffic on the freeway, so we took side streets. It might have taken us a little while longer, but I’m thankful for the car ride. It gave us a chance to talk more and jam to Usher’s “Confessions.” We had a blast at Universal, don’t get me wrong, but some of my favorite moments of the day happened just by driving down there. Oh yeah, and we can’t forget singing along to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” or “Tearin’ Up My Heart” at the top of our lungs, complete with hand motions and DJ rolling down the window, until I saw a cop and freaked the music was too loud. It was all good, though. We got back to my house and waited for my dad, then went out to dinner at one of our local spots.
Yesterday, my parents, DJ and I headed to Long Beach for the day. We had Jack-in-the-Box for breakfast and hit the freeway. We got down there with some time to kill, but decided to get in line for our Harbor Tour. DJ also told us that he might be going to Australia around the end of this year. Australia has always been a dream of mine, thanks to the Mary-Kate and Ashley video “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which came out years ago. He said I should come, so I might just be looking into getting myself a passport and going on yet another trip-of-a-lifetime. Because why the heck not?
I love the ocean and boat rides and sea creatures. Which is perfect, because I got to experience all three of those yesterday. I’m so in awe of God’s creation; the blues of the sky and ocean cleanse my mind in a way that nothing else can. I understand why Jack Dawson shouted “I’m KING OF THE WORLD” at the front of the ship on Titanic. There’s nothing like the freedom of being lost at sea. The waves chopped us up and down with constant motion, and I loved every single flip flop that my stomach did as the boat rocked us back and forth. We saw whales, sea lions and dolphins, and learned all kinds of interesting facts about their lives. In the midst of that, I feel like I learned something about my own. I love adventure. I love different kinds of music. I love many different cities. And I don’t have to just pick one or the other, because they’re all part of my personality and life, and that’s what makes my story unique. I forgot about every email that I hadn’t responded to or all of the work that will be waiting for me in the week to come. All that mattered was being in that particular moment with my parents and cousin. When everyone leaves, family is forever. I’ve heard it all my life and I’m starting to see how true that is. Despite what challenges life may throw, there’s a bond that can’t be broken with families. One that not even distance can mess up, although it tries.
After our boating excursion, we drove back into the Burbank area and had a late lunch/dinner at Claim Jumper, just around the corner from Warner Brothers Studio. I love that area a lot; it’s quiet and is on the outskirts of LA, but is still enough in the hubbub of the city, that you’re still close to the excitement. DJ also took a liking to the area very quickly. We were in a bit of a hurry to get home, because DJ was going to spend some time with our grandparents and my parents and I were going to my alma mater’s Homecoming basketball game. But, the food was delicious and we had a good time of chatting about whatever came up. My dad also asked the waitress which celebrities she’d seen around there. She said Megan Fox, Corbin Bleu, some of the Fuller House gang, and so on. It was a good group of people that had visited. As soon as we wrapped up with checks and pit stops, DJ and I walked outside, and he said that next time he comes out, just him and I are going to spend three straight days in LA doing “fun sh*t” and I’m looking forward to it.
We came home and freshened up a bit, then split up for our different activities. We were a bit late getting to the game, but didn’t miss much. Our team was winning (WOO) and we won the game. We also can’t forget about the crowning of our Homecoming King and Queen, and the rest of the royal court. I had been tired and wasn’t feeling up for the game, but after getting there, I’m so glad I went. It was great seeing a packed arena to cheer on our home team. After the game, I ran into one of my coworkers and talked to her for a few minutes, then my parents and I talked with one of our good family friends who also works at my alma mater. Soon, we called it a night and stopped by Sonic for some sodas. So tasty and refreshing. We came home and DJ came just a little while after.
We spent the rest of the night watching “Fuller House,” which I am already obsessed with. The last several nights, we’ve all gathered around our TV in the living room and watched. There’s seriously nothing better! And out of everything I did, I think I’ll miss that the most. I just love doing the simple things with loved ones and we had a LOT of laughs along the way.
Time is a bittersweet thing. Sometimes, as you get older, it’s hard to be excited about an event or day, because you know in just a little while, those days will fade into dust. How do you hold onto that scene happening right before you, when you know it’s only going to end with someone leaving or saying goodbye, waving as they drive off or walk away.
I hate goodbyes. They’re awkward and uncomfortable. And they never seem to get easier, no matter how well or little you know the person. Like, what are you supposed to say? It seems like there should be some sort of formal speech or profound message that goes along with it, but there never seems to be. I’m not gonna lie, it sucked saying goodbye to my cousin this morning, but as the great Amy Poehler once said, “you have to remember that goodbyes are temporary because no one ever really leaves and nothing lasts forever. People are always with us, because they are in our hearts and in our memory. The only thing we can depend on is change…Life is just a series of moments–a string of pearls that make up the necklace of your life and so every once in awhile, to complete the circle, you need to end a chapter.”
My weekend is coming to a close, but I’ll be spending the rest of the evening watching Academy Award red carpet coverage and eating dinner at my grandparents’ house and just mentally preparing for the rest of the week.
That’s all for now,