Writing from the Breakfast Buffet

What a whirlwind week it has been! I write to you from The Westin near San Francisco Airport, the remnants of a hotel breakfast buffet being cleaned up a few feet from my table and my cup of freshly refilled coffee cooling beside me. Whenever I’m presented with a breakfast buffet, my eyes get 10x larger than my stomach and I find myself heaping things I never usually eat for breakfast onto an overflowing plate.

This time I exercised some self-control, though I do have a smoothie, glass of orange juice, cup of coffee, and water in front of me, so you be the judge. It’s so nice to take a pause in the hotel restaurant to take stock and write to you all. Amaury is out at work meetings in preparation for his position in Guangzhou. I do feel a bit guilty that instead of getting up at 6am, I slept in (Westin heavenly beds really are heavenly), relished in a long yoga session, thoroughly enjoyed my rain shower (though of course kept it short because California is very clearly in a drought), and waltzed down to breakfast at a casual 10:30am. Ok, I feel a lot guilty…

After pack-out on Monday we mistakenly felt like we were just about done, but of course we still had to pack our own suitcases, clear out our apartment in Virginia, and say goodbye to all our friends. We made a big rookie error by completely underestimating how much stuff we had to take in our checked and carry-on baggage. Word to the wise, when packing two bags, gather what you think will fit in one and then you’ll probably be ok with two. All four of our checked bags were right at the 50lbs limit, resulting in us lugging the remainder of our belongings in our carry-on bags.

Otherwise, the trip out to California was uneventful and on-schedule. We’ve spent a lovely week visiting friends in my hometown, Livermore, as well as Sacramento, Carmichael, Davis, and San Mateo. Highlights include:  meeting friends’ babies(!); multiple get-togethers with old friends over coffee, gelato, and drinks; home-cooked dinners including a big dinner for 10 in Livermore and a four-course meal with my friend D and her husband in Carmichael; playing pianos in every place we stayed; and, hiking in Del Valle, one of my family’s favorite places to hike in Livermore.

The socializing both re-invigorated and drained us. It’s always nice to see old friends (many of my California friends really are more like family at this point) and visit old haunts. But, lots of talking, driving, and rehashing of our plans and next steps also tired us out.

A common topic of discussion in our little household is the social aspects of being introverted vs. extroverted. Susan Cain’s Quiet was instrumental early on in our relationship in helping us understand ourselves and each other. We both recharge by having alone time, but react differently to extended periods of socializing. On the introvert to extrovert spectrum, Amaury tends much more to introversion, whereas I oscillate somewhere in the middle of introvert/extrovert. Amaury starts any social situation with a finite amount of energy that gets drained as he interacts with people. Imagine he has a bag of coins, and he pays out coins as he socializes. I used to think I was this way, but I increasingly think I live more on of a curve of diminishing returns (ah economics). At first, I get great return from social interactions, I feel re-energized and I collect coins. But eventually, I pass my equilibrium level of social time and start to tire; at that point, I am drained by social interaction; I start paying out my coins. This generally means that I can socialize long past the point where Amaury is tired out, so I need to be mindful of his need for breaks and alone time. It also means that by the end of the day, we’re usually in the same place, ready for peace, quiet, and a heavenly bed.

It does seem cruel this morning that Amaury is the one needing to gather his coins and head out into San Francisco for meetings. Though, I did take the opportunity to get a few logistical things taken care of this morning- it seems like there’s always one more thing to organize or email to send! We’re really excited to put on our tourist hats this afternoon and explore San Francisco. Amaury hasn’t seen many iconic San Francisco sights, so I’ll definitely take him to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf. We’re also planning to head into Chinatown, which will be fun to have fresh in our mind when we arrive in Guangzhou. Apparently, most of the historical immigration to San Francisco’s Chinatown was from Guang Dong Province, where Guangzhou is located.

Thank you all for reading along. Next time I write we will finally be in China, ready or not!

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