July 1st, I landed in Washington, D.C., and my summer in the states began. I was excited about getting to spend so much time, without work in the back (or front) of my mind, with people who make me happy, and who I care about. While life is never what you expect, it was simply a wonderful 11.5 weeks.

(Right now, I’m back in Oz for six weeks, before heading to Chile)

A spin through the East Coast

For the summer in Virginia, I rented an apartment in the suburb/city that my sister lives in, just 45 minutes South of Washington, D.C.

After getting settled in my apartment, I took a trip to NYC to see a close friend, who I hadn’t seen since I had moved to Australia. I hadn’t been able to return for his wedding, and so getting to see Rob and meet his wife was fantastic. I ran through Harlem to Central Park, met friends for lunch at trendy vegan restaurants, and enjoyed my first visit back to New York in over a decade.

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Rob and Nellesa showed me some cool NYC spots
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My name is BJR and I approve of this professional soccer match (my first)
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It’s like a real sport. And they pay the players to play soccer. And people watch. Amazing!

Woods Hole

After a brief stop in Boston, I spent two days with Ann, who lived across the street from me when I moved to Eagle River, Alaska, and has known me since I was 10. So Ann has seen all the phases of Bryan — boyish, awkward, geeky, unsure of his direction, then confident, playful, thoughtful (and all of those are in the last 3 months…).

Ann now lives in Woods Hole, which opened my eyes to the type of place where I would love to live. Woods Hole is on the ocean (or the cape as it were), and is the center for all U.S. East Coast sea and ocean research, and the epicenter for much of the insights into how the oceans are changing globally. As a result of the scientific community, the whole community has a hum of activity, that even extends to hosting some great theater over the summer months.

People compete in sailing. There are great bike trails. And nature is everywhere around you. Smart people, active people, stimulating people. In my quest for my new Aussie home, I’ve found ocean, nature, athletics, and community — but I’m unsure how much intellectual stimulation exists in some of the coastal communities. Maybe that’s what my mission will be — to create that in a small beach town in Oz.

Regardless of the future, the time with Ann was amazing — so many great conversations, and I was constantly learning something new.

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Woods Hole
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I clearly need work on taking selfies. But I wanted to remember this amazing visit with Ann.
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Some of the old sea exploration equipment
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How they used to store data from ocean probes. How cool is that. Or maybe it’s just a recording of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.
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And of course, I got in a great bike ride (zero elevation change over a three hours!)

US Transplant Games in Salt Lake City, Utah

Amazing, awesome excellent. But, I already blogged about it.

A week in Austin

Much like the families I have in California, I also have people who are like family in Austin. In past trips I wrestled with not feeling at home in my former home, but now there’s a peace and acceptance and love for returning to Austin, and enjoying all the things:

The “short list”: Multiple trips to Tacodeli, slowly boating around Lake Travis with Neel, a lunch and a handful of hugs from BMayo, dinners with Neel, Melissa & E, nightly episodes of The Legend of Korra and practicing water-bending in the pool with E, a beer and fries at Ski Shores, a clash between metric and imperial measurement on a run with Paul, dinner with Mak & Shannon, completely lucking out to beat the young chess master Jackson, and a great (though slippery) bike ride through Westlake with Charley and Chris.

I have concluded that home is more about where other people are than where I am.

Family

The main purpose of my summer was to spend time with mum, and my sister’s family in Stafford, Virginia. While I didn’t know exactly how it would go, I couldn’t have come up with a better summer plan even if I’d chained a warehouse full of house cats to small workstations with project planning software.

I’m not going into all the details of all the hiking, dinners, bowling, movies, etc — but suffice to say this was one of the best decisions I’ve made recently. Mum is pretty awesome and I had time to do the simplest things, from watching Jeopardy to grocery shopping, and every minute was great.

Some of the reason I don’t want to share is that these moments are delicious and I selfishly want to horde them inside my head instead of writing about them.

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A hike across three continents with Uncle Bryan and two Unclets (the three of us live on different continents)
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Mom and I went to see The Color Purple (the musical) at the Kennedy Center

Stafford Triathlon

The summer ended with four family members competing in a triathlon in Stafford, which due to police unavailability due to hurricane Florence, ended up being just an aqua-run (no bike), but we had a blast. Everyone podium’d, and my niece was the second overall female in the entire race. I might have beat her by one second. The best part of the race came with about 2k left in the run, where the next 1km, my niece and I ran side by side, stride for stride, both pushing ourselves to the limit, completely red-lined coming towards the final corner. I will not forget that feeling, of getting to compete alongside a family member, for a long time.

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After the race!
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Showing our hardware and our matching race t-shirts. I could do this post-race stuff with my eyes closed.
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Humility and sportsmanship. And a wet spot (from the tri suit). 2nd and 3rd in my age group didn’t show for the medal ceremony.

Other summer fun

I could write another novella about all the other awesome DC stuff I did with various friends, from cycling laps ending up plane spotting at Gravelly Point, to a Frank Lloyd Wright house at Woodlawn, to seeing an actual Orioles win (my team, oh my we are bad this year), to watching the Washington Pops perform the soundtrack to Star Wars as the movie played behind them.

DC, you’re not too bad. (I-95, you are evil, awful, horrible, except after 10 PM, and even then…).

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It’s easy to get great seats when your team sucks.
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So good.

A lot of people wondered if I could fill my time without work. Yes, yes I can.

A lot of people wondered if I would miss work. No, no I do not.

A lot of people wondered if I would be able to relax. Yes, well — not always, but a lot more than before.

Onward.

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