Monday, September 23, 2013

Levine Times Two = Fun Times Forty

Some people get really weirded-out when they hear that I am good friends with my ex-husband’s wife--in fact, not just some people, most people. Life doesn’t come with a set of rules--it’s society and ourselves that create conditioning around how things are supposed to look or supposed to be. I can safely say that there are not too many women who enjoy hanging out with their ex’s spouse, but then, I’m not most women. 

I kept my married name and so I have the same last name as Cheryl. She is awesome. By becoming an amazing step-mother to my autistic daughter, she instantaneously earned a thumbs up in my book. We always have fun when we’re together--we have the same boisterous, exuberant personality so out in public we can be quite the spectacle. Coupled with the fact that we really don’t care what people think, it makes for great fun together and we have a lot in common given we are both in our 40's. We can also be polar opposites in a lot of areas too though. For example, Cheryl loves to shop--she could shop all day, every day. I hate shopping. I go in, get what I want, and get out. I’d rather spend my time seeing things, taking photos, etc. and not trapped indoors and in line-ups with a bunch of people.

She came over for a visit at the end of the summer and we thought it would be fun to go to Seattle. The rationale was to do a combination of shopping AND seeing the sights in order to appease each other. When making a trip across the border these days, if you want to bring anything back from the US without paying duty, you have to spend more than a day there--even then, there’s a cap on what dollar amount you can bring back based on the length of your stay. So naturally, if you’re going to go, why not stay for an overnight? It’s doesn’t guarantee you a hassle-free experience at the border on the way back, but it’s worth a try.

We hopped in my Rav4 and away we went. Sure enough, even early on a Sunday morning there was a gigantic line up (neither of us have Nexus yet), so it was time for a small purchase at the Duty Free. The $5 spent on jelly beans and shortbread were worth their weight in gold to move us ahead by about 30 cars in the line up.

After we crossed the border, we thought it would be wise to have breakfast before we go crazy in the shops, you know, store up some energy, so we decided on Applebee’s. If you really enjoy a large portion of nutritionally devoid food with the onset of a slight sick feeling afterward, then I would highly recommend going there.

Once the poor dining experience was over and the nausea passed, we bee-lined it to Nordstrom Rack in Lynnwood. Ladies, if you want ridiculous deals on high-end name brand shoes that may be a season or two behind, this is the place for you. $15 Michael Kors shoes? Hello! All of a sudden, shopping wasn’t so bad. We went with the concept of divide and conquer. There were enablers everywhere in there--the staff, the women--even the husbands (I really don’t understand men who shop with their women FOR their women--yikes). When we re-united after 20 minutes, my cart was full of shoes, socks for Antonia, a couple of skirts, and whack of Betsey Johnson jewelry that was about 70% off. Cheryl had picked out two pairs of shoes, and even that was iffy--she was a shopaholic tease! We got up to the cash till, and being the great financial planner that I am, I didn’t realize that the total would be that out of line--being around all those shoes tends to skew my sense of reality. So after the cashier had bagged everything, reluctantly, I asked her to take a few things out, including a pair of Betsey boots that I didn’t really need (yeah right). The cashier was clearly overwhelmed, so after I paid, Cheryl picked up all my bags and as we start walking, whispers “Hurry up, I think the boots are in here.” I’m thinking “What??”, but we high-tailed it to the car, and peeled out of the parking lot like criminals and I was freaking out. We got to the gas station across the bridge--and keep in mind, I have not stolen a thing in my life--and all I can think of is OMG the cashier accidentally gave me the boots...AWESOME! You can imagine my disappointment when we actually looked in the bags and the boots weren’t there--Cheryl just thought the bags were too heavy so the boots must have been in the pile of bags...nope. So we weren’t thieves after much for living on the edge. 

Next stop--the hotel. When it came to where to stay, that was easy--The Fairmont Olympic. Great location, amazing building, and a plethora of wonderful childhood memories for me. It used to be the Four Seasons up until the mid-2000’s. My favourite Uncle who passed away a few years back worked at the Four Seasons in Vancouver for 35 years so we would go down to Seattle regularly and stay there when I was a kid. 

Seattle is a city that I could see myself living in. It’s very similar to Vancouver, just a bit more historic and with way more one-way streets. We opted NOT to go to the Space Needle only because last time I tried that with my Mom, we took a wrong turn and I ended up driving to Aurora on a freeway without exits for 25 minutes. Instead we decided to drive around the downtown core and go for a walk on the waterfront. Funny, Seattle is just like Vancouver in that as a tourist, you’ll be walking through the touristy area (Pioneer Square for Seattle and Gastown for Vancouver) and then take one step too many and land right in the scary part of town. The Hemp Fest was on, so the waterfront as a little crowded. I was in utter disbelief that there is free parking on Sundays at the water--we must have read the sign about 50 times to be certain that this foreign concept was correct.

For dinner, we settled on Purple, right at University and 5th. One word: DELISH. The ambiance was fabulous too...they have a giant wine cellar that spirals right up to the top of the 3 story-open concept restaurant. The night ended with a jump into the hotel’s hot tub and pool, and for me after Cheryl had gone to sleep, a stroll around the hotel when no one was around (it was about 1am). That’s my favourite time to take pictures and also to breathe in all the history this hotel exudes. I took some amazing shots that brought back a plethora of childhood memories of running around the ballrooms and hiding in the giant curtains.

When we left the next day, it seemed as though we just got there. We did one last shop at Nordstrom Rack downtown, and headed towards the Outlet Mall. Once there, I did not enjoy the experience, possibly because I wasn’t interested in shopping anymore and neither was my visa, but mainly because people were so pushy and rude. I was quite shocked--especially in the Coach store. Hey, I love handbags, but how much Coach sh*t does one person need--according to what I saw, apparently a lot. We got the hell out of there as soon as possible (with no deals to be found), and headed for something to quench our thirst. And I certainly found it when we went through the McDonald’s drive thru to end up with THE largest unsweetened iced tea (it must have been at least 2 liters) I have ever seen. Cheryl ordered the 2 liter diet Pepsi, and between the two of us, we were wired on major caffeine with several bathroom stops as we made our way to Bellingham.

We saw lots of interesting things while driving. There was one part of the highway where they had one of those signs up that show what the speed limit should be and then your speed--everyone else got a number flashed at them--I just got an unhappy face. Naturally we burst out laughing at that--only I would get the unhappy face. At one point, we passed an inordinate amount of hay trucks all in a row driving next to us, and it soon became like a video game called avoid-the-random-tufts-of-hay-from-hitting-your-car-and-windshield. On the way back while heading to the border, we noticed that every single exit had about 5 fast food choices available on the sign. Mexican food was always one of the choices--even to the point where one of the signs indicated there was a Taco Bell, a Taco Time AND a Taco Del Mar--that’s just craziness...oh the choice!

Once in Bellingham, we stopped in at Marshall’s and noticed that the closer you get to the Canadian border, the lesser of a deal you get at the shops (although I did find a cute little pair of cowboy boots there). Trader Joe’s was the final place we needed to go and after we loaded up on low priced, GMO-free, organic groceries, I knew I was exhausted when Cheryl had asked if she could just use the washroom at Starbucks before we head back, and I said “Sure, we’ll just go through the drive-thru.”

We swapped spots in the car so she could handle the border situation--I really suck at it thanks to what my parents did to me as a child when we crossed the border (see my blog post “The Great Bargain Caper” for details). I just kept my mouth shut (Cheryl suggested I chew gum) while she engaged in a wonderful conversation with the female border guard that was just casually chit-chatting at 11pm on a Monday night with a one hour wait behind us.

When we got home, we still had enough energy to look at all the fab things we bought (I far outweighed Cheryl in the purchase department). We also talked about what an amazing time we had together. I really cherish my relationship with Cheryl--she and Geoff are like family to me and I feel very lucky to have them in my life.  Do we still weird people out with us hanging out together? Yes. Will that ever change? Not as long as there are places in this world where you can shop AND supposedly see the sights.

No comments:

Post a Comment