Sun 30 Oct 2011
Considering that we’ve been together for over a year and are living together, I suppose it’s odd that my family hadn’t met Mountaineering Man before a few weeks ago.
But that’s one of the downsides of living abroad, thousands of miles away from my parents, sister Anne, brother-in-law Juan and best friends. Though I’d kept everyone informed via emails and phone conversations, it’s always only half the story because despite Facebook photo albums and blog posts there’s no way to convey the whole truth about someone or something – especially one that is particularly significant. And because I’m immersed in my life here, I often forget that no matter how much I’ve shared with everyone back in LA they’re still not getting the full picture of MM.
Before we left on the big trip, MM took a fair bit of ribbing from his mates. As my father is a Vietnam veteran, his buddy Joe kept making “Meet the Parents” references and joking that my father was going to be keeping an eye on MM’s every move. Despite all the teasing, he was eager to meet my family and as we pulled up to my parents’ house he seemed relaxed and ready to Meet the Kleinedlers!
For the first half of the LA trip, we stayed at my folks’ house and within 10 minutes of walking in the door my mom had the photo albums out and was showing MM my baby pictures and telling childhood stories. Later that night we gathered at Z’s sushi, the place where my family goes nearly every other week for dinner. When I lived in LA, I knew if I went to Z’s on a Friday night, there’d be a good chance my sister and her husband or my parents or all four would be there, sitting at the corner of the sushi bar and bantering with Toshi the sushi chef. It’s just our place and has been for years.
So it was appropriate that the first family dinner was at Z’s, and what a great night it was. Toshi threw down piece after piece of beautifully fresh sushi (sea urchin, yellowtail, salmon, sea bass…) along with a half-dozen cooked specials like tempura rock shrimp with Sriracha mayo and miso soup with tofu and seaweed. Toshi welcomed MM, calling him his “new friend;” MM and my parents talked about Dublin pubs and my brother-in-law talked music with him. My sister, who is my identical twin, peppered MM with questions about his mountain climbing, job, our apartment, etc. (it’s a twin thing!).
Over the next week we spent quality time with the family. We did an urban hike with my parents in downtown Los Angeles where we took the world’s shortest cable car ride on Angel’s Flight and sampled some great tacos at Grand Central Market. We walked around Venice Beach and checked out the famous canals with Anne and Juan. Another day MM went music shopping with Juan while my sister and I hit the mall with my friend Tawny. The Sunday before we were due to leave my parents hosted a small party with a dozen of my and our family’s friends so they, too, could meet MM. And on the last day my sister cooked dinner for the six of us at her place and we put away way too many bottles of wine and talked late into the night.
Though it was probably all a blur for MM, it was great to finally show him my home and for him to meet my loved ones. And despite being thrown into a huge group of new faces, MM held his own and got a chance to spend a good deal of time with most of the people he met. Everyone got on great and it was a wonderful visit, the first of many to come.