in which I catch up with my wonderful aunt and uncle, visit my grandparents, have lunch with my dear sister, make the first of my two program visits, and enjoy an evening catch-up session with friends from the Moscow days.
With a much appreciated ride to the airport, my spring break kicked off with a direct flight to Detroit, the only delayed flight of my whole travels, where I was greeted with the coldest weather I had experienced in months (but not for long! Thank you, Madison!). My gracious aunt and uncle, my first of many hosts for the week, picked me up and took me to dinner. Saturday was a lazy day, with a glorious breakfast out (one of my favourite things ever! Seriously, skip going out for dinner–I love cooking, anyway. But breakfast! Glorious breakfast! With bottomless coffee!). The afternoon was spent catching up with my aunt, filling me with ever more appreciation for my amazing family. One good thing about being a lot closer to my roots next year. In the afternoon, we headed over to the rehab center where my grandfather was staying, where I surprised my grandparents by being there. A fun experience, though now that it is practically the third time I have done so in a year, it’s not quite so surprising (amazing how often I’ve made it to Detroit–especially given the fact that I’ve been living in Germany, Kazakhstan, and California).
My grandfather seemed to be doing pretty well–he certainly looked good. And it was great to catch up over dinner before parting ways. The next day, Sunday, was a nice leisurely morning, with eggs florentine (mm! watch me gloat again over fantastic breakfasts!). And then my aunt and uncle drove me to Ann Arbor, where I checked into my hotel (courtesy of the University of Michigan), and waited for an incoming visitor!
In a brilliant stroke of luck, my sister’s school friend had been visiting her for the weekend and the two of them had decided to visit a third friend of theirs in Lansing. Ann Arbor, of course, lies conveniently on the way between the two cities. And thus, we shared an excellent lunch before getting a warm coffee.
They continued home, and I wandered Ann Arbor for the remainder of the afternoon, before retiring from the freezing rain and watching bad television. At least, until the forces of hunger took me out to a pub with my book, then Shteyngart’s Absurdistan. The next day was full of informational meetings and meetings with professors. I had an excellent lunch with my to-be advisor, Doug Northrop, at this FANTASTIC vegetarian restaurant. Seriously, I will be working my way through that menu.
I can’t claim any particular affinity for Ann Arbor, however. Easily the weakest link of the UMich package. I know people love it, but I am not much of a college town sort of person, and the thought of living in a college town is a bit daunting. But the people were nice, and the program has much to recommend it.
By Tuesday afternoon, however, my time had grown short, and I caught a plane to LaGuardia, where I deplaned and caught a bus then subway into the city, where I met Kate and Alisa underneath Times Square. We headed straight to the village, probably my favourite part of NYC. Which became pretty obvious when I pointed out all the restaurants on the block that I had eaten at. I must say, I was pretty impressed with myself, given the small amount of time I have spent in NYC (five days during my junior year of high school and a couple days here and there every couple years). We had Ethiopian food while catching up on our various love lives, academic studies, and future plans. Most pleasant indeed. Kate, of course, goes back to Harvard. Alisa was a friend from my semester in Moscow. We were all together last year for a weekend in the Alps (Kate in from Ukraine, Alisa from Russia, me from Nuremberg–the times before that in Boston, Providence, and St. Petersburg for an absurd and memorable (well, not for me!) New Year’s), so it was great to all be together again.
We continued over beer in a random bar with plenty of options, before we caught trains back to Princeton (Alisa) and New Haven (Kate and I). Most pleasant indeed!