This last weekend had it's highs and lows. Due to the endless bungling of my movers, I ended up not only having to miss my dad's wedding in Utah, but also am still without any furniture. I'm tired of thinking/fuming about it. There was a silver lining, however, and that was that I got to meet John's family. His parents were in town for a few days with his sister, as well as his aunt and uncle, in tow. In all I was pretty excited, rather than nervous. I feel like I usually do well with parents and relations — I'm a nice, responsible guy, with a stable job, I'm friendly and talkative. That's usually enough to tick the general approval boxes. I also find that I tend to have an easy time getting along with older folks. I'd much rather go to someone else's family reunion than, say, a party with a bunch of peers that I don't really know. In any event, we went for dinner at Southpaw on Valencia, and I was grateful for the informal atmosphere and noise level; it helped take some of the pressure off, and the long table made for small one on one conversations that were much easier to handle. His dad and I got down to brass tacks re: my work and about family history, which I loved — and his mom and aunt were an absolute riot.
The next day we all piled into a van and went down to Filoli in Woodside. It was stunning. It's a rambling, 16 acre estate: a giant manor of a country house, formal gardens, ponds, etc. When I toured the formal gardens a couple years ago at palaces in Austria and Germany, I was left a little cold by how stiff and manicured they were. Filoli, on the other hand, was formal enough that suggested wealth and an expert hand and eye, but still had a casual, messy lushness that seems specifically Californian.
I love visiting anything botanical with John because he knows all the scientific names for the plants, and can point out unique features that I probably wouldn't have noticed. I smelled sweet-peas for the first time, and ooh'd and ahh'd over the conservatory and beautiful terrarium designs.
The house was bonkers. At one point we went into a stunning, enormous kitchen and I quipped that the giant butcher block island in the center was bigger than my entire apartment kitchen. At that point we realized, however, that we weren't even in the kitchen yet, we were just in the butler's pantry. Once we went into the actual kitchen, I saw an even larger island that would have more than dwarfed the tiny 5x4' workspace at home. On the way through the library, I saw two casual sketches of a couple of the owners, done by John Singer Sargent. It was ridiculous.
After Filoli we ran down to Half Moon Bay for a quick walk along the beach, and were all stunned to see four grey whales, accompanied by six or so dolphins, not more than 100 ft off the shore. Shortly after that, 11 riders came down the beach on horseback and I felt like we and somehow wandered into a commercial shoot for the California Tourist Board. How is this state even real? How do I actually live here now?
That night before returning home, we stopped back at their rental and had snacks while talking about Prince and his passing, David Bowie, and bafflingly, Summer Heights High. It was a great weekend.