Philadelphia was a trip we didn’t know we so desperately needed until we were already waving goodbye to our friends at the train station, prolonging every moment before our inevitable journey back home. Being that it was only planned a week in advance, I wonder now if it was a sign from the Universe telling us to feed our then-desolate spirits. This trip was special for many reasons: it was our first trip of 2017 (we took it the first week of January), a trip to commemorate Tommy’s birthday, our first time in Philly visiting our friends Paul and Liz, and most importantly, it would be the first trip Tommy took since his recovery.

There are so many things I worry about when we leave home now, but this trip was a testament to God’s omnipresent safekeeping of us. We ate incredulous food, slept slumber-party style next to our friends on the floor (because despite being with each other 24/7 we actually never wanted to be separated), got kicked out of a few restaurants for not understanding how to play cards and use inside voices at the same time, drove to DC to say our goodbyes to Obama, and created countless new memories.

Paul and Liz are special friends to Tommy and I.  Paul and Tommy met in 2006 when they were both studying abroad in Beijing and remained good friends over the years. I met Paul and Liz as a duo for the first time in New York City 4 years ago when we broke bread over Baohaus (one of our favorite NYC eats!).  The first conversation Liz sparked with me was comprised of an elaborate description of the texture of the fried fish bao she was devouring.  I laughed at how concerned she was in being as informative and true-to-life as possible in order to create a rapport between us – as if the possibility that I might not know exactly what that fried-fish bao tasted like would ruin me!   It was then I knew how serious she was about appreciating good food and that we’d made a life-long connection.  Furthermore, Paul and Liz are truly the kind of people who bring light into every room they walk into. They’re incredibly buoyant personalities are infectious and together they provide endless fuel for laughter and happiness. And as if our hearts weren’t full enough from being with them, we got to meet their amazing families on this trip and it was seriously like an episode of TLC’s ‘Long Lost Family’ because of the instant familial connection.

Let me lastly mention that I brought my little sister Kelly on this trip with us because EVERYONE needs a Kelly in their life.  She’s the best sidekick, best joke teller, best third, fifth, and seventh wheel to any group, and she is the best best best friend to Tommy and I.  She just makes everything that much more fun.  And I’m not saying that because she’s my sister – Tommy whole heartedly agrees!  He had the absolute best birthday and I am so thankful to everyone who made this trip so memorable and loves him as much as I do.


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