This is a long one....
Day 1: Friday 10/8
I was running late (as usual) and made the drive from Berkeley to SFO allowing no time for traffic (thankfully there was none). I was assuming that if Karma's plane was scheduled to land at 11:15 a.m. that he would be in customs for some time after that. Wrong. He was waiting for me when I got to the International Arrivals area! Luckily he hadn't been waiting long.
When there is this much build up to a situation, a moment, especially, the mind starts to create amazing stories of how things will unfold. I've seen way too many movies and, although our story sounds like it could be the script to one, this is not a movie, this is life.
To be honest, it was an anti-climactic reunion. There were no tears, no public make out sessions....it was the same as when I got off the plane in India in June after 14 months of not meeting, it was understated and a little nervous. I felt relieved that he had made it through security without a hitch and we made our way up to my car in the parking garage. He had ridden in elevators in India, so that wasn't new to him. He was tickled to see my Mini Cooper and also to see me drive.
In the car ride back to Berkeley he kept saying how much the Bay area looks like Tibet and he's continued to make similar comments. The weather couldn't have been any more perfect, but he felt cold compared to being in India.
Once we got back to my place he met my roommates, both the American & Thai couple and the Tibetan woman (the man was out), then he showered (while I posted photos on Facebook). We went to get lunch after that. His first "American" meal was at a Tex-Mex restaurant that's between my house and Target (where we were heading). He loved chips & guacamole. *Whew* Now I know I can marry him. :) I love me some guac & chips (esp. after living in Austin)!
Target was surprisingly calm, so we walked around and got him a few clothing items. He'd arrived with one pair of socks, so that had to change! I bought him a few t-shirts and a hoodie, it's chilly here at night. He had been on an escalator, but never seen an escalator for a shopping cart (it's a huge, 2-level Target).
We came back home, took a nap, then went to have dinner with some friends at a local pizza place. This place is great because they serve both regular pizza and vegan--everyone's happy! The group was about 10 people and Karma was quiet because of his lack of English, but he loved the pizza (it was gourmet, California-style, so he'll have to try good old-fashioned pizza someday).
We crashed early after all the excitement and food. I have to say, sharing my bed is a nice feeling. I've enjoyed being alone, but it's cold here at night and having the person you love to snuggle with is a really great feeling.
Day 2: Saturday 10/9
I have a habit of doing too much. This was one of those days. I woke up early and went to Zumba at 8, then my Tibetan language class at 10, then headed home to get ready for a beach trip to Santa Cruz (about 1 1/2 hours from Berkeley). Karma is such a great sport. He slept in, fended for himself for breakfast (Joe & Joy helped him with his Cheerios, bananas & milk). Actually, he said that he'd suggested they boil the milk and that Joe laughed. :) Cold food isn't very common in Asia.
We picked up a sangha member named JB and Anam Thubten Rinpoche and headed south to Santa Cruz for a beach party (with walking meditation and then a bonfire). It was a beautiful evening. It also became blatantly clear to me that Karma's English and his shyness are becoming a source of my anxiety. Keep in mind that it was his FIRST full day in the U.S. and I'm already drawing a picture in my mind of how things "are." I seriously need to take a step back and give this man some time to adjust (and myself, for that matter). I digress.
Day 3: Sunday 10/10
I was supposed to spend most of the day at the meditation center, but I woke up and knew that I had to stay home. I was running around all day Saturday and have a ton of work for Monday, so I decided to take a day off. Best choice I made all day!
My Tibetan roommates moved out today and one of their friends was helping them who is also Tibetan. Karma went to introduce himself and it turns out he knows the guy from India! They were both so happy. This makes me very happy, too. I think they'll spend a lot of time together.
He also showed me an article he has published in the most recent Tibetan Times (online publication). I didn't know that he was so public with his writing. He does love to write poetry--I wonder if that will carry over into his English studies....
I took him to the Berkeley Marina where there is a point with a path you can walk around and the weather was so amazing. He totally fell in love. We'll definitely be walking down there more often. It's really close to my house. We sat on a bench and looked at the sailboats and the Blue Angels whooshing around doing tricks (it's Fleet Week in SF) and the cloudless sky. It was a beautiful moment.
Karma was saying how he thinks India has a lot of freedom, but doesn't use it well and that America has a lot of freedom and creates a lot of rules (he thinks that's a good thing).
We headed back to Target to buy him a warm jacket and on our way Karma commented about how easy the roads are to drive on here and we laughed about the fact that there are no cows in the road here (I know there are in some parts of the U.S.).
We went grocery shopping at a small, local natural grocers that I love. He was laughing that he had no preference about which cereal he wanted because he's never tried any of them. He's an easy man to please when it comes to food, so he opted to eat whatever I'm eating.
We rented a movie and plan on lounging around tonight. I think it's going to take awhile before we're both settled, but we're really excited that he's here!