I've never been to California. I have friends scattered all over the state and have always wanted to go. One of my 'extended' fraternity brothers Jordan Wu lives near LA with his gorgeous wife Shamim and two beautiful daughters. They are such a beautiful eclectic family.
Over the years of meeting each other at fraternity related events we have developed a close friendship. We share an unique connection in that we are both foreign born, came to the US to study, had really thick accents before we assimilated to 'Americanized tonality', became orientation leaders at our respective schools, joined our fraternity Sigma Nu in college in very distinct geographic regions (Jordan in Cal Poly, Pomona, California and I at Nicholls State, Louisiana) and experienced similar challenges and successes in fraternity life along the way.
For me what is more personally connecting beside the similar backgrounds is that Jordan is a past Collegiate Grand Councilman of Sigma Nu who was involved with the High Council of Sigma Nu that created the first Strategic Plan. This first Strategic Plan required the hiring of IT Director co-incidentally right about the time I graduated from college. My employment with Sigma Nu has afforded me the opportunity to become a proud permanent resident of the US. For that I am eternally indebted to Sigma Nu, and those individuals who made my small yet profound American dream possible.
Jordan was born in Taiwan. He, his immediate family and extended family celebrate Chinese New Year every year. For 2014 it fell on Friday, Jan 31 2014. Over the past years they have invited a few Sigma Nu members, and this year I was asked to join. Unfortunately due to financial circumstances, I would not be able to make it. But Jordan and Shamim were determined that I should be there to celebrate this occasion - after all it only happens once a year. So they used their miles points and booked me a ticket. I was speechless and am grateful to such friendships in my life.
1 AM ET and my flight is cancelled. I wake up at 3 AM. Only have a few hours before I have to be at the airport. After battling cancellations, route adjustments, and airline changes and a longer flight pattern I left from Roanoke Airport, Virginia ... and behold a beautiful sunrise to greet me on my journey to the West Coast.
2:30 PM PT: Hello John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California for the very first time.
Third stop: Bromance with Wu watching the sunset.
Fourth stop: Wu residence for socializing with the rest of the Wu Tang Clan.
Fifth stop: If you've been hosted by Jordan before, you know the final stop to the Chinese massage parlor is just part of the agenda. Right Scott Smith? And no, it is not that kind of Chinese massage parlor!
The next morning Shamim and I chatted over breakfast for hours. BTW she makes an amazing iced coffee. Matt Miller, the coffee aficionado would concur. I love those over-sized straws.
Later Shamim, I, Jordan's cousin, and his mother spent a lot of time prepping for the celebration while listening to the 90s on Pandora. Yes - I love to cook, but most of what we did was prep work for making the special sauce to be used with the Hot Pot. It is basically a bowl of boiling broth where you drop vegetables, meats, and other ingredients for a minute or two, take it out, and mix with the special sauce and devour. It is served family style so there is hours upon hours of slow paced eating and lots of conversation. The special sauce is very spicy and may require a napkin or two for the sinuses. But it is TOTALLY WORTH IT. Just ask Jake who managed to sneak out some left over special sauce for a marinade.
This year we had a few Sigma Nu brothers from the local area (relatively) and from Chicago join in. We missed you Chris and Diego. It was just amazing dining experience. I wish the night would never end.
On my first flight back to Roanoke, Virginia, I met a wonderful woman on the plane. We decided to enjoy our two hour layover in Phoenix with lunch and margaritas. Not bad for the first time to California: instant lunch date on the return flight home.
If this is what just a weekend with friends (old and new) brings, I cannot wait for my travels to US and Spain to begin. I didn't expect to be here, but really desired to. It is funny how the universe works.