The past week started pretty much like any other. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I worked (although we did have a thesis defence which means party during work time). On Thursday night I went round Steve’s to admire the new lay-out of his apartment and to eat some curry and play with a BB-gun. When I got home I quickly packed my bag for LA and got into bed at around 23:00, only for a few hours though as I had to get up again at 03:30 to go to Schiphol to begin my trip. All went smoothly. I had a swell time exploring the whiskey shop at Heathrow airport, I read 300 pages in Anathem (I still have about 200 to go now) and for my flight from London to LA I got put in Economy plus which means vast spaces of legroom so I could stretch out comfortably and get some sleep.
I landed at around 14:15 (first surprise: rain) and I had arranged to go to ISI on Friday afternoon since Paul wouldn’t be in LA until the evening as he had to come back from Iowa. But this was the second surprise of the trip: he had caught an earlier plane and had landed half an hour before me so he was waiting at the airport! We shared a taxi to Marina Del Rey and then went into ISI because he still had to print some stuff for the San Diego trip the next day (which he hadn’t been able to keep a secret) and I had to do some stuff for work as well. In the evening we met up with Jason, Erika and Dirk at the Waterfront café. There we also bumped into Kerstin, so it was a good but chilly night.
On Saturday morning the sun was shining so I went for a run in Marina Del Rey while Paul answered some emails. We were supposed to leave for San Diego at 11 but a meeting about one of his applications came up so we would go by Manhattan beach first around 13:00. This is when Paul casually asked whether I wanted to go to the beach in Venice. Since I’m a sucker for the beach I of course said yes, and then I faffed about a bit (drinking tea, burning some CDs) because I thought we had loads of time left. But Paul kept asking me to hurry up. In the meantime Gully called a few times, Paul said because he was having some trouble with a Valentine’s date or something…
We got to Venice, found a parking spot on Main Street and walked down Rose to the beach.
Near the water I spotted two chairs and a table with a white table cloth, a vase with a rose, another rose lying on the table and two champagne glasses. I thought was so cute, not that I’m a die-hard Valentine’s day fan but I deep down inside I do like romance. While I pointed out the little scene to Paul he suggested we’d investigate. He sat down at the table, so I did too and we drank some champagne. I thought this was already the best Valentine’s day ever, sitting in the sun, watching the waves roll in, drinking champagne, I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that now does it? Well, it does, as then Paul proposed to me, literally “met alles erop en eraan” (and I’m keeping the details to myself :P). It was just absolutely perfect.
Fast forward to a few minutes later. The mystery of how Paul had arranged all this was solved by the appearance of Gully, Paul’s accomplice in this whole undertaking. We had some more champagne (OK, I had most of it, since I was the only one not driving and the most astonished of the party). Some people who walked by thought it was very cool and wanted to take a picture of us, it as all a bit surreal, in a good way. Just absolutely amazing. It’s Tuesday now and the smile is still plastered on my face.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay on the beach for too long as we needed to get to Paul’s appointment in Manhattan Beach. On the way there we stopped at ISI to pick up the prints we’d forgotten the day before and for me to quickly skype my mother who was rather shocked, but happy for us. In the car I called dad, who was at work and hadn’t been informed by mum yet.
In Manhattan Beach Paul went to his meeting and I read some more in my book on a bench on the boardwalk, although I didn’t progress very far as concentrating was hard :).
Around 15:00, when Paul was done and my face had gotten a bit sunburnt we were on our way to San Diego. More on that later…