We are already well into the first month of 2014, yet I am caught reflecting. Where I was last year? What was doing? Where? All that reflection has lead me to one conclusion: 2013 was quite a year!
The year 2013 began at a cabin with friends outside of Jyvaskyla, Finland. We were launching fireworks from a frozen lake in about -25 Celcius and letting the shadows of melted tin predict our individual fortunes for the year ahead.
By the end of January I was landing in Munich Germany to play professional volleyball for Rote Raben Vilsbiburg. Most of our games were home games in the Spring which meant less time spent traveling for away games. I had time to explore my own city Vilsbiburg and some nearby cities like Landshut, Munich, and Dachau.
In February I found out my good friend and former teammate from Croatia was living nearby for work so I took the free weekend and the 22 Euro anywhere in Bavaria train ticket to see her in Nuremberg. We hadn’t seen each other since I spent Christmas in Croatia in 2009. Long overdue reunion. We also used the 22 Euro pass (13 euro each) to visit Bamberg for the day. We had so much fun together.
In March friendship came to me, this time from Abu Dhabi in the form of my longtime friend from Chico. In 2010 at the end of my season in Sweden I was able to take time to come see her life in UAE. We grew up playing club volleyball together and then against each other in school. As we have grown up and moved away from Chico we have shared our global mentality and I can always rely on her for some good Skype understanding to make us both feel at home.
This was the first time she was able to come see my life abroad. She was able to see me and my life playing volleyball and see some more of Germany! We used those amazing Bavarian train tickets to do some fun day trips. In Salzburg we spent the whole day sledding at high speeds in the Austrian Alps. Another day we went to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the model for the castle in the Disney logo.
For Easter Break I again went to Salzburg with my two Costa Rican teammates. We had so much fun walking around exploring, taking pictures, getting flipped off by Russian tourists, and laughing so so much. After that I continued on through slovenia and Croatia to return to my Croatian family for easter. Although I was in Croatia for easter once, I wasn’t in Osijek. Eryk and I took our break and went to Pula Croatia, the city in which we later named our dog after. It was a much needed reunion. It may seem odd to some seeing people so little although they mean so much to you but it makes me really cherish the time I get with them that much more.
The rest of March and April were filled with volleyball, playing, fitness, kid volley clinics, and some German classes. For our game against the team in Munich (very close to Vilsbiburg) the manager of my previous team in Finland and his family came and watched the game. I met them in Munich the next day for lunch and a little sightseeing. Although you only play and live in places for a short time you rely on the people around you to make or break the experience. This family made my experience in Finland feel like home.
We had a few very important games that meant the difference for our teams fate in the league the following season. You could feel the pressure from everyone around the club. Our last game was extremely important and we ended up winning. It was a great note to end the season on, celebrate, and fly home the next day. A whirlwind weekend.
I met Eryk and Pula at the Munich airport, their flight from Helsinki came in and we would join the next flight together, Munich direct to San Francisco. We had an incredibly difficult time with airport security (she took her job a little serious and followed Eryk from his gate all the way to the passport control area for leaving EU line, where we then stayed for an additional 30 minutes. We were surrounded by the airport terminal manager, security, head of Lufthansa, customs officials, all while the men in the passport booths were taking photos of us…on their cell phones. It was a spectacle to say the least and getting on that plane was the greatest feeling of travel relief I’ve ever felt. Moral of the story, when traveling with your animal always have paperwork and read all country, airport, airline policies and you will always board your plane. So glad I am diligent with those things, pretty sure Pula was happy too.
Then I did what I always do when I come home, eat In-N-Out and mexican food and visit family and friends. I got a chance to see my friend Corey super pregnant and did a maternity shoot with her adorable belly. She was radiant pregnant, the quintesential glowing mother. Its fun to see your friends in new light like this as they enter a new chapters in their lives.
In May we went down to LA to arrange summer housing, jobs, see friends, etc. We spend some time with family and went to beautiful Bodega Bay for the afternoon, it was so beautiful. Pula and I played nurse for my mom during her knee surgery, Pula was a better nurse than me.
I attended a Gold Medal Squared Coaches Clinic to prepare for my long summer of camp coaching throughout the USA. It was a great clinic with some of the great minds of volleyball. I always walk away so pumped up about volleyball and coaching and playing in such an amazing and new way.
June we moved, at pretty much the same time my best friend in the whole wide world went into labor with her first child. We moved down to Hermosa Beach where we had spent the previous summer, It’s a wonderful way to spend the summer after cold snowy winters! We treated ourselves to an apartment 1 block from the beach. Which makes it pretty inciting for friends to visit. A few days after we moved in my Swedish friend and former teammate visited us.
We did some typical LA things as well as just relaxing on the beach. It just so happened that another Swede teammate was in LA too as well as two other Americans who lived and played in Sweden. So we had a great Swede Reunion. As soon as the swedes left, my finnish volleyball friends visited after they came to the states for a wedding. We also did some fun Cali things as well as some quality beach relaxing. Scandinavians know what’s up, soak up some California sunshine on that bright white wintery skin!
My roomie Aubrey took me to Gay Pride LA held in West Hollywood. Shockingly, it was my first gay pride parade, it was such a wonderful event. Richard Simmons stood right next to me briefly watching the parade. Epic first pride parade for me complete with unicorn horns and lots of glitter.
I also got to spend some good time in June in Chico when my sister visited from New York (state not city). We got to spend some good time in Bidwell Park, one of my favorite things to do when I visit, and have some family dinners (rarely happens when everyone lives in different states and continents :).
June was also a month of landmarks, my youngest cousin Kelly graduated from High School! I can still remember holding him as such a lil precious baby We drove up from LA to celebrate and watch him cross the stage. During the 7 hour drive between LA and the Bay we got news Eryk for a contract to play in Lima, Peru…in 2 days. So we watched graduation, dashed over to Sac to see newborn baby Zocchi, and back down to LA to ship him out. It was a whirlwind of a month and the beginning of a great summer!
The first six months of 2013 alone were fantastic.
Wait until you see where the next 6 months of 2013 took me!!