Last Thursday I made my annual pilgrimage to the San Francisco Bay Area for a long weekend. This is an important trip for me as it provides me with an opportunity to spend treasured time with my Mom and family – as well as catch up with friends in the area and do some business networking. Coincidentally (wink, wink) the trip also happens to fall on a weekend when my Oregon Ducks are in the Bay Area playing either Cal or Stanford.
In the past few years its been hard for me to leave the twins for a long weekend because I knew how much extra work it would be for Renee – especially when Stone was having so many sleep issues. But the trip has been important for me – not only because it provides me with an opportunity to reconnect with so many people in my life – but also because it does provide me with a break and breather from the the day-to-day reality of raising twin boys (one of whom is on the Autism spectrum). And of course it’s always nice to take a bit of a break from work (even though when you own your own agency, you’re never truly fully away from work!).
On this trip I made a concerted effort to spend more time with my Mom than I have in the past. Typically I’ve loaded my schedule with as many meetings and get togethers as I could pack into a few days – and would spend time with my mom in the mornings and maybe a little at night. This time around though I kept my schedule light and used a Friday night happy hour at my old favorite stomping grounds (Hopyard Alehouse in Pleasanton) as the primary hub to gather friends from my former high school, co-ed softball team, neighborhood and even Twitter to catch up over a few pints of microbrews. It was really a fun night for me as those who know me also know how much I enjoy being social with friends (old and new) and it really has been a rare opportunity for me to do just that since the twins were born six years ago.
Saturday was the day of the game so I was naturally excited about the matchup of two Top 10 teams – but I was almost more excited knowing that I would have a bed to myself and the opportunity to sleep through the night without having to worry about a child waking up and coming to bed with me. Given how early Stone still can wake up (between 6-7 typically), being able to sleep in until 8 am was blissful. It was nice being able to lounge around my Mom’s house, watch ESPN College GameDay (which was broadcast from Stanford that day) and get ready to head to Palo Alto for the 5 pm kickoff. I checked in with Renee and was relieved to hear that both boys were being very good and there had been no serious sleep issues.
My friend Chris (who I met through Twitter and flew up from Southern California to go to the game with me) headed out to the Farm around 11 am and met up with a few other Twitter friends at a great sports bar that showed literally 20 games live on giant TVs all around the bar. It was packed with fans of colleges from all over the US – depending on the game/TV you saw picnic table full of fans clan in Ohio State, Michigan or USC gear. And of course there were a ton of Stanford and Ducks fans as well. Fortunately, for me and about 25,000 other Ducks fans who went to the game, Oregon won the game 53-30 so I came back to my Mom’s a happy man.
Sunday I arranged to meet with my longest-standing friend, Mike. We’ve known each other since his family moved into the house across the street from ours in Walnut Creek when he was 3 and I was 5. He’s now a very successful fertility physician and a partner in his own practice near Sacramento. He was nice enough to drive down to meet me and we agreed to go for a run together – something we used to do on a monthly basis when Renee and I lived in Pleasanton. I originally planned on only running 4-5 easy miles (since I haven’t been running much) but we ended up going nearly 8 miles since we were going at an easy pace and having so much fun talking and catching up. The weather was spectacular – sunny and in the low 60s. It really felt amazing. We had a nice lunch together with my Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon helping her pull out her Christmas boxes so that she could decorate her house for the holidays. And for the first time in 10 years, I was able to watch and thoroughly enjoy a 49ers win as they beat a very good New York Giants team in an entertaining game. The day wrapped up with a visit to my older brother’s house for dinner and a chance to hang out with he and his wife. This was another common activity when Renee and I lived in the Bay Area and it felt like old times having a beer, watching football and talking 49ers and Ducks football together. It was really a fantastic day and evening.
My flight on Monday wasn’t scheduled to depart until 4:30 so I arranged a lunch meeting with an old friend/colleague from Comcast Sports Net in San Francisco. Since I flew in and out of SFO and used BART to get to and from my Mom’s house in Pleasanton, I was able to jump off it downtown and have a nice lunch with Tom and learn more about how things have changed at the former Fox Sports Bay Area (where Renee used to work). The morning was spent at a local Starbucks as I did have work to accomplish (a client emailed the day before with a request to sent out a press release – as I said, you’re never truly away from your job when you are the agency owner!) but even being in a different location was a nice change and I felt more productive than usual.
I finally boarded my flight at 4:30 and headed back to the cold Northwest – recharged and excited to see my family again. Leaving the terminal and heading into the baggage claim area I received the best surprise of all: Renee, Stone and Ty were waiting for me outside of the gate at a table. Their excitement when they saw me instantly filled me with love and happiness and I was again happy to be back home.