Worth The Extra Miles

Anna before the ceremony.

This trip to Kansas was primarily based around my friend’s wedding. We had bonded over the year-long MAT program at Trinity and I wanted to be there to support her as she set out on this new stage of life. She was a beautiful and sparkly bride, all smiles. The ceremony was very nice, and I just couldn’t quite register the fact that she was marriedand that I had witnessed it all. It’s one thing for my cousins to get hitched, it’s a whole different story when it’s a friend of mine. It brings in this huge and overwhelming depth of experience to the friendship. You’ve known so-and-so for so-long and you get to see them change their identity. It’s a wow feeling, one where I consistently realize we’re becoming adults and growing up. It’s amazing and breathtaking and scary all at once.

Catching up with Erin while we waited for the ceremony to begin.

The few hours I spent there, I was able to catch a couple of my other friends as well. Erin had flown in from PA after leaving the MAT once the fall semester had finished. It was good to see how well she was doing and planning to do in the future.

While Anna’s wedding was meant to be the main highlight of my trip and the purpose for the drive, I had intended to see some of my Wales kids while in the area. A couple of months ago I had planned a gathering in Kansas City, considering it was far closer to them than San Antonio. I was really looking forward to it, but plans fell through and no one was able to make it down for the planned Friday festivities. I hadn’t seen any of my Wales kids in the last three years, which I always consider something of a tragedy because we get along so well and live so far apart. In 2007, I studied abroad in Wales for a little over a semester and it was hands down the best experience of my life. I met some of the best people and had the best time. It has really been a nuisance to live so far south and away from all the reunion action they’ve had in recent years. Genuinely bummed out for the better part of a day because things didn’t work out as planned, I got it into my head that it would be a waste of a trip not see them when I was one state away from everyone. The urge to see them became that much stronger when I remembered I would be heading to Korea for at least a year and wouldn’t be able to get together anytime soon. It was literally now or never. Nemo took me 543 unplanned miles through Missouri, briefly Nebraska and Iowa. This was going to happen.

Half of my boys: Ross and Brian

BGood is pretty much the best Irishman I know and was happy to arrange a last minute meetup in Sioux City to include Ross and their roommate, Carl. It’s sad to say I had all but forgotten the male dynamic and conversations chalk-full of innuendos and bad jokes. I’m pretty sure I nearly spit out my drinks quite a few times because I was laughing so hard. We hit up Barnes and Noble where the guys roamed the shelves before I had to take off and meet some of the girls for dinner three hours away.

Three teachers and a vet go to dinner.



Scheduling dinner with these ladies took some time. I was amused and appreciative of how much they wanted to know what it is that I wanted to eat or where I wanted to go for dinner. As long as it wasn’t Mexican or Seafood, I just cared about seeing them. We settled on an Applebee’s in Ankeny and surprisingly, I was the first one there. It was so great to see the three of them as they came walking in one at a time. Over the course of a couple of hours we all managed to spill some life stories and ask a ton of questions. I think our waitress must have waited at least 20 minutes to get our order because we were far too busy talking to even look at the menus. It was great fun and ended far too quickly, even with a long linger outside by the cars.

Shouting out to the kids I phoned with:

  • Brady and Miche
  • Renee
  • Ewok

I could easily spend years with my Wales kids and not grow tired or bored of their company. There’s just such a large group of us that click extremely well, and even our Wales director, the amazing Tecwyn Vaughan Jones (aka TJPimp9) could not believe how well we all got along. It’s something I think only comes along once in a very rare while, and I can’t say enough about how much of a godsend these people have been in my life since. Even if I didn’t manage to see everyone I wanted to, they’re worth the extra mileage.