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Untitled – February 12, 2006

February 12, 2006

The conference is over. I am on the plane. I have my ipod on and I am trying to focus on the children of Vashon Island, but I am having a hard time focusing on that. The trip was fantastic. The weather was great. Everyday the high was from 75-80 degrees and the low was in the 50s. I didn’t even wear a coat.

Adam and I left Seattle on a redeye flight to Miami with a stop in Vegas. As we were landing, our decent had us flying low over the city and we could make out all of the famous hotels on the strip. And even at 10:30 on a random Wednesday night, Vegas was alive. It was my first time in Vegas and I remember talking to someone who said they have slot machines in the airport. From that day forward, I knew that if I ever had a stop in the Vegas airport I would have to gamble. I walked up to the first slot machine I saw and I cautiously put my money into the bill feeder. I pushed the one credit button and gently pulled the lever down. My eyes twinkled with excitement. The slots slowly stopped into position, and I see “BAR – BAR – DOUBLE BAR.” I had doubled my money. I should have cashed out – taken that extra few bucks and bought a nice mocha when I arrived in Miami, but I got greedy. I felt empowered by my first victory; I thought I would win my fortunes in the Vegas Airport Lobby. With that empowerment, I hit the “max bet,” and I would lose three times in a row, losing all of my winnings and my original investment. Oh well.

Adam and I arrived in the Miami airport around 6:30 a.m. eastern time. I barely got any sleep on the plane. Whenever I would find my comfort zone, close my eyes and drift away, something would jerk me awake. The conference bus was scheduled to leave the hotel at 8:15, so we quickly gathered our bags and hailed for a cab. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was beautiful. The sun was rising across the Atlantic and that gave everything a crisp white light. The morning sky was an endless blue as far as I could see. It was 65 degrees at 7:00 a.m. I was shocked how beautiful everything was. We arrived at the hotel only to have them tell us there were no rooms available at that time, and we should check in around 10:30. We were hoping to take a shower before the meeting because I had been in the same clothes for over 30 hours and I didn’t want to make it any longer – but our plan failed. We walked over to this small bagel shop a few blocks away to get a cup of coffee and a bagel. And with that, our day started again.

After we got back to the hotel, we met these two girls from Longwood University in rural Farmville, Virginia. Frannie and Megan were two of the funniest people I had ever met in my entire life. After we exchanged pleasantries with everyone staying in our hotel (it seemed to take forever), we awkwardly stood around a circle in the beautiful Miami sunshine, waiting for the bus. Minutes went by and the bus did not come. The bus was late. I didn’t know it at the time but the bus’s tardiness was just foreshadowing the growing problems the national nonprofit organizing this event.

We arrived on campus and like everything else in Miami – it was beautiful. The architecture was different – new age modernism – I am used to the historic monolithic brick buildings at the UW. After morning work sessions and lunch, it felt like that Adam and I had known Frannie and Megan for months. I played Frisbee with a fellow participant in the main courtyard overlooking a lake, while listening to a local band. I was in paradise.

After the first day’s conference activities, Adam, Frannie, Megan and I took a cab to the Coconut Grove in South Miami – near to where we were staying. In Miami, public drinking is allowed and every restaurant has outdoor seating. We sat on the outdoor canopies along the sidewalk in a t-shirt drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Two of my favorite activities in life. When I meet people for the first time, people generally think I am pretty funny. I tell all my favorite jokes and stories because they are hearing it for the first time. It’s all new material and very funny to new people. It’s like listening to a great cd for the first time. Also, Frannie is the type of person you can feed off to be even funnier.

 Photo of Frannie Stubbs, Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton in South Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs, Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton in South Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton at the Sand Bar in Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton at the Sand Bar in “Coconut Grove” in Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

There was a mutual admiration between the four of us. Adam and I admired Frannie and Megan’s honesty, genuineness, candor and wide-eyed look at the world. And I felt that Frannie and Megan admired the city quality about us. They were not like typical student government leaders. They were not full of it and they were in it to make a difference. That is the exact reason why I am in student government. At the end of the night, it seemed like we had been friends for years. When Adam and I made it to our hotel room around 2:00 a.m., we got our first sleep in over 42 hours.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs at the Metro Station in South Miami, Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs at the Metro Station in South Miami, Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

The next day we took a cab to South Beach. We put our feet in the Atlantic and it was great. The water was warm the beach was white. We ate dinner along the main street in South Beach. I was in awe with the magic of that place. The energy around us was amazing. The diversity of people was shocking. The high prices at South Beach encouraged us to go to a grocery store around our hotel and stock up on a half rack of Bud Light and we drank it in the open-air courtyard of our hotel, gazing up at the stars.

Photo of Megan Greer, Nick Peyton and Adam Grupp at South Beach, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Megan Greer, Nick Peyton and Adam Grupp at South Beach, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of the Boulevard Hotel in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of the Boulevard Hotel in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

After more meetings, we headed out to South Beach again. We went to the beach again and as the blue sky transitioned into a full moon night – I realized how lucky I am. As stars filled the horizon, we left for a wonderful and expensive Italian meal on the sidewalks of South Beach. It was the best gnocchi I had ever had. Being tipsy on wine, we took a cab back to the hotel to repeat the previous night’s activities. The next morning we went to get breakfast for one last hurrah. We promised to write and facebook each other. We decided that we would do a t-shirt exchange because Adam and I wanted to get a t-shirt with the name of their school (Longwood University) because we are children at heart. It is weird to think that I may never see them again. After all the inside jokes and all the good times we had, it is difficult to think about it being the first and last time. At the end of the four days together, it seemed like I had known them all my life. I was sad to see them leave. I wrote in Paul and Kelli’s wedding book that I was glad that I had gotten to know them, even if it was for a short amount of time. That comment reminds me of this situation. I believe people enter one’s life for a reason. And it may only be for a short period – sometimes a year, a month, or in this case, four days. It may sound cliché but at the end of these four days, I know I am not the same. As I sit here on the plane, I cannot help but wonder if these past few days were a dream. It seems to perfect to be real.

Photo of Nick and Adam in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick and Adam in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo overlooking the moon and the ocean in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo overlooking the moon and the ocean in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton, Frannie Stubbs, Megan Greer and Adam Group in the South Miami Best Western Hotel. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton, Frannie Stubbs, Megan Greer and Adam Group in the South Miami Best Western Hotel. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

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One comment

  1. I mean, we are pretty frickin awesome.



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