Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apples, babies and lasers

Still on my post-conference high, I stayed in Boston an extra day last weekend to visit two long-time friends, Laura and Stef. We went to college together before I moved to California and have remained great friends through the years and time zones.
Look at those adorable bellies!

Laura and Stef are both about to become first-time moms. I think it’s super cute they’re pregnant at the same time and due only a few weeks apart. I spent most of the day staring at their adorable bellies and willing one of the babies to kick hard enough for me see it.

Laura picked me up at the hotel on Sunday morning, and off we went, chatting like we see each other every day. Later, Stef joined us for a quick lunch and an afternoon of apple picking.

Apple picking seemed like the perfect activity for a warm and sunny fall day. I could almost smell the hot apple cider and the freshly baked sugary doughnuts. Suddenly, the apples seemed secondary.  

On our drive to the orchard, we chatted about babies and ultrasounds and baby carriers and strollers. They asked me questions, and I offered reassurances, remembering my own pregnancy jitters.

The fall season rushed to greet us as we drove further from the city. Golden and fiery hues were just starting to appear on the leaves, and the familiar smell of fall seeped into the car. I was thrilled to experience the beginning of the color change, which we don’t have in California. It made me miss home.

We ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the vast New England houses with their large front porches and red front doors. Their expansive lawns were already littered with a few fallen leaves. I imagined fathers raking them into piles while joyous children jumped into the heaps, re-scattering the leaves everywhere. Growing up here must be wonderful, having childhood homes and memories made of this.

After a pleasant and cozy afternoon, we drove back to Laura’s house in the city, armed with a bag of apples, jugs of cider and a sack of doughnuts. (Not all the doughnuts made it home.) We continued our baby conversations in the car, over dinner and into the evening. We talked about nursing bras and maternity pants and the difficulties that come with putting on shoes with a growing belly that won’t budge.

I felt a little melancholy that California doesn’t have Laura or Stef or a proper fall season.

You know what else California doesn’t have? Grocery stores with lasers. (How’s that for a transition?)

Before lunch, Laura and I went to the local Stop & Shop, a popular grocery chain in the Boston area. When we entered the store, Laura grabbed a strange looking device from a rack. It looked kinda like those guns you use at a department store when you register for your wedding or baby shower, only this one was way cooler.

I asked Laura what it was, and she explained that she can scan and bag all of her items as she shops. Then at the checkout, she scans a code on the screen, and her entire order shows up. Then she swipes her credit card and she’s done. No taking your items out of the cart. No waiting for someone to bag them. No waiting in long checkout lines. They even have slips that print out for you to scan when you weigh your produce. Genius!

Riddle me this, people. How is it that I live in Silicon Valley, an area known for its techy geeky nerdiness, and I still wait in line at the grocery store without a laser? This area is, like, 99.9%* engineers or something like that, yet we don’t have such a thing. That’s seriously messed up.

Okay, it’s possible that other parts of California may have these fancy grocery store lasers, like maybe in Los Angeles or somewhere, but not where I live.  

With every beep of Laura’s laser, I ooh’ed and ahh’ed more than I did over the big houses on the way to the apple orchard.

(Side note: Stop & Shop was actually one of the sponsors of the conference I went to last weekend. I had no intention of writing about them since they don’t have stores in my neck of the woods, but after seeing the lasers, they totally deserve a mention.)

As it always goes, my visit was too short. Monday morning quickly rolled around, and Laura dropped me off at the airport. I suppose my next trip out there will be to visit their new little ones after they arrive! In the meantime, I will bombard them with cute baby nursery images from Pinterest.

*That’s probably not right.