Paul’s been telling me basically the entire time we’ve been together that we need to take a trip up to Erie. I’d always been told that it was just like being at the beach, albeit a little calmer and without the saltwater. I don’t know if I just wasn’t convinced or what, because we never got around to it. But now that Julie and Michael are up there–and Emily’s joined them for the summer–they decided to host a Memorial Day cookout.

On our way up, we stopped for brunch at a coffee house in Pittsburgh. Terra’s sister-in-law recently started a catering business and is now officially making our wedding cake, and the catering business was doing a brunch out of the coffee house for a couple hours. So we got ourselves some drinks, I had the best scone I’ve ever had in my life, and Paul hunkered down and ate a plate of one of everything offered, then a second plate with grasshopper pie and vegan cheesecake. After that, we hit the road. Luckily, the drive to Erie is really simple–it’s pretty much just the interstate we live right by for most of the trip.

W did get a later start than we’d wanted and so didn’t get in until about 2, but we were just in time for food. They cooked the summer picnic staples, and we ate, hung out, and drank.

Julie also had their Aunt Leslie up, who I’d never met before and Paul and his siblings haven’t seen in years due to dumb family drama. Julie had reached out to her a few years ago and they kept in touch, so Julie invited her up and we had a good time with her. She was nice but kind of badass–Paul occasionally cracks what would be misogynist jokes if we didn’t all know he wasn’t being sarcastic, but not being familiar with his humor, she commented on it and I loved it. When we talked wedding stuff as it relates to his mom, she told us to “stick to our guns.”

She and her kids left in the evening, and then us kids dug out the six packs Paul and I took up and spent most of the rest of the night talking and drinking, like ya do. We took a quick trip to the lake to watch the sunset, although there wasn’t much of one since it was a cloudy day with a couple of downpours, but mostly just hung out.

Of course, true to form, I slept like shit, although I got a good few hours in considering. I was glad I took my computer–I wasn’t going to because I knew we’d just gab the whole time, but what’s a girl to do when it’s 7 a.m., she can’t sleep, but everyone else is still sleeping themselves?

Paul and Julie went out for doughnuts when they got up, I showered, everyone hung out some ore over breakfast, and then we piled in the car to go to nearby Presque Isle. We walked a few miles all over the place, stopping for a little bit at the beach, and that’s when I was sold on Erie as a beach destination away from the beach. It’s definitely different–it’s calmer and smaller–but the fact that you can’t see where the lake ends and can sit in the sand makes it enough of a beach fix for those of us who love it. We hadn’t packed any swimsuits because it wasn’t supposed to be warm enough, and it still wasn’t, but we did spend some time just relaxing by the water.

We grabbed dinner on the way back at a Friday’s, and normally Paul and I avoid chains, but everyone else had never been, somewhat strangely. I forget sometimes that there are still certain things they didn’t have back here and that Paul and I were almost an hour away when they were here and were going all sorts of places. Then we made a quick stop at a Lowe’s because they needed…something, I don’t know, but Paul and I took the opportunity to try to find some better storage solutions for the apartment. I mean, Julie and Michael are in a trailer and I was jealous of the amount of space they had. All we could come up with, since Paul doesn’t want to drill holes to hang shelves, was a shoe rack. Baby steps. It’s three months until the wedding, so maybe as that all comes together, we’ll have more time for house hunting. My desire for one is getting intense.

Before we went home, we stopped for ice cream, which Emily adorably insisted on paying for. It’s one of the small ways the age difference between the five of us shows. I’m the oldest at 27, Paul’s 26, Julie and Michael are 23 and 22, and Emily’s the baby at the tender age of 19. For the most part, the difference between Paul and I and Julie and Michael isn’t too noticeable–Michael’s still in school, but other than that, we’re all kind of on the same page and were talking about thrilling things like credit scores and bills over dinner. Paul and I picked up the tab for Emily’s dinner, and this is how you can tell someone’s young and new to the workforce with little to no expenses–she wanted to pay. In fact, she complained that ever since she got to Erie earlier in the month, everyone’s been paying for all her food and grabbing her check and things, so, she said, multiple times between dinner and ice cream, she was gonna buy us all ice cream.

And so that was our last little thing with everyone before we came home. They’re planning on coming in in two weeks for a cousin’s graduation party and we offered to let them stay with us rather than parents, but we’ll see.

We hit the road a good few hours later than we’d originally planned, got in with a little time to spare before bedtime, and lamented having to get up and go to work today. At least it’s a short week.

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