A Wonderful Surprise

On our trip, Tommy and I talked about the IELTS test and how I met some wonderful people during the test. Well, it seems like I spoke something into existence because Magd, a young woman from Lebanon hoping to move to Australia, reached out to me on Monday morning. She had this to say:




How you’ve been ?



You came cross my mind today, I was fixing some paper and I found my IELTS when I did it in America



I though I will check on you

We conversed for a half an hour. She made it to Australia, is with family, and found a job. I told her about Tommy and how wonderful things are going. We were happy to hear each other speak about the joys of our lives.

This made my Monday!

Tommy and Jessica’s A.C. and Brigantine Weekend | Part II | 27 March 2022

We slept in on Sunday morning. The quilts were warm, the room was comfortable, and we were cuddled in each others’ arms. We woke up at 9:45 am, and ate Pop-tarts (well, my gluten-free ones were from a brand called Bobo’s) in our pajamas, in bed. I also bought orange Crush packets for water bottles, so we mixed the orange Crush and drank it with our Pop-tarts. That would be our breakfast.

The sun shone through the window and at 11, we walked to Brigantine beach and took more photos. Photos we were unable to get on the 26th. I am thankful that Tommy went along with my photoshoot ideas. He seemed to have fun.

After an hour and a half on Brigantine Beach, we decided to go back to the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

When we arrived to the Boardwalk, we saw some fat seagulls. There were also a lot more people walking on Sunday.

We went to the mall first and there was this area that was set up like a beach. We loved watching the ocean from inside the warmth of the mall.

After, we had lunch/dinner at Rain Forest Cafe. Tom’s birthday is in two weeks and I “surprised” him a little bit. He was embarrassed.

After, lunch and dinner, we went to the Arcade. We went go-kart riding and I was scared to death. I don’t like being behind the wheel and that is mostly why I don’t drive. I didn’t crash and die, however!

It started to snow too. While his uncle was driving us to the bus stop, it was snowing even more. It felt weird to be at the beach while it was snowing.

Tommy and his uncle were talking about some relatives and the subject of children’s books came up. Tommy asked, “babe, you’ve written a children’s book before, right?”

I replied, “I’ve never had one published. I started writing one, but never published it.”

His uncle asked me why and I replied, “I wrote it in Arabic and I need someone to proof it for me.”

Uncle Joe has a few Arab friends. He called up one of his friends and put me on the phone with him. We spoke a little Arabic, and he’s going to have his wife proof it for me. I have to find the manuscript. It’s been 10 years and I’ve gone through many computers since then. If not, I can rewrite it. I was so verklempt and grateful.

On our way back to Philadelphia, Tommy sent me the selfie I took with his phone. I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will post it today.

When we got back to his house, his mom surprised me with a gift from Ireland.

It was a good weekend.

Tommy and Jessica’s A.C. and Brigantine Weekend | Part I | 26 March 2022

On Tuesday, Tommy’s uncle invited us to Atlantic City/Brigantine for the weekend. We were thinking about visiting and I felt better about staying with someone in his family and not in Atlantic City itself. I was also excited to meet another one of his family members.

Tommy loves to sleep in; I was surprised he picked an early train for Saturday, 26 March: 8:20 am! I set my alarm for 5:45 am – the normal time I get up for work – and it felt odd getting up earlier on Saturday. Tommy and I agreed that I would arrive at his house at 7:30 am and we would go to 30th Street Station together to catch the train to Atlantic City.

The sky was beautiful as I was waiting for Lyft. I ordered a two rider: we’d pick up Tommy and head to 30th Street Station. I had to take a selfie before I set off on our first weekend trip away together.

It was a quiet ride to Tommy’s, as the Lyft driver only spoke Spanish. He did ask if I could speak it and I said, “No. German and Arabic.” He spoke a little German with me. Once we picked up Tommy, Tommy and I chatted the whole half an hour. We were chatter bugs talking about the upcoming spring, the blooming trees, the weird weather, travel, and our excitement about our first trip together.

We were 20 minutes early and we ordered some Dunkin. I could only order a Coolata and he ordered a breakfast sandwich. The coolata gave me a headache and he wasn’t hungry, so when it was time to board the train, we just threw it away.

New Jersey Transit is so nice! The train was fancy and it was wonderful window watching on our way to Atlantic City.

The train ride was the same length of time as the bus in the summer – 90 minutes. When we arrived in Atlantic City, of course I had to get a station selfie for the scrapbook.

Tommy’s Uncle Joe was waiting for us. We hopped into his car and he treated us to breakfast at a local bistro in Brigantine. I ordered oatmeal (as it’s gluten-free) with raisins and brown sugar with a cup of coffee. Tommy ordered French toast, eggs, and ham. We went back to his uncle’s house and had breakfast together. We also helped his uncle around the house for a little bit before Tommy and I settled down for a nap. The room was so comfortable and cozy. When we woke up, it was raining and we played a table console game until it stopped raining.

After the rain subsided, Tommy and I walked to Brigantine beach. The beach was only a three minute walk from his uncle’s. Tommy and I went beachcombing – we found tons of shells that I put into my backpack. We did take some photos before it started to rain.

I was also able to do a quick polar plunge. The waves were rough and I could see a storm in the distance. I went up to my chest, then ran out. It felt good to plunge! Tommy took the photos for me.

Once the sun came out a few hours later, we decided to go to Atlantic City. We would go to the beach and Tommy packed his binoculars. He brought them and I brought my camera. As we were waiting for Lyft, I had to snap this photo of Tommy looking at Brigantine through his binoculars.

at 4:30 PM, there was nothing but blue skies.

Once we arrived in Atlantic City, we went on the beach and walked the first half of the boardwalk. I wasn’t familiar with that part of the boardwalk, as I think it was further down from Tropicana, near where I hung out in the past. As we were walking up the boardwalk and onto the beach, Tommy was singing this song to me:

It was very windy, but we were able to go under the pier and look at the grafitti.

We were famished once we were done exploring. Tommy and I explored this part of the boardwalk, but there wasn’t many gluten-free options. At the last pizza place we stopped at, I saw this neat sculpture.

I suggested just going to the Hard Rock Cafe and Tommy thought that was a great idea. I knew the Hard Rock had gluten-free options and it was close. We could also hang out after dinner.

We had a thirty five minute wait and while we waited, we sat down at the bar, and admired the scenery. I reinstalled Snapchat, took a selfie with the “I love you” filter. After I snapped the selfie, a mother walked by and asked us if she wanted to take our photo. I handed her the phone and she snapped a lovely photo of Tommy and me with the “I love you” filter.

Dinner was delicious. I was able to get a gluten-free burger with fries, and Tommy ordered chicken fingers with fries. Dining win for picky eaters! I loved taking photos of the scenery and of course, Tommy wanted photos with the motorcycle.

We decided to stay at the Hard Rock and play in their casino. What an evening!

Tommy wanted to try his hand at poker. I wasn’t sure, so I took photos of him at the poker table. He didn’t win that round. We decided to play a few slot machines and I told him, “Nan used to play 21. She taught me how to play 21.”

Tommy responded, “babe, that is poker!” He explained the rules and I joined him at the poker table. I remember the 21 rules Nan taught me when I was a child, and I’m glad I remembered those rules because I won $75. Tommy did well too – he won $100.

After that game, we decided to dip out. I won $20 on the slots and he won some money too. We felt wealthy as checked out. However, our real wealth is our love and that we have each other.

We decided to walk the boardwalk some more and as we were heading to one of the stores, I met Fat Rusty, a stray cat. It was a homeless man’s cat and he said, “this is Fat Rusty.” I loved petting him and taking photos.

I wish I could have taken Fat Rusty home. We bonded and he seemed to like me.

When we got back to Tommy’s uncle’s house, he was still up. He told us the maid cleaned the shells we had found earlier. I felt so verklempt and grateful for that. We found a whole bunch of shells and of course, I had to take a photo.

After a shower, we tried playing Minecraft, but couldn’t because of being on data. We both took some melatonin, and we were both exhausted from a busy day. We kissed one another good night, cuddled up, and fell asleep. Rest before day #2…

Thankful Thursday 24 March 2022

Thank goodness it’s Thursday! It’s been a week, especially since the green eyed monster showed up. I don’t want to talk about it, a mistake was made because of a disability, I’m more angry at the person who scammed the person, I forgive the mistake, we talked, and we’re moving past it. Love is about forgiveness and given that I am a rape survivor, I am tapping into my empathy. Been there, done that, and it wouldn’t be fair of me to judge. I hated being judged in my time of need and I refuse to do that to a loved one. This loved one needs my love now more than ever.

I’m really thankful for Chris, Christine, Nicole, Tina, and everyone who listened to me this week during the green eyed monster’s visit this week. Thank you for letting me vent, for riding the waves of feelings with me, and also giving me perspective. You were all life savers this week!

Today when I arrived home, I received this lovely post-card from Krista, one of my Writing.com friends. It made me verklempt and added a silver-lining to the week.

You know what sent the green eyed monster away? My friends helped with it, but tapping into my self-worth and my self-love sent her packing. I am enough. I am loved. I am liked. I am a beautiful person, inside and outside. I try my best and while I make mistakes, we all do, and we are all enough.

What are you thankful for today?

Bowling with Tommy | 20 March 2022

Yesterday Tommy and I met up. There were a change of plans and we were able to meet up this weekend. We spent a few hours playing video games, then had dinner, and went to Sproul Lanes for bowling.

Tommy used to be in a league. He hasn’t been in a league for a few years, so he was rusty. I haven’t bowled in 9 years, the last time I went bowling was at Arnold’s in Oaks in September 2013. We used the gutter guards.

Tommy ended up teaching me, and while I ended up getting a few strikes and spares, I need a lot more practice.

We shared a lot of laughs and had a ball. The group sitting next to us was fun too. The one guy was wearing a Ravens hat and an Orioles shirt, so we talked about Baltimore sports. It was a great evening. I love spending time with Tommy.

Thankful Thursday, Indeed! St. Patrick’s Day with Tommy | 17 March 2022

On Tuesday when Tommy called the check up on me and to tell me that he loves me, he asked if I was free on Wednesday. I wasn’t, as I had the library after my full-time job, but I could take a half-day from my full-time job on Thursday. He agreed and we both agreed that we could celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together.

I left work at 12:15 and arrived at Tommy’s at 1:22 PM. I was so happy that the rain held too. When he welcomed me inside, he gave me a hug and kiss, and we both told each other that we missed one another. It felt so good to embrace.

We went upstairs and when we went into his room, I handed him his belated Valentine’s Day gift. I ordered a USB cassette tape. Basically it is a USB flash drive with a cassette attached. It came from the UK and was two weeks late. I had fun picking out 103 songs to put on “Tommy and Jessica’s Soundtrack.”

He was so surprised and couldn’t wait to listen. Tommy was really happy. We decided to cuddle first. As we cuddled, we caught up on our lives during our breaks. He missed me, but needed some time to think. He doesn’t want to wait three weeks again. We napped for a bit before taking Fuzz outside. As Fuzz ran around in the backyard, Tommy and I went into the garage and I watched him fix one of his skateboards. That was fun and it was fun listening to him chat about skateboarding.

After we went back inside, we were both hungry. We went to Mission BBQ and our St. Patrick’s Day dinner was turkey with French fries. It was delicious! Gluten-free and picky-eater approved! Also, we tried to bowl, but it was booked solid because of leagues. At least we got a cool selfie.

His dog also loves me, Tommy loved our Valentine Day album (not finished yet, but loved it so far), and we giggled while searching the dark web. I took two photos of my view while giggling. It was so warm and cozy. Best feeling in the world.

We talked about next weekend. I’ll ask him next Wednesday. It was so hard to say goodbye. We didn’t want to let go.

We’re thankful to have each other. We’ve made a difference to each other and we both agree: we’re happy we’re on this journey together. There’s no one else we’d rather be with.

Thankful Thursday 17 March 2022

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am thankful for the Luck o’ the Irish, as well as a loving boyfriend. I told him I needed a social media break because I felt overwhelmed and depressed, he’s been checking up on me, as well as expressing his love of me. Awww. Thank you, Tommy.

I’m also thankful for the Writing.com community, for ruwth, Tina, Lilli, Jody, and Joy. I’m thankful for friends and family. What are you grateful for today?

Pho Cali | 13 March 2022

After the skate park and Reading Terminal Market to pick up some groceries, I decided to go to China Town. I love Pho Cali; I find Vietnamese food is easier for Celiacs than Chinese food. However, newer Chinese and Japanese restaurants are getting better about gluten-free options.

Pho Cali knows me well, they knew what I wanted – shrimp summer roll with the gluten-free pink fish sauce, and pho ga (chicken pho).

It was a delicious meal for a chilly March day, after a snowy Saturday. I can’t wait to go back!

Philadelphia Museum of Art and Paine’s Park | 13 March 2022

Tommy’s mom left for Ireland on Sunday, so we didn’t get together this weekend. On Sunday, I decided to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I renewed my Art Museum membership after a year since 2020 was a lost year, 2021 was half of one. I didn’t want to renew in 2021, just in case. 2022 seems a bit safer and I thought it could be good for dates.

The Art Museum upgraded and expanded. I was amazed at all the work that had been done. The bottom levels weren’t recognizable and of course I had to take tons of photos.

I loved the photography exhibits and I got lost in the exhibits for an hour and a half. I took tons of photos and many of the displays gave me some ideas for shoots I’d like to do. I want to borrow dad’s Olympus SLR camera, but some film, and shoot at the skate park.

This was a beautiful exhibit. When I was taking photos of the books about grief (I’d like to read them and wanted the pictures for the titles), a woman liked my idea and started taking photos too. We started talking about grief and I mentioned that I was writing a memoir/creative non fiction about a project that started because of grief. Intrigued, she wanted to hear more about the Happiness Box Project and I told her. I told her the writing of this book has been an exercise and a half, but I take my time. She loved the idea. She told me about her project, the Solstice Project. She writes a negative thought or event down, then burns it. I liked her idea too. Felt really great to talk and share today.

After, I went to the skate park and I met these two gals. I didn’t have my skateboard, but they gave me some pointers, tips, and advice. I overthink. I’m super grateful and they let me take photos. Same with the bikers. It was fun at the skate park on Sunday. I also met Theo, who is visiting from France. He is taking a skate tour of the US.

I’m going to go back next Sunday, with my skateboard, pads and helmet, and see if I meet others who can show me how to skateboard.

Thankful Thursday 10 March 2022

Ah, March! March is the month of crazy weather and Mother Nature has not disappointed yet. Sunday was 70, Monday was 74, Tuesday dropped to 39, Wednesday we had snow, today was 52, tomorrow will be 40, and Saturday will be rainy/snowy. It sure is hard to plan what to wear and what to do.

Anyway, I’m grateful that spring is coming soon and we turn the clocks ahead this weekend. I won’t be walking home in the dark anymore! Woohoo! I’m always grateful for that.

I’m also grateful for my library job. This week was library workers appreciation week and last night Ms. Laura gave me a nice pin. They also ordered me a gluten-free salad from Panera, my favourite kind too! I’m verklempt and I’m thankful that they recognized the workers.

I’m also grateful for my full-time job and the people I work with there as well. I’m also thankful for friends, family, and Tommy.

What are you grateful for today?