Is that even a word, sociality? It doesn't get flagged by my spell-checker, so it much be okay. Okay, however, gets flagged. How bizarre is that?!
Anyway. I get sidetracked easily, it seems, by random thoughts (like the ones above). Moving on now to something more organised. (Apparently my spell checker doesn't like the British way I spell things now... it flagged organised, too.) What was I saying? Oh, right. Sociality.
It was a pretty good year for me, as far as hanging out and having friends. Well, the first half of the year was pretty good, anyway. Mainly it was good because of one person in particular: Barb. (Hi Barb! Don't worry, I won't embarrass you too much in this post... I'll save that for later! =) I'll make a whole post, just about you and Monkey Ball, or something!) So, sorry, but y'all will have to wait for another post to hear all the details about Barb, but for now, suffice it to say that she is awesome and one of the best friends I've had here. Sadly for me, she was only here for one term... but boy, we sure did a lot during that term. Well, from Easter on. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.
I started out the New Year pretty well... I was originally supposed to babysit for my friends the Beckers, who were taking company down to the Fireball thingy in Stonehaven. But the weather was horrible, and everywhere except Aberdeen ended up canceling their Hogmanay celebrations. Aberdeen's headliner was Wet Wet Wet, so it couldn't have been more appropriate to keep going in the rain. And the wind, because that's all we get here, anyway. Since my friends didn't end up going down to Stonehaven, they invited me over instead for home-made mexican food and a party. I ended up walking the whole way (it's a pretty decent hike, too) because the bus service was all messed up due to the downtown party, and of course no one knew what was going on with the stops and the times and all. It was annoying, but that's life here. ;) It was great once I got there, exhausted from hauling games and food around in the wind and rain... great, because we ate real home-made mexican food and played Cranium (one of my favourite board games-- thanks to Becky, Laurie, Shannon and Lara, who introduced me to it while at Asbury). And I got a ride home, so that was nice, too-- I sure didn't want to have to walk it--again-- in the middle of the night. It was nice to actually do something with people for New Years for a change.
The next big event for me was also New Years-- Chinese New Years. It was on 18 February last year, which also happens to be my friend Noelle's birthday. She's from Malaysia, and we got to be friends at church, although she is also involved with the Chinese Christian Church. For Chinese New Year, they (the CCC) were having a special service (for which my friend was translating), followed by a pot-luck supper (or bring-and-share meal, as they are known here). AND after that, my friend was having some people over to her flat to celebrate her birthday. It was an awesome day, full of great food and greater fellowship. I hung out in town after my morning service at Crown Terrace, and then went to the CCC at 2pm for the service. It was nice, and drew a good crowd. I met loads of people and ate tons of wonderful home-made Chinese food afterwards. It is always amazing to me how the mere fact of believing in Jesus draws people together and helps us feel like family, even though we are strangers. It was great. After all that, there was still plenty more to come at Noelle's place-- we had more food and goodies, to celebrate her birthday, and sat around talking for hours and hours. I was just about the only non-Asian person there, but that hardly mattered... except that people either had to speak English for me, or get someone to translate. =) It was great, and I got to know a couple of people there that I am still friends with and see from time to time. Plus, it's always nice to be able to celebrate a friend's special day. It was a really long day, but well worth it. I wish I had a photo!
And then there was Easter. One of my friends lives out in Banchory, which is a little village about 30 minutes west of Aberdeen-- out Royal Deeside, towards the mountains. I have friends from church who live there, as well, who have had me out before (thanks, Bob and Anne!), and I like it there. This year, for Easter, my friend Laurie invited a group of us out to celebrate with her. Some of them (Barb and the Beckers) spent the night on Holy Saturday, and it sounded like they had a blast. I wanted to worship at Crown Terrace, so I caught a bus out after church. The weather was wonderful, so we had our Easter Mediterranean dinner in Laurie's back garden. It was such a treat, in every way. After lunch, we met some friends of Laurie's for a walk along the River Dee, and then later we all climbed up Scolty (the neighboring big hill, with a fantastic view from the summit). My memory is failing me, but I think this was also the night we all stayed over, as well (Barb, correct me if I'm losing my mind on this one): Scot, Matthew and Adam in the bedroom; Barb, Carrie and I in the lounge; Laurie at a neighbor's down the road. And I think Barb and I took the bus back into town together... which, if I remember right, is when the fun really started for us. Before that, we knew each other and were in the same groups together, but I think this was where our friendship started properly.... =)
Especially when, soon after that, Laurie left for a visit in the States, and let me come cottage-sit for her. It was so wonderful for me to get out of town, and be out in the country. The weather was great, and I sat in the sun in her back garden for a part of every single day. And just having my own space for a bit was nice, too. I love Kenny, but it was a nice little free holiday for me. One of the weekends in there, Barb came out to stay. We planned to hike up Scolty again, but the weather (which has been so wonderful!) did NOT cooperate. It rained pretty much the whole time...so we ended up staying inside and talking. And watching dvds, but mostly talking. Until 2am. Which I hadn't done since... well, probably since I'd gone to visit Bren more than a year before this. And that was that. From then on, Barb and I were fast friends and did lots of things together. Of which you'll hear more later....
Later that spring, I went downtown with Barb to meet Carrie and the boys to watch the Aberdeen University's Torcher Parade. This is a parade to raise money for charity, where each organisation and group dresses up in fancy dress or decorates a themed float. It gets its name from being led by the fancy dress folks carrying torches (real, flaming ones, not just flashlights) at the end, after dark. It was... interesting. The boys had fun, though, putting their coins in the buckets. And I had fun, standing around visiting with Carrie and Barb.
Most of my summer activities were done with Barb, so I'll save those for her post. =) There is one, though, that I'll add here, as it was a bigger group event. The local schools did a production of Les Mis: School Edition, where all the performers auditioned from, well, local schools. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was amazing! It was abridged, of course, but was plenty to get the story across as well as showcase some great talent on the well-loved numbers. I was truly impressed, and would recommend going to see it if ever your area puts on a performance. You might be surprised by the quality of talent in your local schoolkids! Anyway, it was a fun evening, spent with Laurie and Scot and Barb, enjoying great music. And it made me cry, as that show always does. =)
Jumping finally to the fall, my last social kind of activity of note was a late Thanksgiving feast (in early December, ha) with my friends Hannah and Cam. They aren't Southerners, but Hannah's parents had worked at Trevecca Nazarene University for a while, so she has an appreciation and (some) love for the South and her ways. Which makes me happy, since I'm generally one of the only Southerners around these here parts. ;) We had chicken (turkey was crazy expensive!) and dressing and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and biscuits and brown gravy and coffee and wine and it was soooo good! We watched a few Christmas specials (courtesy of Cam's dvds and YouTube), but mostly we just talked. I think I was there for 8 hours or so, since I came over early to cook there-- easier than cooking here and then carrying the whole dishes over. They are great folks, and it was so nice to just hang out with them... and get a taste of home, as well!
I think that's enough for now. I have pictures from many of these things, but they aren't currently on my laptop... I'll upload them and share them in their own post, once I get around to digging out the discs where they are stored. =)