Our dear friends, Shannon and Mark, came up with a splendid idea last summer: instead of trying to figure out three separate birthday gifts for the Dinoia gals, they would splurge on one large combined present. If you haven't guessed from the title, they cleverly thought up the idea of tickets to Wicked!
Now, I was lazy at first. I kept putting off giving Shannon dates, as each weekend seemed full, and I feared purchasing them only to find out we had some unforeseen event that couldn't be missed. Our kids are not in an overwhelming number of activities, but the niggling fear remained. Then we found out we were likely moving, and I decided to stress about that instead of just shoving that worry away and planning an adventure.
Fast forward a few months, and I had likely driven Shannon nuts by not committing to a date. I realized if I didn't commit, we would never go and I would be the worst mother in the world for life. I buckled down, looked at dates, looked at them again, and picked the emptiest Sunday out there. I didn't want a chance of anything else interfering, and more importantly, wanted to make a day of it in the city. I went back and forth on what to do, and finally settled on lunch and the show.
Believe it or not, I ended up planning the day to the minute (I know, what did the body-snatchers do with Jen?). I realized the last thing I wanted to do was drive into the city, since our our lunch choice was not exactly next door to the Orpheum. I found that not only does BART have online schedules, but one can plan their trip from door to door. I entered our start address, and the tea room's address, and the BART quick trip planner gave me station options, departure times, and follow-up directions from the BART station to the tea room (over half a mile away). Seriously, how incredibly cool is that?
(For those of you who knew about this capability for years and years, and are now laughing at me...well, hush...we all learn something new each day!)
The distance from the tea room to the Orpheum, however, was a good 3 miles. I didn't see us hoofing that in our Sunday best (well, close to it, no jeans allowed!), especially if lunch ran even slightly over. Enter Google Maps. When getting directions from the restaurant to the Orpheum, I realized it offered options such as driving, local transportation or walking. Sure enough, the site pointed out how the J line on Muni was just two blocks up from the tea room. For $3.50, that 45 minute walk would become a 10 minute walk and a 20 minute ride on the light rail....and the station ended right at the Civic Center. Walk out of the station, and voila, one has arrived at the theater.
So, at the wee hour of 9:55 a.m., we stepped onto the Bart train and rode comfortably into the city. It was a fairly quiet, clean ride on upholstered seats, no less! The one way ride cost us a mere $14.70 and we had to do nothing more than relax. There was a bit of conversation I could have done without (person in front of us on his cell phone, need I say more?), but other than that, a fast and easy trip.
We walked up the steps at 24th and Mission, and what a gorgeous day! I thought I would be freezing, but no, sunny, little wind, just a beautiful, clear day. We had good hike uphill, and arrived at the Lovejoy's Tea Room by 11:03 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. reservation.
I must admit, the girls were a bit iffy at first. A bit whiny, a bit "I don't know if I like this...". However, I think it was a combination of not enough breakfast, and being a bit overtired. By the time the tea and hot cocoa arrived (in an Alice in Wonderland tea kettle, as part of Kelsey's "Wee Tea"), our moods had significantly lifted.
Two pots of tea, many sandwiches, salad, tea cookies, scones, jam, cream, and several petit fours (or PAST-rees, as Kelsey called them) later, we were sated and ready for our next journey. We couldn't help but stop at the shop operated by the proprietors of the tea room to procure a bit of tea for home. We made our purchase, and then realized we should probably head towards the theater.
I had thought ahead (twice in a day, who knew it could happen?!) and had correct change for the Muni (pick that jaw up, please). We hopped on the rail after a 10 minute wait, and enjoyed the winding trip through the backyards of San Francisco. I am sure the homeowners are used to it, but I still wondered if they see the little trains barreling between the backyards or just ignore them out of habit? I enjoyed watching one man prune his roses, and could tell others were just stepping outside of their back doors into the sunshine for the first time that day.
Halfway through the trip, we stopped by a large park (note to self: look up name, it looked awesome for kids, dogs, parents...). Kelsey looked a wee bit envious of the families hopping off to spend the afternoon swinging and picnicking. However, given how much time we spend at parks and given where we were headed, I knew she would soon forget her regret.
I must admit, though, I was a bit envious of the city-dwellers. Whether I was standing on the light rail, hand on that metallic bar, or whistling through the tunnels on the Bart, I realized I missed my days of living in the city. I remember knowing the Metro like the back of my hand, and we used to traverse DC back and forth, and up and down. Reykjavik wasn't quite as big as DC, but we could walk everywhere. Peter had a 5 minute commute to work, and Tjornin, a tourist hot-spot, was "our" pond. Whether playing on the ice in the winter, or Cait spending hours riding her scooter on the path around the pond...and having restaurants and shops within shouting distance..definitely something that we miss. Not that the suburbs don't have their benefits, especially if one's employment is nearby...but, today I felt that pull of the city more strongly than usual.
We arrived at the Civic Center station with a whopping 45 minutes before show time. Even better, it was the Farmers Market. Well, honestly, we were a bit sad, as we couldn't really purchase anything. My spirits lifted a bit, though, when I recognized several vendors from our Farmers Market (currently in Danville, San Ramon opens this Saturday!) and realized I wasn't missing as much as I thought.
We headed to the Orpheum and went inside, looked at the offerings (um, $39 for a t-shirt??).and eventually found our seats after arguing over candy purchases. A farmers market around the corner and the only thing the Orpheum vendor has is grocery store candy. I know, I know, food/junk food snob, but it's messy, sugary, and after such a healthy brunch...I acquiesced to one Kit-Kat that we all split, though apparently not fairly enough. Note to self: always bring hand wipes to the theater for cleaning up of melted Kit-Kat off hands.
We were in our seats 20 minutes before showtime, and I was thrilled that no one was seated in front of the girls. We had balcony seats, so a bit of a distance, and I didn't want their views obstructed anymore. Cue two terribly tall people popping into said seats 2 minutes before the show started. Even more annoying, though? The 5 adults who showed up 5 minutes AFTER it started and blocked everyone's view while they stumbled into their seats...if we can show up not only on time, but 45 minutes early....
The reviews by each girl:
Kelsey: "I didn't just like it, I loved it! I can't wait to see it again! My favorite part was the whole thing!"
Caitlin: "I more than loved it, when can we see it again? My favorite part... the whole show!"
So, one can probably tell that it was a hit with them. I agree with their assessments wholeheartedly, and we all concurred that Elphaba was our favorite character. Now, just two questions remain: who gets to read the book first and when will we get to see the show again?
A huge thank you to Auntie Dr. Shannon, Uncle Mark, Baby Nate & Cousin Sandy for sending us to Wicked! I have a feeling we will see it again and again and again...