Whew! It was an exhausting weekend. Let me try to run down what all happened as far as I can remember.
Wednesday I had very little sleep. Thursday night I got to sleep around 2am and had to get up at 6 to take my car in to be serviced before driving down. So not much sleep for me. Needless to say, I was tired.
Not a bad drive down. I left at about 9 and got there around 2-3ish I think. The other guys who were there (Robert, Phil, Clint, Reader Anthony and Matt) got back from lunch and let me in to the vacant apartment we were staying at. (Thanks again Tom!) We bought some wine at the local store and had it with our Italian meal after Paraclesis at the GOA (St. Sophia) Cathedral. We also drove by the Vatican embassy and saw a guy with a sign saying something about Pedophilia being the worst of the Corporate Crimes of the Vatican.
Later, I took a few of the guys for a grocery run and made a U-turn (at the urging of Robert and against the urgings of Phil). We got pulled over and after a few questions about where we were coming from, going to and then number of drinks we all had consumed, (I was the only sober one in the car!) I got off with a warning. (We were all doing Jesus prayers in the meantime!) We got back with the groceries and some pre-mixed White Russians that has St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow on the labels and box and met Anastasios and his wife, Michaela. At some point when we were drinking White Russians I strangled Robert. But not too hard. No permanent damage! ;-) :-p It was all in good fun. We have made up over the transgressions that have taken place in the past. People had a few drinks and then we all went to sleep between 2 and 3am.
The whirlwind of services continues as Phil decided we should go to the ROCOR (St. John the Baptist) Cathedral Morning Divine Liturgy, thus we woke up at 6am. The Cathedral was great and IMO blew away the Greek Cathedral in both externals and substance. This was an all-Slavonic service, but for the sermon the deacon translated in to English with a microphone that could be heard to via small short range receivers with earphones. (they are available at the candle desk) Great use of technology! I spoke with the priest and sent him my parish priest's greetings and well wishes. The starostra pulled Clint to the side and whispered to him know that hands in the pants pockets was not allowed. It was unintentional, and not meant in disrespect, but funny that he got pulled aside.
During the hot muggy day, we had the picnic where I grilled kielbasa, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone. We met Tom's wife, Nikki, and a married Anglican couple that visit OCnet and go by the names of Keble and Ebor. Phil gave me some gruff, in jest, of my separate praying before the meal.
That evening we all, minus Tom, Anastasios and their wives, hit Vigil at the OCA (St. Nicholas) Cathedral, as no one ended up wanting to go to the ROCOR Cathedral with me and I did not know how to get from it to the St. Nicholas Cathedral to meet up with them afterwards. St. Nicholas is beautiful, but the Vigil was lacking IMO because of bad you/who translations, cut-outs etc. Matt Frobisher (Poor Matt was called Frobisher or Frobie by everyone all weekend!) said that he saw in me something that Serge needed to add to the "You Might Be a Russian Orthodox If ..." list — that, being the fact that walking out or going somewhere a short distance behind me during vigil I always walked backward so that I kept myself facing the altar. The Cathedral had General Confessions, but I waited outside with the other non-OCA folk. During this visit in saw the guy with a sign protesting at the Vatican embassy again. This time we honked and I waved at him and give him 2 thumbs up. He waved back with a smile that made it appear that we had made his day.
We met back up with Anastasios and Michaela after they were done napping and we all went to dinner at some place located in the middle of a street festival. I had some delicious Goat Cheese Raviolli and discussed the error of Roman Catholicism with the Uniates that came. We went top bed around 2 or 3 am. See a pattern forming?
I wake up at 6am, Pattern #2 of this trip! :D I say my goodbyes to everyone as some of them are going to an Indian Malankara liturgy and some to the OCA Cathedral and others to a Melkite liturgy. (Clint and Matt are Uniates) I had a 2.5 hour trip down to Staunton to attend St. Basil of Kineshma Church where Father Dionysi, who posts at the Euphrosynos Cafe Forum, is priest. I planned to leave for home after trapeza.
Divine Liturgy and trapeza were both wonderful at this small ROAC church and I did not end up leaving until almost 6pm! During trapeza I was invited to sit at the table with Father Dionysi, Deacon Photios and Reader Jerjis (George in, I believe, Arabic) and we had wonderful conversations on the world political situation, world history, the Church, etc. Father Dionysi knew I was very tired since my eyes kept closing during the Hours, so he loaded me up with Mountain Dew for my trip home.
I was on I-495, and suffering from a sore back and very tired, when I needed to fill up with gas and go to the bathroom — since I was by the apartment, I stopped there. The guys were surprised that I was back. We all decided to go out for Indian food as Phil's birthday was the next day. Excellent murg and lamb dishes were had by all. (Although by Monday morning, Frobie's stomach was not liking the murg anymore! LOL!) I was so tired and my back was sore that I decided to take some Tylenol PM with our wine and stay the night. I finally went to bed before midnight. Not by much, but I made it with a minute or two to spare!
I woke up at 10am, much later than I anticipated. I said my goodbyes again, (Phil thought I would be this uber-serious guy and said he was pleasantly pleased as to how "cool" I was, insisting that we hang out again soon! :-D) got on the road before 11am and hit a few traffic jams and thunderstorms, (the humidity on the east coast has been 90-100% all weekend) but I got home by 5pm, which was pretty good time, all things considered. I am still tired though and will be crashing soon. All in all it was a great time and a good group of guys.
*All spelling, grammar and logic mistakes will be blamed on my extreme tiredness. :-)