All together again! The Dins reached the final tour stop after 10 weeks of travel and were reunited with yours truly, #247. The rest of the Dins had a tough flight from Sydney with a layover in San Francisco before arriving to SeaTac airport at around noon on August 6th, while I arrived from New York’s JFK airport a few hours before.
I made sure to be waiting outside their exit gate before they walked off the plane, so I could see the look of excitement on their faces, as we all got together for the first time in months. One by one, I hugged every single Din. As we waited for our backlogged luggage, I heard about the groups travels all over the world, from their adventures in Strasbourg to the typhoons in Japan. Slowly but surely, I felt myself be immersed in the experience through their storytelling. It felt like I had been with them the whole summer!
After leaving the airport, we went our separate ways to recharge after a day of travel. Brian and I were paired up in a comfy house in the Queen Anne neighborhood, north of the city. He, Michael, and I quickly dropped off our belongings and explored the city a bit, taking in the beautiful sights. I can honestly say Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. It is large without being daunting, easily navigable, and the surrounding bodies of water give it a very relaxed feel. In addition to all that, it also has so many cool spots to eat and relax. Later that first day, Michael, Brian, and I got a taste of the local seafood scene before meeting up with Eli, Austin, and Andrew. We walked around downtown, visited the original Starbucks store, and relaxed by the water.
The next day, we all got up early and met at Volunteer Park to do Toasts. For those who don’t know, toasts are when each member of the group and their achievements are highlighted by every other member of the group. It was so nice to hear everyone say such nice things about each other, things that were so personal and thoughtful. We didn’t get anywhere near finishing that morning, because of many uber eats runs and plenty of breaks, though.
That night, I performed at my first gig in about three months. Safe to say I was pretty nervous, but being on stage with everyone made it a whole lot easier. We got through our performance at the church, and the crowd really enjoyed it.
The next day we again met early to do toasts, but this time in a park near the Space Needle (surprisingly underwhelming by the way). It was bittersweet, however, because as we got to older Dins, it was less likely they would come back, and for some it wasn’t possible at all. After that we regrouped and started our journey to Mount Vernon, with Michael’s family graciously driving us up to their home. They cooked us a delicious dinner and we managed to ~almost~ finish toasts in a nice little campsite off in the woods near Michael’s house. Then, we got ready for our last performance together in the historic Lincoln Theatre.
The theater gave off a very vintage vibe, and the dressing room we were given reminded me of ones I had seen some of my musical idols prepping in. We messed around before and after soundcheck, but when the time to perform came we were all dialed in. We did a two part set with an intermission, and when we got off stage it was evident we had all exhausted ourselves, but it was more than worth it. Plenty of people came and congratulated us, and we spent an hour or more meeting the locals. After the gig, Ethan stood up and gave a little speech about how everyone had missed me on tour and how he had a present to represent their travels that he wanted to give me. It was a great gift, and we all had a good laugh after!
Upon getting back to town we found a little park by the UW campus and finished toasts. It finally being the end of tour, we stood in this park sang our family song "My Lord What a Morning". It was a beautiful way to bring things to a close.
One by one, we went our separate ways to our homestays, each of us clutching little souvenirs of our time together. Some of us made plans to meet up over the next few days, while others had to leave early for flights, but wherever we went after, we still carried the memories of a job well done and a summer we’ll never forget.
Luis Valencia #247