When I travel these days, it’s always south, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows where I live and definitely won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog.
What this does, though, is create an air lock experience, moving through climates. This latest trip, I went from cold to mild to cool to mild to home, where it’s also cool. The whole thing was pretty cool.
It started out a little messy. Having reserved a car for Friday night, and arriving at the car rental counter a few minutes after midnight, I had to deal with aggressive upselling at exactly the wrong time. This process also added to our already long day, finally hitting the hotel around 2:30am.
I also packed the wrong pants. Really, I’m trying to be fair here, trying to avoid saying that it was the perfect weekend when that’s exactly what it felt like. Warts and all. And there were warts.
But oh boy. A big birthday bash for Mom, the sort of thing she usually organizes, went down about as smoothly as one could hope, which is to say, I guess, perfectly. From the reimagined railroad executive dining car to the family and old friends who came and connected, I’d say we pulled it off.
I missed dinner, having to run Julie and John to the airport for their trip home (she had church the next morning and he had a cat to return to), although I reached the restaurant in time to see that most of the party guests had stayed to eat.
I want to say it was remarkable. I think that’s because I’ve never quite had this experience, although I’ll surely have more. You make a lot of friends in 80 years, and those years also come with a whole bunch of family.
Then again, our family is not that big. Mom grew up with plenty of cousins, but they’re pretty farflung if still around. I’ve noted it before here, but I had four grandparents, one uncle and two aunts, and four cousins. Seriously. If it weren’t for a couple of my cousins having a reasonably normal family (that’s a joke; I just mean more than just one child), it would be a pretty sparse family reunion if we ever managed one of those.
But two of those cousins came and brought family, and as for the three siblings and crew we were only missing Beth, for whom traveling can be a nightmare without her husband and a rented condo with a kitchen so she can prepare the food my grandson needs.
And then there were the friends, some from decades ago when Mom was working, and some even further back, to her high school days. Then there were a couple of my friends (really, friends of all of us, and the family in general; grew up with us mostly).
If you’re interested, this sort of thing doesn’t cost a lot of money. Just a space, some snacks, a cake, and let the magic commence. It’s all about people; it always has been.
And I was able to see my family, and get a little verklempt at all the love. It’s all you need. Someone should write a song.