Christmas in Europe Part One: The Departure

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I had the best of intentions when it came to writing a blog post or two during our European vacation, but alas, I failed miserably.  The fact is, I was too excited to get each and every day started, didn’t make it back to the hotel until late and oftentimes I wasn’t exactly sober.  All in all, I’d say our Christmas vacation was a success, which is great, because it didn’t necessarily start out that way.

I have a habit of getting to the airport early, in order to avoid any issues or surprises that may pop up.  We started for the airport at about 5 p.m., anticipating that we would hit some nasty pockets during rush hour as we made our way to the airport halfway across town.  Traffic was surprisingly mild, however, and we ended up making it to the airport with about 4 hours to spare before our flight.  We got checked in and made our way to the security checkpoint, expecting to stand around for half an hour, as there never seems to be enough security lanes open when we fly.  Again, we made it up to security and through almost instantly.  What luck, right?  Well, that’s where our luck took a bit of a shit.

We’re on the other side of the security checkpoint gathering our things, when Lee realizes he doesn’t have his ticket or his passport anymore.  I immediately became super agitated, and here’s why:

  1.  I have very little patience
  2. Lee has a habit of forgetting things at an airport.

We’ve lost a phone and wallet(which were recovered), a camera, a computer (which was recovered) and most recently (as in, on this trip), an umbrella.  Granted, I myself am incredibly absent-minded in the mornings when I’m leaving for work, and if it weren’t for Lee going through a checklist with me every morning, I’d probably forget something everyday.  But if I forget my wallet, that just means I don’t eat lunch that day.  It doesn’t mean I’m in jeopardy of not being able to leave the country.  So, I become agitated, because I’m annoyed that this is happening again, but also, because if he can’t find his passport, neither of us are going on this trip.  I would never dream of leaving without him, but I also don’t want to be put in a situation where I have to make that decision.

We tear apart his carry-on, rifle through all of his pockets; it’s nowhere to be found.  We go through the stack of empty bins to make sure it hasn’t been left in one by mistake.  It’s not there.  At this point, we decide to get security involved.  Lee pulls a TSA employee aside and explains that he thinks he may have left his passport on the other side.  Lee can’t go and check himself of course, as he would have to way to get back through security, so he relies on the kindness of a stranger.  The stranger peeks his head over the partition, glances quickly, states that the passport is not there, and walks away.  Awesome.  Thanks, Brah.

Lee tries with another TSA agent who tells him to check the security desk.  It’s not there either.  We try to get another agent or two to give a shit about the fact that our trip is ruined if this doesn’t get sorted, before I finally decide to exit and re-enter the airport so I can scour the area myself.  I run through the terminal, to the exit, down the stairs and then up the escalator to the security area.  I approach an agent on that side of the wall and explain the situation.  She tells me that she hasn’t seen it, but she knows there’s another employee looking for it.  Finally!  Someone cares.

I wait in line for my turn to go through security, because of course, now it’s gotten a bit busier.  As I’m taking off my shoes to place them in the bin, I see Lee out of the corner of my eye, waving wildly.  He gives me a thumbs up, and I immediately relax a little.  I’m still really anxious about the whole ordeal, but at least we know that we can get on the plane.

I make my way through security again, only to be pulled aside this time for a good old-fashioned frisking.  Because, of course.

Lee ended up determining that in a very odd and (I’m assuming) incredibly rare, twist of fate, Lee’s passport and ticket managed to fall out of the bin as it was traveling down the belt, and fell in between the slats of the belt.  Lee was finally able to get an employee to look underneath the conveyor belt, and voila.  That’s where it was.

After a very stressful and anxious half-hour, we made our way to the Delta club lounge, where I made it my mission to drink enough vodka to forget the whole debacle even happened.  I didn’t exactly accomplish my mission, but after 4 vodka sodas I definitely cared a little bit less.

I chose to look at our security fiasco as a mere blip in what would be an otherwise perfect trip.  Everything, from that point on, would be exactly as we had imagined it would be, if not better.

And luckily, I was right.

 

 

Stylin’ & Profilin’….

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….that’s how my dad would refer to himself when he thought he looked good.  And we heard it a lot.  Because dad always looked good.

Today marks the anniversary of his passing.  It’s been 6 years, and while each anniversary gets a little bit easier, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a spot in my heart that will always be just a little bit damaged from losing the first man I ever loved.  We didn’t have a perfect relationship, and it wasn’t always easy, but if I’ve learned anything in the time since he’s been gone, it’s that our relationship was always worthwhile.

After my dad passed away, my best friend, my sister and I were to clear out some of his things.  We found 4 pages of songs that he wanted played at his funeral.  If he would have had it his way, we probably would have had a music festival in his honor.  Well, we didn’t have that kind of time or that much money.  We did manage to find a slightly more cost-effective way to honor his memory; we took songs from that list as well as songs chosen by me, my sister and his best friend and created a compilation CD.  We then handed one out to each person in attendance at his memorial service.  It may not have been all of the songs he chose, but he hasn’t chosen to haunt me or my sister for our song choices or lack of a music festival, so I’m gonna go ahead and take that as Dad’s stamp of approval.

Both my parents loved music, so my sister and I grew up in a household where at least one stereo was playing at all times.  In fact our downstairs stereo was Dad’s piece de resistance.  He’d proudly show off his Klipsch stereo system anytime he had guests over.  There were many a night where my sister and I would be jarred awake from a deep sleep because our dad had to show his friends how great his speakers sounded at close to full blast.  Mom would tell him to keep it down and he’d promptly ignore her.  You see, my mom and dad both loved music but went about it quite differently.  Mom had her favorites that she would listen to on a regular rotation.  She’d listen to it, appreciate it and then file it away before it got annoying.  Not my dad.  He had a way of playing songs so frequently (overplayed was not a word in his vocabulary) that you would get to a point where you would rather to stab your eardrums than hear that fucking Crash Test Dummies song one more time.

But for him, it wasn’t just about the lyrics, or even the melody.  It was about the layers and the composition.  His dream had always been to be a sound engineer and while it was a dream that was never fully realized, he had a way of making sure he shared his love and knowledge with us.  Any time we got a new car, it wasn’t ready to drive until Dad had tuned the stereo.  And if you fucked with any of the dials, he would know the next time he got into that car.  The guy had an ear unlike anyone I’ve ever known.  While I’d like to think that some of this may have rubbed off on me.  Those nearest and dearest to me know that I can pick up a baseline in the middle of crowded bar and tell you what song is playing, no matter how much background noise is going on around me.  It’s a super power, really;  one of many fine qualities that I inherited from my dad.

I put together a Spotify playlist to honor my Dad and am adding to it, as I hear things that remind me of him.  It’s a playlist that my sister and I listen to whenever we need to feel his presence; because we know that’s how he lives on through each of us.  I’ve chosen to share it with you today and I invite any of you who knew our dad to share a song that reminds you of him.  We’ll make sure to add it to the rotation!

Stylin’ & Profilin’ – Songs for Dad

My sister and I will spend this anniversary together, as that has become our yearly practice.  We’ll make a Dad inspired meal, listen to Dad inspired music and share stories.  And while we might not choose to toast him with his drink of choice (because Bacardi Cokes are disgusting), I’m sure we’ll find a suitable substitution.

So cheers to you, Dad.  I can’t wait to see you again.