Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Notes from a Whirlwind Week-end

When we booked our airline tickets, we knew that this past week-end would be a whirlwind.  But we predicted it would be worth it, and it was.  Let me count the joys:

--We arrived on Friday morning, and it was great to have time with my sister before everyone else (a huge extended family and friends network) arrived.  We sat on her deck and enjoyed the sun and the coolness when the clouds covered the sun.

--Something about that scene felt so familiar, and then I remembered that in a different time and place, my community college in South Carolina took one of its major vacations in early May.  More than once I travelled to my parents' townhouse in Northern Virginia and spent time on their deck, putting on a jacket, taking off a jacket, enjoying all sorts of nibbles.

--We got to go with my sister to pick my nephew up from school.

--We had great meals:  a steak dinner on Friday and burgers on Saturday.  We went to an Italian restaurant for my nephew's post-Communion celebration:  long tables with family style chicken parmesan and pasta.   Even the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese wasn't bad.

--One of the major events that we wanted to be sure to share was my nephew's first communion on Saturday.  I wrote more about that experience in this post on my theology blog.  In short, it was wonderful and the highlight of the week-end.

--Saturday afternoon, we played a variation of soccer with a mix of humans of all sorts of abilities.  Our game basically consisted of running up and down the street, kicking a ball and blocking a ball and yelling when people used their hands; it was the kind of game that had vague rules and scoring that I never understood.  I was able to block and kick.  As a person who never did well in P.E. classes, I still find it a thrill when I can "play" a group game.

--We went to pick up some friends for my nephew's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.  One of them hugged me like he'd always known me.  I found it touching.

--I have now been to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.  It's fine with me if I never go to another one.  I could write an essay about how all the worst traits of humanity are embodied in the experience, but that would be mean-spirited, and so I won't.

--I had the chance to read 2 great books; hurrah for airline travel.  I'll likely write more about them in the coming days, but in short, these books are great:  The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham and The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahari.

--We had easy plane travel (thus, the chance to read).  On the way up, a group of safety patrol kids from a local elementary school were on the plane.  It was clear that they hadn't been on a plane before, and their sense of wonder made me happy.  When we took off, there were whoops of joy.  When we landed, they clapped.  Enchanting!

--On the way back, we sat next to a man working on some sort of project on his laptop about leading Jewish prayer.  Across the aisle, a man watched Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson on his tablet.  We had all been able to watch a beautiful sunset as we zoomed above the surface of the planet.  I should be able to create a poem out of this.

In short, it was a great week-end, the kind of week-end we'll talk about years from now, when we're amazed that we could travel so far with such cheap airline tickets, when we'll be amazed by how far we've all come from that week-end in May.

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