Monday, March 10, 2008

Thank Heaven For Little...

...boys, actually.

After stumbling through packing in an exhausted fog Thursday night, I grabbed about five hours sleep. Left the house before six AM Friday, so I could stop at the bagel store for contraband real New York bagels (from New Jersey, of course.) Made it to Newark Airport by 6:45, parked in the economy lot, and caught the bus to the terminal. Everything went smoothly through security; it helps to be a frequent traveler that knows exactly what can be brought in the carry-on. For once, the flight to Detroit was on time and uneventful.

Of course, upon arriving in Detroit, my one hour layover turned into a three hour delay. When we questioned the staff, they announced that the plane was coming from the hangar and would be there within the next ten minutes. They made this same announcement four times over the next 1-1/2 hours. Finally, the pilot herself got on the PA and told us that the plane had definitely left the hangar, should have arrived long ago, and no one was able to locate it at that time. It's always reassuring to hear that the airport can't find the plane you're supposed to get on. A few minutes later, the plane arrived, and we all loaded up, only to be told by the pilot that there was something wrong with the external generator, and not to worry about the weird sounds and flashing lights going on for a few moments. As it is, I hate to fly, so this made me a bit nervous, to say the least. In the end, all was fine, the flight was otherwise uneventful, and I made it to Grand Rapids only about 2 hours late.

Sarah was waiting for me with the cuddly bundle of babble that is Ike. After I grabbed us some Starbucks, we loaded into the Roadmaster and headed for their house, passing hubby Dave's job on the way. Dave's company has the policy of closing every other Friday, and this happened to be one of those days. Unfortunately, he had decided to take advantage of the empty building and perform some IT work that wouldn't be interrupted. She expected him to be home around 6pm, so we camped out on the living room couch for a few hours and played with Ike. It was great to have some time to ourselves, as we reminisced and got to know each other again. Ike was as huggable as I had imagined, and stayed upbeat the whole night. I tend to think that anyone who interacted with him would be hard-pressed not to want to take him home. When Sarah called Dave to see how it was going, we found out that he didn't think he would be home for hours. She and I were starving, so we made an enchilada-style casserole, which was really tasty, and relaxed. In the end, Dave arrived at approximately 2:30am Saturday morning, which was about three hours after we went to bed. I joked with Sarah the following day that I was impressed at the lengths he would go to avoid seeing me.

We all slept in on Saturday morning, and finally got up to a breakfast of yummy NY bagels. Dave was experiencing them for the first time, and pronounced that the bagels were orgasmic. We chatted and played with Ike for a few hours, relaxing with Dre's Chronic and Portishead, then bundled up and headed to Grand Rapids. The town that they live in, Freeport, boasts three churches and zero traffic lights, so there wasn't much to do locally. Our destination was a lovely butterfly garden, which is also surrounded by outdoor sculptures, but the blustery weather kept us inside only. Dave assaulted me with the all-terrain stroller to pay for the tickets, but agreed that I could pay for food later on. Ike seemed more fascinated by the crowds than the insects, while Dave was drawn to some puffy and seemingly-flightless birds. We stopped at the gift shop for presents for ourselves, mostly on Dave's urging. Throughout, Sarah was the identical image of serenity that I always remember her mother displaying when we were children.

We were pretty much starving at this point, and after some discussion about the world being our oyster, Dave took us over to The Bob in downtown Grand Rapids. Apparently, this stands for something like 'big old building', and is a converted factory (according to Dave, probably textiles.) Ike slept beautifully through dinner, and we enjoyed a great seafood meal, though it was much like that commercial with the elf food. An appetizer, entree, and dessert for each of us was just enough to get us home for some chips, hummus, and beer. Dave turned DJ, and we relaxed and chatted about music, family, religion, books, everything, until sleep overcame.

Sunday morning was nice and lazy. Ike was cranky, and ended up sleeping for much of the day. Sarah and I were reminiscing again, and this time it inspired a look through her photograph collection. Weekends in the Catskills, a trip to Tanglewood and Stockbridge with Aunt Marsha and the girls, lots of Christmas Eves, old boyfriends, birthday parties, so many occasions that we've shared. Dave's iPod narrated our conversation with Led Zeppelin, Tool, the Beatles, and Weezer, among others. Then Sarah made us an early dinner of Italian sausage, peppers, and onion soup, we packed up Ike, and headed off to the airport. The flights home were on time and completely uneventful. I even got back to Newark about fifteen minutes early, but the late hour meant short staffing, and we had to wait fifteen minutes for someone to come open the door.

Overall, it was a great trip. I try to take advantage of any opportunity I get to spend time with my cousins now that we are adults, but it is extremely rare. I know that just because we spent a lot of time together as children, and got along so well, doesn't mean that we'll have much in common or enjoy each other's company now. This weekend showed me that our shared history really is a shared starting point, and led us to many of the perspectives and beliefs that we currently share. And it's amazing how alike our respective Daves are! I can only hope that one day I have a healthy, happy child like Ike to show for my life, as she does.

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