Tag: travel

it happened in a burger king bathroom

For a very long time, I was absolutely certain I did not want children. I had thought it all out, see. I was not the mothering type. I wanted to spend my money on myself. I wanted to travel and have nice things. I proclaimed this loudly and often to anyone who would listen, and I took great pains to get offended when people would kind of shake their heads and say, “You’ll change your mind,” in response.

I was so mellow back then.

And then I entered this period of great ambivalence about childbearing, which I didn’t share with many people. I wasn’t really sure. Maybe I’d have kids. But I definitely did not want to date someone who already had kids. I’d heard horror stories of what a minefield it was to be a stepparent, and I just didn’t even want to deal with that kind of baggage. I wanted a man unspoiled by life, other women, and offspring.

Silly old mellow me.

So now here I am. I’m in love with the man I intend to marry someday, a man who loves me back and intends to marry me too. Weddings are always best when both spouses-to-be agree to show up, right? So I’m in love with this man – this amazing, intelligent, supportive, divorced father of two. Somehow I’m pretty sure he’s still unspoiled.

We waited several months into our relationship before I met the kids. Their stability is really important to both of us, and we wanted to be sure we were serious and in it for the long haul before we introduced them into our lives as a couple. So for the first few months we were dating, he went on his own to see them and I stayed home. When we began making plans for them to spend the first weekend with us, I was terrified.

I wanted desperately to like them and to have them like me back, but I knew there was a very good chance that they might not like me at all. They might even hate me at first, which would be fairly normal and probably not even about me as a person at all, and more about me as their dad’s new girlfriend. I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a chilly reception and I hoped and hoped we’d have a good time.

And we did. I wrote about it in the spring. We had our moments of awkward tiptoeing and figuring each other out, but no one seemed to hate me and things were fine. I, of course, fell in love with them immediately. We had a couple of other visits and things continued to go pretty well, and I continued to fall in love. And I knew they liked me, and we had fun, but I didn’t know if they loved me and I didn’t expect them to. I’m not their mama, after all. I’m just The Other.

It’s become a little tradition that when we take the kids back after visits, we stop at Burger King. Seth and I have a thing for Mocha Joes and the kids can hit the Playland and it’s a convenient location. Plus it boosts our mood just a little, because though we never let the kids see, we’re always both a little mopey when we’re taking the kids back. So we stop at BK and the first thing we do, of course, is hit the bathroom.

M, age 5, likes to make small talk in public restrooms. One time we were at IHOP and I was waiting outside her stall for her to finish and from her perch on the toilet, she described to me in anatomically correct detail how babies were made. It’s always unpredictable and entertaining and sometimes embarrassing.

So we’re in the bathroom at Burger King and I’m waiting for her and she says, “Hey Lorie, you know what?” I’m kind of only halfway paying attention and I kind of absently say, “What?” and she says, “Did you know I love you?”

I’m almost certain it’s not the first time she told me that, but I think it’s the first time it came out of the blue and it’s definitely the moment I will always remember. It’s not terribly poignant, my little sorta step-girl on the toilet with her feet dangling down telling me she loves me, but ohh. My heart grows a little bit just in the retelling. She doesn’t have to love me, but she does.

It took me a second to respond that I loved her too, of course I did. She finished and we washed her hands and went out to join the rest of the family and the whole time, all I was thinking is, I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom.

10 Comments October 15, 2009

Road Tripping the Light Fantastic

I've just returned from what (at least on the return trip) felt like the longest road trip of my life, but in actuality, it was one of the shorter ones. I grew up in a road-tripping family. My mom would regularly pack us kids in the car and make the 12-hour drive to Iowa to visit our grandparents several times a year. Back then there were no portable DVD players or iPods to pass the time, and I suffered from motion sickness if I tried to read in the car, so we passed the time by talking and singing songs.

Songs by Steve Winwood, Suzy Bogguss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Hal Ketchum are the ones I remember most as we drove those long highway miles. To this day, when I hear any of them I get a rush of nostalgia that's sometimes overwhelming. Our current culture of instant gratification means that not many kids get to share my experience of watching America go by through a car window. Instead, they're watching Yo Gabba Gabba and oblivious to their surroundings.

Our longest road trip ever was when we moved from Colorado to Virginia in 1992. My dad and Ginny rode together in a big yellow Penske moving truck, while Mom and I held down the Dodge Caravan along with Sammi (age 5), Jamie (age 2), Reagan the dog, Kitty and Fat Boy the cats, and Pretty Boy the cockatiel. It was a very long trip. The best part was probably when we got separated from Dad and Ginny while navigating through St. Louis. I remember Mom crying hysterically at a rest stop, and the roadies from classic country group Alabama helped us track down the yellow Penske truck. And all was well that ended well.

1 Comment February 15, 2009

a sinner’s impression of sin city

I’ve been going through old emails and files this weekend and purging things, and while I was doing it I ran across this email I sent to someone shortly after my first (and so far, only) trip to Las Vegas in early 2006. It’s a little bit of a change of pace, and I kind of like it, so I thought I’d post it here.

***

I learned quickly and well that the only thing to do in Vegas is spend your money – preferably all of it, but most of it will do. Vegas goes out of its way to assist you in this endeavor. It’s odd. It’s kind of gross. By the second day I was totally over it.

The symposium I was sent to attend had some repetitive stuff, and I made the command decision on the first afternoon to ditch the late sessions and strike out on my own. This is what I do in any new city – grab the camera, and maybe the iPod, and head out walking.

I was fascinated by and nervous about the guys who stood three deep on the Strip, with handfuls of cards of some kind that they slapped in rhythm. I’ve spent half my life in marching bands (dork alert) and find it impossible to ignore a cadence, so before I knew it my footsteps were matched to their hands. Slap, slap; step, step. I put on my Panhandler and Religious Literature Avoidance Face and my moviestar sunglasses and hoped they wouldn’t approach me – but then, as I walked blocks in time with their hands, I started to get kind of pissed that not a single one of them tried to hand me a thing. Perhaps my P&RLAF was too stern. Maybe my moviestar sunglasses were too cool. Maybe I was gross. Was that it? Was I gross? Why weren’t those sons of bitches trying to force their cards on me?

Out of nowhere I became insecure and found myself looking down at the ground as I walked. Then I finally noticed that the ground was littered with the cards the guys were handing out to, it seemed, everyone on the damn Strip but me. Cards for strippers, and/or ‘personal escorts.’ I didn’t really need a stripper or a personal escort that day or any other day, so I am guessing they gauged their audience (or lack thereof) correctly, at least in my case.

In my mind I kept comparing Las Vegas to New Orleans, where I traveled just about a year ago. In New Orleans I could not walk three steps without being approached by someone wanting to pull me into a bar, or shine my shoes, or read my palm, or sell me a painting or a flower or a string of beads. For some reason that bothered me less than Vegas did – Vegas is full of big generic machines and stores and such with solid, arrogant conviction that people will flock to them like sheep and throw their dollars in. New Orleans, on the other hand, was much more organic – a more personal hustle, if such a thing exists. I don’t know if that makes a lick of sense to anyone outside my head, but it’s the best way I can get it out through my hands right now.

I adored the weather, sunny and warm and beautifully DRY (compared to the mid-Atlantic humidity that I can never get used to, no matter how long I live here), and I was very yokel-assed touristy and in love with the palm trees, which feel like a vacation to me even when the weather’s bad.

5 Comments August 31, 2008

all this for cheap housewares

I had to drive to Atlanta this past weekend for a work-related meeting. They’d strongly encouraged us to drive to avoid having to reimburse us for expensive airfares, and I said I’d drive unless I got a great last-minute fare on Delta. I did, in fact, get a great last-minute fare on Delta, but I got all twitchy and booked my flight for the wrong day. By the time I convinced Delta to give me a refund and went back to rebook, the flight was sold out. So I’d be driving.

Computer drama kept me in Lynchburg until nearly 8pm on Friday, and so that night I drove just past Spartanburg, SC, and got a room and slept for a few hours. I woke up early on Saturday morning and finished the trip with no trouble, then spent the next ten hours in meetings and events with the committee. I tell you all this so you know that when I left the Hyatt on Sunday morning, I was damn tired.

I decided that since I had to drive to Atlanta and back in one weekend, I’d reward myself with a trip to IKEA before I came back to Virginia. I’d been all responsible and plugged the address into GPS the night before so I’d be sure to make it there with minimal drama.

Problem: I-75 and I-85 in downtown Atlanta are all torn up and under construction, and some streets had been detoured and rerouted to accommodate the situation. It seemed okay, though. GPS guided me toward the edge of downtown and then told me to turn right. I was turning onto a street that had been rerouted, and the three far lanes were going left. The near lane was empty, and that’s the one I turned into.

Problem: THE NEAR LANE WAS ALSO GOING LEFT, as I learned when I’d fully committed to the turn and was greeted by a hundred blaring horns and a car headed right at me.

I didn’t think. I threw the Mazda into reverse and flew backwards around the corner, back to where I’d been before. Luckily, nothing had come up behind me while I was inadvertently risking my life and someone else’s. I was completely rattled and horrified and embarrassed, and literally sat at the light with my head in my hands until I heard a knock at my passenger-side window. I looked up. A homeless dude with a sign had watched the whole situation unfold.

“Where you tryin’ to go?” he said.

“I-I-I-I-KEEEEEE-A,” I managed to choke out. He told me I couldn’t go that way. I told him I’d figured that much out. He told me where to go to get straightened out again, and then asked me for some money to help the homeless.

I’ve been asked for money by homeless people dozens of times in my life, and usually handle it smoothly and quickly. On rare occasions I’ll give them money, but most often I’ll apologize and say that I don’t have cash (which is nearly always true, anyway) and then I’ll be on my way. That is not how I reacted this time.

This time, being asked for money launched me into a full-on, hysterical sobbing, snot-dripping, choking, gasping meltdown. I was crying so hard I couldn’t even form words to answer the guy. I just sat there and freaked completely the hell out.

And the homeless guy with the sign, apparently convinced I was bugfuck crazy, apologized, blessed me, and backed away from my car very, very slowly.

It’s an interesting day when you convince the homeless guy with the sign that YOU are the crazy one.

1 Comment August 21, 2008


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