Saturday, August 24, 2013

West meets East

I haven't posted in some time. No excuse really, I just haven't had much worth saying. At least not much worth saying in my opinion. 

Today I am writing about our recent trip back to Atlanta for my oldest Son's wedding. We flew out last Friday morning. Neither my wife Vicki nor I like the flying experience. You know what I'm referring to; long lines at TSA, expensive food in the concourse past security, small seats with no legroom on the plane and the sometimes frightening noises and maneuvers that jet aircraft make. 

Vicki commented at the security line in Phoenix that this was the same way they lined up cattle for slaughter at the meat packing plant in South Dakota. All that aside, the flights both going and coming were OK. We payed extra to Southwest for early boarding and had seats in row 8 going to Atlanta and row 2 coming back. In both instances we could have had the 1st row seats but there would not have been a window seat for Vicki, so we went with the next best. She needs to see out of the plane or she gets claustrophobic while we sit on the tarmac. Even our checked luggage arrived  without damage this trip.

So... We arrive in Atlanta at 4:05 PM their time and proceed to baggage claim and then the rental car area. This requires taking two trains. The first takes you the mile or so from your departure gate to the baggage area. The second (after schlepping your bags outside and up an escalator) takes you another mile or so to the rental car center. Knowing a little about Atlanta traffic I opted for a full size car. At Enterprise they had a 2014 Impala (for a slight extra fee) and I went with that to check out the new Chevy. Nice ride by the way and lots of useful tech, like blind spot alerts on both passenger and driver's side mirrors.

Our hotel was north of the airport and downtown Atlanta in Alpharetta. We got good directions from the Enterprise counter and made it up the 285 and the 19/400 in about 40 minutes or so. 

The differences in geography, weather and population density become apparent the minute you leave the Airport. While the 285 was reasonable, the surface streets were small, crowded and closed in. There are folks everywhere all the time. Traffic was constant and unrelenting in the suburbs we traveled in Atlanta. In the neighborhoods it felt slightly rural, though congested; an odd mix that was alien to us. We were also amazed at the number of very large upscale apartment complexes. Some must have had thousands of residents. We got lost the first time we went to my son's apartment. Of course we are from Sun Lakes, it was night and there was all those trees and grass.

The Wedding took place at a community clubhouse and was very nice. The kids and their friends put the whole thing together including a great meal at the reception. I had not seen or spoken to my oldest son Jason or my youngest daughter Sarah in 10 years. The experience verged on the surreal at times.

I was also able to have a conversation with my Ex. I hadn't spoken with her in 30 years. We talked for some time and both us had some much needed closure, though I suspect mine may have been the more intense. I hope she just didn't say what I needed to hear to make me feel better. We'll see, she and Vicki are now going to communicate on facebook. Who woulda thunk it?

Vicki and I were able to spend some time with both of the kids at the reception and later at Jason's apartment.It was only later at a bar with the close friends that Vicki and I learned that some things have not changed between the kids and I in spite of both of them being in their 30s. They are still somehow, somewhat damaged. Their relationship as brother and sister which was so strong in their childhood has gone through changes. I'm not sure that either of them are totally comfortable with that. In addition their feelings (or in Sarah's case lack thereof) towards me are troubling.

As Vicki and I sat chatting with Sarah and her fiance Joe, Jason butted in to tell me that I should in essence shut up and let Sarah eat. Both of us were surprised by this passive aggressive comment. Had Sarah reassured her brother that it was alright, that we were just talking, we probably would have stayed. But that didn't happen. She attempted to play it off and I could see that his overbearing protectiveness was still an issue and that I wasn't the cause of their problem. 

Vicki and I looked across the table at one another and with a nod we decided to say goodnight. I congratulated the happy couple and we left. 

I was initially angry and hurt by Jason's outburst, but upon reflection it has provided me with long needed peace of mind. I have lived with the guilt of not being there for the kids for almost 4 decades and believed that absence caused their problems. Now I know it's not the case. They chose to be the way they are, just the same way their Mom chose her path in life. I would of course liked things to turn out differently, but there are few do overs in real life. 

I don't expect to ever go back to Atlanta, in spite of my daughter's upcoming wedding next year. For one thing I'm not even sure I'll be invited, but more importantly even if I am I don't see any reason to attend. Better that this time I just send them the money we would have spent on tickets. If either of the kids and their spouses ever want to see me they can come out to Phoenix. They will always be welcome, psychological warts and all, but if things go south they'll be the ones schlepping through airports, not me.

Life doesn't get an simpler as we grow older, but it does move faster. More on that in my next post. Things are happening here too.

Hang in there,



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