Baked Potato

When you have a crazy craving for a Baked Potato…
You throw Chili, Cheese, and Sour Cream on it!
Then add some Cream Corn, and cut up an Avocado, and grill some Scallions.

The Wedding – Epilogue

The End

I always think about the idea of nostalgia. It’s probably because I have a terrible memory for my childhood. Just foggy snapshots, hazy impressions, and lingering feelings. But the feelings are real, no matter how strange and alien they are. Nostalgia is the longing for a time, not a place. And while my memory is only of images, my dreams are more vivid. My dreams have always been vivid, like being entirely transported to another reality. I have woken still sobbing from some heartbreak, I have woken with cuts in ny palms from clenching my fists, and I have had to stop myself from reminding people of an incident that never happened. My dreams are like experiencing another me.

And this was like a dream. A dream that felt strange and real. A dream of people dressed up and swirling on the dance floor. A dream of flowers and flowing creeks and beautiful stone walls. A dream of a prince and a princess kissing outside a castle. And I am there, standing by a warm fire, looking into the faces of people from my past. And they are so familiar, and yet such strangers to me. Do people change so much while you are not looking? Am I drunk on the sweet bubbles in my glass?

The clock chimes it’s bells, and the dancers begin to fade away. Sleep doesn’t come, but I must already be asleep, this is a dream.

Even days later, my body still feels like it is floating. I am not sure if I truly saw those ghosts from my past. Those warm feelings, personified from my childhood. Those strangers of my adulthood.

I can’t tell what is reality, and what is dream, but I know that soon my alarm will go off, and life will be as it was.

The Wedding – Done

Love Actually

You know that scene at the beginning of Love Actually, with all the videos of people smiling and hugging in the airport, and a voice over of Hugh Grant telling us all about love and how it is all around…

I mean, so maybe that movie is two decades old now, but I feel as though airports are the exact OPPOSITE of a love scene montage.

Outside of rush hour traffic, I have really never seen such humanistic ridiculousness. The sheer number of people who CANNOT stop staring at their phones, as they press forwards in lines, irritated that the line isn’t moving faster, all the while NOT reading the signs or listening to the various TSA people yelling out instructions, and then end up doing something wrong and holding up the line. The TSA guy who waved me through the scanner actually THANKED me because he didn’t have to send me through multiple times for having left something in my pocket. (That they all told us multiple times to take out of our pockets…)

And it always seems as though everyone is in such a damned hurry. I am constantly thinking to myself, as I get shoulder checked by some White Rabbit, that, just because you reach the gate first, doesn’t mean the plane is going to leave any earlier.

And the common courtesy has just become extinct once you enter the airport. In certain airports you must catch a train to go from gate area to gate area. It can get tight. When we reach a gate area that I am not disembarking, I am rudely shoved out of the way so people can get off, and end up being shoved into more people who shove me out of their way.

At one point, while walking I had stopped to allow a group of people walk through a narrow area (due to millers about dawdling…) and in the process was shoulder checked by someone behind me in some damned hurry to get past me.

One woman cut in line to get through the TSA check. While waiting at baggage claim two separate gentlemen literally stepped in front of me, as though I wasn’t practically standing at the front of the mosh pit with my thighs smashed into the stage. While sitting in a seat waiting, multiple times, people walked up and stopped infront of me, like RIGHT in front of me, like would have stepped on my toe if I hadn’t moved my foot. Nevermind the fact that there is an ENTIRE walkway between my seat and the gate…

Nobody looks at each other. Nobody acknowledges each other. I get more social anxiety and anger at the airport than I do at a Walmart. And that isn’t even counting once I am ON the plane.

The people who cannot CANNOT just do what the flight attendants have told us to do three damned times. I look over and old guy STILL has his tray table down, with his phone that is STILL plugged in. Dude, we are about to smash into concrete in like 3 minutes..

Or the parents who let their toddlers freely kick the seat back infront of them. Yes, this is not some fiction, this has happened to me. Were I a bolder soul, I would maybe have turned around and asked them what they thought it meant when the flight attendants said it was a completely full flight. That somehow this ONE seat infront of their child just happened to NOT be occupied?

Or when I am leaning forward and using my tray table appropriately and the person infront of me decides they want to lean their seat back back. All two, life altering inches. With some twinkling of a hope that if they fling their entire weight into it, they may get a blessed extra inch out of it. Instead, they hit me in the head with their seat back. Also, not some fiction, but an actual skull jarring incident.

I had seen this meme once that said, dress as though The Doctor might show up any moment. I sometimes wish he(/she) would, if it mean’t I could avoid airports.

Even first class isn’t safe, as I walked past a woman with a screaming baby. My seat was in row TWENTY-FOUR and I could still hear the monster screaming. I am certain the rest of the first classers were extraordinarily happy they had spent the extra money to be in first class.

Okay, okay. So this is some really long hate mail on air travel. It always makes me angry and hateful though. And extra disdainful at Hugh Grant for trying to make airports such lovely, frolicking through the meadows places. Well, lets see how well you recite that monologue about love while TSA is wanding you between the legs…

(No feelings towards Hugh Grant were actually harmed during the writing of this post.)

The Wedding – Day 6

Breathe

Frodo said, “how do you pick up the threads of an old life?”

And it is a little bit like that. Yesterday we drank ourselves into oblivion. And fought the pull of sleep, because there was only morning on the otherside.

I woke painfully early. Feeling kind of like I had only just crawled into bed. But, I couldn’t let myself fall down. The hardest part of this time of my life was over. And my body felt as though I were like chocolate left in someone’s pocket. A little bit smushed, a little bit broken, and a little bit soft and warm. And nobody hates this kind of chocolate. It is like finding a dollar on the ground, a happy surprise. Chocolate is chocolate, and this is the best sort of chocolate for smores.

I am not sure where that analogy was headed. I was tired. My stomach felt confused. And yet, I was also so hungry.

The day was warm. The rain and thunder had stopped threatening. A warm Saturday and we headed for the local Farmer’s Market. The streets were busy, and almost surreal. This small down full of strangers, suddenly filled with familiar faces. Everyone having spent a dreamy evening together at a remote castle outside of cellphone range. Which probably sounds like the premise of an updated Agatha Christie novel. The guests rode a shuttle bus up a winding road, under grey clouds…

The afternoon air was nice, but the pace of our travel, slow and meandering, as one would through a Saturday Market, the weight of the energy expenditure last night began to slow us even more. Until a couple members fell into feeling ill, and a few more members fought the extreme wash of fatigue. Crawling into beds, once returned to the hotel, to sleep as the sleep of vampires. Rousing only when the pull of hunger becomes insistent.

When evening hits, we venture out into the world, a bigger, busier world, with too many faces to recognize any. The friendly, flirty barista, replaced by a barista who refuses to make eye contact and does not say “good morning.” We separate and go different directions in search of food. Perhaps needing an escape from each other.

The pub I end up at is loud with an amateur musician, creating an atmosphere that robs of the ability to converse with the person sitting right next to you. We eat. And drink. And the energy is low. I try to joke, but instead I yawn.

Maybe today wasn’t meant for productivity. It was merely passing the time until the snoring can commence.

The Wedding – Day 5 (a day late)

The Big Day

How do you prepare for a day like this? This day you always knew would come, but never really expected it. The way one knows they will grow up and be an adult, but never notice it happening. The way you know the Earth is moving, but you never seem to feel it.

When you are young, if you are lucky you are wrapped up into a little nuclear family with ribbon and bows. A picture of my brother and I having drawn all over a large chalkboard to make our mother feel better. My brother’s side filled with random doodles and words. My side, an exact copy of his side (only much sloppier). He was my absolute hero. He still is. And I would have followed him anywhere.

And in that wrapped up nuclear family, I felt safe. I needed to feel safe. In my heart I have been lost. Only half of it beats because the other is still with my birth mother. And the idea of losing any of my family terrifies me. I can’t lose anymore of my already damaged heart. And it clings so desperately to my family.

I think I wanted to deny that this day was coming. It wasn’t someday sometime. It was now. But if I didn’t think about it, I wasn’t losing my brother.

But as the sun moved across the sky, and my brother watched his bride to be, I realized that I didn’t know this person existed. We have struggled, and fought, and beat every challenge that had come to us. My brother loves me. But I had never seen him love like this. I had never seen such adoration and happiness in his eyes. He loved to be in band, and he loved nerdy math and computer stuff, and he loved cooking, but I had never seen this love.

And as things moved forwards, as we sat in the seats, and the bride’s father walked her to my brother, and he took her hand and led her to the ceremony table, I realized this was real. This was happening.

And the truth is, my heart broke. And when I asked my mom if she was okay, and she said she was. I took a beat, and then told her that I wasn’t. And I cried. Because my brother, my hero, was now so extraordinarily happy. And, a little bit, it was like the Earth moved under my feet. And, a little bit, it was like we were suddenly adults.

The Wedding – Day 4

Just a little bit of gold

Admittedly, this is weird. How do you prepare for this? These things seem so distant, so unearthly. We are all here, but is this really happening?

People from all corners of the Earth come to one place. The Table Mountain Inn in Golden, Colorado. We walk in the door and immediately see familiar faces. We turn and see familiar faces. It is surreal. Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world…

Energy is kind of wobbly. Like a grey hair you are willing to keep, but just won’t go strait. Or, when you are trying to stack round rocks in a tower, but your hands are shaking.

I actually want to scream. Or drink.

The event of the night is the gathering of the people into one decently sized event space. (Let’s all show a little disappointment that the restaurant decided to still have their open mike night in the next room over…) But, as the room fills, and your drink gets lower, more and more faces fill the space. They are smiling, and wearing bright colors, so this can’t be a funeral. These people are all here for my brother, and his wife to be. It is too easy to tell her she is my sister-in-law, in a joking manner, but this is real.

And we all drink, and meet each other, because we will be in each other’s lives now. This is it, this is real. If I keep drinking maybe I’ll wakeup and find that it is a dream.

Unfortunately, the altitude is no friend of mine, I do not end up three sheets to the wind as others do. I drink. And I smile. And I joke. And I shmooze.

I am laying in bed. It is dark, and it is quiet. I can feel the amxiety and energy rolling off my parents. This is a first. This is their first baby, taking one of those natural, but huge ass steps in his life. If I keep my head down, and don’t think too much on it, it is just another day in Golden, Colorado.

But, when my alarm goes off tomorrow morning, everything is real..

The Wedding – Day 3

(Yes, I skipped Day 2)

High T and ESB

Have you ever been somewhere so historic, so grand, that the mere idea of sneezing frightens you?

We went there. And we drank champagne. And we handed our feet over to people who knew how to pamper them. Truth: I actually WANT to look at my feet now.

And then we travelled up a flight of stairs, walked through two doors, and it was time for Grand High Tea.

(Which required emergency rush shipping of a dress because “jeans are inappropriate.”

Dress looked great.

Felt a little bit like a bumbling idiot drinking quite posh tea. Trying to shmear jam and cream on my scone, to have all the jam and shmear fall off before reaching my mouth. Do I commit and just eat naked scone? Do I play the awkward fool and loudly admit my blunder? Do I descreetly scoop the jam and cream off the table with my finger and reslather it on my naked bite of scone? Turns out, it didn’t really matter in the end because the scone crumbled in my awkward grip and lest I snort up crumbs like an ant-eater, the moment was gone. I merely shifted my plate over the fallen jam and cream, and brushed the crumbs to the side of the plate, and took another bite of scone.

…that fell apart when I tried to shmear the jam and cream on a little more securely.

Thank gawd this dining area is so spectacularly grand! Look at that sconce!

In the end, it turned out I was a fail from the beginning. One does not START with the scone and jam, one starts with the mini munchkin sandwiches. (Which, by the way, are not actually “finger sandwiches,” because they are at LEAST three bite sandwiches, and if one is not careful in their bite, posh sandwich toppings are at risk of abandoning ship. In which case, the drama begins. Do I pretend it didn’t slide down ny chin and fall on the table, and keep eating? Do I awkwardly announce my blunder? Do I pluck the slice of cucumber off the table and replace it on my bite?

Let’s just say, my napkin got a lot of work cleaning my chin.

So I drank my champagne.

Back to the hotel for a quick rest. The uninvited rain fell gracefully. And when no one seemed to take it seriously, it fell like, as my brother put it, “dinasaur piss.”

Down to a humble, English style pub for dinner. And yes, our first meal out with our long traveled English family, and we take them to an English pub. Big T, aka Texas friend, asks what the family feels about their new king. I get his attention and remind him that it is awkward to talk about the new king, in an English pub, in America, with our English family.

I ended up ordering The “Queen” Mother burger, medium rare. It seemed appropriate.

It was Burger and Brew Wednesday.

The day is actually over now, and I’m not sure how I got to this point. Multiple mimosas? Dom Perignon? Pints of my beautiful E.S.B? Or maybe I have begun finally falling into the spirit of it…

Tomorrow, we travel again. To a town closer to the wedding (castle) venue. And things will begin a new level of real all over again…

The Wedding – Day 1

And we ascended from sea to sky…

The day of travel. We woke up early and left the smoke-filled atmosphere of Northern Washington, and flew through the air to Colorado. We lost an hour, and a little bit of sanity. Astounded by the number of people so glued into their cellphones and devices (yes, I am on my cellphone device…) and just have no awareness of anything going on around them, except moving forward in line, and getting up from your aisle seat when the window passenger needs to use the restroom… How many times, throughout all the years of air travel do they need to tell us to put our phones in airplane mode?

Touching down in Denver and the oppressing heat slams into me. As well, finally, the gravity of this situation in which we have begun… by the time we reach the baggage claim I have an immediate headache, and a smile pasted on my face. Kind of like “emotional labor” right?

Denver wasn’t new. Not really, at least. But, I think, if I just stop for a minute, or a moment, it’ll all come crashing forward, what all of this is, what it all means, seeing family I haven’t seen in years, seeing my brother so stressed out he can barely walk straight, everything.

I started this year off crying, and thought it could only get better. But the truth is: this has been one of the hardest years of my life, and I have so many fractured emotions, I don’t even know what I am feeling.

But, it is 10:30 at night. I am finally back in a bed after some 15 hours. And I need sleep. And when I wake up, I better strap my boots on, because the show is about to start…