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Snow Day Catch-Up: Airplanes and Acclimation

January 26, 2011

Or “How to really get to know your in-laws while being stuck in an airport for two days.”

Friday kicked off the first “vacation” B and I have gone on since our honeymoon, and I couldn’t have been prouder of the case behind it.  I’m a big fan of vacations and travel, but I hate taking time off from work, so this was special.  My new brother K and K’s delightful girlfriend E were graduating from college and there was no way B and I were going to miss it.

But I was hesitant.  We live in Maine and the graduation was in South Carolina.  It wasn’t flying that made me worry, or money (though I’m not sure why), or the day off from work.  It was the weather.  Traveling in December is a huge gamble, what with crazy snowstorms that pop up out of nowhere and how finicky airlines are.  What if we couldn’t get there?  What if we could get there but couldn’t get back?  What would happen then?

It didn’t matter.  We went and had a fabulous time.  It was the first time I had ever gone to South Carolina, so I was pretty darn excited to check another state off from my list of “need to visits.”  After an “Amazing Race”-like sprint through the Charlotte Airport to catch our connecting flight, we met up with B’s aunt S (though I guess she’s my aunt now too) and flew the rest of the way to Myrtle Beach.  The flight lasted long enough for me to put on makeup.  B’s parents and brother picked us up and we headed to our hotel location to check in, grab some lunch, and wander around Broadway at the Beach.Yes, these crazy people are my in-laws.  This should show you something about our family dynamic…You can get pretty much any kind of sunglasses you want in South Carolina.  These, though, are a little on the scary side for being “Christmasy.”

We attended K’s graduate reception at Coastal Carolina University, an event which underwhelmed most of us in the group.  being that this was a December graduation, I had expected that some of the events would be on the low-key side, but as formal as the invitations were to this reception, the follow-through seemed a little lackluster.  It was fun nonetheless, and we headed to Calabash, North Carolina, for dinner after.  There is a classic seafood restaurant that bears the same name as B, and since B has a pretty unusual first name, his parents really wanted to take us.  Neither of us enjoy seafood, so we were praying that they would have something else we could order.  Thank goodness for Southern pulled pork.

After dinner, we all went out for karaoke to really kick off K’s last bit in South Carolina.  Broadway on the Beach is full of bars and many of them feature karaoke, so K took us to one of his favorites.  E, her father, and her sister joined us a little later, along with one of K’s friends, and then the fun began.  You see, K was in a band growing up and can actually sing pretty darn well.  His friend, on the other hand, cannot and decided that he and K would sing their classic song, “Don’t Stop Believing,” in front of everyone with a little help from some liquid courage.  Suffice it to say, these were not the most amazing notes ever sung, but they were pretty good for a laugh.  B and his dad also got into the act with their rendition of “Blue Christmas.”  B really did sound good, and if I hadn’t have been so tired and a touch hormonal, I would have been all over him.  But E’s sister took care of complimenting the heck out of him, so I was off the hook for a little bit.

At midnight, we called it a night and walked back to our hotel.  We had to be up bright and early the next day for K’s graduation, and along with breakfast, it took a bit to get us out the door.  But eventually, we made it to the convention center and watched our brother and E graduate in style.After the graduation wrapped up, we headed to lunch with E and her family at Margaritaville.  B and I decided to sit at “the kids’ table” and I feel like this was a good decision in multiple ways.  Being at the kids’ table got me away from some of the pressure I still kind of feel around my in-laws.  It’s almost like being under a microscope where everything I say or do around B is being scrutinized to make sure we’re happy and a good fit.  This may all be in my head, but I can feel it.  If I joke around with B about something, one of his parents’ almost always jumps up to defend him.  I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.  The kids’ table was also great for getting to know E and her siblings better.  I am a huge fan of E and think she is a great match for K.  (Honestly, deep down, I am hoping we’ll have a wedding to attend for the two of them some day… no pressure on timing, but I would like it some day.)  Her family is hysterical, and they kept the celebratory atmosphere going strong.

The rest of the day was a little bit of a blur.  I decided to go shopping with B’s parents and aunt, B went to the hot tub with K at the hotel, and then we went to Medieval Times.  What’s that, you ask?  Oh, just a little restaurant with knights, horses, wenches, and swords.Upon entering the “castle” (and paying a huge price for tickets), you are assigned a knight to cheer for.  We got the red and yellow knight, who turned out to be a pretty nice guy when we talked to him after the show.  They seat you in rows facing the open arena in the middle of the hall and bring out a TON of food.  Seriously, it came in five courses.  First, it was tomato bisque and garlic bread.  Then came half a chicken (I kid you not), spare ribs, and half a (super salty) baked potato.  Then they bring you a pastry for dessert.  But in all of this you are missing one thing:  silverware.  You have to eat everything with your hands (they give you a soup bowl with a handle for the bisque).  I never want to eat baked chicken with my hands ever again.

The show itself was pretty good.  There was definitely some melodrama, and a princess who took her role VERY seriously, but it was all in good fun.  We left stuffed, a little frightened at the torture devices that they displayed in the dungeon, and tired.  I ended up falling asleep in B’s parents’ room while watching TV with them.  We knew it was time for bed after that.

All hell broke loose the next morning.  Beginning at breakfast, B got a call from the airline that our flight from LaGuardia to Maine had been canceled.  We knew far enough in advance to be able to reschedule before reaching the airport, so when we got to our gate, we thought everything would be fine.  Then our flight to DC was delayed by two hours.  Then three.  Then it was completely canceled.  Oh crap.  We ended up having to go back through security to the ticketing counter, where we were handed business cards with a phone number to call to reschedule before we even got to the ticketing desk.  Because my mother-in-law had made our reservations, we didn’t know if she was getting our tickets or if we were getting our tickets or what.  She didn’t seem to want to tell me while she was on the phone, so the call person ended up hanging up on me.  I was so stressed out, B knew he needed to step up a little and handle the situation. 

It turns out that the earliest flight out was going to be at 3:00 PM THE NEXT DAY.  I had classes to teach!  I couldn’t miss a day of school!  But there was no other way.  The one part of this trip that made me hesitant in the beginning was now coming true and there was nothing I could do about it.  We sucked it up, grabbed our bags, and headed back to our hotel, where we lounged, went out to dinner, and did a whole lot of grading (on my part) and doctoral application finalization (on B’s part).  Good timing, bad weather and no flights.  Good timing.

The next day, we headed to the beach after breakfast because I didn’t think a trip to Myrtle BEACH would be complete without seeing it.  Everyone else had already been at one point in life or another, but I was going to walk on the sand, darnit!  Despite super windy weather, I took off my shoes and took in the feeling of Myrtle Beach in December.  I even went in the water.  It felt like Maine water in August, which to most would be pretty cold, but for me it was normal.

We jumped back in the car and headed to the airport for a second time.  My in-laws kept making jokes about how “just because you have a boarding pass doesn’t mean there is a plane.”  I was sick of the negativity and just wanted to be at home, in my own apartment, where I could shut the door and be by myself (or with B) for a moment.  I tend to be an optimistic person, and these pessimistic jokes were stressing me out.  I think everyone else was just trying to make light of the situation, and probably thought telling jokes would help.  Wrong-o.

Our plane was delayed again… and again… and finally it showed up.  We were late leaving the gate (but at least we were on the plane) and had to sprint to our next gate in Charlotte, but we made the last plane into Portland.  Thank the lord!  We were going home!  On the way out of the airport, I received a few voicemails from a student (how did he get my cell phone number?!  It must have been that recommendation letter I wrote…) about how to write his senior research paper.  Even though I wasn’t in school, I was still teaching.  At 9:00 PM.  Oh the life of a teacher…

So what was learned through all of this chaos?  I am officially part of the H family, for better or for worse.  I may not match personality traits with them all of the time, but we are family and we get through situations.  My in-laws like to drink, and B and I do not.  We should usually plan on being the DDs on long trips.  (Because of this, I learned that Target has wine.  Seriously?  Target?  Huh.  I never knew!)  I need to come up with better ways of handling stress around them because I am pretty sure they were none too pleased when I wanted to burst into tears in the middle of the airport.  I love B more than anything (this I already knew), and this trip just confirmed it that much more.  Life goes on after missing a day of work, even though it sucks to have lost BOTH of my personal days.  Personal days aside, it was totally worth hearing K thank us three or four times for being there to support him.  He’s not one to show tons of emotion, so you know it meant a lot for him to say it over and over again.  Eating chicken with your hands is gross when the chicken is greasy.

In all, life is crazy, so just live it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 4:07 pm

    I went to Medieval Times my senior year in HS in Florida! It was pretty fun…my knight won and gave me a carnation…oh yeah.

    This post made me feel very lucky for Geoff’s parents!

    • January 26, 2011 6:07 pm

      I certainly don’t want it to sound like I am ungrateful. B’s parents were amazing on the trip. I think it was just the mixture of being exhausted and stressed out that put ME in a bad mood. In retrospect, they were just trying to make light of a highly stressful situation that none of us could control. I really do want to thank them for that. No one yelled, no one made fun of me for being stressed out… it really wasn’t that bad.

      Plus the trip to Target for wine was HILARIOUS!

      • Jen D. permalink
        January 27, 2011 12:22 am

        Oh, I didn’t mean it like that really. I meant the parts more where you said they jump to his defense when you tease him, etc. Geoff’s parents just have the same sense of humor as I do and we share a lot of the same likes/opinions so it makes life easier and avoids a lot of awkward moments. I didn’t mean I thought you didn’t like Beck’s parents…I just meant I’m glad I have a lot in common with Geoff’s is all. I should have explained that better, sorry! 🙂

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