But it was the first song I heard as I walked to the gate to slip out of Atlanta last night.
tesinth called it my "Eight-Hundred-Mile Booty Call." I got a real kick out of that, as did erienc when I told her that.
I arrived in Atlanta on Friday morning, where I was met by a radiant woman in a fedora I hadn't seen in nearly a year, and who I'd only met twice before.
For that alone, the trip was worth it.
But let me back up and tell you some of the things that happened before I made it there. (I wrote this on the plane home, so I'm piecing it back together as I type it, and trying to maintain the integrity of the original, as well. Sorry if it jumps around a bit.)
Going through security in Columbus, I was checked for additional screening. The security guard dug through my bags, smiling and making small-talk as he searched, and looked at various items in the side pockets. Finally, he came to the center pocket, where I kept my portable altar from latexpussy.
"Can I open this?" he asked.
"Sure, please do," I replied, smiling, as he opened it. He looked at the contents and raised a quizzical look.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Portable altar," I said. "Bet you don't see many of those."
"No, can't say as I have." He closed the top of the altar and placed it back in the bag. As he handed back the bag, he got a quizzical look on his face. "Hey, um, that's nothing illegal, is it? Not like, weed?"
I smiled. "No, just some weird green stuff my friend put into the box when she made it. Different colours for different times of year. I have no idea what it actually is."
"Oh, well. . . Have a good flight."
I thanked him, smiled, and went off to board my plane.
The thing I like most about flying to major hubs at points south is the amazing number of bad Hawaiian shirts. Six guys in orange, yellow, and green flowered shirts are truly a sight to behold. "You're not cool, you're just fat!" rang in my ears.
I found my seat on the plane, an aisle seat next to a broad mix of people. They were all very interested in me, who I was, and where I was going because I had apparently gotten the seat of someone from their party who had backed out for vague "medical" reasons before I bought my ticket.
On particularly jovial man offered a hand and told me where they were going. Apparently, they were headed to a mission in South America, and they were going to do God's Work. We chatted a bit, and then I dropped into my journal and music and they dropped into their own discussion.
About ten minutes later, they invited me to join an impromptu Bible study. We read and chatted about Psalms 97 - 106 over the next hour or so.
As I exited the Atlanta terminal, I read the departure signs at the other gates. Sao Paulo, Cozumel, Mexico City, Antigua Bay. . . and I smiled.
Apparently, Atlanta's way of honouring Black History Month is by putting up Ebonics and making Black people seem illiterate. There was a giant mural above the escalators leading to and from Terminal E in the Atlanta airport that shocked and astounded me. There were pictures of Black people (women, children, and men) with things like, "Who Dat?" and "We's gonna fight!" I was, admittedly, shocked at it. Things do seem different in the south.
I strolled from terminal E to the exit, swaggering along the halls on the moving walkways. I decided that there are only four reasons to ever go to an airport:
- get on a plane
- get off a plane
- read departure signs
- walk on the moving walk ways
Some girls know the rules. Some never really figure them out. And some have the advantage of having the rules written out in specific format. erienc and I have ours written out. The trip can be measured, I suppose, by how well we manage to work on them. A full detail on how each rule went is provided at the end of the entry.
On a side note, somewhat related, I finally understand the lyric: "Panic in the grey room now."
After being picked up by erienc, she took me home to meet her daughters, S and E. Over the course of the weekend, they were a source of constant amusement and fun. I also got to meet her parents and her sister that day, and the seven dogs (Pic of Erien with three puppies) that also live there.
We took the girls out to Underground Atlanta, which is rather like Atlanta's answer to Chicago's Navy Pier. They're both places with a minor historical role that have been turned into busy family-oriented shopping districts. We followed historical markers until we ran out, occasionally window-shopped, and just spent a lot of time talking (and herding children).
That night, erienc and I spent the evening talking and just being there. I showed her the plan to Xochicalco and talked a bit about the place, and we talked about a lot of other things. I'm not sure that we actually spoke about anything specific, but we did talk a lot.
She's good for me.
On Saturday, I was woken up by Erien bringing the girls in to watch the movie Hercules, which I had never seen before. The girls all piled into the bed in their pajamas, and we snuggled under the covers and watched the Hercules beat up deities, monsters, and varmints one after the other.
I've never really felt so much a part of another person's family before, so integrated in to the daily life of another, and I don't think I've ever felt so . . . at home as I did that morning. It was the best way to wake up that I have ever experienced.
We spent most of the day around the house, talking and enjoying the visit. I chatted with Erien's dad about religion, and explained ADF to some extent. It was a conversation we didn't really manage to finish, but I think (hope) I managed to at least help him relate to some of it.
Later that night, her dad and I had a longer conversation about my military history degree, combat, and a variety of other things. He struck me as very interesting person, and also as very interested. I could tell that he was remarkably interested in the well-being of his family. I enjoyed talking to him.
erienc and I then went out to see the movie Rumor Has It... ("I'm going to be a girl," she said. "Can we go see that?") and when I ordered the tickets and saw her reaching for her wallet, I said, "No, I'll pay. You're my date."
"Oh? Your date?" she asked.
"Yes. My date," I said. And so it seems that we had our first date.
I promised I'd ask her on a date next time, rather than tell her she was on one with me. I admit to some surprise that she agreed to be on a "date," but it was the best actual date I had in my adult life. Hell, maybe the best date ever. A lot of that comes from me not really remembering using the word "date" with anyone else in seriousness. I've said, "It's a date," and not meant it (case in point a couple of months ago), and Tina and I never had a "first date", so it could be said that we never actually saw anything as a "date" even though we "dated" (seriously, ask her some time: we never actually went on a date in all the time we dated). The only girl I ever actually had the guts to ask on a date redefined our "date" as "going out as friends."
So while I have "dated," I do not really recall anything that I consider an actual "date." I wonder if that's usual?
This was, I have to say, a very nice experience.
After the movie, we headed over to TGIFriday's for desert, where we enjoyed dessert (the word "enjoyed" has . . . special meaning when erienc is involved), and then we talked until two AM. It was an excellent evening.
On Sunday morning, erienc woke me up, and we spent a lot of that day with the girls. Around 3:30 PM, we drove down to the movie theatre to drop her sister off, and erienc and I took the girls to see Curious George, which was a hell of a lot of fun. This time, the tables were turned on me, and I was told that I was the date. For me, it was a date with three women. Certainly not that bad at all.
We played with the EyeToy for a little while with the girls and erienc's sister (who is a wonderful girl, though I didn't get a lot of time to talk with her; she's good with the kids and the dogs, and seems to know what she likes, and also shares a love of pie with her sister). Video games have come a very, very long way since my Nintendo. This EyeToy thing shows a lot of promise.
After the movie, we took the girls home and spent the evening cooking, and I learned how to make a child eat food. I made a run to the store and picked up some corn and some cheese, and then bought a pie on a whim. erienc and I talked for a few hours, and then she went to bed. I stayed up a bit later and watched a bit of TV, but then fell asleep myself.
On Monday morning, erienc woke me up and we went down to the Georgia Aquarium, the largest Aquarium in the world. We wandered through, looking at fish (talk about a huge hit with the girls. . . they were ever unhappy to leave one tank just to get to the next one), and even after running through the play area we managed to see the whole thing in about 3.5 hours. Here are the pictures I took while there:
On the moving walk-way, under water
more under water
whale shark again
E and S looking at fish
the girls (blurry) looking at fish
a school of rays
Japanese Spider Crabs (they rock, and apparently get as large as a automobile)
The top of the sea otter from the bottom
The river exhibit
More river exhibit. You're always able to look up and see the river above you.
We saw three cranes, too, outside the aquarium.
A closer view of the three cranes
Also, a 30 second .AVI of cow-nosed rays swimming by. (7.8 MB .avi file)
While we were walking through an exhibit, I heard erienc laugh as she shared a joke with a Nice Old Lady (NOL). The conversation was later reported as this:
NOL: You can never get lost in the aquarium, because we've been following you and your beautiful family all day.
erienc: That's really nice of you. They are great.
NOL: You have a handsome husband. He's good with the kids. He's a keeper.
erienc: *laughing* Thank you.
That was probably the most interesting thing about the entire trip: it was naturally assumed that erienc and I were married, and that her daughters were also mine. It leads to a number of interesting questions (How were we acting to cause this perception? Is this a perception that comes from society's impression that an ideal family is a husband, wife, and children? Is it a projection of the person's reality onto us? Were we, indeed, a couple due to perception of reality? If someone goes home and talks about the loving, handsome husband and how good he is with his daughters, how does that affect me?). Each of these questions adds a layer of complexity to the questioning, and I really find them interesting to think about. But that's not so important as the fact that it was a common perception.
At one point, while staring into the biggest tank, S said something about going to see the sharks, and another Nice Old Lady said to her, "Don't worry about those sharks, Daddy will protect you." I got the "Hey, great kid" look that I've given parents I've met on the street, you know the one where you smile at the child's antics, thankful that the kid is someone else's handful, and nod approval to the other person? Yeah, I got that a lot. It was interesting and fun to bend reality in that way any time I went out in public with the girls.
Besides, they're great girls, and honestly, they're the kind of daughters I'd want to have one day.
We went to dinner near the airport, and just enjoyed talking to each other. We ate a leisurely dinner with the girls, where I got some Korean coinage and one of erienc's dogtags (with the religious preference "Voodoo" written on it), and then it was off to the airport to drop me off.
erienc left me at the terminal to take the kids home, and I left my letter jacket in the back of her car (I hope. . . I don't actually have confirmation that it's there right now. I could have left it lots of places).
I think I finally decided on what it is that I really like about erienc. She's textured. It's difficult to explain, but as I think about her, I think that the song "Island Fever" comes to mind best (reading the lyrics won't do it: you need to hear the song, but it might help to see the words), in particular the chorus. There are layers upon layers, things that I will never quite taste all the spices of, and that interest and excite me. Her hands have a unique texture, and simply running my fingers over the backs of her hands brings out new adventures and ideas. There's something about everything about her, but it's all a new experience. I doubt it makes much sense outside my head, but inside, it seems to work just fine.
It was the best vacation I've ever had, I have to say.
How we did on The Rules:
- Not Applicable: No available shower.
- Completed, but we didn't actually keep track. We were distracted by other things.
- Completed. Definitely, definitely completed. Twice, even.
- Undone. I'm not sure how we missed this one.
- 1/2 complete, 1/2 not applicable. Kitchen technically "unavailable" for one half.
- Completed, but this one will require a modifier for times that such things cannot be had due to weather, season, or location.
- Completed. I'm not sure if we could ever avoid completing this one. Just ask around.
- Undone, to some extent. Those boots were probably good enough for me.
- Not applicable: Ecology does not permit.
- Completed by proxy: Indiana Jones quote fulfills req.
- Added and completed (with her poor sister watching!)
There's more work to be done, as you can see. :)
Edit: erienc's review of the weekend can be found at her journal. Her review is much shorter. . .