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Wednesday, March 19

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

If I were a game, you would have just tracked me from Tokyo to Washington, DC to Philadelphia to Tampa to Anna Maria Island and back again. Man of the legs of this crazy worldwide trip went outstandingly less than smooth. Damn, I’m tired.

But I’m back. Catching up on jet lag. Catching up on email. Catching up on blog reading. Catching up on laundry. Oh, and trying to do some work here and there.

While the result of flying home is that I get to see family and friends, I can’t even begin to voice how much I hate that flight. I don’t sleep on planes so with 12 hours one way and 14 the other, I am solidly up, no matter the time of day. Every time I make the trip, I ruminate over why they make car seats with back support and yet plane seats are made so deeply concave that your spine is permanently distorted in the wrong direction. To get off that flight is sheer liberation. Unfortunately, connections didn’t end up going smoothly for us. After traveling for 17 hours, we arrived in DC only to discover that no connecting flights were going to Philadelphia. Four and a half hours in the DC airport and my brother took pity on us and began to drive south to pick us up and drive us there himself.

The next days there went by much too quickly with visiting the family and my rambunctiously adorable niece and nephew. Every moment was perfect, despite the efforts of the windy northern weather that whipped through our too thin jackets. Before we knew it, we were back on a plane and headed south for a wedding that some beloved DC friends had kindly asked us to be a part of. Fortunately for one who loves a nice warm breeze, they chose the location of Anna Maria Island, FL off the Gulf of Mexico.

Rumor has it that the beach house we stayed in on the island was once occupied by both Cameron Diaz and Morgan Freeman, as well as being designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sprawling on its own waterfront location where manatees are rumored to be sometimes seen, we were living the life of high rollers.

The wedding in a word… gorgeous. The bride truly looked like an ethereal goddess and the perpetually smiling groom like a man so deeply in love. The tears in his eyes reflected in the eyes of everyone else around him as they took their vows. The wedding did not go off without a hitch nor without a lot of work leading up to it, but every moment of late night decision making was worth it to make the day as truly magnificent as it was. When the day of the wedding arrived, we woke to the grayest skies of the week. By afternoon, the heavens had let loose marring the excitement of the couple who had long envisioned their wedding on the beach where she grew up. Last minute adjustments were made allowing the wedding to occur under the pavilion where the reception was to occur… the backdrop the ocean beyond them. While my heart broke for the bride not having her day just the way she wanted it, it was healed quickly about an hour after the ceremony, when the dark, cloudy skies broke open to reveal a few rays of dusk sunlight spinning down to touch the water. Regrouping the 16 people in the wedding party wasn’t easy, especially not when it was necessary to pry their beer bottles from their hands, but a last minute photo shoot should have provided the pictures that every beach bride dreams of.

After the hectic pace of the week past, it seemed only moments before it was over and we were saying goodbye to our friends before catching the early morning Sunday flight out of Tampa and back to Tokyo. Monday night found us finally home and collapsing into bed, even skipping the obligatory shower always needed after that long trip.

Now it’s back to readjusting my inner time, doctor’s appointments, Ikebana International events, subbing and dealing with this morning’s sad news of my grandfather’s death. His life was long and just what he wanted, but saying goodbye is hard from 6,753 miles away, where I can’t put my arms around my grandmother, my mom and the rest of my family whom I love so much. I’m feeling more than guilty about not planning another flight home tomorrow, but there are so many reasons that it can’t happen. Hopefully my Pappy heard the words I spoke to the heavens this morning. He is so loved. He is so missed.

These past weeks have been filled with the very happy and the very sad. A bittersweet testament to the wonderful gift of life we have all been given. My grandfather is a glorious reminder to me of how a life should be lived. His stories will be carried in my heart forever. May he know that the true distance between us was never further than a thought away.


Kristen said...

Even with 6,753 miles between us, I know you are thinking of me and I hope you know I am thinking of you in this time of sadness.

Mike S said...

Sorry to hear about your Grandfather's passing. I'm sure your words reached him.
Used to have to make monthly trips of short duration back to the States and dreaded every minute of those flights, even on company jets.

Anonymous said...

Karen, we just got home today and I read your blog. I know we were just talking about this last weekend and your concerns. I am so saddened by this news. If there is anything that I can do for you here, please let me know.
Let me say that I can assure you that it must have made your Grandfather so happy knowing he had such a caring and wonderful granddaughter. Your friendship and kindness is such a gift. I am sorry that you are having to go through this from afar. I'm here if you need me. -Aimee

Kimono Karen said...

Thank you all so much for your kind words. The last week has been a challenge not only for me, but for everyone back home. Having friends there for me is all I could ever ask for. Thank you.

Lisa said...

Just catching up on my blog reading now that I'm at home and don't have to worry about sites being blocked. (Yes, can you believe that is blocked?) Anyhow, the funeral was nice and I think Pap would have been very happy with everyone who came to pay their respects. Grandma held up really well, which I hate to admit surprised me. She'll be well taken care of by her kids...all is as it should be...