After Robyn informed me that her granddaughter had been selected to perform the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game, I took steps to secure very good seats close to home plate with an excellent vantage point of both the field and her granddaughter. Just before game time a young woman emerged onto the field and stood adjacent to the home team’s “on deck” circle. Her singing performance of the anthem was impressive. She easily hit its challenging high notes and finished strong. Seeing Robyn crying happy tears, I thought to myself that she would have cried had her granddaughter not performed the song so well. Watching her cry this way put a smile on my face.
A few innings into the game, Robyn’s granddaughter came down to our box with her brother to visit Robyn. A few fans sitting nearby apparently recognized the singer and, after she departed, they acknowledged this celebrity’s grandma. Later, Robyn’s son made the pilgrimage himself to say “hi” to mom, descending from an upper-level skybox where he and the kids were seated and being fed courtesy of the home team. The only “family” member not to pay Robyn a visit was the son’s ex, who naturally had wanted to be present to witness her daughter’s public performance. The son’s current significant other, whom Robyn seems to be very fond of, was not in attendance. I assume everybody I was introduced to had received advance notice that mom/grandma, as may have been the case, would be at tonight’s game with her boyfriend. This is a fair description of my status.
On Saturday, we will be attending a birthday party for the aforementioned “other” being thrown in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Following this event, on Tuesday Robyn and I depart for a short junket to California via Las Vegas. Robyn had been wanting to visit her other son, who resides with his family in L.A. Robyn’s brother also will be coming from his home in Arizona. Thus, in the span of less than two weeks, I will have experienced lots of first-time introductions.
I am an appendage or tag-along on this trip, but I do have a first cousin who also lives in L.A. In fact, my cousin, Judy, graciously has volunteered to pick us up at LAX, thereby saving me hundreds of dollars either renting a car or hiring Ubers, to say nothing of doing the actual driving while navigating L.A.’s freeway system.
If I am honest with you about things, I would tell you that I do not much like southern California under the best of circumstances. Las Vegas used to be fun when gambling was illegal everywhere else and you could still get a loss leader breakfast consisting of eggs, hash browns and a tough, rail thin, overcooked steak for $1.99. Of course, those days are long gone.
Both of our destinations remain locked in the throes of the dangerous heatwave that is sweeping the western states. L.A. recently had to reinstate a Covid mask mandate just in time for our visit, while Las Vegas easily is America’s most glamorous Covid hot spot. Nothing like strapping on your face mask when it is 115 degrees in the shade! I will plan to bring at least two, including one for dress. Throw in multiple “economy” class flights, an oxymoron if I ever heard one given that today’s pay-as-you-go system charges hefty additional fees for every ala carte item formerly included for the price of a ticket (remember when the airlines would throw in a snack, a light beverage, even dinner?), and at this point you might be asking yourself, why is this guy even going?
Well, call it a road test. You see, whereas I live in the heart of a city, Robyn lives in the suburbs. Whereas she still works full time, I am basically on the bum these days. Whereas Robyn has serious day-to-day family commitments, I do not. For a variety of reasons, at home we ordinarily do not have the time for more than one extended visit per week.
Nonetheless, from Day One Robyn and I have felt comfortable being in each other’s company. We share easy laughter sprinkled with serious conversation, and between us possess what seems to be a good blend of practical or useful smarts garnered over two long lifetimes. Yet, due to our limited interactions, our relationship retains a date like quality.
As much as I enjoy Robyn and she appears to enjoy me, being thrown into such close quarters with one person for any extended period involves a different level of engagement. Less than a week together on the road might not seem like much, however, travel itself can be claustrophobic. The way I see it, at the minimum I ought to come away from this experience with new insights about me if not about my lovely traveling companion. Will Robyn suddenly discover that I am exactly the sort of “mouth breather” I am so quick to ridicule and then toss me out with the garbage? Certainly I hope not.
Our upcoming junket is but one small trip but could prove to be an important one for us. I guess I will find out soon enough.