The Day of the Wedding
I woke up excited because today was the big day, my boy was getting married! I spent the morning exploring downtown and doing tourist things: I visited the Art Museum, the Ben Franklin Science Institute, and even ran up and down the 72 concrete”Rocky Steps” three times (it was that much fun)!
That afternoon, I showed up at the historic William Penn Inn for Chris and Samantha’s wedding.
The ceremony was simple yet beautiful. I was glad I came out here to witness them vow and unite their souls together. (Fun fact: they met at their friend’s wedding, he was the best man and she was the maid of honor.)
For the reception, I was placed at the “fun kids” table, a table filled with people my age, and we all got along great! After dinner it came time for dancing, which I didn’t plan on participating in completely since I was tired from the day, but being there and enjoying life how could I not!?! So I adopted a new alter ego and became that guy who danced non-stop at the wedding.
My Energizer Bunny persona eventually attracted the attention a large tipsy woman who plowed through the crowd and threw herself at me. I laughed as I danced with her and watched as another woman tried to pull her off and get her back to her chair.
A father-daughter slow dance forced everyone back to their chairs, then afterwards the deejay blasted Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” to get the crowd onto the dance floor but nobody went! I had to do something about this so I stood up in my chair, drew a breath, and walked to the middle of the empty dance floor, unsure what the hell I was about to do. I saw my reflection in the mirrored wall and realized this was happening.
I stomped my right foot on the ground then just let loose, doing some fun “Napoleon Dynamite, PG-rated” dance moves (I tried my best not to break into club grinding from my days of yesteryear). I danced vulnerably for a solid minute until a group of fun brown people came and lit up the dance floor. This was probably the first time ever I lived that quote, “Live everyday like it’s your last.” … T’was another memorable night.
My Last Morning in Philly
I woke up the next morning and my first immediate thought was, “Did the last night — the past two nights even happen?” Then I suddenly felt two huge blisters underneath my big toes and realized it was real, that I did dance with that one woman.
After showering and packing, I tidied up Chris’s house since he was on his honeymoon and I was the only tenant. As I headed out the front door, I glanced back at his place and paused a moment, and realized that the next time I’d be here there’d be little Chris’ running around… It was a strange thought because just yesterday we were in middle school trying to trip each other in the hallways and now here we were. Funny how time flies.
I wanted to leave some parting words for his new life so I said underneath my breath, “Best of luck, my old friend.” And I left Philadelphia for what I thought would be a long time.
The Two Kids on My Flight
Boarding a Frontier Flights airliner, I slowly moved down the aisle looking for my seat, ready to nap for the next two hours. Then I arrived at my row and saw two young Hispanic boys sitting there and thought, Ah, HALE! There goes my nap.
I sat down, the only open seat was next to the youngest one, Iziah, age 7. He said hi, followed by his 10-year-old brother Machi. They asked if I was a businessman since I was casually wearing my suit. I snorted a laugh and told them about the wedding. They were curious to know what I did for a living, if I was a businessman. I was unsure if they knew what Tech Support meant so I said I fix computers.
They just came from Jersey, visiting family, and were on their way home to Indianapolis. Their father had to leave a few days early to return to work so they were accompanied by their abuela, who was sitting on the opposite side of the aisle with their 3-year-old brother. I figured I’d have to be the adult if it came to it, and I judge the boys to be a little “street,” meaning they could hustle and get their way if they wanted to but deep down they were good. I was right.
Over the next two hours, we had fun asking each other random questions. They started with some initial first date/police interrogation questions:
- Are you married? No.
- Why not? (Shrugs.) Just haven’t met the right one yet.
- Don’t you want to get married? Yeah, of course. Everyone does.
- Do you have kids? (Shakes head.) No.
- Don’t you want kids? Yeah. Some day.
We discussed what we liked to watch on YouTube — yo momma jokes for them, FailArmy and The Dodo for me; our favorite superheroes — Batman and Superman vs. my Iron Man; and what we’d do if we won a $3,000,000 lottery — I’d hop on any flight and travel the world till my money ran out, they’d buy houses and cars for themselves and their family. Surprisingly, they’d come to Oklahoma and give me $20,000. Damn! I was touched, and once they paid my taxes I’d happily accept.
(Iziah on the left, Machi front & center)
We took SnapChat selfies and had drawing contests. Machi was artistic one out of the two, and when I saw his drawing of a sloth I told him I was keeping it. You may think it’s silly but I love it just the way it is.
When I mentioned my blog they begggged me to write about them. I was hesitant to say yes because I didn’t think anything else would happen on this trip, but I reluctantly said yes. So this is me keeping my promise.
Our flight started descending but I didn’t want it to end cause I was having such a blast! Finally though, I had to say goodbye and I thought of something heartfelt and memorable to say but ended up blurting out, “bye, Felicia!” I don’t know why. Their eyes went wide and Machi leaned in and whispered, “You know what that means, right? It means, ‘bye, bitch.’ ” I said, “Yeah! Friday’s a great movie!” I cleared my throat. Ahem… Say something more adult. “Alright, bye, kiddos! Have fun back home.” I left and made a mental note to work on saying goodbye to children.
My Friend’s Death Suddenly Changed Everything
I walked out of the terminal smiling, high from my interaction with Iziah and Machi. With my phone reconnected to the grid, I saw that I missed a long Facebook Messenger conversation from my MDA friends — people who volunteered as camp counselors at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a summer camp for kids affected with muscular dystrophy. I hadn’t volunteered there in awhile so this group allowed me to keep up. Now I was wondering what they were talking about but figured it’d have to wait since I was ‘ungry.
I arrived at a spacious, well-designed Whole Foods in downtown Indianapolis. As I started eating my lunch-slash-dinner, I caught up on my FB messages and was immediately shocked to learn that a former camper, someone I was close with, had passed away: Elijah, only 20-years-old. My heart sank. I couldn’t believe it.
(At Elijah’s high school graduation)
Elijah usually called me to talk about his traumatic past, among normal teenage stuff. I wasn’t a licensed professional so I could never provide him the adequate help he needed but I knew it’d take him a lifetime to get over his past. I discovered later that he died of natural causes, which is expected of kids with MD — to die young, but still, it was hard to accept because he just started community college, got his own apartment, had everything going for him and now he was just gone.
I sat there frozen, staring out in space. Serious thoughts and questions formed in my mind: God, life is short… WHY are we here? Am I living my life, like, really living my life?… Prior to my Philly trip, I didn’t think I was living my life unless I was out wandering, which wasn’t all the time. I thought, I’ve got to start living my life, like everyday! I decided to start by reconnecting with any MDA friends who’d be on way home.
Happy to go off course, I found myself in Springfield, MO, the next day, where my friend Tyler lived. She’s much younger than me, still in college, but I consider her an old soul and a bona fide book junkie (anytime I finished a good read I mailed it to her). Catching up, she was overwhelmed with school and being a Starbucks supervisor, which I got, but I wanted to tell her that none of this will matter since I was in that mindset. But I didn’t, instead I simply enjoyed our finite time together.
(An old selfie)
(Most recent pic)
Next, I hit up Roshan and David in Tulsa, OK, and highly recommended Tacos Don Fransico for dinner (read my “30th birthday blog” on how I found this unique place). We grabbed ice cream afterwards, meaning I didn’t have any ice cream since I don’t do added sugar, but I enjoyed being out on a school night looking for treats.
(Roshan, David, & me)
I visited extended family in Jenks, OK, and when I finally returned home I was no longer the same person. I knew without a doubt what I needed to do next: move to Philadelphia. I just needed to prepare myself to take one of the scariest, most exciting plunges of my life.