Monday, August 10, 2009

Looking Back -- 2008

Wanted to balance the happy and sad --
(also unedited)

Sent: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 5:03 pm
Subject: A True Story

SETUP -- Sunday December 14th
Jessica and I attended mass. We hadn’t been in a while and showed up early. An alter server came up and asked if we wanted to bring the gifts up. I started to shake my head no, but this was overshadowed by Jessica’s very positive yes. We brought the gifts to the priest, he blessed us and we returned to our seats.
Upon sitting, Jessica elbows me and whispers, “Give you any ideas?”
She20didn’t know things were already in the works…
TRAVEL DAY -- Thursday December 18th
Jessica and I fly from Los Angeles to Buffalo. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
We had three options for the stopover as Southwest has no direct flights to Buffalo – Chicago, Phoenix and Las Vegas. We immediately decided to avoid Chicago and their snowy Decembers. And if your choice falls between Phoenix and Vegas… Needless to say, we attempt to fly into Vegas. I say attempt because Vegas experiences its first snowstorm in THIRTY YEARS! Our flight out of Los Angeles is delayed. We make it to Vegas with just enough time to run to our connecting flight. Thanks to hustle and heavy breathing, we make it to the plane. Once onboard, we have to wait thirty minutes as they try to locate the "Holland family" which I assumed was stall code for “we need to get these bags on board.” Of course our bags will meet us in Buffalo. These are professionals and they know what they’re doing…
…So our bags go missing.
But we’re in Buffalo and with my sisters and there’s talk of the bags arriving later Thursday or first thing Friday morning.
THE DAY -- Friday December 19th
Not so much.
Calls to Southwest Baggage at Buffalo airport aren’t answered. Calls to national aren’t helpful. Our clothes, toiletries and numerous Christmas gifts (not to mention irreplaceable Christmas cookie recipes from our mothers) are somewhere in the continental United States… theoretically.
Aimee, my older sister, takes Jessica to Kohl’s to pick up a winter outfit for Jess and me that will supposedly be covered by Southwest after 24 hours. Aimee and Kristin (my younger sister) try to get Jessica out of the house because, unknown to her, her brother Tommy and father Tom are on their way to Buffalo to see me propose. Her father also has, in his possession, Jessica’s mother’s ring for the proposal. Jessica is in a bit of a mood because of our lost luggage and doesn’t want to get her nails done, especially since now the snow is really starting to come down outside. After a bit of cajoling, she finally agrees to accompany my sisters to the mall for some last minute shopping. It’s about now that I hear from Mr. Gardner that he and Tommy are stuck on an airplane on the tarmac because of the snowstorm happening in Buffalo.
At the mall, Kristin and Aimee convince Jessica to go to Macy’s and then trick her into getting her makeup done at the Clinique counter. She is still blissfully unaware of the rapidly derailing plan and just thinks my sisters are trying to comfort her with pampering. Once finished, they exit to the mall to see that Kristin’s car is now stuck in the snow. My sisters send Jessica back into the mall with the bags and the excuse that they don’t want her to ruin her newly done makeup and proceed to push the car out of the snow drift. In her exuberance, Aimee snaps Kristin’s side view mirror completely off the car, but at least they’re free. Unfortunately, Kristin’s windshield wiper motor now refuses to work so they have to drive relatively blind in the snow. They still somehow manage to pick up pizza and wings. Jessica does notice that there’s a hefty amount, but suspects nothing. Her father and brother (the Toms) were supposed to come to Aimee’s, witness the proposal and bask in wings and pizza, but it’s now six o’clock and they’re finally landing in Buffalo. I send them to the hotel and we dig in for some dinner. At six-ten, my phone rings. Twenty-six hours later, our bags have been found. Southwest says they can get the bags to us in “several hours”. Having already lost much Buffalo time and desperately needing to get to our destination for the night (Lasertron), my brother-in-law Bill volunteers to drive us to Buffalo Airport in his truck with four-wheel drive.
Excited to get our hands on our bags, we present our receipts to the Southwest Baggage people and they say they can’t help us. No apologies. They say it hadn’t been 24 hours (it had). Then they want to see the receipts to make sure our purchases were made after the 24 hour mark which is not a stipulation that we were ever told. On top of that, they say they wouldn’t be able to do it regardless. I tell20them I will handle it through customer service. Frustrated, we start to leave and one of them calls out after us, “At least you got your bags” snidely. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and sends Jessica into tears. Thirty minutes before I propose and the woman at the Southwest Baggage desk makes Jessica cry.
Bill drives us to Lasertron. Aimee and Kristin stand outside waiting for us. Kristin escorts Jessica into the ladies room. Jessica told me that only afterwards did it feel weird that while Kristin had Jess vent, Kristin also fussed with Jessica’s hair, got her out of her sweatpants and into real pants and convinced Jessica that putting on lipstick would make her feel better. While this was taking place, Aimee handed me the ring. I go to the very back room and greet the Toms with a hearty apology for what they’ve had to go through. I tell them to come out in about two minutes.
I wait for Jessica to come out of the bathroom with my sister and as she approaches, someone tells Jessica she has some special visitors. She sees our friends Brooke and Dan standing next to me and,=2 0thinking it’s them, starts to say hi and give hugs. As Jess is mid-hug, the Toms run up behind her. I grab Jessica by the shoulders and turn her so that she sees her father and brother. Barely able to register anything after the 24 hours we’d been through, she hugs her dad who then turns her by her shoulders so that she can see that I’m down on one knee with her mother’s ring extended to her.
“You know that I love you. We’ve been through a lot today, but that just proves that together we can make it through anything. Will you marry me?”
Jessica bursts into a fit of tears and shaking. This goes on for at least five minutes. Still down on one knee, still looking up at her, I merely say, “Well?”
Jessica says, “Yes. Of course yes” and I attempt to put the ring on the wrong finger until she takes over.
Once the congratulations die down a bit she looks at me and says the three words that will be a very important pa rt of our relationship from this day forward, “Really? Lasertron? Really?”
That’s the nutshell story. I’m sure there are nuances and minutiae that I’ve left out, but those are the broad strokes.
Some other things to note:
The Toms and I, during our brief stay in Western New York, in total had to rescue over five cars stuck in the snow.
During our brief visit to Niagara Falls, Mr. G’s Hertz rental car refused to start, stranding the Toms, Jessica, Aimee and myself for over an hour. (Numerous Buffalonians offered help, if not better weather).

My nephew came up to me – “Did you know that Jessica’s brother’s name is Tom and her father’s name is Tom and they have a TomTom that sits between them in the car?”

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