Sometimes you can spice up a story by breaking chronology. Since I was actually in Florida with Ali all of last week, it seems more interesting at this point to comment on that as part of the larger story of our relationship rather than continuing on with where we last left off (which if you’re keeping score, the next part starts with me in Texas and single, and Ali in Florida and dating). It is obvious at this point Ali and I are together, so there is not really any mystery surrounding that, but it does require a bit of explanation to get to how that came about. We’re of course getting to that, but in the mean time, let’s fast forward to the present, which by now since I’m writing about has become the immediate past, as opposed to the not too distant past.
On most Delta flights they now have a promotional video concerning flight safety rather than actually having the flight attendants go through the tired motions of demonstrating how to buckle yourself in and how to lose consciousness in the event of crash (Hint: that’s why you secure your own mask before helping others). I usually have a pretty high tolerance for trendy videos meant to connect to the average consumer. And by that of course I mean I was annoyed with the video before it even finished. The girl in the video, is in a word; annoying, and has a regional accent I couldn’t quite place, which is the only thing that kept my iPod paused long enough to listen. Luckily I had window seats for all my flights and Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue to keep my mind more than occupied for the duration of my flight (which is a great book, that everyone, even English majors should read).
All that being said, the bane of my airborne existence is the Atlanta airport, more formerly known of course as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The joy of flying free, or rather the joys of flying free on Delta, insures that I cannot go anywhere unless I make a connection in Atlanta. Having already spent an extended layover there due to a missed flight coming back from Buenos Aires (see earlier in this story), I didn’t need much familiarization with the ATL airport until I was quite well versed in its accommodations. This came in handy when once I had to make a connection in less than 10 minutes that involved a speedy transverse across several concourses and gates. I am proud to say I didn’t even have to bang on the bulkhead door but made it from Gate A something or other to Gate C16 in just under the allotted 10 minutes. This involved falling up an escalator and in doing so mangling a stationary Asian fellow, and running through the concourse much like I drive in heavy traffic (read: faster than I should), but no delayed plane is going to keep me from making my connection and being sucked into the abyss that is the Atlanta airport. My bag though, was not so fortunate (we were reunited at a later date in case you were concerned).
I felt commenting on the joys of flying was necessary, or maybe I just wanted to rant about it. Who really knows? Anyway, I made it to Orlando safely (and of course made it back to Dallas safely, but slightly annoyed by the video and greatly distressed at leaving Ali), and after the delightful tram ride proceeded to walk right past Ali on my way to baggage claim. This is an exaggeration, my chosen path to baggage claim didn’t bring me within 50 feet of Ali and I was looking in the wrong direction anyway, but thankfully, I checked my text messages before making it all the way to where my bag would be deposited, but still had to ride the escalator all the way down, before getting of and then trudging back up the stairs to the indoor fountain area where Ali was waiting. My first thought on spotting her was same as it was last time we had an airport reunion. “I get to marry her?!” As to why that is the first thing that pops in my head when struck by her beauty, I’m not sure. My second thought is always “Is she going to jump?” which is always closely followed by “Am I braced for that sort of action?” All but the first of these though quickly melt away into a warm embrace and well, I’ll spare you the rest of it.
I’m assuming there’s going to be at least a part of heaven that resembles central Florida. What a refreshing environment to enjoy with someone you love. Being with Ali is a joy in and of itself, but being with Ali in Florida is even better. We spent the afternoon basking in each other’s presence before heading over the her house for dinner. This was followed by a failed attempt to go the movies, but the bottom line quickly became for us that these sorts of things didn’t matter because it was better to try to go to a movie together and fail to do so, than to succeed in going to see a movie while we were apart. “At least we’re together” became a useful mantra when plans didn’t go quite as, well, planned. This will work for some time I’m sure, even after we’re together and married (which are synonymous for us).
Saturday involved for me my first real haircut (as in not done by myself with clippers in the bathroom) since before I started college (read: at least 6 years ago). Considering Ali’s reaction to it, I think I will keep up this new trend, which was mainly done because we spent the afternoon over at Word of Life getting engagement pictures taken with Todd (which are on-line just so you know) and hanging out (which didn’t require a haircut, but was an added bonus). The pinnacle of the day came late while we were taking the pictures at sunset. There is a rather sweet one taken at water level, which while it was being shot, caught the eye of a group of older people who were doing who knows what at the beach that afternoon. We realized after a bit that they were shouting at us to keep going (with the kissing pose) and that “this looks like a magazine cover!” and other such comments that are not necessary to be repeated in print here. In hindsight, I should have gotten everyone’s signature on a makeshift document stating that they would not use their pictures of us for commercial purposes. But then again, its not everyday you make a scene so picturesque that random people clamor to get pictures of you and your fiancé.
This brings us to Sunday, which actually, was entirely non-descript until late in the afternoon. We watched the church service for Northland on-line and then resumed working our way through the first season of Arrested Development until about mid-afternoon until we decided to go to Ali’s friend Sheena’s church for a visit. This visit could get its own post entirely, but since it really has nothing to do with the larger story, I’ll comment as briefly as possible on what was my first experience at New Beginnings Healing Center. The worship portion, while not quite the same as what you get at the Village was still more or less Christian in its content. Ali hit notes she said she hadn’t hit in years, and we were all genuinely worshipping. The problems began arising though once the pastor was given a microphone. I was at first rather appalled at his “preaching” but then in hindsight remembered that he didn’t intend to preach to us, but rather to “minister a message,” which apparently means, rather than expositing a text of Scripture, deciding ahead of time what that message will be, and then finding a text of Scripture that more or less supports your ideas, assuming you don’t press the text too hard and you don’t ask any questions about the meaning of words and phrases in their original context (i.e. leave the Greek/Hebrew/context/background data/grammatical analysis/linguistic evidence out of it). The result was something that involved a heavy dose of emoting on stage and emotional reactions from the audience, but very little content to exalt the name of Christ and Him crucified and a rather sloppy handling of the text in question and an embarrassment to sound theological teaching. We decided it was best to make an exit earlier rather than later as Ali had to get over to the boys house that she nannies for, and our opportunity arose once most of the congregation was jumping up and down with the fervor a sports fan watching his team about to score the winning touchdown, but instead in the context of shouting “Give me my mountain!” (in reference of course to Josh. 14:12) as a demand to God for blessing. I could say more, but I’d rather not digress here, but instead just say, this wrapped a rather eventful weekend, and still left us with the mantra of “At least we’re together.” And together we’d be for almost a whole nother week.