Tag Archives: vacation

When In Doubt, Change Your Perspective

will_sunset“Dad, you’ve gotta come up here.”

My 6-year-old beckons from atop a lifeguard stand on a Harwichport beach. It’s after sunset and we have the expanse of sand entirely to ourselves, save the cormorants dawdling by the ocean’s edge. My initial reaction is to refuse, since climbing the lifeguard stand smacks of effort and I’m totally exhausted from the frenzy of a day with kids on Cape Cod. Plus, I loathe the beach, and my first thought is not to extend my time there. But 6-year-olds are nothing if not persistent, so up I went.

Then he asked me questions. Why is the sky black on one side, but orange on the other? Why is the water salty? Where does all the sand come from? How come the ocean meets the sky way far out, and does that mean we can touch the sky if we sail far enough? Some I answered, some I didn’t know, and others I simply left up to childhood imagination.

“You know what I like best, Dad?” he asked me, head cocked to one side.
“No pal, what do you like best?”
“I like that it’s all the same stuff we’ve been looking at, but different. Because we’re high up.”

I always thought I hated the beach (and the subsequent beach experience that goes along with it) for simple reasons. I hate the heat, I burn easily, I don’t like swimming, I loathe taking my shirt off in public, sand is annoying, and beaches are usually crowded. Fairly straightforward, summertime, fat guy laments. But after my most recent beach trip with my son, I’m thinking I had it all wrong.

Will made me stand with him in the surf to let the waves tickle our toes. I hate that feeling. It’s not the fact that I’m wet that bothers me, it’s the feeling of being off balance. As the waves break on shore and the water sweeps past, I feel like the Earth is giving out beneath me, taking away my solid ground. Or at least the illusion that I was on solid ground to begin with.

And looking out at the horizon has always made me uncomfortable, because nothing is scarier to me than uncertainty. I’m someone who has never had a passport because I’ve never left the United States (except for Canada). I prefer familiarity to the great unknown, which is probably why I’m partial to the mountains over the ocean. I can almost always see the top of the mountain, and with a lot of effort I know I could eventually get to the top. But even though I’m aware a long ocean journey would eventually find land, the never-ending nature of the sea overwhelms me. As does losing sight of the shore.

The strains of U2′s “Beautiful Day” drift toward us from a wedding reception farther up the beach. Will walks ahead of me now, holding his shoes in one hand and scanning the sea-swept ground for shells (and Great White Sharks, naturally). From my angle, it looks like if he kept walking along the shore he’d eventually curve off into the horizon where the sea touches the sky.

Part of me wants him to charge into the unknown with reckless abandon and total confidence, going places I would never dare. But another part of me wants to carry him out of the surf and away from the tides completely, to be safely on the shore. As if the shore — with its shifting sands and seismic inconsistencies– is really any safer.

The beach during a crowded, 90-degree day is still my version of hell. But for me to continue saying “I hate the beach” just isn’t accurate. The beach at night is nice. After sunset, walking on cool sand, and sitting atop a lifeguard chair with my son — this version of the beach was nice and it was all ours for a little while.

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Working Parents Squeeze In Their Moments

will_canoe

The canoe glides along silently, save the “plunk/whoosh” sound of the paddle slicing through the water’s surface. The gargantuan clouds are puffy and impossibly white, but not foreboding — no rain checks needed today. A summer zephyr gently prods us along toward a cove spotted with lily pads, as the oldest and I look to add to our summer bass total.

“Dad, this is very calm. And peaceful,” he says from the front of the canoe.

But all I can do is look down into the clear water to see the milfoil just below the surface. Thick, green submerged weeds like fuzzy fingers reaching up from the depths. I can’t help but feel this invasive species is reaching for me, trying to rob me of time like it’s suffocating the water quality in the pond.

I’m only on Day #3 of my vacation, but already my window is closing and one thought is flashing in my mind like a neon sign — DO MORE!

This is the curse of working parents.

I work two jobs (three if you count the blog) and I struggle to provide as a breadwinner and a father. Rent, bills, and canoes aren’t cheap, which makes the hours at work numerous and quality time scarce. I get three weeks of vacation every year, but I use one for conferences and the other around Christmas when things are crazy. That leaves one week. One week solely for my kids. One week to do everything.

Lately I’ve been envying my wife for being a stay-at-home mom, which is ironic since I’m not even sure I could do her job. Or that I’d want to do it, if we’re being honest. I know her role is filled with damn hard work and days she questions her sanity when our youngest won’t nap because his 1-year molars are coming in and he’s drooling blood in a fit of rage. I know sometimes she feels like she wishes she could trade places with me.

But stay-at-home parents have the thing I’m most envious of — the knowledge that they’re doing the most important thing in raising quality human beings.

They are in the trenches and doing the grunt work. Sure they’re unappreciated now when the kids are young, but in 25 years they’re going to realize my wife was always there. The reliable one. The go-to parent. And they’ll have a bond with her that will be deeper and stronger than one can imagine.

Me? I’m the guy working on the computer. Answering one last email and sending one final freelance pitch. So on vacation, I really pour it on.

“Let’s go the museum!”
“Hey, how bout a baseball game?”
“Want some ice cream?”
“Time for fishing!”

Where MJ is a fire that burns slowly and steadily, I flash hot and bright and then fade back into the office. She’s steady as the tides, I’m a tsunami. I’m an annual meteor shower and she’s the moon.

Working parents don’t witness milestones, they’re told they occurred. The phone call at the office that he got his first tooth. The video she sends you of his first steps, and hey — at least we saw it before all of Facebook. So there’s that. It’s enough to make us feel like spectators, or subscribers to the newsletter of our own lives.

Which is why when vacation hits, I get a little desperate.

We tried to get Will to ride his bike without training wheels last year. It went horribly. He wasn’t ready or physically able, and it ended with lots of crying, pouting, and frustration. Will was also pretty upset.

But this year, I vowed to make sure Will could ride his bike by the end of the summer. And I was going to see it, dammit.

When we went at the beginning of vacation a week ago, it was…rough. I was too hard on him and placed way too much pressure on the poor kid, and his performance reflected that. I was trying to force it so I didn’t miss it, and in the process I damn near ruined everything.

Yesterday was my last day of vacation. After we went fishing, I nonchalantly asked if he’d like to try bike riding one more time. This time, I took an entirely different tack. I told him it didn’t matter if he did it, only that he improve from last time. I had him sit down first and envision a successful ride, and then try to emulate in real life what he mentally pictured. I smiled and told him stories of my learning-to-ride failures as a precocious kid.

He fell. A lot. But then, well…he didn’t.

Once my attitude was positive, so was his. He refused to accept my help because he wanted to do it on his own, and he constantly repeated affirming messages to himself throughout the whole thing. “Just keep trying, Will” and “Will, remember to pedal, steer, and not panic.” 

And then off he went, pedaling furiously away from me as I jogged to catch up. As apt a metaphor for parenting as there ever will be. But this one — learning how to ride a bike — this one is ours. Will’s and mine. I needed a win, badly, and my wife saw that and graciously let me have it. Because she’s awesome and far too good for me.

Back on the pond, the interesting thing about milfoil weeds is there are no known biological controls to fight them off or slow them down. In time, and like time, they come whether we like it or not and eventually they change the existing habitat. Armed with that knowledge, my vacations in coming years have taken on a whole new meaning and level of importance.

If you only have a week, you’d better make it count.

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A Sinking Feeling

In case you missed Part I of my camping saga, you can read it here.

Last Saturday, after completing our hike up Mt. Cutler in Maine, MJ and I were on top of the world.

We were sore and our muscles ached, but we were proud. For the first time in a long time we felt victorious. Like conquering heroes. And the best part was we completely reconnected and plugged back in—to each other. We ate a delicious lunch at a cool little dive place on the way back to camp, and spent most of the meal smiling and just grinning at each other across the table like newlyweds.

I was deliriously happy. And the only thing that could make me happier was the thought of a refreshing swim in gorgeous, spring-fed Granger Pond.

MJ and I changed into our bathing suits, grabbed some towels and hopped in the car to get to the lake. Yup, that’s right. We needed the car because the road to the lake is INCREDIBLY steep. We found that out the first night when we ignored recommendations and walked to the lake. At first it was cool because it was a full moon and there’s some kind of mineral in the gravel road that sparkles. The end result was us feeling like we were walking on a diamond-encrusted road in the moonlight. But eventually we started to wonder if we were on the right road.

Then, all of a sudden, the lake just opens up in front of you and it’s stunningly gorgeous. The walk back up that hill? Not nearly as much fun.

So anyways, we drive our car down to the lake and I’m so excited. I’m hot, sweaty, tired and oh-so-ready for a cool dip in a Maine pond. I took off my shirt, threw my towel on the beach and waded in to what might’ve been the most refreshing dip of my life. The water was on the colder side with just the slightest shock after you submerge yourself. But after our hike it was exactly what I needed. I eagerly dove in and started swimming out towards the middle where there was a floating dock.

Like an excited little kid I proceeded to do cannonballs and dives off the floating dock, feeling absolutely glorious in the process. I was alternately swimming around, floating on my back and splashing MJ (who was slightly pissed because the water was too cold for her). When she wanted to get out I pouted like Will when we cut playtime short.

As I exited the water I smiled broadly. Absolutely exhausted but simultaneously refreshed, I was just looking around at our pristine surroundings and taking it all in. I grabbed my towel, dried off, put my sandals on and began walking towards the car in complete bliss. Until…

Suddenly a dark realization descended upon me with the force of an F-5 tornado. The color drained from my face and my heart sank into my toes. My entire body seemed to freeze and enter into a full-blown panic all at the same time. As my right hand desperately patted my right thigh, a sinking feeling set in and I knew, in that instant, I was sunk.

I had gone swimming with MJ’s car keys in my pocket. And now they were gone.

Unless you’ve ever lost your wife’s keys while four hours from home in the deep woods of Maine with no spare set, I’m not sure you can understand how idiotic I felt. Not to mention scared because I had to tell MJ. Except when I told her, she didn’t believe me. Which actually makes everything 100 times worse because I had to repeatedly persuade and convince her that I’m that inept.

“Baby, your keys are gone. I’m so, SO sorry.”

“Bullshit. You’re kidding. The keys are in the car right?”

“Honey, I know I screw around with you but I’m serious. I lost the keys. We’re totally screwed.”

“No, no, no. You’re kidding. I know you’re kidding.”

“I’m not kidding, I swear. Why do you think I’m kidding?”

“Because if you’re not kidding, you’re fucking dead!”

I immediately began looking for the keys in the water. But when I couldn’t find them in the shallows I looked despondently out towards the dock off of which I jumped, that sinking feeling growing exponentially. I asked Paul, the owner of the camp, how deep the water was out by the dock. The look on his face told me all I needed to know.

“Well, it’s about 40 feet deep out there. But that’s the least of your problems. A few years ago we sunk a radiator and tied the cable to it so we could hold the dock in place. When the cable broke we hired a guy with SCUBA gear to reattach it. But when he swam down there, he couldn’t find the radiator because the bottom is so soft.”

Great. The lake swallowed an entire radiator. There was no way I was getting my keys back. The only silver lining was the help we received from the TREMENDOUSLY nice people at the campground.

Frank took us up the hill in his golf cart to call AAA, but not before the other campers and their kids began scouring the pond for us. Triple A tried to call a locksmith, but couldn’t find one who would come out. Surprise, surprise seeing as we were in an area where the moose out-populate the people. When we searched on our own, we were told it wasn’t possible to make a new key because MJ’s car key has a fancified double-sided thingamabob component that couldn’t be duplicated.

That left us no other choice, and I had to make the phone calls I was dreading.

And so it goes that my unbelievably nice mother-in-law had to go to our house, find the spare key and drive it 40 minutes up to my dad. From there, my saint of a father drove 3.5 hours up to Maine to drop it off. And then he declined our invitation to stay in the tent while we slept in the car, and drove 3.5 hours back to his house.

Now those are great parents!

I’m such an idiot. Only I can turn a great weekend into a drama-fest. We had this amazing time on the mountain and then I lose my keys to a radiator-swallowing lake, which not only murders our Saturday, but also the Saturdays of my in-laws and my parents. And I wasn’t done there.

The only stroke of luck we had was that MJ had left the passenger side window down so we could retrieve our things. Clothes, food, gear…all inside the car. Except I had turned the alarm on before I lost the keys. So when I opened the door, the serene Maine woods was suddenly polluted with a jarring horn blasting away repeatedly, wrecking the experience for dozens of people trying to enjoy their weekend.

Frank was nice enough to drive me up and down in his golfcart to the car, which was parked down the huge hill. But in my tradition of screwing up, I had forgotten a few things. And since I had bothered everyone enough, I decided to walk back down to the car.

When I made it down there, I couldn’t bear the thought of setting off the car alarm again. So I decided to go through the window.  Faced with the problem of having to get my 265-pound body through the window, I did what every red-blooded American male would do.

I decided to go Dukes of Hazzard all over that bitch.

As you can imagine, it did not go well. I took a running start and jumped as high as I could. Halfway up I realized I was nowhere near the level of Bo and Luke, and ended up doing this weird half-jump, half-dropkick thing as I thudded against the car door. With my career as a TV stuntman dashed, I decided to go in head-first. It only went a little better than my Dukes attempt. But I did manage to get everything I needed out of the car. Except myself.

To exit the car, first I tried go feet first. Didn’t work. So I went out head-first. I managed to wiggle my fat ass to the point my hands were on the ground but I was stuck halfway out. Completely upside-down doing a handstand with half my body in the car and half out, I flailed wildly and ended up kicking the steering wheel and laying on the horn in the process. Then, just for good measure, I suffered the indignity of my shirt falling down exposing my gut. Finally I wriggled my way to freedom, collapsing in an overweight heap next to the car.

As I stood up, it was just in time to see a teenage girl—frozen in place and staring at me in horror—while on her way down to the waterfront.

“Car trouble,” was all I could think to mutter. She quickly walked away. I don’t blame her, I would’ve too.

So I owe my mother-in-law and my dad big time. Not to mention MJ, who was (for the most part) very understanding about the whole thing. I still think I was helped immensely that there were witnesses so she couldn’t kill me right then and there. And I think I just need to resign myself to the fact that I will never have a normal…well, anything. Stories are great and weird stuff is wonderful for blog fodder, but I’ve had my fill. Just one normal weekend is all I ask.

So remember, practice safe-swimming everybody. And keep your keys on shore.

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It’s All About the Climb

The sunset from our campground

I knew MJ and I needed some time for ourselves to reconnect. I just had no idea how urgent that need was.

It seems we get bad news at home every day. Being threatened with lawsuits for not having enough money. Our bank fails to read paperwork and act accordingly. Our car insurance company still hasn’t sent a check to fix my car after I was rear-ended last week. And, of course, MJ’s adjustments to the new meds, which make her mood and temperament a nearly lethal game of Russian Roulette.

Basically our home serves as a reminder of what we can’t afford, what we’re about to lose and is a symbol of everything that is wrong in our lives.

So we escaped to the smallest of small towns in Denmark, Maine for a weekend of camping. No kid and no dog. The first time we’ve camped in four long years. We got up to Granger Pond campground close to sunset and it was just freaking beautiful, as the picture to the left attests. We could tell right away we’d love it there. Everyone was SUPER nice. Within two minutes of arriving, Paul and Sue—the owners—made us feel like we were old friends. And a nice guy named Frank offered to take me out fishing right then and there before we had even unpacked.

MJ enjoying the sunset

But the best thing about it was the air.

On Cape Cod I smell the salt air all day. Some people love that, but not me. I love the mountains and the country. And the air in Maine stimulates my olfactory senses to the nth degree. I take one whiff and I’m simultaneously energized and at ease. And happy. Breathing that air is a privilege, almost like a reward for good behavior. It’s the kind of sensory memory you revert to when you need to find a happy place. And we found it.

But despite our happiness with our surroundings, we were still slightly ill at ease. Probably because after three-plus years of constantly caring for Will, combined with the recent months of merely trying to survive MJ’s medical maladies, it seemed we didn’t exactly know what to talk about. Not to mention the wood we bought was crap and wouldn’t burn, so we didn’t have a fire. We went to bed disappointed and worried the weekend would be a wash.

View from the base of Mt. Cutler

When we awoke Saturday morning I was determined to have a great time. So I quickly jumped online and searched for the nearest easy day hike. A Google search later and we were off to nearby Mt. Cutler.

Perhaps I should’ve read the hike description a little more carefully. Or stopped to realize that the “Mt” stands for mountain. But what can I say? I was excited to be out and doing something with my wife. Which is probably why I decided flip-flops would be adequate footwear.

From the moment we started on the trail, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. It was steep from the get-go. Really steep. And it stayed that way.

At first it was exhilarating because the scenery was beautiful. Huge rocks that we had to scale and narrow passages with precipitous peril lurking just beyond the ledge. It definitely got the blood pumping.

MJ climbing Mt. Cutler

But soon trouble started.

First of all, I’m not proud to admit that the way I’ve been dealing with our struggles lately is by eating. I’m huge. As in 265 lbs. Which would be OK if I were 6’5″ and built like a linebacker. But I’m 5’10″ and out of shape. So picture a fat guy hiking and climbing up 60-degree inclines…in flip-flops.

But while my problems were physical, MJ’s were mental. After more than an hour of strenuous hiking, it appeared we were nowhere close to the summit. We rounded a corner hoping to see relief, but instead we saw an even steeper route up the mountain. MJ began to get panicked and started to have an anxiety attack.

I wanted to be sensitive and tell her we could turn around. But I couldn’t.

Somewhere between the parking lot and that point on the mountain, this had become more than just a hike. I don’t know how or why, but it transformed into a referendum on our marriage. I suddenly felt like this hike was the most important thing in the world, and the fate of our marriage hinged on the outcome.

Maybe it was all the disappointments and hardships as of late. Or frustration with feeling like I’m losing my wife to a condition I have no real way of combating. Whatever the reason, I knew there was no way we were turning back. And I’m not afraid to say I got emotional and delivered a fairly impassioned speech to MJ right there on the side of the mountain. I tearfully told her she could make it. That we could make it. That we HAD to make it.

And so we forged ahead. Exhausted, limping and moving at a snail’s pace. But moving nonetheless. Until…

We made it!

I won’t lie, it was emotional at the top of Mt. Cutler on Saturday.

I’m proud of us. Proud because we proved a lot to each other. I needed to know I could count on MJ to push herself beyond her comfort zone and achieve a goal. And I needed to see if I have what it takes to stick out the difficult times when I feel the challenges are too great to overcome. I needed to know we could get through things together.

This hike was not at all unlike marriage in general.

I don’t care how ready you think you are, you can never be totally prepared for the ups and downs that come with sharing a life together. Like wearing flip-flops for a mountainous hike, I was completely ill-prepared for the trajectory of our lives. But despite the hurt and the pain, you trudge through. You rely on one another for strength, always make sure you’re moving in the right direction and don’t stop until you get to the top.

Some people ask what’s the point? You work like hell to get to the top and then what? You stay there for a short while and then have to make your way back down.

My answer is simple. With apologies to Miley Cyrus, it’s all about the climb.

For better or worse, what I love about marriage is getting to experience a journey with the woman I love. To enjoy the good times, weather the bad and take pleasure in an adventure that lasts a lifetime. So when someone asks me what the reward is after you make it to the summit, I don’t hesitate with my answer. The reward is being lucky enough to continue the trek all the way to its end. Together.

MJ and I did more than climb a small mountain in southwestern Maine on Saturday. We renewed ourselves. Our marriage. We recommitted to one another and provided each other reassurance that we can do it. Despite the odds and all the bullshit that life can conjure up, we can make it.

Turns out that feeling of security was put to the test just hours later. Come back later in the week for Part II of our camping trip. But first, enjoy a little video.

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Friends, Guns & Baseball

How do I sum up such a whirlwind vacation? With a super-long, extensive post complete with pictures, that’s how.

First of all, the drive down to North Carolina took us a little under 14 hours. With a pregnant wife, a 2-year-old and a dog that ain’t half bad. At least the kid could pee in his diaper, but the wife had to stop quite a bit due to the parasite in her stomach wreaking havoc on her bladder. Will was very well behaved all things considered. The only time I got a headache was driving through the D.C. area.

Will likes tractors, cranes and other heavy equipment. And when I say he “likes” them, I mean he nearly craps his pants and shrieks with supersonic excitement at the mere sight of them. So when we drove through the Beltway that is under construction, his head nearly exploded. There were fucking excavators, cranes and bulldozers every 10 feet. And Will wasn’t just content with the scene as a whole. That would’ve been to easy (and quiet). Instead, he took joy in each and every piece of equipment. I’m not kidding. It was like Groundhog Day in the backseat.

“TRACTOR!!!!”

“CRANE, DADA, CRANE!!!!”

“ANOTHER TRACTOR!!!”

Over and over again, he shrieked this for 20 miles through the construction zone of our nation’s capital. Thanks a lot Obama. The only thing your federal stimulus funds are increasing is my gigantic migraine from listening to my son’s shrill voice.

When we got to North Carolina we enjoyed six whole days of being with our good friends Vic and Alicia, not to mention my awesome godson Victor III. Our time there was actually a great learning experience in a variety of ways. First of all, it started to prepare me for having two kids in the house. Will and Vic love each other, but they also fought like cats and dogs. The house was FULL of toys, but the only one they wanted to play with was whatever toy the other one had in his hand at any given moment. I felt like I was refereeing constantly, including the two of them taking cheap shots at each other the whole week. One one hand it was really great to watch Will interact with someone his own age, but on the other hand I am openly questioning my sanity for having another kid.

Being around them for nearly a week also allowed me to do something I’m VERY interested in, which is observe how other dads parent. Unfortunately for me, all I found out is I have a lot of work to do. Simply put, Vic is the kind of dad I wish I could be. Vic is a southern guy who joined the military and he parents efficiently, effectively but also compassionately. My godson is potty trained already before the age of 3. He says “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” He feeds the dog and helps with chores. And when he does get out of hand, Vic reels him in with ease.

Plus Vic is a man’s man and does textbook dad stuff. He fixes everything around the house. He has a cool motorcycle. He works on cars. He builds stuff. Meanwhile I can’t fix anything, I don’t know a tailpipe from a piston and my son listens to me about as much as my wife does. Which can only be classified as “not much.”

However, Vic did help me earn some man points last week.

First of all we went “muddin” in his old Jeep Wrangler. North Carolina has an abundance of off-road trails on which to ride, and we tore through some of them. It was fantastic. Way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. Unfortunately I didn’t drive because…well…because I can’t drive a standard. So I guess any man points I might’ve earned were immediately subtracted.

But then Vic asked me to do something I thought I’d never do: go to the firing range.

Yup, yours truly — the liberal Massachusetts gun control advocate — shot a firearm for the first time. And you know what? IT WAS FUCKING GREAT!! Vic may be southern, but he’s an impeccably responsible gun owner. So we ran through gun safety before ever stepping foot in the range. And when we did get there, I fired a .22 rifle which was like shooting a pellet gun. And I did really well, hitting the bulls-eye on several occasions. But then we tried out Vic’s newest weapon: a .357 Mag Pug.

The gun shoots .38 ammo as well as .357. And let’s just say it has much more of a kick. I shot the .38 rounds first and was very surprised at the kick. You have to understand, all I know about shooting guns is what I’ve seen in movies. So imagine my surprise when I had to deal with a VERY loud bang, a flash and then gun nearly jumping out of my hands. But I soon got into a groove and I hit the bulls-eye once. But then we switched to the .357 rounds and oh my sweet god was that different. First of all it was deafening. Second, that sucker has some kick to it. I didn’t do too well with that one because I started anticipating the kickback, but I still did OK all things considered.

I don’t often admit that I was wrong, but I was wrong. Shooting a gun responsibly is a lot of fun and now I want one. Call it gun fever if you want, but that shit is addicting.

When we got to Baltimore on Saturday morning I was wicked excited to see my brother Nate and his fiance, as well as my brother-in-law and his wife. Nate and Melissa took us to a place called Port Discovery, which is a hands-on science and activity center for kids. It also features a 3-story climbing structure that Will tore through like a tornado.

Let’s just say Nate chased him through there, because you know I wasn’t about to squeeze my fat ass through all those tiny spaces.

On Sunday we went to Camden Yards to see the Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles. We were with my father-in-law, his girlfriend Donna, her son James, and my brother- and sister-in-law. Will really liked it at first.

However, his attention span was less than two innings and the next 90 minutes consisted of trying to corral him in his seat, walking around the concourse and trying to protect the poor woman in front of him from his fists and feet. In short, it was ugly and exhausting. I ended up asking my brother to come pick him up early so I didn’t have a total meltdown. But if you don’t have a crazed toddler to deal with, Camden Yards is one helluva place to watch a game.

But the best part of my vacation, hands down, was when my brother asked me to be his best man.

I didn’t expect it and I would have totally understood him asking someone else. After all, he wasn’t my best man four years ago (although in hindsight I should’ve had two best men, something I deeply regret) and he’s got a ton of friends. But even though Nate and I have always been fairly close, I didn’t really understand how great he is until a few years ago when I realized he’d eventually be leaving to go to Baltimore to be with Melissa. Once Will came along, Nate made a personal vow to be the best uncle any kid has ever had. And he’s not only succeeding, he’s surpassing that goal.

That’s why I’m thrilled I have the opportunity to be best man and try to show him how much I love him and appreciate all he’s done. From planning the bachelor party to delivering a speech at the wedding (which I’ve already been writing for months in my head), I couldn’t be more excited or honored about his wedding next March.

So there you have it. I hung out with old friends, shot a gun, saw some baseball and was asked to be best man all in the same week. Not too shabby at all. And the cherry on top of my vacation sundae is that in a few hours I’ll be riding into Boston with my dad to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals, to watch the Celtics kick the holy hell out of the hated LA Lakers.

I’m one lucky bastard. GO CELTICS!!

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