Saturday was a beautiful day. The temperature was expected to get into the high 70s and there was not a cloud in the sky. I woke up my niece and told her we were headed to Harper's Ferry for the day. I have always loved Harper's Ferry but hadn't been there in over ten years. My niece claims she can write a little report on John Brown's raid and get extra credit at school, so we made a point of reading all of the plaques and whatnot. We walked a bit down the Appalachian Trail and took some photos of the mountains and the Shenandoah River. There's a lot of history in that area. Then we shared a funnel cake, which was also historic in its own way.I hope this doesn't lead to a string of nighmares for the impressionable ten-year-old, but we also visited a cemetery while we were in the area. I thought my niece would find some of the old headstones interesting. Many of them date back to the early 1800's. I guess some might think it is disrespectful to wander around a cemetery, but I did make a point of righting all of the flower vases that had tipped over and also fixed a windsock. I figured I'd try to build up a little good will while I was there in exchange for imposing on the dead like that.
Later in the afternoon, I took my nephew (age five) to see "Monsters vs Aliens." My nephew has severe food allergies, so I have always been a little bit nervous about taking him somewhere by myself. But now that he's a little older, he is capable of telling you what he can and cannot eat. Because he has not spent a lot of time with me alone, he cried all the way to the movie theater. He had stopped sobbing by the time we walked into the multiplex, but he was still pretty adamant that he was not going to watch the movie. I asked him if we should sit close to the screen or far away. "Nowhere," he replied. Fortunately, I have a temperamental kid of my own and therefore was not offended.
I stepped up to the ticket counter. "Two for Monsters vs Aliens 3D," I told the woman, who was sporting the mandatory movie theater vest.
"That'll be $22.75," she said.
Thinking that she must have rung up the Pakistani family behind us on the same transaction, I said, "Oh no, it's just the two of us." I swept my arm across to my nephew and back again, as if to illustrate the fact that there were two, and only two, bodies in front of her.
"Yes, it costs more for 3D."
If that was the matinee pricing, I don't even want to know what those same tickets cost at night. I'm surprised there wasn't a loan desk situated right next to the ticket window. I wiped the tear from my eye and slid my debit card across the counter. Then I headed to the snack bar to hand over the rest of my paycheck.
Though he was still looking awfully forlorn, my nephew agreed to sit in the movie theater and eat the "safe" snacks my sister had prepared for him. By the time we left, the tears were long forgotten and he was busy re-enacting scenes from the movie and telling me which character he liked best (Insectasaurus, for the record). Later I found a souvenir he had left me to mark our adventure together - a melted orange Skittle on the back seat of my rental car.
Sunday was my last full day in Virginia. I went three for three when it came to obtaining free meals that day. First, I had breakfast with my friend Felix. We've known each other since the sixth grade which makes us . . . . let's see, carry the 1 . . . pretty damn old. It was wonderful to see him, and he still speaks in hyperbole just like always. (Felix, I hadn't seen you since the Mesozoic era!) Then I met my friend Dave for lunch. Dave and I were both good friends with Kevin, but Dave couldn't make it to the funeral. I think Kevin would have been happy to know that, in his passing, some of the old crew found each other again. Finally, I met my dad and grandma for dinner. We ate at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and I consumed my weight in chips and queso.
I flew out on Monday morning, making my way to the airport in a driving rain. I returned the rental car and hoped they wouldn't notice the Skittle issue. As hard as it was raining, I don't think the disgruntled employee in the parking lot cared if I'd returned a horse and buggy in place of the Subaru I had rented. The flights back were uneventful, and I even got to sit in the middle seat on my second flight. There is just no end to my good fortune.