It didn’t take long to miss the little things after leaving on my recent journey to the land known as America. There was no hug goodbye, no “we’ll miss you Daddy”, really, there was nothing but silence as I slipped out the door at 5am on a cold Thursday morning.
As I hit the road that morning, I had a nervous excitement about where I was headed and the experiences I would have. Still, there were constant reminders of what I was leaving behind. A miniature hockey bag on the floor made me think about how great my son’s first year of skating was going and of how proud I was of him. He wasn’t floating on air like Gretzky but maybe Wayne himself got off to a slow start.
There were warning signs to turn around as well. The first was the eerie squeal of the tires as they tore across the metal of the International Bridge. This was followed by 65 mile per hour winds that did everything but knock me right off the road. The two blizzards that followed served as a reminder of the fact that I was not in charge. No, SHE was in charge and it wouldn’t be the last time on this trip that I would be reminded of this.
I was not even three hours in and I was already wondering if my family missed me as much as I missed them. As I sat in the terminal, staring at the giant hunk of aluminum that would soon propel me 38,000 feet above land, I thought only of them. Airplanes. My arch nemesis. My kryptonite.
The flights were surprisingly easy; aside from the constant thoughts of us colliding with another aircraft, that is. I quietly read about Neil Young’s life story and his inspiration was enough to keep my nervous twitch subdued just long enough for the wheels to hit the tarmac. I love Neil. He has helped me through many tough times even though we have never met, and most likely never will.
Airports, Hotel, Conference, Karaoke, Cabbies with Guns; All of it wonderful and exciting and new in its own way, but something was still missing. I got a preview of that something at the midway point of my adventure courtesy of my wife. Here it is:
Yeah… I don’t think I need to explain what happened next, do I? By the end of the video, my room resembled the falls in Niagara as I instinctively clicked play, again, and again, and again. Each time noticing something familiar and wishing I was back there, in that moment, with my family. I knew I couldn’t leave just yet. I came here with a purpose, after all, and wouldn’t leave until I had proved to myself that I could face my fear and conquer it, which I am proud to say I did.
The long trip home was filled with road blocks. Airport confusion, flight delays, freezing rain, darkness, sleet, snow, aliens, gremlins, Super Bowl black outs & even the Stay Puff marshmallow man! You name it, I saw it, but nothing was going to stop me from getting home to those three smiling faces from the video. The kids were dreaming of princesses and Skylanders by the time I got home but I enjoyed the quiet catch up with my wife, whom I missed dearly.
Then, as if she could read my mind, my daughter popped her head around the stairwell and smiled. It was one of those smiles that make you realize how important someone is in your life. It was love. And I was wearing the exact same smile.