I journeyed south to Arkansas last week to attend my oldest son Michael's college graduation and my youngest son Will's birthday and decided to fly the whole way. I flew Great Lakes airlines out of McCook at 7 a.m. last Friday to Denver, changed to American Airlines after a layover to Dallas, changed to another American Airlines plane in Dallas and arrived in Bentonville, Arkansas at 2:30. I was met at the airport by Will's wife, Erica, who took me to their new home where Will was working and the three of us left for Russellville a little after four in the afternoon.
We arrived at my former wife's house around 6:30 and she had barbecue ribs, fried chicken, cole slaw, baked beans and biscuits waiting on us. Michael and his family were also there so I had a wonderful time with my whole family for a couple of hours; eating, talking, laughing and catching up on everyone's life. Michael and his family left around nine and I turned in not much later than that because it had been a long day. I slept in the back bedroom, the same bedroom I had always slept in before Linda got remarried. This is where the strangeness starts.
When I went down last Christmas, I stayed at Michael and Nicki's house even though I was invited to stay at Linda's. It didn't feel right to me to stay at her house when she was getting remarried just a couple of weeks later so I didn't. But this time she insisted so I did. Will and Erica were in the middle bedroom and Linda slept in her bedroom. I've never met her new husband and didn't on this trip either because he never came around. He has a house in one town, Linda has hers in Russellville, thirty miles away from his and they maintain separate residences during the week while she teaches. He has a shaved head and a partial beard just like I do and she told me her friends tell her that she just married a different version of me.
Most of the weekend was spent doing things with her and it was just like old times, minus the romance and the intimacy. We laughed, talked, told stories and did most of the things we used to do when we were married and it was good.
Michael graduated with his master's degree in History Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Arkansas Tech University and after graduation, we drove to Linda's favorite eating place 40 miles down the road in Conway at a steak house strangely enough called Mike's. Conway is the home of the University of Central Arkansas and they were having their graduation the same day so the place was packed. The food was awesome, the drinks went down smoothly and we all had a wonderful time with each other.
We stayed at Linda's house until late Sunday afternoon because Will and I were watching football. We left around 5:30 for the drive back to Bentonville and halfway there, Linda called Will and told him to tell me that she loved me. That was strange too. We always tell each other that because when you share your life with someone for 25 years, that's just a given, regardless of the reason for your divorce. But she had never called to tell me that since we divorced. And the even stranger part was that she called Will instead of me. I know though that it wasn't a romantic kind of love she was talking about. She loves me because I've always loved our boys and have always done everything I can do to make their lives happier and better. She loves me because we've always gotten along with each other and we enjoy listening to each other's stories. She loves me because we lived together longer than she's ever lived with anyone, including her parents. It's that kind of love she was talking about and not the romantic kind and I knew that because that's why I love her too.
We stopped and ate at a new Mexican restaurant out by Will and Erica's new home (dad still gets to buy) and then turned in pretty early because my flight home was leaving at six Monday morning. Will took me to the airport and I made the short one hour flight to Dallas on American Airlines once again. During my three hour layover there, I ate breakfast at T.G.I. Friday's. I ordered a western omelet and waited and waited for it. My server apologized two different times for the long wait and when it finally came, it was bacon, eggs, hash browns and wheat toast instead of the omelet I had ordered. I told him he had made a mistake but I wasn't going to take the chance of sending it back and waiting another hour so I ate what he brought me. My check wasn't discounted at all, even though I had an inordinately long wait and they brought me the wrong food which is how they do business in a chain restaurant located in a major airport. I was looking more and more forward to getting back home.
We flew over the blizzard in Kansas on the way to Denver and I thought as I looked down on the ominous clouds that if I had driven, I would have been caught right in the middle of it. During a two hour layover in Denver, I went to my favorite bar, Casa Verde, for a couple of cocktails and then back down to Great Lakes airlines for the flight to McCook. It had just started snowing in Denver so we had to be de-iced on the runway but the takeoff and the flight home was normal.
Except for the incident at the DFW airport, it was a pretty perfect weekend, but it's always good to get back home.