First of all, Jonah's mom backed out of the trip. She's been feeling ill (and really, I think she just didn't want to go) and didn't feel she could make the trip. So the whole reason we were making the trip in the first place, to accompany Jonah's mother, was completely invalidated.
Furthermore, the tickets we bought were nonrefundable, so we're out that money unless we can convince the airline to make an exception. Jonah's sister, Angie, paid $403 for the ticket, and Jonah and I fronted $111. Of course, once Angie found out Mom wasn't coming, she pestered Jonah about getting her money back. Jonah ended up giving her $300 just to get her off his back, so now he's out that money.
I know Jonah's mom is actually ill, but not once has she even apologized for putting us in this position, and that has annoyed me. But that's how she is.
Anyway, neither Jonah nor I were excited to take this trip, but figured we ought to make the most of it. A friend drove us to the airport and when we got there we discovered our flight would be delayed which meant we would likely miss our connecting flight in Dallas, and that flight would be the last to Fort Wayne, Indiana that evening, which meant we might have to stay overnight in Dallas, a prospect we were not looking forward to.
As we went through security, I saw a video I'm in - one of those TSA instructional videos about what to do and not do when going through security, so that was kind of fun to see. It's fun knowing thousands of people traveling through the airport will see my face every day.
Jonah and I waited patiently for our flight, which was supposed to leave at 12:25 PM but didn't leave until almost 2 PM, and we joked about how this was just the kind of start we would have to a trip we didn't want to go on in the first place.
Jonah texted Angie to let her know we might have to stay in Dallas for the night, and of course, Angie freaked out and kept texting Jonah back asking him what that meant and literally texting every 3 or 4 minutes to find out our progress. Jonah ignored her texts, which drove her even more crazy.
When we finally boarded the plane, we we feeling a bit frustrated, and I find it humorous that a Muzak version of "Let It Go" from Frozen was being played. I also heard a Bon Jovi song and "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons (neither of which really sounds that great as a Muzak arrangement).
The crew of our first flight never even acknowledged or apologized for the delay, which I didn't think was too cool.
We arrived in Dallas five minutes before our connecting flight was scheduled to take off and we knew if it were leaving on time we would never make it as our gates weren't remotely close to one another (Dallas is a pretty large airport).
Fortunately, our connecting flight was also delayed, so we were able to make it (and actually ended up having to wait a while). That flight was supposed to leave at 7:15 and didn't end up leaving until about 8:50. Now we were concerned because we would be arriving in Fort Wayne after the rental car place closed (although we hoped they would remain open).
The flight to Fort Wayne was on a smaller plane, and I found their crew to be nicer (and apologetic) than the plane we had taken to Dallas. I also saw a lightning storm from above, which I had never seen before, and I thought that was cool.
Angie text us to let us know that she and her husband, Frank, would be there to pick us up in case the rental place was closed. We ended up getting to Fort Wayne at almost 1:00 AM, almost two hours after we should have gotten there. Fortunately, the rental car place had remained open for us and other passengers.
We followed Angie and Frank as they drove toward their house, and then when we got to the street where our hotel was, they pointed the way, said they'd see us the next day, and left us to find it. We found it, and in spite of our lateness, were able to get checked in.
All in all, as I told Jonah, in spite of delays and inconveniences, I was very pleased we had made both flights, had gotten to Fort Wayne, and had been able to get our car (which was bigger than the one we had requested because they ran out of standard sized cars, so that was a nice upgrade) and checked into our hotel, which was at a very discounted rate because my brother works for Marriott.
We were so tired when we got to Fort Wayne. It had been a long, long day, and we went to bed pretty much as soon as we checked in. Our room had a double bed for Mom and one for us, so we just used the one, which was smaller than the king-sized bed we are used to.
We slept in pretty late that first day. Angie wanted us at her house by 12 or so because she wanted to take photos. I wish I could describe Angie to you. She's not a bad person, although she does carry and hold on to a lot of negativity. She also lives in a world that revolves around her. Somehow she is able to make everything about her and how it affects her. Even though this graduation was about Tatiana (her daughter), somehow what she (Angie) wanted was always more important. She had literally told us that although she knew we were on vacation, we were hers for the entire time we were there.
I don’t remember what time we ended up going to Angie’s (probably more like 1 or so). Angie wanted to take photos of us with her and the family and Tatiana. She was bossing everybody around and somehow once again making it more about what she wanted than anything. We smiled through it, though, and got some good pictures. I also got to meet Aiden, Angie and Frank’s son, who seemed like a pretty level-headed kid for how crazy his mom is sometimes.
I was pleased the weather was about 20 degrees cooler than it had been at home. It was pretty pleasant the whole time we were there.
Tatiana had to be to the Colliseum (the venue where the graduation was to be held) at 3:45 pm.
For some reason Angie wanted us all there at that time as well even though the graduation didn’t start until 6:00 pm. Jonah, me, and Jonah’s niece, Melissa, ducked out on the pretense of going to the bank (which we did, to get the money Angie wanted, but we were gone much longer than we needed to be). We also found out that Angie had guilted Melissa into buying groceries for her and her family and that Melissa, who had originally planned on staying until Wednesday, wanted to leave on Monday because she was already fed up with Angie and didn’t want to stay at their apartment anymore. We told her she could stay with us since we had Mom’s spare bed.
At the graduation I met Frank's mother and Angie’s biological mother and aunt. Angie’s real mother, Sandra, was once a prostitute, and I’m not even sure if Angie knows who her biological father is. It was during the time she was prostituting that she essentially abandoned Angie, which is when Jonah’s parents stepped in and basically raised her. Sandra has since converted to Mormonism and seems a much different person than the one Angie knew as a child. Angie still hangs on to a lot of resentment and won’t let go of the past. I’m not implying that kind of past is easy to let go of, but it does seem to me that the negativity Angie holds on to concerning her mother is far more damaging to Angie than it is to Sandra. With Angie, everything is someone else’s fault, but she never accepts blame for anything herself.
Angie has recently become a minister in the church she belongs to, but as Jonah says, she seems to be one who often “talks the talk” but can’t “walk the walk.” Aiden and Tatiana call Sandra “Sandra” rather than “Grandma” which bothers Jonah more than it bothers me. He says that in spite of her faults or past, Sandra is still the kids’ grandmother and if Angie is going to preach to others to ‘honor thy father and mother,” she should do the same. But I can sort of understand Angie’s point-of-view. After all, for much of her life, Angie was not treated well by Sandra, and I know Angie still hangs on to that resentment.
We got back to the graduation about 4:45 and waited outside until they opened the doors at 5 and then waited another hour before it began. I ended up falling asleep. Jonah took a picture of me dozing. What can I say, I was exhausted.
Happily, the graduation was relatively short. The speeches were short, and the class was only about 400 or so. I did find it odd that Angie used one of her tickets to let her pastor sit with her in the parents’ seats, but made Frank's mom sit in the regular seats with us.
I dislike when people hoot and holler at graduations especially when the audience is asked to wait until all names are called to applaud. Just a personal preference, but I wish there had been more decorum. Still, I’m sure Tatiana was pleased to be cheered on by her family.
We met Angie’s pastor after the graduation and we later found out she had advised Angie against letting us stay with her because our homosexuality would be a bad influence on the kids and the home. She also made some disparaging remark about Jonah's mom not being there. I found her fake and ingratiating.
We went to IHOP after the graduation and I sat near Sandra and her sister Janice and we actually talked about Mormon stuff a bit. I do miss the Mormon culture a bit, but I also found Sandra and her sister to be nice, if not a bit overzealous with their faith.
We went back to Angie’s to get Melissa's stuff and to visit a bit. I was so ready to go back to the hotel, which we eventually did.
Saturday we decided to take Aiden, Tatiana, and Melissa on a little adventure, which was nice. It was nice to get to know my nephews and nieces better, for them to spend time together, and for all of us to be away from Angie for a bit.
We started the day by having breakfast at our hotel with Angie, Frank, the kids, Aiden's girlfriend, and the in-laws. Then Jonah and I took the kids in the car.
We decided to go to Kokomo, which was about an hour or so away from Ft. Wayne.
Jonah's sister Rose had called us and said her ex-boyfriend, Carl (who she’s still on good terms with)’s parents lived there and he was hoping we could check in on them as he had not seen them in some time. Jonah, being the very kind person he is, decided to do just that.
All the stereotypes I ever had about Indiana seemed to be true: lots of corn fields and farms,
lots of Christians, and a lot of down-to-earth and kind people. Carl’s parents seemed to be no exception. We did find out that Carl’s mother has cancer, which Carl did not know about. They were very nice people and it was fun to just get away even if there was not a lot to see.
We went to a couple of antique stores, both in Kokomo and on the way back to Ft. Wayne. Aiden and I enjoyed looking at some Star Wars memorabilia together. We also went to the Salvation Army when we got back to Ft. Wayne, but it wasn’t very interesting. We also ate at McDonald’s in Kokomo as well.
We all decided to go to the mall and eat and see a movie.
I was beyond tired and both Jonah and I fully expected to sleep during the movie. The kids were interested in seeing Maleficent, which was fine because I actually wasn’t interested in seeing it and felt it would be a good movie to sleep through. However, once the movie started, I actually became interested in it and only dozed off twice, but I felt like I saw most of it. It was better than I had expected.
We got the kids some food to eat and paid for their meals. Angie and Frank are poor, which means the kids are poor, so it’s not often they’re treated to a movie and a meal. In fact, I think Tatiana was feeling guilty, like she shouldn’t order much, but I told her to get whatever she wanted. Then Jonah bought them some clothes while I went over to Barnes & Noble to look for a book Mom’s cousin, Linda had recommended called The Afterlife of Billy Fingers. I was able to find and buy it, and I quite enjoyed it a lot.
We eventually took the kids back to Angie’s and Angie made some crack to Jonah about getting her kids home in one piece that he didn’t appreciate. They invited us to stay for a movie. I was tired and wanted to get home, but we stayed and watched the Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop, which I think I would have enjoyed more if Angie and her family hadn’t spent the whole time talking through it (another pet peeve of mine).
Melissa stayed with us again that night.
Sunday we decided to try to make a day more for ourselves and Melissa. We went to a couple of antique stores. One was in this really weird, creepy looking building that looked like an office building on the outside and a weird house with lots and lots of rooms on the inside.
I saw a couple of things that reminded me of Mom, including a doll named Patsy and a diorama of nativity that reminded me of the kind we had growing up. I think Mom was maybe letting me know she was with us.
After the stores, we went to Angie’s apartment clubhouse for a party for Tatiana. Being the introvert that I am, I hate these sorts of things, especially when I hardly know anybody. There wasn’t much to eat there, just some crackers, punch, and cake. I spent most of the time being a wallflower. I heard some pretty zealous conversations among some of Angie’s fellow churchgoers. Jonah and Sandra had a private conversation outside and, of course, Angie assumed it was about her and kept going out there to try and find out what Jonah and Sandra were talking about.
After the party, we took Melissa to Red Robin for dinner because we needed some real food.
We also toured Ft. Wayne a bit, looking at the many churches in the city
as well as a pretty park called Lakeside Park.
At my suggestion, we also drove to another park which turned out to be in a not-so-good part of town and instead of another beautiful park, we saw a fat sixty-or-so-year-old man with his scrotum and penis hanging out walk/peeing. No shame at all; he was just walking forward and peeing at the same time. Why you would want to walk in the direction you’re peeing is beyond me (really, why you want to walk at all while peeing (and in the open, no less) is baffling as well). Melissa was shrieking in both horror and laughter. It was funny, but unfortunately that horrifying image is seered in my brain as well. That abruptly ended our tour of the parks of Ft. Wayne.
After our jaunt in Ft. Wayne, Jonah wanted to go back to Angie’s. I didn’t. I chose to be dropped off at the hotel, and I’m so glad I did. I read my book in peace and watched “Lost.” Jonah and his sister apparently had it out, and I guess the tension was quite thick. Jonah basically called her on all her crap and more or less said she had an evil spirit in her and rebuked it. I think I had a much more peaceful evening than he or Melissa did. She ended up staying there that night. Angie apologized for abusing Melissa's kindness. Jonah ended up paying quite a bit of money so that Melissa could return home with us.
Monday was quite cloudy, the first sign of bad weather we had seen during our time in Ft. Wayne. We picked Melissa up, said goodbye to Angie and her family and went to the airport. We dropped the rental car off. Ft. Wayne’s airport is rather small and the TSA agents there prove you don’t have to be disagreeable to do a good job (unlike some of the TSA agents I’ve encountered at home). I took a tour of their rather lackluster aviation museum while we waited for our plane.
We all flew to Dallas together and had lunch at a Mexican place in the Dallas Airport while we waited for Melissa’s plane (which was leaving before ours). After we said goodbye to her, Jonah and I spent a while in the airport during our layover, and once again our plane was delayed (I swear I’m not flying American Airlines again if I can help it) so we were in the Dallas Airport for about four hours. I was so tired on both flights, but couldn’t seem to fall asleep. I mostly read. The small airplane from Ft. Wayne to Dallas had a much friendlier crew than the one from Dallas to our home.
We arrived to our hometown late and then had quite a trek to passenger pick-up. It didn’t matter as Jonah's sister, Stacy, went to the wrong terminal and didn’t end up picking us up until about a half hour after we got outside.
It was such a long trip and we were so tired. There were some good things about it, but overall, I’d rate this trip as one of my least favorite ones I’ve ever taken. Between Mom’s ticket, our own tickets, the rental car, Melissa’s ticket, the hotel, and eating and shopping, we probably spent about $2,000 on a trip no one wanted to go on in the first place. When Aiden graduates, I’m just sending a card.