Our arrival was the opposite of auspicious. The airport looked unusually busy as we descended through the clouds to Bogotá’s bright lights but I shrugged it off and focused on getting off the plane. We’d already been traveling more than 13 hours. The aircrew announced that they had forgotten to get the Customs paperwork for us. Whatever. I rolled my eyes. Airline incompetence, we’ve all lived it. Then they said “Oh, and we don’t have a gate so we’ll be exiting onto the concourse.
Normally I love exiting down stairs. It makes me feel like a celebrity or similar. Burbank is my favorite airport to arrive to for exactly that reason. I like to step out of the plane dramatically, taking an extra moment to feel the sun shine on my face and shake my hair out. It’s the little things, you know.
The stairs in Bogotá were a very different Hollywood experience. I dragged myself and my small son off the plane into… chaos. It wasn’t just our plane that didn’t have a gate. El Dorado airport is under construction and most arriving planes were exiting without gates. The tarmac was a disaster of planes, people and busses, all sporting flashing lights. It looked like “James Bond: Behind the Scenes”. Elian looked at me with wide horrified eyes. We descended from the plane into my first-ever tarmac traffic jam.
Did I mention it was raining?
All of this is to say, it didn’t start so well. Colombians like to do things big, so it wasn’t just a mess. It was A MESS! There is also construction all over La Septima, the principal street. I swear the first day I thought the whole city was in ruins which, yeah, not the way to start your vacation or reintroduce your son to his hometown.
Isn’t this fun? I chirped to Elian as he covered his ears to drown out the jack hammers.
The thing is though that Bogotá is a beautiful city. Even with construction scarring its main streets it is impossible to resist its pristine skies, so crisp and clear after the predictably unpredictable rainstorms and it’s magical mountains which rise up straight to the heavens. We had a great couple of days there, hanging out with good friends and drinking coffee every two hours because of course. It’s Bogotá! In Bogotá there is always a good excuse to drink more chocolate, stay up later and laugh harder. Even the construction feels hopeful, part of the constant push to make the city better. They close all the main arteries every Sunday for family bicycling. This is a city that rallies.
I fell in love with Bogotá a long time ago. Before it gave me friends like family. Before I married Arnold and before I knew this city would give me my first-born son. I highly reccomend it to each of you. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll fall in love too.
In the Catholic church there is a liturgical calendar. Important religious holidays like Easter and Christmas are preceded by special times of spiritual preparation like lent, advent etc. These periods are relatively short compared to the rest of the year which is made up of something called Ordinary Time.
I like the sound of it, Ordinary Time. Something about it rolls and relaxes and soothes me.
For a long time I felt caught up in a multitude of “special” events. There was the adoption, the adjustment to parenthood, changing jobs, etc. Now, finally I feel like we’ve returned to Ordinary Time.
Recently we attended a preparation class for Elian’s baptism. It turned out to be quite literally a Come to Jesus moment for me. The nun teaching the class was running it like some sort of bad-ass baptism boot camp. She was not messing around with bland platitudes about grace and mercy and cleansing waters. No, no, no, she wanted to make sure we got that baptism is not a one time party but a lifetime commitment “You must remember that we are beloved children of God and as parents you are the first and most important people to teach your child what it means to be unconditionally loved.”
I felt those words cut to my heart.
It is so important to take the time to go beyond the basics of caring for my son. I am diligent in emphasizing manners and practicalities: to wash his hands and not to throw things, but I am severely lacking in other things that are more important. I remember to scold but not to tell him how proud I am of his kind and generous little heart. I remember to feed him healthy food, but I forget to bless him, pray for him and remind him that nothing will ever separate him from our love or God’s. I am impatient with his rambunctiousness but slow to appreciate his bright smile. Yes, I am tired and exhausted and imperfect but life is not about excuses, it’s about looking for solutions. I’m praying that God will help me do better.
The day after the class Elian’s school was closed and I decided to trash my plans of getting chores done and instead dedicate the day to working on teaching love: namely listening to him, being patient, and lavishing the attention that he constantly craves but doesn’t always receive.
It was a total blast.
We watched Sesame Street, we ate yogurt, we went to Starbucks and discussed the merits of each car that passed through the drive through. Instead of mumbling uh-huh to his nonstop chatter I made the effort to focus in. We talked and giggled and hugged. It was ordinary time and it was extraordinarily beautiful.
Did I mention that the Backstreet Boys also performed at the concert?
Not being a Backstreet fan I wasn’t really sure how I felt about this addition. I do know a shocking amount of lyrics due to their insane popularity while I was studying abroad in Chile but if you asked me which was my favorite, I’d say “Uhm? How many are there?”
For shame. I should go to Boy-Band fan prison for this offense.
I was however really looking forward to one part of their performance though and that was hearing “Everybody (Backstreets Back)”. I love it when Boy Bands come out with the requisite “We don’t care about the haters” anthem (see “Games” and “Celebrity” for additional examples) and Backstreet’s was a particular favorite. With a super-loud bass line and fresh lyrics like “Am I original? Yeah Yeah. Am I the only one? Yeah Yeah.” it was a can’t miss pop-moment. My favorite part is when Nick Carter (researched their names in preparation for the concert) asks us (I assume rhetorically) “Am I sex-u-al?” in his dirty-boy voice. In the video he sings it while dancing as a Mummy! (3:30)
Here it is for your reference. Please enjoy the Phantom of the Opera makeup. I did.
Since the first moment I heard that song in Santiago, Chile I thought the line was hysterically awesome and when I realized I would be hearing it live I was psyched. I talked about it non-stop on the way to San Jose. “I can’t wait to hear this live, it’s going to be awesome” I babbled on and on! “I’m sure he’s going to do a sexy-dance while he sings it!” (cue me demonstrating body-rolls for my fellow-concert-goers). I could NOT wait! So great was my enthusiasm that by the time the big moment came several people had cameras pointed at me to record my sexy-dance off with Nick Carter. “C’mon” I yelled at the stage “Show me what you got boy!”
I wish I could tell you I look awesome in those pics, but apparently my sexy-dance is not that hot when recorded by stop-motion photography.
Nick however did not fail me though. He was a drama KING. He dramatically ripped the top of a plastic water bottle and threw it all over himself before doing a body-wave/hip-roll combo that my friend Deana described as “circling his Johnnie.” It really made my life. I wish you were all there to savor the moment.
Shortly after that moment I realized that my feelings of bewildered besument is probably what the rest of my world experiences when I babble about the New Kids on the Block.” Is that what other people think about me?” I mused while I observed 20-somethings all around me faint watching Nick “circle his Johnnie”.
I felt like I was on the verge of a major existential discovery, but then I got distracted because the New Kids were back and I was too busy swooning while Donnie Wahlberg ripped off his shirt.
Usually I consider my day job and blog to be like church and state: it’s best for there to be no overlap. Today I’m making an exception. Recently we finished a mega-project that’s been almost a year in the making and I’m really proud of what we accomplished. Even better? Renee ended up being featured in full-page kick-ass glory.
Rock on rockstar.