The Sonic Boomer
By the time you read this, I will be off on my big adventure. Yes, I am going to San Diego.
Now I know that might not seem too exotic or mysterious. I know that most big travelers these days head for Prague, Morocco or South Africa — maybe Alaska if they want to stay on American soil. And I’ve already been to California, but it was Los Angeles. I’ve never been to San Diego, so I’m all excited.
I looked it up online and evidently San Diego has a lot of the same stuff Florida has — SeaWorld, Legoland, a safari park — and of course there’s the world-famous San Diego Zoo. But those things are not why I’m heading out there. I’m going for family. And that’s the real reason I’m all excited.
If my little grandsons want to see Flipper or build a castle out of plastic bricks, I’ll see those things. But I’ll probably be on a bench at a soccer practice or down at the local ice cream shop; maybe watch some cartoons on Saturday morning. It’s a “total immersion” kind of vacation. Cap’n Crunch may be involved.
Then there’s Brad, their dad. Son Brad is a Navy pilot, and he’s getting ready to ship out again soon. And when I say “ship out,” that is exactly what I mean — on a ship. (By the way, don’t call it a “boat.” I found out they really don’t like that. It’s a ship.)
Shortly after our visit, he’ll be stepping onto an aircraft carrier headed for points unknown, donning his flight suit and doing whatever it is that has to be done. Not knowing where Brad is going can be a little nerve-wracking. Could be Afghanistan, could be Korea. They don’t exactly phone the parents for permission first.
I’m not even sure Brad himself knows the destination of his mission. Of course, we will ask him. I, in particular, will nag him on this point. It’s Motherhood Requirement #349.
While I’m in San Diego, I will also spend some time commiserating with Brooke, Brad’s wife. I cannot imagine what it’s like for a spouse left behind. Suddenly a “single parent,” but with the added stress of worrying yourself sick about what your spouse is doing at that very moment? Not sure I could handle it.
Brooke spends her days anxiously awaiting a phone call and hoping for a quick reconnect on Skype. She calms the kids as best she can. And when she finally does hear from Brad, she tries to read between the lines and search his face to make sure he’s really as OK as he says he is. Then she does it again the next day and the next for month after month. That kind of thing tends to wear a person out.
But we’re not going to dwell on that while we are in San Diego. What we are going to focus on is the children and how delightful they are. We will go to the park, the toy store and maybe even Disneyland. We will revel in our family-ness. Brad will enjoy it, Brooke will enjoy it and we will enjoy it.
Because when you’re on a big gray boat — er, ship — those are the kinds of memories that can sometimes keep you going.