On the morning that Richie was to fly in from Arizona to spend his Christmas break with us, my mom woke me up with these words:
"There's a problem with Richie's flight."
It was a few hours before I normally got up for work, so maybe 3am. I woke with instant panic, my mind immediately going to the worst. And then my mom said, "He's flying into Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh."
With that reassurance, I rolled my eyes and went back to bed.
I worked my 8 hour shift at McDonald's that morning while my dad drove all the way to Philadelphia and back to pick up my boyfriend, which gave them time to "bond." Hah.
Things weren't going the way Richie had planned. He had hoped to fly into Pittsburgh, impress the family over his holiday vacation and get my dad's blessing to propose. Going to Philadelphia by mistake was not starting off well. All these years later, he still hasn't quite lived that one down, but it's a funny family joke now. It all turned out fine anyway, since my dad ended up having to go back to Philadelphia for work anyway, so we all got in the van for a mini family vacation when we took Richie back to the airport.
But between the trips to and from Philadelphia, we had a wonderful Christmas break together. It was uneventful for the most part. When I wasn't at work, we spent the days together catching each other up on what we'd missed in the last few months and playing Zelda: Twilight Princess. It was nice to be able to go on dates again too. It was also nice to be able to introduce him to people who hadn't believed that I'd had a boyfriend. During that time with us, Richie met our pastor and they hit it off. It's funny to look back and remember the time that Richie was known only as "Cynthia's boyfriend," because now everyone knows him, in large parts due to his charisma and hard work ethic. At that time though, 12 years ago, he was the boyfriend from Arizona that everyone had heard about. A face to the stories.
I admit that, even though I was only 17, I kept thinking that Richie would propose during his visit. And, while he didn't, I wasn't too far off the mark because he did end up asking my dad for his blessing and my dad gave it, as long as he waited until after I graduated high school. My dad had to have a little fun though and ended up giving Richie a turkey hat as a gag gift for Christmas. It became the story that has endured through the years.
Life isn't always perfect, and this visit definitely had it's hiccups, but it's always interesting. Richie has brought so much laughter and adventure to my life, and he'd probably say the same about me. He was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ before he met me, and now he's living across the country with a life he never imaged. It's not always perfect, but it is always interesting. When things get hard, like flying to the wrong city, we find ways to laugh about it and make the best of it.