Now that the jet lag is gone...

I'm back!  I know I've been back for a while and haven't updated this, but I'll explain later...

That vacation was real!  I had no idea it would be so awesome.  Swedie and I make a great team.  We (by we, I mean she) planned it all out well in advance and we (now I mean we, but still mostly she) executed it well.  We began in Florida at the Holm Home as my previous blog detailed.  We love them and miss them already.  The rest of the Florida leg of the trip was awesome.


Miami
Bash and Ava
I had my fill of conch salad during my trip home.  Moonk really does know how to hook up a conch salad!  I got to see my younger cousins (can't call them little anymore) and hang out a little bit with them.  I spent so much time in my youth trying to be the loudest and funniest and wittiest that I never realized how funny my cousins are.  Reggie and Julius had me cracking up!  Grandmother is still rocking her raccoon wig in public.  She's fun and I hope she gets the courage to make that flight over here some time.  Renee as well.  She's my favorite auntie and I'd love to show her around Sweden.  I just don't know if Sweden is ready!

We went shopping and ate at some of our favorite spots.  I was proud of myself for not forcing the list I had made beforehand.  We didn't go to Red Lobster or any breakfast chains (IHOP/Denny's) like we thought we would.  My pancakes are better anyway and who has time for finding a Red Lobster?  As for sushi, I regret missing out on that.  The mall was more tempting, so we never made it downtown.  We did however go to The Grill on the Alley in Aventura Mall!  Great food and an awesome manager.  We ate like Lannisters!

I was sad to leave Miami.  It never seems like long enough.  It was great seeing Latonya, Tiffany and Marlon from high school.  It's like we never missed a step, except now we all have kids.  I got to visit my second family (the Burleys) and that was a treat.  We even went to a club!  The entire time we worried that Bash was going to wake up and freak out (of course he didn't).  I feel bad that Eliza had to keep assuring us that everything was okay in the middle of the party.  Then we left early as a group on account of Swedie and me, well Bash.  Blame Bash. That night out summed up the Miami leg of the trip.  Short, but action packed.

Virginia Beach
Now it was off to Virginia Beach.  It was time to visit a military brother of mine.  He and I have been tighter than a frog's ass since our first military assignment in Alaska.  We've got STORIES together from those days.  We have a specific brand of humor and once we get together it multiplies and becomes magically awesome.  Obviously, since getting out and moving here it's been hard to see each other frequently, but brotherhood is brotherhood.  It would be the first time Bobby got to meet Bash, so I was really excited.  By the way, a woman in the airport stopped us to tell us that Bash is the sweetest child she's ever seen on a flight.  Duh, lady!  That's my son.  Our flight was early because of a change that Bobby didn't notice in the final message to him, so they were late.  No biggie.  I'd just charge my phone... oh snap!  Justin rolled up out of nowhere!  Justin is Bobby's old friend that became my friend years and years ago.  He fit right in with us and that's been great over the years.  Bobby and his family (Kim and Isaac) walked up holding signs.  Just like old times!

Bobby and Kim have a beautiful house.  He grew up in VA Beach and is stationed in Virginia.  He's got it good.  Family and friends close while he serves in the Air Force.  Isaac won't have as turbulent of a childhood as many children in military families have.  I'm glad for them.  It was Bobby's birthday weekend, so the turn up was real.  Well we're in our thirties now, so it was a grown up turn up.  We walked in to a pool party preparation.  There was good barbecue and side dishes under a tent.  The food was covered in foil and neatly presented on a table with a TABLE CLOTH.  Music was playing (not blasting).  I can see Bobby and me ten years ago preparing for a birthday by taking shots and talking shit until we created an impromptu octagon.  Then we'd get up, get dressed, take shots and go to a club.  I'd probably get black-out drunk and piss Bobby off at a McDonald's drive thru because I keep ordering a "SANDWICH MEAL".  My how things have changed.  I got unpacked and put on some trunks so I could sit poolside and swap jokes with Bobby and Justin while our kids played in the pool.

It was so good to catch up with everyone.  I had a mixture of pointless and introspective conversations with members of Bobby's family.  I was even surprised with visits by "Yosys Fire" and "Chuck".  Two other friends from back in Alaska.  Everybody is all grown up now.  It was fun to have drinks and reminisce.  In classic fashion, the guys would ask if I wanted to help move a counter.

       - Move a counter?
       - Yeah man.  Come inside and help us move this counter.
       - Okay... I guess.

We went inside and a few minutes later all the other guys came in.  Next thing you know Bobby was pouring shots.  I wasn't going to turn that down. We toasted and drank our shots.  Then everyone dispersed.  I turned to Justin as I walked outside.

       - What's up with that counter?
       - Counter?  What counter?
       - They said something about moving a counter.
       - Oh yeah.  Hey Bobby, we gotta move that counter.
       - Alright, I'll be in there.

We walked back in.  I shook my head.  How did they forget so fast?  Bobby came back in and started preparing shots for us.  The light bulb over my head went on.

       - Oh!  The shots!

Bobby explained how the running joke began.  I love these guys.  Needless to say, we moved a lot of counters that weekend.  Some of the most fun was watching the trio of Isaac, Bryce and Bash.  They were having a blast the whole weekend.  One morning they even had their teddy bears join them for poolside breakfast.  So sweet.  I also found out that Bash has my back big time.  Justin threw me in the pool (we're not THAT grown up) and Bash had a fit.  He stomped his feet and yelled at Justin at the top of his little lungs.

       - NO! NO! NO!  DADDY! DADDY! DON'T DO THAT!

I had to assure him that we were just playing.  He was so upset.  Note to self: Never get beat up in front of Bash.  He will be devastated.

The trip was full of reminiscing, shit talking and witty wordplay.  It's what we do.  We had a heated political argument (they're wrong) and the return of a years-long prank that Yosys and I used to pull on each other.  It was great.  An updated version of the old days.  We extended our stay an extra day and it still felt like not enough time.  It never is.

Maryland
Westley and Bash
Now it was time to see my sister.  We hadn't made it to the US in 2015 so I hadn't met my nephew yet.  I was excited about that.  It would be cool for Bash to see the people he had been talking to over FaceTime for the past year.

The drive up wasn't so bad.  We went directly to probably the shittiest little rental car center I've ever seen to drop off the car.  I hadn't peed on the trip, so I was able to get a good look at the shittyness on my way to the back.  It looked like they tried to turn an old mechanic shop into a rental office, but said "Fuck it" halfway through it.  At least they didn't try to throw any sneaky charges on me.  It was literally rented for four hours.

My brother-in-law Curtis picked us up.  It was great to see him.  He's been committed to working out which really means he's been committed to making me look fatter when I stand next to him.  Thanks Curtis!  We loaded up the SUV and headed to their lovely home.  It still shocks me every time I walk into their mini-mansion.  I fight off the urge to rub my hands along the wall and talk with a southern belle's voice.

       - My, my, my look at that chandelier. I wish grandma was here to see this here bannister!  Is that marble tile?

We got settled in and almost immediately started laughing and reminiscing.  That's basically all my family does.  Bash LOVED playing with Zoë in the basement.  He felt like he was in heaven down there.  Toys and activities.  So many activities.  I wanted badly for Bash and his Nana to get along well.  I could tell she was hesitant due to the perceived language barrier.  I told her don't worry.  Just speak in English to him.  He understands.  I left them down in the basement for a few minutes and then I heard panic in her voice.

       - Jon, what is he saying?!

I ran down and heard Bash asking about "jordgubbar".  Apparently he saw some toy strawberries upstairs that he wanted to play with now.  How does he remember that?  I told Nana that he wants strawberries.  Bash looked straight ahead.  The wheels in his little head turning.

       - Shraw-burry

Mom threw down!
I went and got the toy strawberries.  Nana spoiled us with some good food.  Curtis tried to kill me with his stupid and uncalled for workout routines.  I stopped after two days!  It's rude as hell to have your guest in your basement doing a leg workout routine made up by SATAN; knowing damn well that your guest has to ascend and descend STAIRS multiple times per day.  It's simply not what a gentleman should do.  For two days I considered living on my stomach.  Just lay down on the living room floor - on my stomach - until my body no longer hates me and my legs work again.

Besides that pain we took the kids to the park a few times.  They loved it.  Swedie had a little bit of shopping left to do, so we went to the mall.  Curtis and I chilled while Bash and his new best friend Zoë burned energy in the play land.  They rode a carousel and then wanted to ride it again and again.  We found a futuristic car ride that they should like [read: we would like], but they didn't and that was a waste of a dollar.  The part of the visit that brought tears to my eyes was when Mom made a cake with Bash.  I know it's simple, but it was beautiful.  He was so into it, just like I knew he'd be.  She showed him how to sift flour.  Then he sifted flour and slapped the side of the sifter just like Nana did.  It's the small things.

Zoë and Bash headed to the cereal aisle
Some of the beautiful small things were in the cereal aisle.  I rotated American cereals that you can't find here into the Rollins-Taylor household.  I had my fill of Raisin Bran Crunch, Lucky Charms, Crunch Berries and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Man I miss those cereals!  I went a little snack crazy with Oreos and granola bars and Oatmeal Cream Pies.  I wish you could see the drool run down my chin as I type.  By the end of the trip Bash was expressing himself very well in English.  He and Zoë were little chatterboxes.  I miss the way she hums as she eats her food.  Makes it sound delicious!

I had missed American television (there's like unlimited channels) so much.  I would wake up each morning and watch a documentary (On Demand is the shit!), then watch a standup comedy special before I went to sleep (I repeat... On Demand is the shit).  I met a guy from Boston a couple years ago that told me how he watches his sports teams through a thing called Sling Box.  I had read up on it, but never considered pulling the trigger on buying it.  I finally relented while on this trip.  I ordered the Sling Box.  It came a few days before we left and I set it up on Zoë's TV.  Now I have access to my sister's cable from anywhere in the world!  I recommend Sling Box to any American living abroad.  It's a nice slice of home.  Election season is important for me, so it's great to get good coverage of one of the most important elections in my lifetime. I still can't believe that Donald Trump is a nominee for president.  Even more disappointing is that I know smart people that will vote for him.  I won't get into it now (just wait), but that was a main reason I got the Sling Box.  Which in turn is the main reason I haven't made time to write a blog entry.  TV is so good in America!

One highlight of the trip was me actually doing standup in the US.  I was able to get on at an open mic in DC.  It was interesting to see comedians on the grind.  The club runner gave me five minutes and I made the best of my time.  My cousins came out to the show and I'm glad they got to see me perform.  Especially Andre.  He's been supporting me since I started.  Now he could actually see my progress.  It went pretty well.  I was nervous at first, but then got really comfortable at the first unexpected laugh.  I was flowed right into it.  I'll never forget that experience.  Here's the set:



One last hug...
It was so fun.  I'll be back and better in the future, America!

Mom sent us away with a box of 15 homemade cookies.  Just what I needed after hiding from Curtis' workouts for eight days.  A final addition to my love handles.  Bash and Zoë hugged one last time before we drove off in the HUGE Expedition that I got upgraded to (rental tip: book online to increase the chance of upgrades on site).  Now it was off to New York...

... But before New York we made a stop in New Jersey to see our friend Natasha.  Natasha is a fun, beautiful and talented young lady that Swedie used to train.  We met at Bahama Breeze (also on the list) and had some delicious Caribbean food.  Natasha had brought some makeup for Swedie and a toy for Bash (nothing for me, but I'm not bitter).  It was nice to catch up with her over some good food and drinks.  It was oddly reminiscent of our last hangout before moving to Sweden.  She was the one to take us to the airport then.  It's great that she's doing well now.  The last time she saw Bash was when she did his 3D ultrasound.  Now he was alive and out of the womb flirting with her!  It was a great, but unfortunately short visit.  Now to drop off the rental bus and hit up "the city"...

New York
We decided to splurge on a nice hotel in Manhattan.  I thought I was going to be doing some standup there as well, but it didn't work out.  It was cool though.  The first morning was odd to see Manhattan in such a quiet state.  5 Ave wasn't really 5th Ave without all of the brisk-paced New Yorkers flocking across intersections.  We found a charming French restaurant (Le Pain Quotidien) with an amazing breakfast.  It was so nice we ate there twice!  Fresh croissants (read that with a thick French accent), orange juice and salads.  So good.  We took Bash on a nice stroll around Central Park.  Buying that stroller turned out to be an awesome idea.

I reached out to our good friend Gary.  It was short notice, but he made time for us.  It was so good to see him.  Of course he was late as shit, but we managed.  Bash was quite the trooper as we trekked around Manhattan.  We met Gary and got pretty tipsy off of $6 mimosas and glasses of wine.  This was in preparation for the main event.  Gary joined us for what would be an amazing dinner.  Swedie was personal trainer for a pastry chef (Hi Stephen!) and he was nice enough to get us a reservation at Colicchio and Sons where he is in charge of desserts.  First off, I'm a huge fan of Tom Colicchio, so that was enough, but Stephen's dessert... OH MY GOD!  This was our second time eating there, and he does not disappoint.  He put together an amazing assortment of desserts that topped off just how sweet this trip was.  Gary Ubered us back to the hotel and bid us farewell.  It was great laughing with his crazy ass. I can't wait to see him again (come to Sweden man!).

The final day was a winding down of sorts.  We checked out of the hotel and met some friends from Jersey.  The Pride Parade was going on, so that was cool to see.  Music blasted and people danced as they expressed excitement in being proud of who you are.  It was beautiful and I was glad to be in there at that moment.  The shootings in Orlando hadn't happened so long ago and I'm especially glad the parade went on with no tragedy attached to it.

Our friends fought through the crowd and walked us back to our hotel.  We talked and caught up.  I was excited for them and the prospects of their future.  It was good to see them and wish them well.  It's great to see that friendships last over time.  That's what this trip was all about.  Now it was time to leave home and head home.  On to the airport.  Until next time...

Comments

  1. I made the blog! I'm a celebrity! Nice to see you guys, maybe we'll all make it to Sweden before everyone builds a wall to keep the Americans out.

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  2. Haha! It was good seeing you too. I hope you guys make it out here soon. We'll show you a good time.

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