Dennis on the Road

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

death defying christmas adventures

Murray, at 14.5 years old, feeling youthful in the snow.

There was a moment at the very beginning of my Christmas journey when I was afraid that I would make the headlines but never make it back to Michigan. “Pipe wielding madman slays holiday traveler.” I hadn’t even made it to BART yet, to catch the train to SFO, when a reckless driver took a sharp right into a parking lot, forcing me to jump out of the way. My memory of it is much more graceful than reality, but since I’m telling the story, imagine it as a scene from The Matrix. I’m Keana Reeves. And while leaping to save my life I connect a solid kick to the rear side panel of the car. Beautiful, wasn’t it?

My dad, brother, and I on the Rouge River in front of Tom's new pad.

Of course this pissed off the driver who I could hear yelling through the window of his car… and a moment later could hear yelling much clearer and closer to me. I turned around and there was a very short very angry man wielding a foot-long metal pipe. I slowly backed away, feeling much less like Keana now. I dropped my carry-on suitcase to free my hands. Angry Motorist Man continued to yell at me, but instead of striking me over the head, redirected his physical anger to my suitcase. He kicked it a dozen times and then began to beat it with the pipe. Perplexed bystanders began to gather… at a very safe distance of course to watch a defenseless piece of luggage be pummeled. Finally a friend of the crazy guy appeared, dragged him away, and ordered me, in a thick accent, to “get your shit and go.” Which I did.

Noah & Abigail (nephew & neice) with my Grandma and Grandpa Herrema in the background.

The rest of the trip was smooth and enjoyable. I actually like flying and hanging out in airports. I get shit done. I caught up on emails, did some reading, and even applied to be the director of a summer youth program in Cape Town, South Africa. At every opportunity I volunteered to get bumped. It happened once. I was rerouted through Atlanta, got in to Grand Rapids an hour later, and netted a $400 travel voucher (and 7 bucks for lunch).

Me with the Grandparents

I don’t remember the last time I spent Christmas with family. I’ve been out of the country for each of the past three holiday seasons. I’m really glad to be back here (for a week). I’m blessed to have three living grandparents, in their mid and upper 80s. All are sharp and active. Grandma Guikema is on fire. We hung out on Christmas Eve after she worked a full day at the jewelry store. She was overflowing with energy, and when my dad gave her a Christmas present of a certificate for a glider ride, she smiled widely and in her sweet Midwestern accent said, “Heck, that’s right up my alley!”

I've posted a file of Christmas pictures at my photo site. They start with the bash I had at my apartment on the 16th... then on to the wild and crazy 11th annual Skeeter's ornament exchange party... and then on to reams of family photos.

2:30 AM with sisters Amanda and Staci at Yesterdog!


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