It was Friday night and I was getting myself ready to head to the airport. I was on my way to Anaheim. Met reason for travel was to go see my daughter compete in her National Cheer competition. I was certainly excited to do so. About 24 hours earlier I was working and getting the things done for the week that I would need to complete to make all this happen when I received a phone call from her mother. “What time does your flight land?” Me: I land at 845am and then I will head straight to the convention center. “Oh no! Can you get your flight moved? Aubrey goes on stage at 8:36 am?” Me: Really? Ok. Let me see what I can do? So I went on to Southwest app and learned that the only other available flight was at 9pm the night before. Naturally I made the change and paid the additional fare because there was only one reason I was going. I wanted to see my daughter in her element, doing her thing and I wanted her to know that I was there. The only bummer was what was I going to do about the hours between 11pm Friday and 7 am Saturday. I really did not have the budget to get an additional night stay somewhere and I was having a hard time justifying spending money on 6 hours of rest. In my head I knew it would just workout somehow. In my head I knew that as long as I was in front of that stage smiling and cheering on my baby girl all would be well. A few hours later my phone started ringing and buzzing like crazy. I was working so I was ignoring the phone but it did not stop. SoI quickly took a look and shot a text back, “ten minutes I’ll call you.” After about ten minutes I called Nicole(Aubrey’s mother) back and was like what’s up? She went on to tell me that her mother offered that I crash on the couch bed of her hotel on Friday night. That she would leave a key at the front desk so that I did not have to rest in na coffee shop or be a vagrant in LA. History is history and the past is the past. Nicole’s mother and I used to get along phenomenally but then there was a time that it was not so great. I mean you expect that when there is a divorce. However, I was surprised by the degree all things considered. I know that as parents we protect our children so although I was hurt by the swing I understood it. Fast forward to now and I know that we all get along very well. We know that the kids are the number one priority and they are learning and absorbing our behaviors toward each other. That how we interact makes a huge difference on who they become. I was moderately uncomfortable with the offer but I knew that I needed to accept. So with all that said we planned for my arrival. I also knew this would allow me to help Barbara all morning and make sure that Aubrey was in the right place at the right time. Not that she is not capable but it was 500 teams of cheerleaders, coaches and crazy so we needed all the help we could get.
My flight landed around 10:20pm and I found my way to a cab. I made my way to the hotel and I headed for the room. No key at the front desk. Did I imagine all this? I knocked lightly on the door and waited. Knocked again and again. Exhausted I decided that I would text Nicole and ask but it was 11 and I felt really bad about that. I know her well enough to know that she was probably sleeping very lightly and worried about Aubrey and her mother and everything working out so she quickly responded. She called her mother and I was let in. Barbara had passed out and I expected just before I got there. I quickly made my way to the bed and we slept. In the morning we all got up, got ready and headed over to the venue. It took a while to find the coach and the girls but once we did we went and sat down and took out seats. In 1 hour Aubrey was gonna be performing. The excitement was there and man did she look gorgeous. Barbara, Hailie(Nicole’s Husbands Daughter) and I sat in anticipation. The girls went on and they did pretty well. They have really only been a team for a very short period so all they can do is what they can do. In a year they will be awesome but greatness takes time. I was all smiles and giddy because Aubrey looked like she was having fun. The girls joined us for. while as we sat there. We thought that were had to hang around but then we found out the girls were free to go until practice at 6. Aubrey decided that she wanted to go swimming with her best friend so that left Barbara, Hailie and I to do whatever until 7:45 pm. In my head I was going to go find places to hang out, read, write and do my meditation zen thing. I thought about checking in and swimming and so many other things but I like to also go with the flow. Barbara had been so helpful and spending some time together was another way I could show the kids all is well. We decided to go to breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe. It was pretty good. Barbara would not let me help with the bill. Another chance to swallow my pride and just be grateful that kind people are in my life. From there you could really tell that Hailie wanted to go back to California Adventure and Disneyland. I mean who wouldn’t. I decided I was up for it. The last time that I went to either was 2005 and you guessed it I was with Barbara then lol. It did feel odd that we did not have Aubrey with us but all was well. As soon as we entered into California Adventure Hailie wanted to ride California Screaming. She asked if I would go with her ad I said yes. This was the first time that I had some time to talk to Hailie and get to know her a little. After all she is Aubrey’s sister and they are best buds. It was nice to learn about school and what she wants to do when she grows up, favorite subjects and such. We were in the front of the ride and we had a blast. That ride is pretty cool. When we got off the ride I noticed that Nicole’s brother Nick and his wife were there now. Ok. Nick and I always had gotten along well. We hadn’t really talked much in the last years. Here we go. We left there and went to Midway which happens to be a very competitive fun ride. As the day progressed I learned all the Disneyland tricks from the pros. Fast pass usage, single rider lines and all the sort. We went from ride to ride to ride. Indianan Jones, Midway, California Screaming, Pirates, Cars as we cruised through the Land of happy. We decided to go to Tortilla Joe’s for dinner as we were all getting hungry. As we waited for a table Hailie asked to walk around and I said that I would go with her. We landed in Build a Bear workshop and she decided to build a Beast. I learned that Hailie is extremely polite and has great manners. We ate dinner and this time Nick paid and would not take money. This was another moment of pride swallowing. We went back to California Adventure and hit Soaring before we took off to get Aubrey. Finding her proved to be an adventure. I will spare you the details but the coach was not super good at communicating. I am now added to the master list for updates though. At this point the night was over and we parted ways. I went on to my hotel and we were set to meet in the morning for Aubrey’s final performance.
At the hotel room I settled in, took a shower, ate a little more food made sure that I checked i8n with my coach on nutrition and watched a little TV. I also through in a much needed meditation. I was looking forward to 10 minutes of silence. After the last few days if events I passed out rather quickly. The morning came and I woke up, showered, meditated and then went and got a little of the continental breakfast. Then I left to embark on day 2. I walked to the convention center and we all began to watch the second day of routines. After the girls hit their routine and I gave my daughter some huge hugs we had to play the waiting game. I decided that I wanted to go enjoy the sun so I went outside. Here I was able to do a little reading. I decided that I was getting hungry so I set out to find some food. After walking over three miles I found myself getting food at the very food truck I looked at initially. I got a paella bowl. Shrimp, chicken and saffron rice. It was really good. Then we went in for the awards. The team did all they could but they did not place as high as they would have liked. It was a great experience for all of them and I, as well as the other parents were very proud of their effort. Once the competition was over we took some time to head to downtown Disney. Aubrey, Hailie and I did a little hanging out in downtown Disney. We purchased a few souvenirs for my champion. Barbara really worked hard to get Aubrey to hang out with me for a while but I could tell she just wanted to go into Disneyland. I couldn’t afford another day so I grabbed her, hugged her mightily and said, “Aubrey I am very proud of you. I know that you would love to spend time with me but I also know that Disneyland is magical. Go enjoy Disneyland I will be fine. I am so happy I got to see you perform. I love you and will see you soon.” We hugged and I gave her a kiss and they were gone. As they walked away I found my way to a table to enjoy some more reading and coffee. I hung there for a while and then I walked and explored. I ended ups landed at the bakery for lunch followed by sitting in front of ESPNzone for the Tar Heel game. I was set to meet Nick and Kristen at the gates to cab to the airport together. We had the same flight home so we decided to just go together. At 5:45 we met returned to the Hotel and took the cab over to the airport. We waited for the delayed flight and then boarded to head home. The flight back seemed fast. As we exited thew plane Nick gave me last minute instructions on how to enjoy the discounted parking they had given me and we said our goodbyes. As I walked to the car I reflected on the weekend. I realized that it was 1) not what I expected 2) better than I could have planned 3) more than I asked for 4) another experience to learn from. 5) A reminder that relationships change all the time but if you stay true to who you are and your heart is good the truth always shows itself. It may take years and it may only be a glimpse of what it could be but the truth will reveal itself.
Lastly, I will say this. Do not judge in advance what could be. Go with the flow and allow the experience to dictate the moves. Have an open mind and enjoy. The opportunities for growth are limitless. Also, Love your family with all that you have. It is not about what you can GIVE them materially it is about how you show up. I believe that my daughter felt how much I care for her this last weekend and that is all that matters in my heart.