Feb 232020
 

We have a little more than a month before we leave for our mini-theme park Euro-trip so I’ve been spending most of my free time scouring the Internet and YouTube to ensure our itinerary is as padded and stacked as possible because I am super high-strung when it comes to DOING THE MOST AHHHHHH WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

Now, I have previously been to several places we will be hitting on this trip, but I was a kid and sadly, unless I pull out the old travel journals, I have very spotty memories of these times which is pathetic because some of these cities I have been to more than once.

For instance, my only memories of Amsterdam:

  • Getting stuck in the elevator of the Pullman? Astoria? hotel we were staying at;
  • My Pappap finding a piece of glass in his dessert at the same hotel’s restaurant (I have a vivid memory of the dessert being a peeled pear, like straight of a can, sitting on top of a chocolate sauce pool);
  • Another time being in Amsterdam as a surly teenager and having a huge fight with my aunt Sharon and writing horrible things about her in my vacation journal, and then going on a tour of a diamond factory and her buying me a diamond ring for my birthday and being all, “Dear diary, I take back everything I said about Sharon; I was just tired and hungry. Oh yeah, and she bought me this cool ring!” And I definitely probably didn’t use a semi-colon though because I’m sure I didn’t know how to use those yet, but I mean, do I really know how to use them now.

And Cologne:

  • Milling about in a courtyard and walking along some slanted brick thing, the kind of things that usually have a tree or flowers in the middle, and I lost my balance and fell, sending my camera skidding across the courtyard, batteries popping out and rolling all over the place, and I skinned my knee too probably, that sounds about right;
  • Another time we were in Cologne and I was like, “OH HAY GUYS REMEMBER??” And then I began to do a mocking reenactment of The Fall and then accidentally fell again and injured myself;
  • I think it was also that last time, I spotted these two people who looked like the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock. The lady was straddling the man on a bench and they were slowly rocking back and forth and I was like look at those people, they look like Fraggle Rock and Sharon was all OMG THEY ARE HAVING SEX and then slapped her hand across my eyes and lead me away.

Brussels was the only city in Belgium that I’ve been to and we’ve opted for Bruges instead on this trip, but either way, my only memory of Brussels is seeing the statue of the peeing boy and fighting with Sharon.

We were honestly the WORST travel partners. I mean, it was ok when my grandparents used to travel with us because I could at least seek refuge and reprieve from Sharon in their room.

Anyway, now it’s hours later and this post inspired me to dig through the treasure trove of photos I took from my Pappap’s house when we were cleaning it out in 2016 and I actually found a photo that Sharon took of me in 1995 standing in front of that dumb thing I fell down when I was 10 and you can tell by my scowl that I loved having my picture taken. And right after this was when i was like HAHA I WAS SO STUPID LOOK AT ME I’M ERIN FROM 1989 NOT KNOWING HOW TO WALK and then I accidentally fell down.

Yeah. You’re welcome.

I also found a picture of this guy I was in love with from one of those trips and I have been wanting to write a travel memories post about him for quite some time now so maybe that will inspire me to do so someday when I feel less lazy.I really got away from my point here which is I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to do so much traveling as a kid and thank God I kept travel journals else I would barely remember anything. For instance, we are going to Frankfurt and I have to actually flip through those ancient tomes* at some point because I am not sure if I have been there before?!?! That’s…pathetic.

*(The best edition is the one where I was going through a phase when I spelled ‘really’ as ‘rilly’ and replaced any ‘s’ at the end of a word with a ‘z’ just BCUZ KAY GUYZ? And every paragraph was in a different color ink. Would you believe me if I told you I’m actually less obnoxious now?)

I tried to get Chooch to start vacation journaling when we took him to Disney in 2016 but he is super not into that at all so I guess at least he has my blog to fall back on. For instance, when we were hate-watching these dumb Australian travel vloggers who were in Savannah. They went to Leopold’s for ice cream and I shouted, “WE WENT TO LEOPOLD’S WHEN WE WERE THERE TOO!” and Chooch was like, “I wonder what flavor I got” and I said “Probably something dumb, here, I’ll check my blog.”

“Yep, as suspected: Probably Something Dumb,” I happily reported back.

I think I veered off track somewhere up there but the whole point of this post is that this is my first time traveling to this region of Europe as an adult and without the shackles of an organized bus tour so we will be in full control of the things we do and I want to make sure we do the right/best/most funnest things and eat all the good foods because unless stroopwafels weren’t a thing yet in the 90s which I find hard to believe, our stupid tour guide never made sure they found a way into our mouths, not a single time I was in Amsterdam, how can that be so!? That is just an example of the things on my Erin Returns: The Redemption Trip.

That’s just a name I thought up on the spot. It’s subject to change, a work in progress. We’ll see where it goes.

That’s all for today. I’m revisiting Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution program and today I started Workout 5 and still feel slightly nauseous from that so I think I might go and dry heave into a waste basket and then put myself to bed early WHO CAN BE SURE.

(Do I have a waste basket though? Is it just a garbage can?)

Mar 162010
 

trafalgar

I know this might be hard to believe, but before Henry, there was another old man on the receiving end of my affections.

It was the summer of 1996 and I was on a Trafalgar tour of Italy with my aunt Sharon. She was the worst traveling companion because she always had to be the center of attention and would get snotty anytime someone on the tour had the gall to speak to me. Mostly, she would answer questions for me, which would make me rampant with teenage temper-flares and pout sessions. But on this trip, which would end up being our last trip together since I was soon  to become a disgrace to the family (i.e. a high school drop out), I decided to branch out on my own.

In previous years, my grandparents used to come with us and after day two, I’d be clinging to my Pappap, scowling when I would have to sit next to Sharon on the tour bus. When Sharon and I started to take these trips without them, it was hell for me. I would spend a lot of time crying on the bus because she was just so mean to me sometimes, and would put me down in front of the other travelers. She’d go off and make new friends with the other adults while I would have to be content with being the silent tag-a-long. And the thing with Sharon is that she lived for flaunting the fact that she was a “seasoned pro” at these European vacations, and would butt into people’s conversations to tell them where to get the best pasta in Rome or the best leather deals in Florence. And she would do this thing, whenever the tour guide would share something that Sharon was already planning on including in her own tour book, she would close her eyes and nod her head knowingly, making her stupid fucking chandelier earrings tinkle with pretentiousness.

Oh my god, this is making me hate Sharon so bad.

My grandma’s brother Eddie and sister Donna were also on this particular trip with their respective spouses, which was awesome because I never really got to spend much time with them since my grandma got all weird a few years earlier about, oh I don’t know, having familial relations.  The four of them had already booked the trip when Sharon found out and decided it would be fun to surprise them. It was great for me to have them along because it allowed me to have allies in the very certain case that Sharon would try and ostracize me as usual.

Since I was 17 this time around, I was a little more secure in myself, had less complacency when it came to Sharon running the show. So I branched out. (I had tried this, mostly without success, on the trip prior to this one. Sharon caused a few scenes, but that’s another chapter involving a guy named Udo from Austria.) While she would be taking naps in the room, I’d wander down to the lobby in hopes of stumbling into some other people from our tour.  In Lugano, I ran into Anahit, an Armenian lady from our group who Sharon hated. Probably because she was wild, extremely well-preserved for her age, and loved to drink the vino in excess every night at dinner. Since she was a single traveler, she was paired up with another single, Jackie. Jackie was in her 50s, wore fanny packs, and bore an uncanny resemblance to Nathan Lane. Sharon didn’t think very highly of Jackie either (“She gets on my fucking nerves” is what she’d hiss every time Jackie would breeze past us to her seat on the bus),

Our evening stroll took us down to Lake Como, where vendors were in abundance and the atmosphere was pregnant with romance and drunk laughter. I know, writing those words is extremely cheesy and out-of-character for me; but the truth is that I remember it so vividly, wishing I was older and there with a man. Not my mom’s possessive older sister and busful of retirees.

While there, we ran into more people from our tour, one of whom was Stefan—a very handsome Australian with well-coiffed prematurely white hair. He was there with his two (less attractive) friends, David and Ted, who were absent from this lovely nighttime stroll. It was the first time on the trip that I had really been around him, and we wound up walking back to the hotel together, as everyone else had found themselves paired up. I was in a panic. What could I possibly say to this older man that wouldn’t make him think (nay, believe) that I was just an immature kid. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I’m sure at some point I said, “OMG I play tennis and love rap music! My bedroom has purple carpet!”

From that moment on, I had big plans for Stefan. I only wore my tightest shirts for the rest of the trip. During walking tours, I would try to weasel my way near him, find some excuse to talk to him. Stupid shit like, “Look what I bought today!” and the chance of it being something that didn’t reflect my age was about 1 in 1,000,000.

If you were to read my vacation journal, you would notice a suspicious lack of Stefan entries. This is mostly because that journal was passed around between Sharon and my aunts and uncles every day on the bus, wherein they would laugh at my exaggerations, which to me were fairly accurate depictions of my surroundings and the subsequent events of the trip. (Events like: “August 15th, Milan: Sharon pointed out a zit on my chin in front of a group of people from our tour; I found a seat in the back of the bus and cried.”) The thing with my family, any family really, is the moment they catch a whiff of some blossoming crush, you better go out and buy the biggest Lady Gaga-approved hat to die beneath. However, my journal does learn me that at dinner that night, my Uncle Eddie withdrew a stack of Steelers trading cards from his shirt pocket and tried to exchange them with the waiter for bigger portions.

Near the very end of the vacation, we were on a day trip in Siena, during which Sharon and I had one of our signature rows. I used this as an excuse to ditch her and I sought out Stefan, who was with David and Ted. In my very dramatic nature, I filled them in on the horrors that is traveling with Sharon, told them how she was always trying to keep me down when all I wanted to do was make friends with everyone on the tour. I remember, all these years later, that I was wearing a sheer white tank, under which the slightest hint of my bra could be detected. I hoped Stefan would notice.

(I hadn’t yet learned the definition of “tacky.”)

(Or “SLUTTY,” apparently. Don’t worry—Henry is a ticketing slut patrolman; he makes sure I don’t leave the house with my vagina hanging out nowaways.)

Stefan and his friends took great delight in hearing my woes of Sharon and suggested that I fight her. We all laughed at this and I thought it was so amazing that I was just a kid, sharing an inside joke with these three men. Later, on the bus, Stefan made his way back to where Sharon and I were sitting to see if we were fighting yet. I laughed at this, probably with more gusto than it warranted, just to make Sharon question what was going on.

“Nothing,” I said, when I was able to talk again. “Just an inside joke.” My ego practically did a pole dance, it was so turned on to see Sharon feeling left out.

Later, on the bus, my Aunt Donna asked in her I’m-Going-Yell-Since-I’m-On-A-Submarine voice, “What’s that Australian’s name who had a birthday?”

“Ted,” I answered.

“Ken?”

“No, Ted.”

“Ten?!”

Sharon, unable to take anymore of this, hissed, “TED.”

“Oh!” Aunt Donna exclaimed. “Theodore! Now what about that handsome one up there with the white hair? That’s the one I like.”

Knowing the shade of my face was quickly on its way to matching the heat of a rolling boil, I mumbled, “Stefan.”

Loudly, real loud, she said, “Oh, STEFAN! I like the name, too!”

Meanwhile, Ted and David were sitting diagonally from us and were probably asking each other, “Why the fuck are these Yankee broads throwing our names around?”

This is why I never wanted anyone to know I was practically drawing up blueprints to find a way inside Stefan’s suitcase so I could go home with him and live a glorious life in Brisbane as his American concubine. Their mouths, they are loud. Every night at dinner, my Uncle Eddie would get all Heidi Fleiss and try to pawn me off on any waiter he deemed cute enough. This would send the rest of them into giddy histrionics, making them shout things like, “Oh, Erin, he’s a cute one! Look at his butt!” and drawing everyone’s attention to the young blond girl with the lobster-hued cheeks who was just trying to enjoy her caprese salad in peace.

The last day of the trip, everyone congregated in the lobby of the hotel in Rome, crying and hugging, promising to keep in touch. (No one ever does.) Some of the people had later flights, like Stefan, and didn’t make it down in time to say goodbye.

But Stefan did. He found me in the lobby, waiting for the airport shuttle, and came over to hug me goodbye. The tears were on their marks, getting ready and set to go, but I postponed the race in favor of allowing my hormones to throw a party against my pelvis because oh my GOD, I was in the arms of an older man.

I left Italy positive that I was in love with him.

***

When I found this photo, I was quick to point out to Henry that he wasn’t my first old man crush, and then proceeded to tell him all about Stefan.

“I think Sharon must have liked him too, because any time Stefan and I were together, Sharon would rush over with a reason to pull me away,” I said angrily, holding the picture of him adoringly.

“Or! Maybe she was pulling you away because you were only seventeen?” Henry hypothesized in that tone he uses when he thinks I’m stupid and that he knows everything.

“Oh, yeah. Or that.”

Jul 252009
 

vacation3vacation4vacation5vacation6OK, so this was Alisha’s next pick, specifically because she wants everyone to know that I was obsessed with some guy eating a sandwich, which I have video of too, but not the capability to upload OH NOES FOR YOU. I still don’t know why she wanted all of these pages for something that was only like, five sentences. (I originally said 3 and then went back and counted because I am not a good guesser, apparently.)

Anyway, this was my trip to Australia to see the Cure, and for some reason, it took three people to send me off and I annoyed the shit out of them the whole time, because this was pre-9/11, when people were actually allowed to be in the boarding areas. Also, when I wrote *swoon* up in there, that was completely insincere because I’m pretty sure Jeff and I did not get along the entire time he was at the airport with me.

I just finally got my food. It was a vegetable wrap. It was delicious. IF THIS WAS OPPOSITE DAY, WHUT WHUT.

Jul 252009
 

So Alisha would feel like she’s contributing, I dumped a stack of old vacation journals in her lap and gave her the amazing privilege of picking excerpts for me to share with the Internet. It took all of five minutes for her to very sinsiterly say, “Oh, I choose THIS ONE.”

She likes it because I write “sike,” “dag,” “duh” and reference my walkman all in two pages. I WAS SIXTEEN. I also do not have that fucking AWESOMELY ARTISTIC and FEMININE handwriting anymore. But I still have the same supremely accurate page-numbering skillz0rz.

Also, Sharon = my crazy aunt.

vacation1

vacation2

In other news, Henry and Chooch are out “galavanting” for the day (I probably thought I was so cool for using that word, too, btw). I don’t know what they’re doing or where they’re at, but I do know that if I sat here in the same room as Chooch any longer, getting hit with toys while my fingertips are busy bleeding onto the keyboard for CHARITY, I’d probably be back to a childless woman by say, 5pm. Once they come back, I can start fulfilling everyone’s Henry-centric photographical wishes.

P.S. Haha, “rilly.”