The Boy in the Square

Stories in the Making

One of the things I enjoy is people watching. I’m pretty sure most writers agree that a story can be found whenever we sit and watch.

It takes a little practice and a cautious style. The moment people realize you are watching the magic is gone.

So there I was hanging out in the Vienna square. Our tour guide gave us a couple of hours to explore and we were taking every advantage we could.

It was nearing the noon hour on a busy summer day. The sky was blue, the wind was warm and people of all ages were passing by.

 

Vienna Town Square

 

And there he was

He was a teenage boy. Maybe 16, maybe older. One thing was certain: He wasn’t a tourist.

He had the look of a local. He also had another look: He was on his phone with someone special.

The excitement in his eyes and the honesty in his smile caught my eye. I could hear his conversation but I couldn’t understand his words. But our language barrier didn’t matter. I recognized that tone. I too use to be a teenage boy.

 

The Suspense is Terrible. I Hope it Lasts.

To my luck he didn’t walk away when his conversation ended. I watched in anticipation as he took a deep breath and attempted to straighten his hair.

He wore a colorful button down shirt. I wanted to advise him to unbutton the top two. Three if he was daring. It was all I could do to sit still.

Without warning a familiar voice caught his attention. I followed his eyes to the end of the square. His hand quickly moved away from his hair. His shoulders stiffened, his fingers clenched.

 

And there she was

Something in his eyes told me it was too soon. He was supposed to have more time. He wasn’t ready.

His smile broadened, his dimples ran deep. I watched as they met halfway. She made the first move by placing her arms around his neck. His hands lay still. A moment of confusion, I guessed, but I knew in time he’d figure it out.

She kissed him on the cheek and spoke a few words. I had a feeling this was one of the greatest moments of his life.

 I watched as they slowly disappeared into the crowd. Were they friends? Were they more? Or was this simply a great day?

I smiled and continued on my way. Not everything requires an answer, I said.

Getting lost in Vienna is as great as it sounds

Vienna 1

We were just a little worn out

When we arrived in Amsterdam I’m not sure the word ‘tired’ best describes the true state we were in.

Our bodies didn’t do all that much and the only true exercise I experienced were my adventures to the bathroom. If you’re confused please see previous post.

After a couple of hours in the Amsterdam airport we hoped a short ride to Vienna. Yes, it was as cool as it sounds.

After some minor confusion with luggage, security and me agreeing to something I shouldn’t have – Long story for another post – we met our group and tour guide.

 

Why are you in that thing?

Our tour guide was supposed to know all about me and my current state of affairs. Bad knee in case you’re wondering. With one look at the wheelchair a tiny panic crossed his face. After a brief explanation that the wheelchair was nothing more than a cool set of legs we headed for our bus and our first day of adventure.

We were introduced to our bus driver and our bus. Our tour guide, Stefan, explained how these two things would be part of our lives in the coming weeks.

He wasn’t joking.

I’m pretty sure most of us would have been happy to escape to our hotel room for a nice 9 hour nap but Vienna was calling. Not to mention we were on a schedule and when you’re on a tour a silly thing such as ‘dead tired’ must wait.

 

Stubborn is a silly middle name

We were to meet in an area where a Cathedral and shops await. From there we were to have dinner, get to know each other and slowly make our way back to the bus.

I made the first mistake by struggling up a flight of stairs. Stubborn in my way of showing I wasn’t completely helpless, our tour guide suggested we take an alternate route when I reached the top.

In a blink of an eye the group was gone, leaving the wife and I all alone in Vienna.

How cool is that!?

 

It all sort of blended in

Vienna 8

When you’re new to a big city everything looks the same.

We turned left, we turned right, we crawled into a gutters….not really….finally, realization hit.

We were lost in Vienna!!!!!!

For two hours we searched. Our tour group, along with our kids, vanished into thin air. Were we upset? Not really. Were we worried? No. Our girls were safe. But we were probably causing a few wrinkles with our new group and this was only day one.

 

A solo adventure

I wheeled over cobblestones. I listened in on the local language. I smiled as an elderly couple walked hand in hand and I laughed as a little girl played tag with her sister.

It was a warm summer night a half a world away. I was far from my home but the world was the same.

With the help of a waiter and a passerby we slowly found the street our tour had earlier taken.

The Cathedral was amazing. The square was beautiful and as luck would have it, our tour guide suddenly appeared.

We were no longer lost in Vienna but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

Vienna 10

A 10 hour flight is a strange place to be

Jet Lag

I’m a firm believer in breaks. Work three hours, take a 15 minute break. Work five hours, go to lunch. I’m sure you’ll agree breaks are good for the body and mind. But for reasons unknown I could not convince the pilot to do the same. Not that I actually had a chance. But if I did I would have kindly suggested we break this ridiculous lengthy flight in two.

 

The day started off so fine

Our flight schedule was as follows: Hop on a plane in Eugene, Oregon for a nice 2 hour, 50 minute flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. It was nice. It was pleasant. Refreshing comes to mind.

Unfortunately the following flight was a one shot – non-stop flight to Amsterdam.

Yes. The Netherlands.

 

I tried to entertain myself…..really I did.

The mind can do strange things when the airplane seat refuses to recline and the mind refuse to sleep.

Allow me to explain:

  • If I would have brought my own bed my sleep issue would not have existed. Sadly there are rules against this.
  • I had no idea there was an endless supply of movies. I also had no idea these particular movies would place me into a hypnotic state I had only seen in county fairs. Not that I mind.
  • Thinking sleep was near, damn you hypnotic state, I turned off the movie for a nice five hour nap. Within seconds the mind snapped out of it. Nature has an interesting sense of humor, doesn’t it.

 

Bathroom Breaks and Comedy Acts

plane 2

As most of you know I traveled to Europe with the help of Mr. Wheelchair. I love the window seat but attempting to climb over two people was probably a bad idea. My ticket was for the aisle with my bad knee away from the passengers.

Smart move, I remember saying.

With the bathroom break occurring somewhere near or over the Atlantic, I immediately realized it may not be as easy as I thought. On the other hand a Marx Brother’s comedy routine had strong possibilities.

I could never figure out how to raise the arm rest. Being a typical guy who hates to ask I convinced myself it was broken. I swung the bad knee over the arm rest, really bad idea, and grabbed hold of the seat in front, another really bad idea. I quietly apologized to the person in front for pulling out of chunk of her hair.

FYI: Her roots were dark, her hair platinum blonde.

I stood in the aisle and waited for the bad knee to unlock and loosen. I appeared motionless pretending nothing was wrong but standing motionless in the aisle of a plane in this day and age is a bad idea. I immediately grabbed hold of the seats in front of me and took a step.

Once I reached the bathroom I realized there was a double line. I quickly learned the aggressive one wins out. I remember having flashbacks to those videos of black Fridays.

 

Snack time became the greatest moment in my life

It was hour seven, maybe eight when we were handed these little slushy drinks. Mine was orange and in that moment I became the world’s greatest slushy drinker.

I could feel the lovely sugar running through my veins and just as I began to beg for more another round of snacks appeared.

This time it was a giant cookie and a cold coke. Moments later a hot disposable towel was placed in our palms. I remember the sensation was something I hadn’t felt since my teenage years.

Yes, I’ll stop talking.

 

Free at last

When we exited the fight and stepped into the real world I have to admit it took some getting used to. The colors were extremely bright, the voices a little loud, but above all I really missed my orange slushy.

I was ready to get this show on the road. Europe was calling and I was ready for the challenge.

Vienna here I come!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Fozzie Bear and a Rare Monday Post

First of all, it is Monday morning. Our internet was down last night and I had hoped to post this last night.

Technology: Love ‘em/hate ‘em.

After a week of catching up on sleep and rediscovering my lost energy I am ready to get back to work. I missed my daily routine and my conversations with all of you. The travel was fun but it’s good to be home.

As you know, I post every Wednesday and Friday but for a little while you will see me every Monday. Sunday night if you live in the western states and Monday if your home is far away from mine.

The reason for the Monday post has a name and his name is Fozzie Bear.

We all grew up with that certain something in our house that seemed to have been around forever. Maybe a painting or a ceramic cow or an old chair. We always saw them but we never knew their history.

In my case it was Fozzie Bear.

He made his first appearance in our home when I was a teenager and didn’t leave until a cold October morning in 1990. Curious as to how he arrived at our doorstep I asked my Grandparent’s daughter – Aunt Betty. Below are her words.

Mom and Dad loved The Muppet Show. Dad’s favorite was Fozzie Bear. Not only did Fozzie make Dad laugh, Dad claimed he once wore a hat like Fozzie.

 One day he told me if he ever saw him in a store he’d buy him. As luck would have it I saw him in a store during the Christmas holiday. It was 1978 when I placed him in Dad’s Christmas sock. To my surprise Fozzie became Dad’s favorite gift. I can still hear his laugh when he pulled Fozzie out of the sock.

 Dad owned a Chevy half-ton truck. It happened to be brown just like Fozzie. The trucks dashboard became Fozzie’s home until Dad died in 1990.

 Every time I see Fozzie I think of my dad. Fozzie will always warm my heart.  

 Two days after my grandfather’s funeral I flew back to college. Sitting in my carry-on was Fozzie.

He traveled in my backpack to all my classes and at night he rested on my desk. He was there when I got married. His homes consisted of tiny apartments, duplexes and finally a house.

He met all of our pets and saw us bring home our daughters. I must say he has seen it all. But there was one thing he hadn’t seen and that was Europe.

In the coming weeks your Monday will begin with a picture of Fozzie in a European town. I’m pretty sure he had fun just like I did but I have a feeling he’s happy to be home.

Have a great week everyone.

 

Fozzie and Bryan

Good to be home

Airplane

 

Hey everyone. It has been a while. 20 days of travel to be exact. I must say I had no idea what the term ‘jet lag’ meant until I opened my eyes Monday morning. Sadly, now I do.

I saw a beautiful part of the world, visited lots of towns and met some of the best people our world could ever offer. I plan on sharing with you all the things I saw and the stories that came from them. I also plan on sharing a whole lot of pictures.

We live in a picture postcard world and I have the proof.

Speaking of postcards, my apologies to those I promise to send. The days were full but the energy was not. No excuse, I agree but I hope the pictures make up for it.

I plan on doing a lot of writing this week with hopes of posting next week. I am still exhausted but hopefully this week the energy will come back. When it does I will share my stories of the shy boy I spotted in Vienna, Fozzie Bear’s adventures, the magic of the Louvre and so much more.

Until then, it is good to be home.

Talk to you soon.

Bryan

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

My friends, we’ll meet again

For some reason I have a Frank Sinatra tune running through my head. I love Frank but sometimes enough is enough.

This is my final post until mid or late July. I think it all comes down to the jet lag when I’ll hook up with you again.

Whenever I return I promise to smother you with pictures and stories and who knows what else. On the other hand if for some reason I lose my pictures, my phone is stolen, I’m kidnapped and living in a South American jungle or I left my notes in the London subway you’ll have to trust my memory.

Gee, something new.

Until we meet again please be safe, be happy, but most of all try to behave yourself. At least give me two out of three……deep sigh.

 

Goodbye Everyone! I miss you already!!!!!!!!

 

Plane