A short trip to Atlanta last week turned out a lot different than expected.
Beckett and I were to have a little getaway to start his holiday break. Since we share a love for sports, we decided to take a quick flight to see a professional basketball game. We opted to head south to eliminate weather concerns, though he tried to convince me a trip to California to see Steph Curry play would be best.
We compromised on the Atlanta Hawks and another of his favorite players, Trae Young. As luck would have it, as we were eating lunch in the airport awaiting our flight, he saw an alert come through my phone from ESPN that Young had tested positive and would miss the game.
By the time the plane landed, the game was postponed because many other players in the game either tested positive or were to quarantine as close contacts. Several other games were cancelled as well across the country.
Confirmation the game was canceled came shortly after we landed. I waited until we were off the plane to tell him, and asked Pam – who was home with Carson — to do some quick research on some fun things on a Sunday night in Atlanta since the game was scratched. I was hoping to be able to tell the kid the game has been canceled but we are going to do this or that. Time to make lemonade out of lemons for sure.
As we were talking through the airport, I decided I would just tell him. He was disappointed, but I was proud of how he handled it for the most part. He really wanted to see a professional game and got busy searching on his phone for other games within driving distance. He was striking out. I had just done the same thing, so I knew how frustrating it was for him.
His disappointment quickly transitioned into a fixation on what we could do. I assured him we would find fun, but let’s first get to the hotel and drop off our stuff. Once we got to the hotel, I was beginning to wonder if this trip was doomed. Next door was the College Football Hall of Fame – which we would have loved to tour and have our 40-yard dash runs timed – but it closed just as we arrived. Our hotel hosted a highly acclaimed magic and comedy show most nights of the week with our day there being one of the dark days. For a few minutes, I thought we had lined up a tour of the nearby NFL Falcons stadium but that too turned out to not work out.
We decided were just going to explore the city. We found a huge arcade complex with a lot of televisions showing the Ravens game. Things were starting to look up.
Because he has never met a stranger, he quickly started hanging out with some other kids his age. These new friends told him about a trampoline park about 20 miles away he had to check out. After a quick web search, I agreed it was incredible so off we went in an Uber to nearby Macon, Ga. at 7 p.m. on a Sunday. It was one of those moments when I just reminded myself it’s an adventure and all about the teenager at this point. I made a deal with him – 90 minutes and then we go get a nice dinner.
The trampoline park turned out to be a wise choice. He played basketball the entire time on a cool surface that propelled him in the air enough to dunk on a hoop. It was fun to watch him play several games. After his time was up, he was exhausted. He was so tired he didn’t notice I ordered him bison sliders for dinner. I didn’t tell him until the next day he can now say he likes bison meat.
On the walk back to the hotel, the realities of city life were not lost on him. There were dozens of homeless people sleeping along the fence to Centennial Olympic Park, which was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics games. Though he has seen homeless people before, it always hits hard as a real eye opener. He’s baffled by how people become homeless.
We had some time the next morning before we were to fly home. We were in Starbucks right after they opened in the morning. It appears to be a morning ritual for the place to allow the homeless in the area to come in, get a free cup of coffee and warm up for a few minutes. It was something to behold, and I am glad Beckett got to see the best of humanity on display.
A little while later, we were walking to check out a nearby store and Beckett gave half of his cookie to a homeless guy. When I asked what the guy said, he said, “oh snap, thank you man” and gave him a huge smile.
Another memory from an imperfect trip was a random run-in at the airport. Since people nowadays use chairs for their luggage to ensure social distance, we were sitting on the floor at our gate when a black man joined us. When it was time to board, Beckett offered to help the man up because it was obvious he was sore. A conversation ensued, and Beckett quickly learned the man was Ginuwine, a well-known R&B entertainer. Neither one of us recognized him at first until he said his name. We quickly grabbed a picture before boarding.
It was certainly an adventure, one not as expected, but nonetheless involved creating new memories together.