So I’m sitting here in the Atlanta Braves press box as I type, getting paid to watch a ballgame. Soft breeze coming in from right. Braves and the Orioles in the top of the second; Slammin’ Sammy Sosa at the plate. I am deep, deep in the midst of one of those hellish pre-vacation deadline sprints that wears me out so badly it takes two days of vacation just to decompress from getting ready for vacation.

It’s been a strange few days. Just this morning, all four of us were up pre-dawn to get daughter Riley down to the countywide swim meet at Georgia Tech’s swimming facility. Built for the ’96 Olympics, it’s a hell of a fine athletic center, and damn, son, was I proud to see my little girl swimming there. Of course, she didn’t exactly set the water on fire, but she didn’t embarrass herself either. Placed fourth in freestyle–first place was only half a second ahead of her, dammit–and fifth in backstroke, half a length behind the leaders. Picture to come soon.

But that’s not the big event of recent days. Annie and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and brother, we did it up in style, up in Cape Cod. Annie had a deposition to conduct in Hyannis on Thursday afternoon, so I jumped a plane up to Boston and drove down to The Cape. It was a mad rush getting out of town–I cranked out a first-person piece on stay-at-home dads for Atlanta magazine, a feature on the new Hoop Dreams DVD for the Chicago Sports review, a proposal for a revamping of my environmental newsletter, and a spec snippet of an article that is so damn cool I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it yet. Suffice it to say–I’ll be watching more Tom Cruise movies than any man should over the next couple of days, but if this article–for a BIG publication–comes through, it will be absolutely worth it.

Anyway. Logan Airport is quite possibly the worst major transportation hub I’ve ever seen in my life. Dump on plasticine Atlanta all you like, but man, at least there’s some kind of organization to the monstrous airport. You know your ABCs, you can find your way around Hartsfield-Jackson. Logan is a rat’s nest of tunnels, fire doors, and horribly overpriced Hudson News stands. Thursday evening, I navigated the spaghetti-strand configuration to locate my rental car–picked up a Chrysler Sebring convertible–and split the city of Boston cranking the new White Stripes to ear-bleeding volumes.

Annie was staying at the lovely Inn at Cape Cod, and she got all woogly when I showed up shaven, dudded up all purty, and driving a fancy-dan convertible. We dined at the astonishingly good restaurant Abbici (our table was the one in the second picture, front left); I had a Kobe beef steak so good I swear I might kill to get another one. We went back to the room and while Annie was doing whatever women do for so long in the bathroom, I watched the tail end of the Spurs’ Game 7 win. (Sorry, hon, but it WAS Game 7.)

The next day, our actual tenth anniversary, we forgot we were parents and cruised around Cape Cod, top down, a little Lyle Lovett on the radio. We wandered the streets of Chatham and walked out on the so-called beach. Northerners have no clue what a REAL beach is–since the water’s somewhere around sixty degrees, these folks may as well be laying out a towel in a dirty parking lot.

Out on the sands, far from everything and everyone we knew, I did what I’d done twelve-plus years ago–got down on one knee and proposed again. And this time, I made sure to ask only for a ten-year option, but Annie declined to let me out that easily. Arm in arm, we walked back into Chatham, had a damn fine lunch at local institution The Squire, then began the drive back to Boston.

Not much else to tell after that, except we got back home, the kids were gacked to see us, and Annie presented me with my gift–a first Book-of-the-Month-Club edition of The Catcher in the Rye that looks a lot like this book right here. It’s a gorgeous artifact–I’ll go into detail more about this some other time, but Catcher is hands-down my favorite book ever. Yes, I know that’s like saying the Beatles is your favorite band, but this is the book that convinced me I could be a writer. Hell, I reread the opening lines and realized Salinger ought to sue my ass for grand theft literary style.

So that’s where we are now (and in the game, we’re now in the bottom of the third, still no score). Wednesday we leave for Destin, Florida, but before that I’ve got half a dozen articles and projects to get out the door, including the super-secret-I’ll-tell-you-if-you-ask one. Coming Tuesday, it’s another GONE YARD, this one detailing the All-Star picks my daughter and son make. Should be fun. See you then.


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