I’m lousy at postcards.
I intend to write one, per day, each time I take a trip, first thing in the morning, before a healthy run and just-as-healthy breakfast. Sentimental words from a sentimental guy in paradise.
It never happens. (The cards, or the just-as-healthy breakfast, at least.).
Any postcards bought rattle around in my suitcase until I get home, where I hand them to the kids and say, “hey. These are for you.” Thanks dad.
This year, I went straight for the big stuff – and by big stuff, I mean Mexican blankets I had to buy a Mexican duffle bag to smuggle out of Mexico because I had no room in my American luggage.
But, I’ll jot a few thoughts and observations on the weekend here for you instead.
This should eliminate a need to babble on about Mexico in comment responses for the next 17 days on Coach Daddy.
Mexico’s nice, but it’s not Jennifer Lawrence or pizza.
Take these Caribbean splashed, and guacamole stained messages I’d have sent you if I’d bothered to write them with my hand and post them so they arrived a few days after my plane touched down in Charlotte.
1. Rollin’ down the river
The coolest flight sight had to be the enormous and majestic river our plane flew over for many miles.
The gargantuan river widened and narrowed until it spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. If that wasn’t the Mississippi, I don’t want to know what it is.*
*-Upon further review, it was the Alabama River I saw from the air. This discovery doesn’t make the river any less impressive, but it definitely take the romance out of the whole story for me. It’s like a dream of slow-dancing to Paul Anka with Melissa Joan Hart and opening your eyes to discover it’s actually Dr. Phil.
3. Eating in Mexico – I did it wrong
Twice – T.W.I.C.E. – I stood in line for a hamburger.
Hamburgesa. Con queso.
In Mexico, land of my people’s food, a grown man with vague Aztec looks waited behind Americans and Europeans and answered the question – “you wanna the cheese?” (only cheese was pronounced chis). TWICE.
4. Know your lizards
Do you know the difference between an iguana and a Gila monster? How about a kimono dragon?
Quick. Without Google.
So I crossed passed on a morning walk with a big-ass lizard, I hit the brakes. He did too, in that awkward, legs splayed backward way a big lizard has about him. He did the iguana/Gila monster head bob, like a low-rider who has spotted a fine mamacita at a traffic stop.
So I crept closer.
Then I remembered how uninformed I am about lizard identification. Ignorant, really.
Gila monsters don’t live in balmy Playa del Carmen. I’m positive kimono dragons are Asian. But certainty being elusive in the moment, I retreated as the lizard shifted toward me into a combat maneuver.
5. Rosetta stone, mi burro!
I practiced my Spanish extensively.
When the kid who looked like a dancer for Menudo asked where the bathroom was, I steered him in the right direction. I think. Or, I told him I like apples.
My Spanish is muy malo. I hope he can hold it.
My heritage helped to bargain for goods. I think my nose shape indicates Mayan royalty. Anyway, I was able to negotiate $80 worth of Mexican blankets to $75, and, with so little effort, paid $20 for a sarape in Indianapolis Colts colors listed at $35.
I imparted my cultural knowledge on a colleague, a nice Kentucky kid who didn’t know the name for sarape (I think he called it a drug rug, or something).
He bargained for himself, am ambitious boy with his UK ball cap and sunburned face. When we met again, he grinned like a tourist on tequila. He wore the sarape and carried a new blanket, too.
“You got one!” I said. I’m like NAFTA.
“Yeah man,” said Kentucky boy. “I didn’t even have to say ‘sarape.’ And I got them both for $30!”
That’s … carry the one … $15 each. And $10 less altogether.
Gringo 1, Coconut 0.
6. The greatest gift – zero pesos, zero dolares Americano
In our annual company meeting, we had a session with esteemed advisor Shannon McFayden. The crowd waiting for Meet for Coffee requests on her Outlook calendar makes the Apple store look like a record store.
Her insight and experience make her the go-to for advice in our company, from the top to, well, me.
Amid the advice she gave on company matters and personal assessments, she stressed the importance of our kids’ discovery of their own inherent gifts, and parents’ role to help them find them.
I did not miss this opportunity to ask.
“I’m a dad to three girls,” I stood up and asked. “What can I, as a guy, possibly do to help them find their gifts?”
Shannon first told me something funny and true to tell my girls they have beautiful eyes. Every day.
“That’s the most common pickup line in the world,” she said. “By the time she’s old enough and boys try it on her, she’ll say, ‘oh, I know that already. My dad tells me all the time!’”
She also said something I want to share and will remember every day.
She said to make sure your daughters know you love them unconditionally. Wherever they go to college, and even if they don’t. No matter what choices they make. Or mistakes. If they marry a boy, a girl, or not at all.
We can’t assume that unconditional love is unconditionally understood.
My love for my girls is definitely unconditional – but they need to hear that.
I will tell them. Not to give them a free excuse card, but to alleviate the pressure of becoming what they’re not. To reiterate that no matter what life path they find themselves on, the love their parents have for them will not change.
Even if they invade an iguana’s personal space in a sarape they overpaid for.
And if they line up for burgers in Mexico one day?
I’ll be right behind them. With my own plate.