Monday, July 23, 2007

The Final Countdown

Well, this is just about it. All the kids have headed back East. Jen and I spent the weekend packing, and we are now awash in a sea of boxes. Judge Bye and his wife held a lovely going-away dinner for the law clerks tonight, and very kindly included me and Jen. My last day of work is tomorrow.

Pinky (right), the Daughter Formerly Known as Katie, had a great time in Alexandria with her Auntie L.J. and Uncle Seth, and has now headed to Atlanta for grandparent time for the next couple of weeks. L.J. and Katie obtained permission to add "a few" pink highlights to Katie's hair; this is what she ended up with, which does not look like "a few" to me, but I'm told I'm overreacting. All I can say is, when the day comes and L.J.'s wee daughter Sylvie, my lovely niece, needs a ride to go get a Mohawk, I'll be there for her.

One really, really sure sign the end is near is that we have started to repeat the events calendar. Jen and I went to the Fargo Street Fair over lunch on Thursday, where we once again bought a big honking bag of kettle corn. This was one of the first things we did when we arrived in town last summer. Here Joey and Ellie were then:

And here they are now:

Judging from the pictures, we are returning the kids to Maryland taller, older, happier, more tan, and a little more clean. I expected a year in Fargo would have most of those effects (particularly "older"), but "more tan" does surprise me.

Though we didn't make it to a Red Hawks game, we did get to the rest of our to-do list – celebrating Ellie's birthday and going to Space Aliens – simultaneously on Friday night:

Here's the main Space Aliens dining room:

Space Aliens is probably the single thing the kids will miss most about Fargo; on Tuesdays, kids eat free and get ten tokens apiece to play video games and win tickets to redeem for valuable prizes. The best part is, they'll provide three kids' meals for every adult meal. Well, this wasn't quite as cool as I'd envisioned; when I took the kids there when Jen was out of town, I ended up sitting at the table by myself for long stretches, keeping guard over hats and coats, usually, while the kids played in the game room.

Joey and I were out until 1 Friday night at Fargo's big Harry Potter book-release party at the Barnes & Noble, the last one ever. Joey wrapped up Book 6 with a few days to spare, and was good and ready. We showed up at 9 p.m. and just squeaked in the door; everyone who arrived a little later had to wait outside until 12:30 or so, when the crowd inside had thinned out. The line stretched two blocks long.

It was quite an event. They took Polaroids of the kids, told their fortunes, had little bottles they could fill up with layers of different colors of sand, and read from the sixth book for the last half-hour before the seventh book was released. At the stroke of midnight, the reader nabbed a copy of Book 7 and started in on that.

They also held a costume contest. Here is Joey practicing his Quidditch moves, as he came dressed as Quidditch-playing Harry:

Here he is after winning second place in the 10-and-under group:

Joey worked out exactly what he wanted to do as he presented himself to the crowd, and executed it nicely. He was well-received by judges and spectators alike. He was awfully proud of himself, and I am proud of him, too.

[Reflecting on the event the next day, I realized that it was the first of many times in my life where one of my children would be the expert at what we were doing and I would be the novice. I could point out those dressed as Dumbledore and Harry, and that was about it. Joey knew the full cast of characters cold, and engaged in intelligent conversation about obscure Potter plot points with grownups.]

Since we were in the third group of those who had reserved books (the 501-750 range!), we had to wait for a good while after midnight to purchase our copies. It was a pretty hellaciously big crowd (for midnight at a bookstore):

The Fargo Barnes & Noble sold 1,000 copies that night.

Ellie and Joey groggily kissed Fargo goodbye – Joey on three hours' sleep – around 4 a.m. Saturday, when Jen drove them to the Minneapolis airport. They flew alone with each other to Baltimore, were picked up by my dad, and are safely on the Maryland beaches.

For my part on Saturday morning, I headed east to Detroit Lakes, where Judge Magill swore me in to the Maryland and Eighth Circuit bars (It was just in time; while I was there, he also signed the papers terminating me as his clerk!):

I chose to embrace the lake setting and dressed casually for the occasion. It was a good choice; it was warm and beautiful at the lakes. I will miss the Magills; they have been warm and gracious to us throughout the year. Judge Magill says he'll miss me; he very well may, but I know for sure he'll miss Ellie; they hit it off really well.


Blogger Doc Mara said...

Safe travels.

7:50 PM  

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