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A Return to Reality

The last 24 hours have been about reacclimating to life off the ship, which means coming to grips with a world where we aren’t akin to Lord and Lady Crowley of Downton Abbey. A few days ago, I might have been gently chided by our assistant waiter for attempting to refill my water glass from the carafe that sat on our table in the main dining room.

The staff of the ship constantly remind passengers that they are all there to serve you. As passengers, we are required to do nothing more than strenuous that choosing between the crème brulee and the salted caramel cheesecake for dessert, and if that chore is too difficult, then we are encouraged to order both.

Fortunately, the real world we live in is the great state of Texas and it didn’t take us long to dive right back into its culture, as our first stop after leaving Galveston was the Buc-cees in Texas City.

I can’t help but admire a place that advertises their “world famous restrooms” and where you can buy jars of pickled jalapenos labeled “Mexican Strawberries”, cast iron skillets, jerky made from a dozen animals, as well as home décor and a full line of Beaver accented clothing.

Walk into one of the giant Buc-cees at any hour of the day and you’ll likely find it packed with travelers moving purposefully in all directions. It never fails to amaze me the crowds these stores attract. Each location is like an Ellis Island packed with huddled masses of people yearning to relieve themselves, get a bag of kolaches, some brake fluid and a tie-dyed shirt.

After a quick stop for lunch at Whataburger, another Texas institution, we made it home. Dragging our bags in from the car, our royal aura seemed to be history. We were just the Redings again, a couple that lived a simple life in a small house in Friendswood, but that assessment proved to be a hasty one.

A few hours later our little Henry came over, and we heard about all the times he had asked about us and wanted to come see us over the past week. Over the course of the evening we ate pizza, played games, and chased each other around the house. Each round of the chase began with Henry taunting “You can’t catch me” and each ended with Henry’s squeal of joy and a loving embrace for being caught.

It was a night that reminded us that we weren’t just Becky and Allen, two regular, ordinary people. We were Henry’s Nana and Grandpa, and to him, we’re about the biggest VIPs he could imagine.