A wise friend Kelly suggested I wait to write about son Joe and his wife, Marie’s, visit to the United States until they’d actually touched down upon U.S. soil.
Just in case.
Better safe than you know what.
I’d hate for something I’d written here to jinx my daughter-in-law’s first visit to the U.S.
Joe and Marie married 18 months ago in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Since then, Joe has flown home once to visit. But Marie has never been to the United States.
Not for lack of trying. Marie applied for a U.S. visa, but our government rejected her application (without explanation).
Maybe Uncle Sam feared Marie married Joe just to wriggle into the United States and stay here.
The thing is, Joe and Marie have no desire to live in the states. They love their life in the Czech Republic. But they do want to visit Joe’s country and family sometimes.
Praise be to Skype, and a web cam and email and telephones, we talk to Joe and Marie and even see them frequently.
And although those technologies have been a godsend, there’s nothing like a real visit, complete with hugs and squeezes.
Luckily, George Bush did one good thing signed a bill that waived the visa requirement for Czechs (in exchange for a missile shield defense system in its country, and one in Poland, too).
The deal’s side effect – visa-free travel – became a joyful reality on Nov. 17, when Joe and Marie purchased airline tickets, sans visa.
So my daughter-in-law and youngest son will be here soon. (Right now Joe and Marie are in San Francisco behaving like tourists with friends.)
I confess I’m nervous, not about seeing her, because we met Marie at the wedding in Ostrava.
I’m nervous about her having a good time while she’s here. I’m nervous that her trip will fall short of her expectations and imagination. I want to show her as good a time here as she and her family showed us when we visited the Czech Republic.
While there, Marie was the most dedicated, informed, energetic tour guide as she hauled us around Prague and Ostrava and the small town in which her parents live, and even in Stramberk, the adorable village in which her grandfather lives.
Plus, Marie’s mother prepared a delicious lunch for us one day in our honor, and her entire family pulled out the stops to host the most moving and memorable wedding and reception.
Marie showed us incredible castles and impressive architecture. We ate and drank in charming old pubs (I learned to drink beer on that trip) and heard the most moving music in ancient cathedrals.
Here’s the kicker: Marie’s so well-read about the United States that she might know more about it than your average American. She’s researched it. She’s watched movies about it. That’s how she came up with such specific requests during her stay as the Winchester Mystery House and a meal in a Real American Diner.
And anything else we can think of.
I’m making a list, and checking it twice for authentic, must-see north state places for Marie to see while she’s here.
This is what I’ve got so far:
1. Sundial Bridge
2. Turtle Bay/Arboretum
3. Lassen Peak
4. Mt. Shasta
5. Old Shasta
6. French Gulch (Europeans love old West stuff)
7. Shasta Caverns (are they open in December?)
8. Christmas-light tours
9. Dinner at Maritime (Joe’s former employer)
10. La Cabana (Joe’s favorite Mexican restaurant, where he was a regular)
11. Whiskeytown Falls
12. Downtown Cottonwood (at night, so they can see the lights)
13. Shasta Dam
14. New Clairveaux Winery
15. Crab from Buz’s
What have I missed?
Marie wants to go Christmas shopping one day for Joe. And they’ll take a trip up the coast to see the ocean and the redwoods, and they’ll drive to the Portland area to see Joe’s aunt and uncle. But they’ll return before Christmas, where Marie has requested a traditional American Christmas dinner; the kind she’s read about.
Must go cook something. And make another list.
In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions.
* Joe and Marie, please forgive the Czech pun. It’s my last one, I promise.