Sometimes I let years and years go by before I realize something I have never considered about my family. For instance, Brandi's oldest, Jaycee, was born in 2009, and it was probably five years before I realized that her very existence meant I was a "great-uncle." And not only that, but I had been for five years!
I had a slightly similar experience thinking about Shobhit's brother this morning, when I realized all this time I had only been thinking of him as -- and referring to him as -- Shobhit's brother. But, Shobhit and I are married and have been for six years. That quite literally makes Puneet my brother-in-law. Duh.
That led me to think about something else this morning I had never before thought about in my life. How many brothers- and sisters-in law do I have right now, anyway? Well, let's see . . . Christopher is recently divorced; Angel has been divorced for 25 years; Gina has been married to Beth since 2016. Shobhit, my husband, has two siblings. So, at the present time, I have two sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law. That's three!
Gina was also married once before, to David's dad, Dave. They were married from like 1990 to 1991, quite briefly. They were the first divorced couple I ever saw remain friendly and part on amicable terms. Still, it counts. I've had three other siblings-in-law in the past. So over time, I've had a total of six of them, between four past or current spouses of my siblings, and then two siblings of my own spouse.
Anyway. Puneet flies out today, so I said goodbye to him when I left for work this morning. He had been on his phone, so at first I just tried waving goodbye to him. But I guess he was just hanging up, and he came to shake my hand and we both said it was nice to meet each other. It was actually rather sweet, how he said "Thank you for everything" literally three different times before I was out the door. He even said, "We'll keep in touch." I mean, I guess -- that depends on a lot, and certain things that are in no way personal are kind of working against that, the biggest being Puneet's almost striking lack of sentimentalism. That guy literally takes no pictures of anything, ever. I wonder if he has ever even taken any photos of his children? I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't. He did take one picture at the Space Needle last night. It was because another family group asked him to take a photo of them.
And then of course, there is the fact that Puneet never posts anything on Facebook ever, and is pretty much exclusively a lurker; as mentioned earlier this week, the only things in his feed are when people post something of their own and tag him. For instance, this photo from June 30 of last year, of his speaking at some event at Meerut Institute of Engineering & Technology (MIET), where he works as Vice Chair. As he explained it to me while we waited for the bus to Seattle Center yesterday evening, that makes him basically the second in command at this chain of three higher education schools. (The one guy above him? His father-in-law. I cannot fathom having anyone in my own family as my boss, let alone an in-law.) Yesterday I got online and found MIET's website, and, holy shit. They need to hire a better web designer. Talk about sensory overload.
Getting back to the point: God knows when I will see or even speak to this guy again. The only reason he was even in Seattle was for this education conference, after all. Maybe one day in the completely indeterminate future when I finally visit India, I suppose. It is comforting, I must admit, to feel that once that does not happen, I will not be met with any kind of hostility, and in all likelihood, quite the opposite.
He asked me this morning if I was going to be walking to work, and I said no, I'd be biking. I completely forgot to ask him about riding bikes, which I had thought about yesterday and then forgot. I wonder if he or their sister has ever ridden a bike? Shobhit never learned how to ride one growing up, and to this day has trouble with balance. He did learn to ride once, thanks to Sherri during a weekend with Nikki visiting in 2007, which was a pretty delighttul experience for all the rest of us. But, he had never been on a bike before that and he has never been on another one since.
He said one final "goodbye" as I was literally walking through the door, he being rather sweetly eager to offer a pleasant farewell. I was honestly not particularly nervous or worried about his visit, even though I absolutely would have been had it happened, say, a decade ago -- then again, a decade ago he was still refusing to accept Shobhit being in a relationship with a man, so I would have had far more reason to be nervous. It's different now, and still I would say his visit went even better than I might have imagined. Shobhit worked a swing shift last night and I spent pretty much the whole evening alone with Puneet, after all. That's not nothing, by any stretch.
I had ridden my bike home from work, and Puneet was not there. I made the pizza Shobhit had asked me to for us all to have for dinner (Shobhit after he got home much later), and eventually exchanged a few texts with Shobhit. Shobhit was home briefly between his two jobs' different shifts yesterday, and he said when he got home, Puneet had already been home from his last day at the conference and then gone out again. I get the sense that Puneet really likes to get out and explore any new place he's visiting. Shobhit had thought maybe he had gone out shopping, but when Puneet got back, maybe around 6:00, I found out he had gone down to the waterfront, happened to pass by the West Seattle Water Taxi, and just spontaneously decided to hop on it and go visit West Seattle.
I guess he got on a bus on the other side of Elliott Bay, and rode out to West Seattle's famed Alki Beach. It was slightly disappointing to him though, because that early in the day, the sun was not yet peeking through the clouds and it was overcast. That makes the beach a bit less exciting.
So, while he was gone, both Shobhit and I began to think maybe Puneet and I would not be going to the Space Needle together after all, as previously discussed. "He might be out until 9pm for all I know," Shobhit texted me. But then Puneet returned in plenty of time, and when I asked him if he still wanted to go to the Space Needle, he replied, "As you wish." I kind of silently laughed to myself at that, as it made me think of The Princess Bride.
We agreed on 8:00, and I went to the bedroom to book the timed-entry tickets. The two tickets together, once online fees were tacked on, came to $78.76 -- that's $39.38 each, for $37.50 list price, by far the most I have ever paid to go up the Space Needle. Now, those base prices are still comparable to when Ivan and I went up last summer, with a couple of key differences: first, I got Ivan's and my tickets at a $10 price break per ticket for going up after 8 pm, which meant I got those tickets for barely less than $30 each. And second, there is still a price break, but now it's only $5 less, and now it's only before 10am or after 10pm. I thought about actually aiming for 10pm, but on a weeknight for only a $5 per ticket discount, it just wasn't worth it. So I just paid the full price, thereby rendering myself $40 or so over budget -- only for yesterday, I guess; I got paid today.
I was careful not to mention any of this at all to Puneet, who would certainly have insisted on paying me back for his ticket. I managed just to go back to the bedroom to book them so he couldn't even see any part of it, kind of out-of-sight out-of-mind. He had actually balked at going with Shobhit when he first heard how much the tickets were. But, he later seemed to accept the idea as something for him and me to do together while Shobhit was at work last night. I tried suggesting we go down to Westlake Center to take the Monorail, and he told me he had already done that, the day before. "I've done all the kinds of travel," he said. Indeed: he flew in on an airplane; he's ridden in Shobhit's car (where, quite amusingly, he told me he noticed Shobhit drives so unnecessarily aggressively that it's like he doesn't realize he's not still in Delhi -- validation!); he rode a train on Light Rail; he's taken two boat rides (Shobhit told me he didn't think Puneet had ever taken any ferry rides before; turns out he's taken many, in several places around the world); he's ridden a Monorail. That pretty much covers it all.
So, with the Monorail now being unnecessary, I walked us to the stop on 15th and John to take the #8, the one bus we could take direct to Seattle Center. We chatted a little both at the bus stop and on the bus ride, after the bus was about 10 minutes late in getting to us. We still got to the entrance to the Space Needle at 7:45, at which time it was actually the slowest I had ever seen the observation deck entrance there, and they waved us through at that time even though our tickets were for 8:00.
A certain sign of the times: for a couple of decades, it was standard practice to have people pose for a photo they could then look at later when leaving a huge tourist attraction, in the hopes that they would love the photo so much once they saw it that they would purchase it. There was no keeping the photo in any form as just part of your admission price; the photo was extra. It was all part of a very toursity racket. The digital age changes everything, though, and now they still make the photo part of your entry process, but now there is no expectation of paying extra for it, and you can just go to a web page and download a digital copy of the photo. Of course, I still use the pgrase "paying extra" loosely, as it could be argued that the revenue they once collected from photo sales is now just folded into the massively hiked admission prices. In any case, after a bit of technical difficulty, and not being able to get it to work on my phone, I managed to choose a background and download that photo, thus becoming the single photo ever taken of Puneet and me together.
There was really no line anywhere to speak of, so we moved through quite quickly what otherwise is often a long line meandering through pathways packed with tourists. I would guess it's just because it was 8pm on a Thursday, but also probably at least partly that they do all-timed-entry tickets now and have for a while. We got to the top rather quickly and spent roughly and hour up there.
This therefore marks my 17th time up the Space Needle, at least (I have no photos of when Grandpa Minor took me up in 1990). Since moving to Seattle in 1998, I've gone up more years than not; until 2012, the longest break was the three years, between both 1999 and 2002 and between 2002 and 2005. Then, I had a four-year break between 2012 and 2016, when I finally took my nephew Braeden up, to date the only time I ever managed to get Braden over for a visit. Another two years and I went up with Ivan in 2018, and with an eagerness I had not felt in decades, thanks to the then-new renovation installing the full-glass observation deck walls and the revolving glass floor. I had no particular expectation of going up again this year, but Puneet was interested, and I'm pretty much always going to jump at every opportunity. I fully intend to go up again once they finally open a new restaurant, the prospects and timing of which currently seem very much up in the air, but Jennifer wants to come and bring Hope with her when that happens. I do wonder, though, it maybe they will ultimately abandon the restaurant idea, since allowing observation deck ticket holders access to that floor is likely yielding them plenty of revenue now as it is.
For now, being just as the sun was beginning to set, I got more rather nice photos than I might have otherwise, without too much duplication of shots I have already taken many times. There is also just the currently very transient nature of the Seattle skyline -- it's a new view every year, what with the massive amount of construction going on. Anyway, you can see the full photo album on Flickr, including 37 shots taken at the Space Needle, here. And then Puneet and I descended and headed back to our bus stop again.
When we first got off at that bus stop and crossed the street at Denny Way to cut through the courtyard between the two buildings of KOMO Plaza, there was a short step Puneet did not see and he tripped over it, only barely not falling straight on his face. Instead he kind of flailed wildly for several half-running steps, but ultimately stayed standing, which was kind of impressive. I asked if he was okay and he clearly was, maybe just slightly embarrassed. When we walked past that same spot on our way back to the bus, I pointed at the step and said, "Watch your step!" He kind of chuckled and said thank you.
As always with this visit, it's never late before Puneet gets tired, and he was nodding off in his seat next to me on the bus ride back. Once we got back home, I went to the bedroom to load the photos, getting some very frustrating technical issues because the iMac's Photo app was not loading photos from iCloud as it should and usually does. That delayed the process a bit longer than I would have preferred. Shobhit got off work at 10:15 and was home about half an hour later, by which time Puneet had gone to bed. As already illustrated, though, I did see him briefly again this morning though and we were able to say goodbye.
[posted 12:18 pm]