Surprise ScandiRAYvia Epilogue!

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I’ve been shockingly tardy in wrapping up my ScandiRayvia pieces. As 2016 starts, it’s time to finally bring my reportage on my trip to a close. You know, as I completed the trip six months ago.

I have one final surprise for you, Dear Readers, if you’ll indulge me on this tired topic just one more time.

Let’s roll back the videotape to Friday, June 26, 2015. Perhaps you remember the day as intensely as I do.

I’ve already talked about hearing about the SCOTUS decision while on a boat tour on the Stockholm Archipelago way back in ScandiRayvia #13. But what you may not know is that I left out a big part of the story of my day. Unless I’ve spoken to you about it on the phone or in person, you haven’t heard this part until now.

So. I’m having a great time at the Mälarpaviljongen bar that evening with Joakim Zetterberg’s friend Neil. As you may recall, Jay very graciously hooked me up with Neil and his very nice friends so I would have someone to celebrate the just-announced and life-changing Obergefell vs. Hodges SCOTUS decision.

Here's the cool bar where we met (shot from the bluffs of the island of Soldermalm).

Here’s the cool bar where we met (shot from the bluffs of the island of Soldermalm).

 

Here’s the part I left out of that evening:

At one point, Neil turned to me and said, “You know, I’m not Swedish. I was born in Texas.”

“No you WEREN’T,” I said.

“Yup. I grew up in Plano.”

“Well, I grew up in Bryan. I went to college with a raft of kids from Plano.”

Har, har, har, isn’t that funny, small world, etc. And that would have been that. Except, for some reason I still don’t really understand, Neil went on:

“I wasn’t born in Plano, I was born in Dallas. And my mother is from a little town called Blooming Grove.”

I paused.

After a minute, I slowly said, “Well, that’s… odd. That’s where my family is from. That’s where my Iveys are from.”

Then Neil paused. For a long time. Finally he said:

“Uh… my grandmother was Thelma Ivy from Blooming Grove.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found my newest Ivey cousin. In Stockholm. Neil and I share a great-great grandfather. He was a veteran of Gettysburg (and many other Civil War battles) with the colorful handle Hinton Clinton Gaither Ivey/Ivy (1844-1921). Which makes Neil and I third cousins. Neil has lived in Stockholm for many years, where he has a super cool job that I can’t really even tell you about.

Of all the things I expected to find on my ScandiRayvia trip, a Texas cousin was definitely not among them. It was one of the oddest coincidences of my life and one I’m extremely grateful for.

So if any of you see Neil on Facebook, be nice to him, or I’ll start singing show tunes.

And there’s not much else to tell. The trip home was very long but happily uneventful. And after three weeks away from my beloved LA, here’s how I felt when I got off the plane at LAX:

kiss the ground

I have no idea when I’ll get to take another trip that compares with ScandiRayvia, but I do know I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to take this trip and see so many places I’ve dreamed about seeing.

NOTE: There is a certain fluidity to the spelling of the Ivey/Ivy surname.

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