When I was in college there was this commercial for Citibank. I don’t dare watch it now because I’m afraid that it is not the fantasy that I remember. You’ll remember it when I start talking about it though, everyone does. It was this father and son, and the son decided to take his dad to “the motherland” for his 65th birthday. Once they got there, they went to go look up his ancestors in some book, and they realized that he wasn’t actually from Ireland, but England? So they jetted off…Something about that commercial always made me cry…This was before you could just look up any commercial on YouTube, and I actually contacted the ad agency who made it, and they SENT ME THE COMMERCIAL ON A CD. I loved it so much. I thought, I want to do that but it seemed so impossible at the time.

I grew up in the restaurant business. When you have restaurants, you can’t take vacations. We never once went on a family vacation as a kid. I only realized that was not normal as an adult. All of my friends have vacation and camping trip stories from when they were little. I have stories of me standing on a milk crate so that I could reach the counter in our restaurant to make the daily spinach pie, at 10 years old. Do not get me wrong, I am COOL with that. I had a weird childhood and I think that is pretty great.

I love my dad, I don’t know how I would have made it here without him. Every time I have fallen (and there have been SO MANY times) he has been the one with no judgements, no “I told you so’s”. Ever. It is all love all the time. And it’s the awesome awkward love only a dad can give. You know, the kind where you call him crying and he is all “something something Ortiz something…” before being able to talk about the situation. The thing that I love most about him besides that is he’s one of those people who, when gets an idea in his head, it is THAT OR BUST.

Fast forward, Citibank commercial still in my mind plus it’s the Year of Self Love and Doing What I Want. I had to do this. I had to take my dad on a surprise trip for his 65th birthday to see the Northern Lights. Classic me bought plane tickets and told him immediately. I can’t keep a secret. Ever since I can remember he has talked about what a dream it would be to see them, and tomorrow we leave to chase them together. So this is to you, Dad. Happy 65th Birthday.
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