June has been quite a month. A great month, really. From really close to the very beginning. I think I’ll tell you about it.
The first week of the month it became much too apparent that we needed a new washer and dryer. I was running the spin cycle a couple times, sometimes up to 5 times for bedding, just so things wouldn’t be dripping when I put them into the dryer, which nearly always took at least two runs to get mostly dry clothes. The set had been purchased when the original owners built the house 14 years ago so they’d had a good run. But it was time to say our goodbyes and move on.
While the thought of bigger, better, shiner and maybe even colorful was thrilling, the thought of paying for it was not. This year is already shaping up to be the year of needing money faster than we can pull it off the tree. Adding yet another large expense made me cringe. Until I started doing research and looking at the alluring beauties and learning what friends’ had and what they liked and what they didn’t. So one night while Todd was out of town Katie and I headed up to Home Depot to “look”. Looking turned into talking to an employee which turned into ordering it right there on the spot with Todd on the phone so he could answer all the manly questions that I didn’t possess knowledge of.
The worst part about the whole thing — well, besides the money that is now forever gone — is that they delivered and hooked up the set the following Monday. I was not home that day, nor the next two days after that (which is part of my great month story I’ll be getting to in a minute). Todd had to wash all manner of bedding (which is another part of my great month story) and I promise you I was jealous. Never in my whole entire life have I ever been jealous of someone else doing laundry. Seriously never. Ever.
So that Monday, which was the 10th, was the beginning of my really great month. Katie was in the last week of high school but her finals were done. Thursday night was graduation and Wednesday was mandatory walk through, but she had gotten permission to miss it so she could attend her college orientation.
You read that right. College my-baby’s-going-away-in-the-fall orientation. More on that later. Much later. I’m not quite ready to go there.
Back to the 10th. Katie and I packed up Raven (the name she has given my new car – one of our please-take-my-money-because-obviously-I-don’t-want-it expenses) and hit the road, bound for Radford University.
Anyhoo, it’s about a 7 1/2 hour drive so we were fully stocked with good tunes and, well, that’s about it. I had my coffee and we each had a bottle of water. We made our appropriate stops at the great rest areas they have between here and there for a Starbucks and water and snacks, etc., and then began our search for the obligatory Cracker Barrel stop. After driving through some pretty heavy rain and cursing the 18-wheelers for spraying up water so that I couldn’t see where I was going, the sun peaked out and shined it’s ever-loving rays on the glorious Cracker Barrel sign about an hour out of our final destination.
We ate our fill, emptied our bladders and bought chocolate. There was a very ominous black cloud ahead of us, but I wasn’t daunted. I had just driven through a rainstorm of epic proportions. I could handle this miniature dark cloud.
Except I couldn’t. Just as we were going over a bit of a mountain pass the cloud’s dam burst and we couldn’t see more than 10 yards ahead of us. It was horrifying. The only time I’ve ever driven through anything like that before was in the middle of Tennessee on I-40 and I had to pull off until it had passed. This time I put on my hazards, pulled onto the shoulder and crawled along with at least two other vehicles. Ten minutes and it was blessedly done.
We stayed in a hotel Monday night and Tuesday morning began the orientation. After the initial session parents and kids were sent in separate directions and we saw very little of each other after that. Kids and parents were actually supposed to meet up again for dinner, but Katie’s roommate was also there so they ditched me and left me alone to my own devices. I didn’t feel like eating alone in the cafeteria so I went to Wal-Mart, which has unconsciously become a routine stop on every one of my trips, no matter where I am. I don’t remember what exactly I got to eat, but in the spirit of being at college it was something overly processed, extremely flavorful and super unhealthy.
Oh. I forgot to mention that I stayed in a dorm room that night. It was a recently renovated room and had air conditioning and its own bathroom. But let me tell you this. It was no night at the Ritz. Or even Motel 6. When you stripped away those two conveniences it was still a dorm room. A kind of smelly dorm room with a very uncomfortable bed, no cable and no coffee maker.
Wednesday morning Katie and I checked out of our dorm rooms, (Hers was worse than mine because it didn’t have air conditioning and she had to share her bathroom with three other girls. Only three.) threw our stuff in Raven and grabbed some coffee at the campus Starbucks. After that we split up again and then met up around 11 where we ate at the campus Chick-Fil-A and then headed for home.
Taylor stayed in Lynchburg after school this year because he’s taking two summer sessions and working. He had promised Katie that he would come home for her graduation, though, so after his class on Wednesday morning he and Shelby made for home. Both Lynchburg and Radford are in the same general vicinity of Virginia and I-81 is the way to go. I had joked with him that maybe we would see each other on the road.
Due to my less than comfortable bed the night before I was tired. Katie was blissfully snoozing in the passenger seat and somewhere along the line I started getting really sleepy so I decided it was time to pull off. As we approached a rest area there was a sign that said, “Next rest area, 33 miles”. I debated about waiting until the next stop, but at the last minute chose to stop at the first one. A stretch was really in order and waiting another half an hour did not seem a viable option. I pulled into a spot with no cars on either side, cracked the windows since Katie was still asleep and went into the restroom. As I was coming out she was walking in. She didn’t say much other than she woke up and thought she should probably go, too.
I got out to the car and there was a green truck parked next to me. This green truck looked suspiciously (and exactly) like Taylor’s green truck.
Sure enough. He had pulled in after us and parked right next to Raven – the sporty little black car on the left. The funniest thing about all of this is that he had no idea it was my car he parked next to, no idea that we were even there until Katie came out of the bathroom and walked up to him while he was looking at his phone, waiting for Shelby, and said, “Hey, Bro.”
So we had a little mini-reunion at some random rest area in Virginia. This was a very fortuitous meeting for Taylor as I bought his gas and dinner for he and Shelby at our usual stop in Carlisle Pennsylvania right before getting on the turnpike for the last leg of the trip.
Todd and Sookie were extremely excited to see so many of their people getting home at the same time. But the fun wasn’t over quite yet. I went to bed rather early – I think before 9 – and Todd had to drive to the airport around 11 or so to pick up his parents who were coming in from California for Katie’s graduation.
Which is why we had all that bedding to wash. (See? I told you I would explain it.)
Alright. Let’s see. We’re now on Thursday. Yeah. So Thursday was supposed to be graduation, except the weather was unpredictable (much like it’s been for a while) and the graduation class is very large so moving it inside is a logistical nightmare and reduces the number of people who can attend. They finally postponed it until Friday. So it went like this:
I ran to the drugstore early in the morning for milk and cereal because there was no food in the cupboard. Seriously – nothing good to eat. And I knew grocery shopping was going to be an all day event but I couldn’t let all those people in my house starve whilst waiting for me to get back with the goods. A storm was rolling in and I wanted some sort of sustenance for my guests before the epic weather hit.
I forgot to mention that at this point I hadn’t had a shower since, um, Monday. No, Tuesday. I did take a shower at the hotel Tuesday morning. I guess it wasn’t so horrible. I hadn’t started really smelling yet so we were good.
I made it home from this quick run right before a good storm rolled through. I then took a shower. A gloriously hot, steamy, long shower. I love guests and all, but at that point I didn’t care if I used up all the hot water. I figured I had risked the tumultuous elements so they wouldn’t starve, I had done my unselfish deed for the day. Besides, there was a lot of shaving that had to get done.
Katie and I then spent the day buying consumables. We started at Costco, brought that stuff home, and then went to the grocery store for all the rest. I know I’ve mentioned before that I hate grocery shopping. That day was no exception and boy was I glad to be done with it!
We had sandwiches for dinner – but not lame and wimpy sandwiches. I had the good bread, the good lunch meat, all the toppings and condiments along with chips, dips, salads and all that good stuff.
Then we went to the football stadium for the graduation ceremony. It turned out to be a perfect evening for an outdoor event.
600+ kids takes a long time to get through, however, and those bleachers are not exactly barcaloungers, if you know what I’m sayin. Still, as far as high school graduations go, it was pretty decent.
After the graduation we went back to the house for desserts and our friends, Kris and Shelby (not to be confused with Taylor’s Shelby) came over and joined us. It was nice.
Todd’s parents took us all to dinner to celebrate the following:
Taylor’s 21st birthday (April)
Shelby’s graduation (May)
Mother’s Day (May)
Katie’s graduation (June)
Father’s Day (June)
Our Anniversary (June)
And I think that’s it. We went to a place called Parc Bistro and ordered rather exotic foods like lamb chops with merguez stuffing and mustard barbecue sauce; sauteed king salmon with whipped okinawa sweet potatoes, warm asparagus and stone fruit chutney; venison loin wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, served with cous cous, balsamic glazed brussels sprouts and port wine pear sauce. I would have taken pictures (because that’s what I do) but since it was a rather upscale place I resisted. Not only that, but I had already eaten half of my dish before I even thought about memorializing the meal in a photo.
Sunday was a sad, sad day because Taylor and Shelby left. But it had been a really great visit with them.
Though nice, the following week was much less exciting. Susan and Philip were still here, but Todd and I both had to work and Katie had several things she had to do as well. Philip went on a walkabout with Sookie every day. I’m talking miles and miles. They would be gone for an hour at the least, sometimes up to two. Someday I might do that, too. But I would want to take my camera with me and it would take me infinitely longer to walk the same distance because I’d be stopping to take pictures along the way. So maybe I won’t.
We didn’t get to do any real touristy stuff and I felt bad about that, but it was a nice and relaxed visit. Saturday morning Todd took them to the airport. On Sunday he went back to the airport to fly to Akron and Katie hopped on a bus with a ton of other teenagers for their annual teen conference – this year in Michigan.
I know you’re all intelligent people and I don’t have to spell it out for you, but I’m going to anyway. I was alone. A-L-O-N-E. From Sunday afternoon until Friday morning. I watched what I wanted or I watched nothing at all. I ate what I wanted. It was a delightful week.
Sidenote – When I took Sookie for a walk on Monday we went around the block. The big block – almost a half a mile. When we got back to the house she gave me this look like, “Are you kidding me? That’s it?” Yep. That’s it, dog.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my people a lot. I love them a lot of a lot. And I missed them, too. But I relished the temporary aloneness. It was just nice. I was more than ready for Todd to come home, though. Probably by Wednesday. And I’m definitely ready for Katie to get home tonight as well.
Which leads me to revisit a comment I made earlier about her going to college in the fall. Right now she’s been gone for a week and I miss her and the realization that I will be going weeks, if not months sometimes, without seeing her makes me sad. Ask me again next Saturday after she’s been home for a week. I might have a completely different outlook. Typically it changes from day to day, sometimes hour to hour, or even minute to minute.
But all that is a post for another day and I have wasted enough of your time waxing poetically about the beauty of my June. That is assuming, of course, that you actually made it to here. And if you did, thanks for hanging around. I appreciate it.