Friday morning, after sleeping off the Thanksgiving festival o' carbs, I was refreshed and ready for a whirlwind social tour. (Well, you know, after a trip to the nearest Quickie-Mart for a nice tall cup of the blessed nectar of life....um, "coffee".) The first stop involved a lunch-slash-gab-session with two college friends. In a nutshell: there was lots of catching up, much laughter, and tons of good stories--it's always such fun to let your hair down with people who've known you for...let's just say "decades" and leave it at that, shall we?
After bidding them "adieu for now" I made my way to a nearby park to squeeze in a stroll before the sun set. It was...brisk...but I had a festive holiday playlist queued up on my phone for my listening enjoyment as I ambled through the woods, so it was all good. (That is, until I could no longer feel my legs because they were numbed by the cold wind, but that's just the signal that you're done, right?) From there, I set off on the familiar roads toward my former hometown...a scenario that suddenly struck me as extremely...weird. I mean, here I was, driving along my old familiar byways, yet I was a visitor, without a home base to which I could return. I felt like some kind of, I don't know...modern-day nomad, maybe...having packed everything I thought I'd need for the day that morning before leaving my dad's house.
So there I was, with several hours to kill before my next engagement, needing somewhere to hang out, and activities to while away the free time. Hmmm...what's a place can one go, that actually encourages loitering...and sampling the wares...for free? Ding ding, ding: the Public Library, of course! (aka Readers' Heaven...) Since I'd planned ahead, I'd brought my laptop along, and therefore was able to settle down in a comfy chair--and goof off--to my heart's content. Well...for approximately 40 minutes, until they announced that they were closing. (Sigh. Didn't see that coming...) Okay, fine, moving on...I'm a little bit hungry, so maybe I'll grab a snack. Hey...there just happens to be a restaurant right down the street that all of Team WestEnders used to L-O-V-E...that we miss, since they don't exist in NC...conveniently located right across the street from where I'm scheduled to make my upcoming rendezvous. Yeah, it seems like fate, doesn't it?
Even though I knew I'd get into such a huge amount of hot water if it ever got back to my family--particularly Derek--that I went there without them...I did it anyway (So please do me a big favor and shhhhhhhh! I'm counting on you to keep a secret! Until my son reads this for himself and gives me heck, anyway...) I boldly walked up to the counter, and ordered chips, salsa, and guacamole (with only a slight amount of guilt...but a whole lot more anticipation), The cashier asked for my loyalty card--which I'd naturally left in the car--so he entered my phone number instead. "You have $5 in Burrito Bucks on here; would you like to use it?" he asked cheerfully. Uh...darn right I would appreciate paying 74-cents for my dinner! So you see, it truly was destiny that I ended up in California Tortilla...I was clearly following the Will of the Universe...and therefore I can't be blamed at all! (Think that'll fly with the kids? Yeah, me neither...but that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it, as they say...)
After that, I still had a few minutes before I was due at Starbucks, so I wandered around Homegoods in the same shopping center...which explains how I ended up with new spatulas...and coasters...to bring home from my trip. The boys were understandably confused as to why I went to Maryland...and brought back kitchen supplies (but the explanation doesn't really clarify anything, so they're just going to have to accept it as a sort of...mystic happening...or some such nonsense...). Finally, a date for Coffee Talk with some Playgroup Pals--we met when our oldest children were less than a year old, and although our offspring don't necessarily keep in touch anymore, we still get together whenever we can for some much-needed grownup bonding....caffeine and chatting, what could be better? (Oh, except it was 7 p.m., so it was definitely decaf for all of us--but you know what I mean...)
But wait, as if that weren't enough gallivanting, I still had one more item on the agenda. The next morning I prepared to say "hasta la proxima mes" ("see you next month") to my sister and father (the rest of the clan not having surfaced yet, at the ungodly hour of my departure...you might know it as "9:30") and travel to yet another java reunion, with an interpreter-buddy from my previous job. Several cups of joe and hours of stimulating conversation later, it was time to bid Maryland farewell, at least for this excursion. The weather was unnecessarily chilly (in my humble opinion) but with an abundance of special time shared with family and friends, the hospitality left absolutely nothing to be desired. In fact, I have an idea! It was sooooo delightful, let's do it all again in December, okay? Aaannnd, let the calendar syncing begin!