During our crazy-busy, run-around-like-spastic-people visits to Maryland, we here at Team WestEnders try our best to always reserve one day to spend in the old hometown of Olney. (Well, technically neither Husband nor I actually grew up there, but it's ours kids' birthplace, and it's where the family moved from, so...anyway, you get the picture...) And I don't know what kind of entities we should be making tributes to, but the last couple of times we've headed North, the stars have been in our favor, the planets have aligned, the Travel Gods have smiled upon us benevolently...and almost everyone we've wanted to touch base with has been in town and available to get together with us. (Yaaaaaayyyyy!)
Mind you, I certainly don't mean to imply that the whole social affair is...uncomplicated. First there's e-mailing, (establishing initial parameters--which day we'll be blowing into the area) then negotiating, (would you prefer the coffee, lunch, or dinner slot?) and finally discussing (pick a cafe or eatery at which to meet) in order to map out a tentative agenda.
This time, for example, it worked out for me to reunite with a couple of my fellow Playgroup Moms (who I met and started hanging out with when Derek was but a wee baby...if you can even imagine that...) in the morning at Panera. It was a great idea--the only thing I forgot to anticipate was the whining from the Male Posse when I informed them we'd be leaving HQ at 9:15 in order to make our 10:00 date. I believe this just about sums up the collective response: "Whaaat? Whyyyy? But it's soooo earrrrrly!" Yeaaaaah...the one teensy tiny little flaw to the otherwise airtight, rock-solid scheme was that, since we had only one car, everyone kind of had to be dragged along, even when it wasn't really "their gig", per se.
But I bribed them with hot chocolate, and they did a bit of wandering around outside while I chatted, and they survived just fine. Meanwhile I had a delightful chance to catch up with a very special breed of female friend--one you shouldn't trade for anything: I'm talking about those women that helped you through the sometimes scary and difficult first stages of motherhood... observed you at your tired, cranky, disorganized, disheveled worst...and stuck around anyway. Let me tell you, those types of bonds are more precious than gold, y'all.
Before I knew it, though, my second "appointment" arrived for lunch. (Didn't I mention it was a bit of a whirlwind? Try to keep up...) Two college girlfriends, Chipotle, and a whole lotta chatter. (And whoo, boy, you wanna talk about "people who knew you when"? Or maybe it'd be better for all concerned if we just...didn't. What happened on campus, stays on campus. Eh, the Statute of Limitations has loooong expired, anyway...) Several more hours flew by while we laughed and reminisced and caught up on each others' lives.
Meanwhile, the boys texted me that they'd taken themselves to "Cinco Dudes" for their meal (Right...that would be the establishment known as "Five Guys"...in silly-Husband-speak). Then Derek actually had arranged to meet two of his Middle School buddies at a local park so they could shoot some hoops and...oh, I don't know, jaw about teenage guy stuff, I guess. I walked over after my ladies had to depart, and while we were all there, several of the kids who lived down the street from us in our old house showed up. They were extremely perplexed to see Riley, at first, but after we cleared up the situation, much running around and wrestling and...young boy shenanigans...ensued.
At this point the sun was going down, and the temperature was dropping, but we still had some time to kill before our next engagement. Now, Olney is lovely, but it doesn't have what you'd call...hmm..."a thriving retail environment". So we wandered around Homegoods for a while--Husband amusing himself by locating and pointing out the most hideous lamps ever produced, the sons evaluating furniture, in order to flop themselves tiredly on the chairs they deemed cushiest. Then we did a quick tour of Roots Market....which was appealing on two counts: they have restrooms....and usually offer a nice selection of free samples to enjoy while you browse the aisles.
At last, having effectively window-shopped for just long enough, we moved on to our final stop of the day: California Tortilla with soccer pals (including both parents and teammates). So, picture five boys (three 10th-graders, two 12-year olds), one quiet younger sister, and eight adults...yep, it was a lively, animated...LOUD conversation and dining experience, I assure you. Mostly, though, it was awesome, that our former tribe came out to see us, and that we still have such a blast together even though we moved away 18-months ago.
After that, our merry...exhausted....little band was ready to drive back to our home base for some much needed, well-deserved SLEEP. Because we'd be getting up and doing it all over again the next day! Just kidding...we actually only had a coffee date with some of my interpreting compadres, before returning to the South. This time I'd picked an actual shopping center for our rendezvous, so at least the guys could pillage...Target....and Dick's Sporting Goods....while I gabbed with the girls. When Husband got antsy about hitting the highway (before we were forced to feed the bottomless pits--um "adolescent sons"--again, we said our farewells and braced ourselves to challenge that most fearsome of opponents: Interstate 95 ("from Hell"...that might not be the official title you see on maps, or what have you, but it definitely should be...)
And I've gotta tell ya--I won't even venture a guess to try and explain it, as there's no rhyme or reason to the traffic on that particular road--our return trip to North Carolina was pretty much the polar opposite of Wednesday's debacle. It went smoothly. It was fairly speedy. There was seldom any cause for delay. Heck, the SUN was even shining. I'm not inspecting any gift equines' molars, or nothin', I'm just saying. However, it did make me wonder...did Maryland wish us gone that desperately? Or did Chapel Hill just really want us back? I guess they both win, because we're home, safe and sound, and quite ready for a nice, long recovery. Wait, we have to go back to school and work.....WHEN? Ay yi yi. In that case, thank you, Mid-Atlantic, and goodnight!