We’ve just completed our cross-country drive for Christmas and I’m writing this at my mom’s breakfast bar while listening to the girls squeal over the advent calendars in the other room. For whatever reason, I don’t feel stressed about the impending holidays. Not sure why…but I feel unusually happy. Sometime in the 4th quarter my 401k and Social Security contributions get maxed out and I end up with a couple months of fat checks. Maybe that’s why. Or maybe I used up enough stress for the entire year that I don’t have anything but positive energy left. Let’s hope so.
Not a bad trip to get here. The first day we didn’t go too far, probably because we didn’t even leave the house until 7pm or so Friday night. Maybe forty miles past Indianapolis we pulled off the highway and checked into perhaps the shittiest Holiday Inn Express I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to stay in. Seriously – what a dump. It pisses me off too because we can afford to stay somewhere else…someplace nicer…and we’d prefer to do that. The place looked ok on the outside. Inside though…yikes. The rooms were allegedly non-smoking. Ours smelled like a cancer factory. I couldn’t complain to anyone because the one person working the front desk was completely overwhelmed with creating key cards for the litany of people complaining that there’s weren’t working. I guess the beds were ok. That’s all we really cared about anyway.
Bird was bouncing off the walls, jumping from bed to bed. It was obvious that she was happy to have her family all together. She had her blanket clutch and thumb sucking in full effect while her stuffed purple elephant was tucked tightly under her arm. I finally just asked her, “Bird, are you happy we’re all together?” As she always does when she’s happy, she closed her eyes tightly and started nodding furiously…then she curled up in the space next to my abdomen and fell asleep.
Lily was already out in the other bed with Rhonda. Poor little girl was exhausted. She did a great job on the trip though. Honestly, she’s the one I’ve been worried about. Bird has done a long road trip before, Lily hasn’t. She’s also generally less interested in watching a parade of movies whereas Bird can sit still for hours. But little Bean can communicate more now and so her threshold for frustration is a lot higher. So far so good.
Something that has been supremely helpful on this trip is that we’ve started to figure out more of the features of our van…namely the wireless headphones that allow the girls to watch DVD’s in the back and us to do whatever we want in the front…NICE. Lily’s didn’t fit all that well but Rhonda figured out how to wedge a napkin on her head so they’d fit better. Magyvermom. It’s also been super helpful to have our on-board potty as it’s allowed Lulu to become quite a multi-tasker.
We didn’t waste much time in the morning. First there was breakfast at the hotel before getting on the road in the morning. Not bad; standard Holiday Inn microwavable egg and sausage patties, cereals and toast. Good for everyone in our crew, especially since we didn’t need to leave the building. We were on the road by 8am and hit Columbia, MO by about 1pm where we stopped to have lunch with Rhonda’s sister and her family. It was a nice respite, two hours for some hot food and I even got in a short nap. Then…back on the road we went making it all the way to Salina, KS.
You know, interstate 70 is a long stretch of road and its chock full of all sorts of interesting little treats. One of my favorite items was this 100 ounce (insert: cup, container, bucket, tank) that you can fill up with soda for the bargain price of just $1.44. To be clear, that is more than eight cans of soda…almost a gallon actually. Who in the f@$!@ needs that much soda? Well, I’m happy to report that at least one person did while we were there. Yep, some guy filled his up with Mountain Dew right as I was taking this picture. Hang on, I have to go online and see how many calories that is. 1,470 calories. Wow. There was also the ever-present messages from God about how exactly to get on the naughty list if you weren’t already sure. Helpful.
I think I need to mention that we had the worst meal of our lives in Salina, Kansas. Yeah…that bad. It was later, maybe 10pm and the girls were hungry and tired. The list of options for where we could eat wasn’t long and we ended up at a 24 hour diner by the highway. For fear of vomiting, I’m not going to talk about everything we had. I’ll just mention the chef’s salad. First of all, what the fuck was I doing ordering a chef salad in the middle of the night at a truck stop, right? I get that and realize I am heavily to blame. But so is the ‘chef’ who thought cutting leftover steak into tiny cubes and then boiling it before throwing it on top of maybe four squares of wilting lettuce and five pounds of cheese that had obviously been melted then re-chilled. Seriously, boiled beef cubes? They looked like fish food pellets. Probably tasted like them too…I wouldn’t know. I have to stop because I’m getting nauseous.
Anyway…seven hours on Sunday and here we are. We haven’t done a whole lot since arriving. I had some work stuff to do in the morning so she took the girls for their Santa pictures, which is always a good time. After that we left the girls with grandma and went on a few errands with Cory. The first was to see his house, the new house that he just bought. Stress has been oozing out of him for the last four weeks. I think he was looking for a little reassurance, which we were happy to give. Hell, its good reassurance for me to see my friends doing responsible things like buying houses. Travis just put in an offer on a place in LA, too. Good for them. After that, we went for a late lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant we have been curious about. Two hours later I was kicking myself for going to Pho 80 for the last few years when we could have been going to Pho 79, right across the street.
I need to mention Monday because it was a good night for Rhonda and me, and for very basic reasons. We’re both super emotional this week. The winding down of 2009 is causing all my memories of the year to surface and churn. Mostly it’s the baby, but (at least for me) there is also some sadness that the relationship with my wife has taken its own place in the parade of things that I wish had gone differently in 09. Rather than be a byproduct anymore, it’s been added to the lineup of bad happenings. Don’t get me wrong, everything is good. But it just hasn’t been easy. So here we are now, getting ready to descend into a new year and finally…finally everything is it its place which of course leaves me wondering when the other shoe is going to drop and catastrophe is going to strike. Back to Monday…all we did was a little shopping, then we went to a movie and got a beer at Rock Bottom afterwards. Nothing big, right? No wrong. We got to exist in our own special bubble for half a day and do things like we did when we were dating. Of course the conversations are different now than they were then, but that’s a good thing. There we were acting like two married people that were fused together again.
Tomorrow Cory and I are going to go to the Nuggets game, which will be fun.