If you are a parent, you will get how special it is to have a child free weekend. How very rare it is. And how you have to make the most of it because there's no telling when it'll happen again. Bless my parents' hearts, they took on all three kids so that my husband and I could have this amazing weekend.
It was amazing, and we made the most of it, for sure. If you follow my Facebook page, you know most of this already, so sorry for the repeat of pictures. But as I am reflecting over the weekend, I have new thoughts and I want to get them down. This may be boring to you, like someone telling you about a random dream they had, but c'est la vie. It's my blog, I'm telling the damn stories.
We started with dinner. A fancy dinner for which you had to have reservations. We were one of the youngest people there, but it was amazing...ish. Ryland's dinner basically came on a bed of pork and beans and because we don't speak French, that was a bit of a surprise. But good!
The whole reason for the weekend was the centennial anniversary for the Theta chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho, my husband's fraternity. His brothers are both in the same fraternity and one of them was travelling from North Carolina to be here, so we definitely wanted to come. We started at the football stadium, which was kind of cool to be in when it's empty. We managed to be fashionably late and miss most of the "asking for money" talks, but we also missed most of the open bar.
It is weird to still live in the town where you went to college. It's not weird in the day to day, but it is weird when people come back to visit. They want to re-experience all of the places that they remember from college, but we know better, and we know there are many nicer places to go. However, it's fine. We don't visit those bars and restaurants very often anymore... or ever, so it was a little nostalgic for us too.
The group chose a bar, but we had other plans...
I've been wanting to get this tattoo for years and years, but the guy who did my original tattoo passed away a few years ago, and I don't know where to go to get a tattoo. A friend recommended this place and Ryland wanted to go with me, so we did it. It took about 30 minutes start to finish. And yes, this is my proud face.
Then, on to the bar. I showed every stinking person there my new tattoo.
Here's a close up I took the next day, after I got to unwrap it. It's three little birds, inspired by the Bob Marley song, and by my own three little birds. Random interjection: after we got home, Ryland put on the Bob Marley album and I got really emotional about it. I'm so glad I finally did it. Plus, there had been some drinking in between and I tend to cry. I'm glad he went with me.
We drove to the bar next, which felt odd and right after coming from the tattoo parlor. I didn't know a lot of the guys there, because there weren't a lot of people there from my husband's pledge class, but we had a good time anyway. Lots of random dancing with my sister in law, even though we were not at the dance floor. No one cared.
Most of our Ag Rho part of the family. My other sister in law wasn't able to make it, which was a bummer.
Randomly, one of the guys who was there has read my blog! He came up to my husband and said that he had read my posts on marriage and was really thankful that I wrote them. So, my husband made sure to introduce us. It's always weird to me when someone I don't know reads my stuff, but also extremely awesome.
So, the night was amazing, but also very long. And I had stuff to do the next morning. There was a book festival that was being put on for the first time in our town, and I was extremely excited to see all these great authors speak. I got to see two before I started feeling the effects of the night before and had to go home for a nap.
There's no good way to tell this story without gushing, so I'll just keep it to that I was extremely inspired. And for the very first time ever, I met an author who asked me if I was a writer and I said, "YES!" without even thinking about it.
A quiet thing that happened, but maybe the most important thing to me, was hearing Mark Doty talk about teaching. Mark Doty is a bit of an enigma in writing... he literally does everything. Stop everything that you're doing and read this poem and try to tell me that he's not awesome. I laughed, I cried. I wanted to write down all the words and have them all be beautiful and lovely.
So he was talking about teaching, and he said that one of the hardest things is when students want to write beautiful and lovely things, and they do, but then he says to them, "So what?"
So. What.?? What does it all mean? Why is this important? What are you trying to say here, and why should we care?
Thanks, Mark Doty. You've managed to come to the crux of my life. So fucking what? My heart literally stopped beating. I have so many thoughts about this, but I'll just say that he inspired me to move beyond beautiful writing and focus on the so what of my writing. It doesn't need to be beautiful, it just needs to say something.
I don't think I'll ever forget that.
The other author I saw was Laura McBride, and I had the chance to speak with her afterwards. She started really writing when she was older than I am, and I told her that she had inspired me to really go for it. She said to me something like, "You may want to quit, and that's ok if you do, but let it be your decision. Don't let somebody else's opinion make you want to quit." She told me a rejection story that was so achingly beautiful. I am very glad I met her. I posted a compliment on her facebook page and she wrote back, "Oh, your dreams will come true. Let them ripen." And gah!! Let them ripen. So what? This is my new life motto.
But the day wasn't over and we had a formal to go to. Are you getting tired yet? Because by this point, I was absolutely exhausted. I had to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in bed.
I worked really hard to feel good in this dress, and I did. Unfortunately, we were at a fraternity formal, which always sounds like more fun that it actually is. We didn't last as long as we had the night before, mainly because we are no longer in college, and one crazy night might be ok, but two is pretty much impossible. Plus there were really long lines at the bar because ag guys don't joke around when it comes to alcohol.
Triple and double fisting in order to avoid an hour long wait at the bar. Maybe I should have been the one to go.
So that was pretty much it. I was in bed by midnight, we had breakfast the next morning and went to pick up the kids. As soon as they got in the car, my husband and I both sighed deep, heavy sighs. And our wild and wonderful weekend came to a close.
But, as Mark Doty would say, so what?
If you've read my blog for the last six months or so, you know that I have gone through some personal changes, and that my relationship with my husband is also going through some changes. I really needed this weekend, and we really needed this weekend.
We realized that most of our friends can't just randomly come out with us, because, kids. And that kind of sucks, really. We feel young, we want to DO things, and not just kid things. Kid things are good and fine, but we really need to feel like adults on a regular basis.
What I figured out this weekend is that we really need to find a good babysitter because we are a blast when we are out. And, it doesn't even need to be as crazy as this weekend was because, really, that's not sustainable. Or fun at all the next morning if you have little ones.
But we need to get out of the house more. For real.
I love my mom life, mostly, but I want to love my own life. Our life.
Let it ripen.
And I love love love my tattoo. And, that I got it during this weekend because I will never forget it.