Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Flying the Coop

I have been recently thinking about when I flew out of the nest. You know, that necessary time when you must leave the nest, where you have always been warm and fed, for a life of independence.

I went to college at 17, and got my own place with a girlfriend during the first semester, but I was just mere blocks from my folks. So although I was “on my own”, I really wasn’t. When I graduated college at 21, I was so excited to get out of town, get my own apartment and turn into an adult. I was under the impression that this made you an adult overnight. And I was ready.

But I never counted on the bills piling up because maybe I didn’t budget so well. Or the nights where my house is creaking and I wished I could run to my mom down the hall. It has been years since my own “independence day”, and while I have all those kinks worked out and have gotten into a good groove of living on my own, I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I had stuck by my childhood aspiration, which was to live with my mom forever and we would take care of each other. I remember telling her that, and she said “Sounds like a good plan, sweetie.” Awww.

But obviously we need to grow up. Remember when we were kids and we had “growing pains” when we hit major growth spurts? I was the really skinny kid who would get a little chubby in the cheeks and then shoot up like a weed. But I remember those growing pains kind of hurt sometimes. It hurts to grow. Anyone who says it doesn't is lying. I've heard that it's possible to grow up - I've just never met anyone who's actually completely done it. Without parents to defy, we break the rules we make for ourselves. We throw tantrums when things don't go our way, we look for comfort where we can find it, and we hope against all logic, against all experience. We’re just big kids, really.

When I first lived alone, my single girlfriends were my salvation. We commiserated together, healed each others’ broken hearts, tried to make each other laugh. Think about it. If you are single, after graduation there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you. Hallmark doesn't make a "Congratulations, You Didn't Marry the Wrong Guy" card. And where's the flatware for spending your Friday nights alone? There isn’t a registry category for this, is there?

But you can’t get down. I have always looked for the positive angle. Although I do sometimes wonder if maybe, after a certain age, we have to start applying pessimism daily, like moisturizer. Otherwise, how do we bounce back when reality batters your belief system and love does not, as promised, conquer all? I guess all we can do is hope for the best, prepare for the worst and who knows… we just might be pleasantly surprised. Or not. That’s just the way it goes.

Although I still have those girlfriends and I love them with all my heart, I eventually did not need to cling to them for salvation any longer. This is probably healthier for our friendships anyway. I found the real salvation, and instead of leaning so heavily on my girls, I have been able to give my yoke to God when the going gets rough. Now when I hear that creak in my house in the middle of the night, I no longer wish my mom was down the hall so I don’t have to be alone. I know now that I am not ever alone. That’s a relief.

At the end of the day, I look around and appreciate my grown-upness. But in a city like Fort Worth, with its pace and its pressures, sometimes it's important to have a 13-year-old moment -- to remember a simpler time when the best thing in life was just hanging out, listening to music and having fun with your friends -- in your very own home. That you own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

“If you're tired, you take a nap-a. You don’t move to Napa.” –Carrie Bradshaw

Every once in a while, a girl has to indulge herself.

So my girlfriends and I embarked on a “journey” (yeah I said it, Bliss) to Texas Wine Country, Fredericksburg, for a weekend of wineries, laughter and friendship. You know, friendships have to be invested in. You can’t expect to wake up one day when you are old and find a huge lump of money in your savings account for retirement. It’s the same thing with friendships. So we had an “investment weekend.”

You know I don’t use names on here, so here you go: The girls refer to me as Sammy, then you have Awesome Blossom, Rashelle, Hymie, and rounding out the crew is Rollin with the Homies.

We left after work on Friday and headed south. Rollin with the Homies owns a large momma-mobile, so we all piled in (with my dog Bama as well). We decided to take the scenic route vs. I-35 and I am so glad we did. We saw some amazing sunset views and got to stop in Lampasas.

Lemme tell you. Lampasas is an interesting place. And what is up with their Dairy Queen? Listen up, Lampasas Dairy Queen: When you are dealing with 5 girls and a dog with extreme 8pm ice cream cravings, throw us a bone here and make your parking lot easier to navigate. Awesome Blossom had to do some serious stunt driving to get us in and out of that place. When you leave the drive-thru, you are literally driving into a drop off that makes you feel like you are falling off the face of the Earth. We barely made it out of there alive. And we blame Joe Jackson for this (father of Michael). (Sorry, you’ll see a lot of Joe Jackson in this blog… inside joke. You had to be there.)

Ice cream cravings satiated, we made it into Fredericksburg by 11pm. The directions indicated that the cabin was the “last house on the left”, to which Rashelle exclaimed, “Great. We are going to die.” That’s the spirit, Rashelle! Turns out the cabin was not scary or horror-movie-ish in the least. Bullet dodged. We stayed at the adorable and comfortable Potbelly Stove Cottage (shameless plug: http://www.fbglodging.com/lodging/potbel.htm - seriously, go there.) My friend’s folks own the place and I’m serious... They did an amazing job with it. We piled in this cozy cottage, with 2 girls in the bed, 2 girls on the floor and me on the love seat because of my amazing cat-like curling up skills.

The next morning, we woke up and started pumping coffee into our veins. We looked outside noticed that deer were meandering all around our cabin! Too cool. So Hymie announced that she was going to go outside and be a deer whisperer. She claims that a deer (that she named Moesha) came within 3 feet of her, but we saw the deer running for “deer life” (get it?) after she went out there. I’m not sure which story to believe at this point.

Right before leaving for the day, Rashelle confided in us that the two best things in life that have ever happened to her are low rise jeans and hair straighteners. I feel a lot closer to Rashelle now, since she opened up to us about this.

So we decided to kill time and hit downtown Fredericksburg for a bit to check the place out. What a neat place! With the exception of the store that has tons of outdoor iron décor (which was seriously high quality and amazingly low-priced), we couldn’t afford much of what we saw. But we sure saw some gorgeous stuff. I have a bunch of decorating ideas now, ideas that I fully plan on crafting myself at home and implementing into my décor. I took a million pictures of lamps and bed frames. Yeah, I’m cool like that.

We headed back to the cabin just in time to meet our limo driver, Bobby McGee (as we referred to him). He was a class act for sure, totally professional. The limo was amazing (for the record, this was my first ride in a limo, in all of my 27 ½ years. Now I wanna do it again, many times over, on a daily basis even). Armed with mimosas, wheat thins and hip-shaking music, we proclaimed loudly, “On to the wineries, Jeeves!”

Warning: the details, such as order of wineries and pretty much everything else from this point forward, are really fuzzy. So I’m going to do my best and not concern myself with order or any other details. Here’s my best recollection of our winery tour:

First winery, Rancho Ponte. This was a nice place with a cool, punk rock server named Tuesday. Unfortunately, the wine was sub-par. Well, actually, it was bad. I’ll be honest. We blame Joe Jackson for this. We decided to slip on out of there and head to lunch. The Peach Tree Tea Room was adorable and quaint, just like it sounds. I felt very girly in there. We had some delicious food and headed out for more winery action!

Second winery was Becker. Amazing. They also have a lavender farm out there, and you know I’m a sucker for native Texas herbs. The place smelled so good. I felt so calm I could have laid down on the wine tasting bar and taken a siesta for twelve hours or so. But I managed to stay on task and we tried the wines. We all like Becker wine anyway, so this place was a shoe-in.

Third winery was Grape Creek. There was a country western guy singing outside and the wine was decent. That’s kind of all I remember. So there you go.

Fourth winery was Woodrose. Loved it. Very much. This was my favorite place, and I think that had more to do with the atmosphere than the wine. The wine was good, no doubt, but this was the only place where we had a table on a patio and the wine was brought to us. Everywhere else, we stood up and tasted the wines from a bar-like apparatus. The patio was shaded and we listened to a guy playing guitar and singing. It was hot outside, and we didn’t even notice because it was so fun there. Awesome Blossom ran into some old sorority sisters. Random. At least they weren’t Hymie’s sorority sisters. Rashelle and I would have never let her live that down.

Then we headed to the snootiest winery of the trip, Pedernales Cellars. Again, Joe Jackson’s fault. At least the view was spectacular and the wine was decent.

Last but not least, we stopped in Torre di Pietra. This place had potential, but unfortunately the kid that was serving us was a total jerk and was making fun of us the whole time. I felt like we had traveled to Dallas or San Antonio all of a sudden and were attending a bachelorette party at Dick’s Last Resort. You know how the waiters are mean to you there? Well, we got a taste of that at this place. Rollin with the Homies named him “Jacob” (not his real name), which I took a little offense to. Because that name is sacred and she knows it. But no matter, we downed our wine samples and hit the dance floor! This place had a live Beatles cover band, and we got down. Rollin with the Homies can do the tootsie roll like you’ve never seen. And Rashelle has more soul than all of us combined. We danced our socks off for one song, and then Bobby McGee joined us on the dance floor! He told us it was time to go, but once that dance machine started dancing, you couldn’t get him to stop! He said to us, “One more song!!!” which was fine with us. We reluctantly left the dance floor after that and headed back to our romantic cottage.

We laughed so hard in the limo on the way home, partly because we were very tipsy from 6 wineries and partly because we are just such great friends that we know how to hit each other’s funny bones. We ordered two of the most expensive pizzas we’ve ever had and sat on the patio of the big house next door until the wee hours of the morning. We had our iPod going, Rashelle and Rollin with the Homies taught the rest of us the “Kid and Play” dance. Where was I when this was popular? I do not remember doing this at Jacksonville High School Elite Night in the 8th grade…

We laughed. And we laughed. And there was nothing like it in the whole wide world.

This blog post stars the following cast:

Hymie (The Trip Planner and Itinerary Queen):

Awesome Blossom (The Engineer):

Rollin with the Homies (the Hot Momma):

Rashelle (the Rump Shaker):

And Yours Truly.