It was the eve of Thanksgiving Eve. For the trip, I'd packed what seemed like my entire apartment into a a Diadora soccer bag and headed west.
West: where the North Dakota plains become hills, although you still can't tell the tallest from the shortest.
High on four hours of sleep and amped on weeks of lying to my parents, I didn't notice when Cowboy missed the turn for the interstate... within my city of residence.
Me: Colorado is that-a way... me thinks.
CB: Right. Gotcha. Thanks.
False starts, dark skies, house projects, blog writing and Christmas decorating weren't enough to keep us in North Dakota for the holidays. For Thanksgiving this year, I headed home. And I brought the Cowboy with me.
Freshly shaved and sporting a new haircut, the trip was one the Cowboy wasn't sure he'd make. But when he finally accepted the idea, he studied up on ESPN, namely, Notre Dame football, just so her could partake in man-conversation. Some girls need poetry, some girls need jewelry, but me, all I need is a Saturday in South Bend. Swoon.
Cowboy'd met the fam before. Perhaps you remember July... when my mom was all like, so what sort of genes are you passing to my grandchildren, how much money do you make and PS you'll be needing to run all your house plans by me. Then my dad, who likes to ask strangers how they smoke their crack, was all like, silent. And it wasn't even football season.
One of the best things about living so far from your family is you can tell everyone your everythings, and your parents never find out. Like, that one time I spent a night in jail. Mom still doesn't know (maybe I'm kidding about that?)
All the co-workers (and by all, I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. in my office of 50), law enforcement officers, county employees, neighbors, gas station attendants... They ALL knew the time of my departure, the route I was taking and what I'd packed for snacks. Oh mah god, they'd say, you're mom is going to be soooo excited. She might even cry. I hope so.
Ever since I wore diapers, I wanted to recreate the Folger's commercial. You know, the one when Peter surprises his fam and awakes them with the slow-roasted brew.
If this commercial doesn't make you tear, then you probably kill kitties and eat babies too. If so, GET OFF MY BLOG.
The only problem was, my mom had the day off, a detail not accounted for in my hour-by-hour, turn-by-turn Google map. She's a teacher so she never works. :) the day before Thanksgiving is a holiday.
So when my brother acted weird (i.e. cleaned his bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, planned a shopping excursion complete with lunch date) she knew something was up.
But that didn't keep her from doing her hair, a process that takes 45 minutes on a good day and an hour in a half when "White Christmas" is on.
In anticipation of our arrival, I awoke at 6 a.m. Wednesday in our hotel room in South Dakota.
The journey from Jamestown, where I live, to Colorado, where the fam lives, is about 800 miles or 12 hours. Since we left Tuesday after work, we decided to split the departure into two days.
For me, 6 a.m. is more likely reserved for coming home from the bars, rather than waking and beginning one's morning, but on days like Wednesday, time didn't matter.
Until I waited for mom's hair to dry.
See, my mom is the kind of lady who vacuums the oven on Christmas morning. If Jesus is coming, the windows must be washed, the ceiling spackled and all dust mites accounted for. And that's just for Jesus. It gets worse for her daughter's boyfriends.
So if Cowboy came over and her hair was in pins and curlers, she'd beat me with the flat iron refuse me the peanut butter balls she bakes ONLY at Christmas. And that punishment, I can not bear.
By 1:30, we'd arrived in Loveland, a mere five minutes from the Ryan abode. Don't come home yet, my brother said via text message, she just got out of the shower.
So we gassed up the car, bought a wash and didn't eat all the snacks I'd packed so as not to spoil the lunch I promised my brother I'd share with them.
By 2 p.m., the mom still wasn't ready, so we drove to the nearest bar for Bloody Ceasers -- a drink customary in the northern regions. It's made with clam juice. And tastes like salad dressing with too much pepper. Dislike.
At 2:30, she still wasn't ready but I WAS so we drove over anyway.
I get antsy in my pantsy for surprises and always ruin them. I think I was born with the defect. Like, when I was four, my dad took me shopping and when we got home I said MOM! I'm not going to tell you we got you a GREEN COAT for Christmas.
So when Cowboy and I parked the G6, I could barely hold my pee I was so excited to knock on the door. So instead of knocking, I rang the doorbell. Over and Over and Over I rang the doorbell. When she still didn't answer, I just walked in, to the house I've never lived, and asked where she kept her cafe verona.