Hi guys -
I promised a vaca post and the only way I can properly explain the magnitude of a week with The Boyfriend and The Boyfriend's Mom Jo-Jo in a car is to break it down day by day. I'm going to go ahead and apologize in advance for the epic proportions of this post, but I CAN'T HELP IT. The good news here is that I've divided up the Foland/Dutton/Cooper-Thumann-What-Is-My-Last-Name Vacation of 2017 into three different posts (I think).
Also Known As: The Day I Met Lexington, Nebraska
Alternatively Titled: The Day The Boyfriend Surprised His Aunt Because He Refuses To Call People First
We started our morning bright and not really all that early and headed to York, Nebraska to pick up The Boy's Momma.
Let's all take a moment here to appreciate the fact that I packed a little bit at a time over a week-long span. The Boyfriend packed in fifteen minutes thirty minutes after we were supposed to depart. Boys and girls are so dang different.
We picked up Jo-Jo and off we went. We decided to stop in Lexington to see Craig's aunt. Her name is Virginia. (Hi, Virginia!) Vuh-GIN-ya, as I call her in my head, is a sassy woman who has a throaty laugh and four rocking chairs on her screened in porch. She offered me cupcakes and iced tea, but I declined KNOWING that there was Mexican food on the horizon. We sat on that porch for close to two hours. I soaked up all of the stories and promised myself I'd remember them all.
What I remember most about Vuhginya's house is that she laughed about nearly everything and so did her husband, Gene. The Boyfriend's mom smiled hard and we traded all. the. snake. stories. My rocking chair smelled like the farm. I learned about Foster Brooks, and when it was time to go, we toured her flower beds and potting shed and I stood for a second and wished Lexington wasn't quite so far away.
And then I had Mexican food.
A couple of quick, important things about Day One:
Sidney did their fireworks on Monday night, which has really done some kind of number on my memory. But listen. This was one of the best nights - I am not even lying one single bit.
We met Dick and Gloria, whom Craig and Jo-Jo both speak so fondly of. Gloria is soft spoken, and Dick has a wild twinkle in his eye and loves all of the people and things. Gloria is a COLLECTOR of angels and Christmas villages, and Dick's biggest joy in life, I suspect, is catering to her and loving on her. Plus, Dick had his gallbladder out too, so we're practically related.
My good gracious. We sat around the table that Dick bought specifically so that his very large family could all sit together at holidays and my goodness, we laughed. And when we moved outside, we watched the fireworks going off way in the distance - I was still laughing quietly to myself.
After the fireworks a family or two left, but we stuck around. Time gently slowed and stories volleyed back and forth across the table. I didn't know any of them, but I didn't feel like an interloper. I sat in a wooden chair that had been retrieved from a darkened guest room and felt like I belonged. Dick looked at me several times with his eyes twinkling, getting so excited at times that he had to sit on his hands.
We left that night promising to come back the next day. As we drove through the streets that both Craig and His Momma knew like the backs of their hands, they both smiled to themselves. Neither one of them consider their home to be Sidney, Nebraska, but little pieces of them float up on certain street corners and tiny crevices of their hearts still beat a little for that place.
Day Two: Sidney, Nebraska - In Four Parts
Also Known As: ALL THE PEOPLE.
Part One: My favorite friend Kelli arrived for a quick visit. She was actually Craig's friend first, but I hijacked her and I'm probably never going to give her back. She breezed into our hotel and sat on the lobby couches with us for about an hour. There was easy conversation about Taco Sauce (again with the link, please, please, please because #delicious and only $1.50), our parents, and the band Chicago and Kenny Rogers (not together).
Okay. I have to stop for a second. Do you know how you have friends that have been through the fire? And they just walk out of the other side like some kinda Wonder Woman? That's Kelli. She's a spark, and she's smart, and she makes me laugh every time I talk to her. I just feel like we all should have strong people in our corners, and she's a heavy hitter in mine.
Part Two: We went back to Dick and Gloria's and I about died. There wasn't a snake, but there were THINGS like Model T cars and Thunderbirds and a LICENSE PLATE FROM GUAM (Birthplace of moi!) and school chairs and signs and wagons and ALL THE THINGS I LOVE. I felt like a squirrel. Something shiny? Something rusted? Something with a horn? And then there was another shed. And another. And a son with a GIANT shed.
Dick is like Yoda. A master. A soft spoken man that is as smart as a whip and misses absolutely nothing.
(He's also survived a rattle snake bite, and on that note, BYYYYYYYYE Dick and Gloria.)
Part Three: Fereda's house - Craig's Aunt
Craig has #alltheaunts. It's so unfair. I have like four. He has like 274.
There, we met Fereda, Stephanie (haaaay girl), Stephanie's husband, Steve, Stephanie's son, Zach, Stephanie's daughter Emily, and Emily's boyfriend-whose-name-I-can't-remember BECAUSE THERE ARE ALREADY TOO MANY NAMES. Steve made hamburgers and Stephanie cut me a piece of ice cream cake and I kinda left there actually maybe even liking the cat. And THAT, my friends, is saying something about those people.
We sat around another table that I suspect has been in the same place for decades (or I like to think it has). The senior portraits of Kenneth and Fereda's two daughters hang on the wall (#allthebangs), the fireworks popped outside, and not one of us wanted to say see you later.
Timeout: There is a reason we stopped in Sidney. When Craig first mentioned it, I sort of laughed a little. I'd never been to Sidney, and I was very confused about the whole sitch. But I get it now. We met some salt of the Earth people. People that love with warm palms and with floating memories and with quiet I love yous spoken through actions. I'm so thankful for the two days we spent there.
Part Four: WE WENT TO COLORADO FOR A SEC.
We went to visit one of Jo-Jo's friends from back in the day, and she lives in Colorado. We passed the Colorado state line sign on a gravel road and I was momentarily confused about whether or not we should stop and take a picture -- but listen. Rattle snakes mixed with the dark all combined with my non-spring-chickenness, and no. We did not get out on the side of the road to take a picture with a Colorado sign.
Sandee and her huz welcomed us with a fire and dogs and bug spray. The Boyfriend and I sat in a double rocker and the stars - well. The only place they're better is in Texas. #amen
My favorite, most favorite part of Part Four is that we sat outside - me in jeans and a sweater - and I hardly spoke a word. Instead, I leaned into The Boyfriend's side and listened to his momma reconnect with a friend that helped her through a rocky season. They traded stories, I petted a dog or two, and my pants smelled like campfire for the rest of the week.
The Boyfriend and Jo-Jo both smile with their eyes first. Their eyes squint together and THEN their cheeks rise and their smile lifts. And so when they do smile, it's with their whole face. Both of their faces completely change with laughter. It's a powerful thing to witness, and I got to see it over and over.
I admit - Days 1 and 2 were both marathons. By the end, my brain was fried. ALL THE NAMES, guys. All of them. I think that I'm fresh out of memory space for names. Because students. And all of Craig's aunts.
It's a good thing I got a rest for Days 3-5. :)
I'll be back later this weekend with The REST of the Story.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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