Saturday, October 22, 2016

When You Only Get One Life (eat meatballs and buy banjos)

I am aware that even though I really, really like cats, I am not actually a cat myself. Because of that, I only have one life. One! Not nine! Just one. Sometimes this makes me rejoice because, well, just look around you. This place is pretty freaking cray cray. But sometimes it makes me sad, because (eternal reward aside,) this is the only chance we get. The only chance to have earthly adventures, make connections, have somewhat irresponsible, while not immoral, fun.

This past week, we traveled. My sister-in-law was getting married in Boston, and we planned out a week of adventuring around that one big, joyous event. We drove out east overnight Thursday and arrived mid-afternoon at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, where we had rented one night in an airbnb beach house. Off-season made the price excellent and we had so much fun in our less-than-24-hours on the beach, it was just delightful. We had never been to New England, and the coast was so beautiful. It was warmish, enough that we could take off our shoes and socks, get a little bit wet, but not swim. We climbed on the beautiful rocks, chased waves, dug holes, found shells, and made a funny sand hippo. We got our morning coffee and pastries at a little seaside coffee shop the morning after an evening dinner at a fun little restaurant/bar just a few blocks from our rental.

From New Hampshire, we drove south just one hour to Boston, where The Happy Couple had generously booked us a room at the Hotel Buckminster. The timeline sent us directly to the home of our (at the time almost-) brother-in-law, where we had drinks and the two joining families met and mingled. It was very nice! From there, to the rehearsal, then on to the (fantastic bbq) rehearsal dinner. And the next morning.... up and getting four flower girls and myself, a bridesmaid, ready with the bride and other bridesmaids and flower girl before the big, beautiful wedding, which was tremendously beautiful.

The reception was a blast; Greta had the time of her life.

I think it helped to curb the sadness of the wedding weekend ending that we had planned to spend Sunday exploring Boston on our own before driving through the night to Virginia where my brother and his family lives. Boston was great. We visited Boston Common (such an interesting history!) and the Boston Public Gardens, where we saw a girl busking with her stand up bass, playing and singing jazzy songs. We'd never been to Boston and it was fun to see, though we are definitely not city mice.

Of course, the visit to Virginia was great. Nine girl cousins combined, friends and family, wine and good food for two full days. It was just what we needed to cap off the trip, too; by the time we were driving home, we couldn't do another all-nighter and stopped at a hotel (a very odd Holiday Inn, decorated like a lodge belonging to a kitschy grandmother and a big game hunting grandfather. Taxidermy and raffia scarecrows everywhere. Really weird.) The drive home was somewhat terrible. Driving in the day with four children is a lot different than driving through the night with them while they all sleep soundly in the back. We made a lot of stops. One was to an IKEA for meatballs and a few things we actually needed, and another was to Moore's Music Emporium, where I bought a pretty delightful little banjo.

I have been wanting a banjo for many years. I had one for awhile, but Toddler Greta broke it (sadly, and by accident) and before it was ever fixed, it was stolen when our old house was robbed. And this is the part of my story about life and how I think it's ok to act irresponsibly sometimes. It's easy for me to think this way because I am a Youngest Child, and it's easy for me to find support in this way of thinking from my husband, because he is a Youngest Child too! (they say that Youngest Children should never marry each other... I can see why this is true. BUT.... we have LOTS of fun.)

When we began planning this trip back in the spring, we were broke as a joke. We intentionally didn't book ourselves a hotel room anyplace because we didn't have the money for one. We just waited and waited, hoping something would fall into place, planning to take our tent and find an open campground nearby, if we needed a place to spend the night. During one of our better paychecks, we put away a chunk of money in a coffee can and hid it in a cabinet. That was our trip money. And we planned our trip entirely around that very small budget.

But evidently, while we aren't very good at being responsible, we ARE good at being thrifty, because we never exceeded our budget! Not even close! That was why, on the trip back home, we decided it was worth the money to make memories by going to IKEA when the kids were all being completely crazy and we couldn't make it four more hours in the car and remain sane. And that's why, just across the river from Wheeling, West Virginia, we stopped into Moore's Music Emporium, located down the street from the Sunoco station where we fueled up, and I walked in and bought a good banjo for a good price, and then we had live music for the drive home.

Now we're back home. We're still broke, but now we have better band practices because we've added a banjo to the mix. Even with buying the banjo and going to IKEA for silverware and succulents, we didn't spend our budget! But even if we had, it would have been absolutely worth it for the memories of playing Orphan Girl while driving down the I-70 and the memories of being so humiliated by my children when they were screaming in the kitchen marketplace area at IKEA, and hollering about how they hate lingonberry everything, and then the memories of a never-ending drive from Cincinnati to home as we tried to dodge tornadoes moving through the area. No regrets! Because we only get one life! And honestly... sometimes that's a big relief to me.