No worries. I couldn't wait to click that seat belt. A 4-hour drive with no kid-chatter? Sign me the heck up.
He had a fast car. And I had a plan to get us outta here. We wouldn't have to drive too far. Just cross the border and into the city.
Oh, and his car isn't really fast. It's a 1995 Pontiac Sunfire with the windshield wipers stuck straight up.
Exactly 1.5 hours into the trip, we hit a snow storm so fierce that the wipers went momentarily horizontal. I don't know if I've told you this before, but I'm increasingly skittish about the Toll Road. Toll Road + snow + gale force winds + truckers blowing past us like we're strolling the shoulder with two walkers and false teeth? I'm done.
We pulled over and went looking for a hotel.
Cory ran in to the first one we found. A Hilton Something-or-other. Mid-grade. Nice-ish. 100 big ones for a night. He ran back out and called a Best Western, which clocked in at fifteen dollars less. He reported that both had a free continental breakfast, and we set out to save fifteen bucks.
But we had trouble finding it and I suddenly became so astonishingly tired that I didn't think I could drive one more mile, so we turned around and went back to Paris Hilton.
We got a luggage cart and loaded up 2 duffel bags, one pair of boots, one camera bag, one purse, two loose apples, a magazines and a box of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal - maple flavored.
On the way in, the wind stretched my cheeks back like in the movies. I don't know which movies, but I remember seeing it before.
Inside, Cory pulled out his credit card just as I caught a large, looming sign. "Breakfast served 7 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. $7.95 per person."
Me (whispering): The breakfast isn't free.
Him: Oh, it isn't?
Him (looking at the lady about to swipe his card): Is the breakfast free?
Lady: No, it's $7.95 per person. Full omelette bar, fresh waffles, fresh frui-"
Him: I'm sorry, I think we're going to head on up the road.
Lady: Oh??? (awkward pause) Sorry. (hands back the credit card)
Let me say, there's no graceful exit when all of your crap is on their cart.
We headed back out to the storm and I don't know what I was thinking, but I immediately jumped back into the passenger seat. I leapt, really. I didn't move a solitary item from the cart to the car. It didn't even cross my mind.
Cory noticed, though.
The Best Western was... drab. A tinge depressing. We watched a little Fox News, a little Chelsea, a little House Hunters. We fell asleep spread eagle on our own personal Queen size beds. Don't hate. It's a personal kind of luxury to have all my toes hanging off the edges of the bed.
Somewhere around 4 a.m. we woke to the sound of a crying baby.
Cory: You have GOT to be kidding me.
Next day, I realized I had no hair conditioner. No hair styling product.
I did, however, still have the two loose apples.
Incidentally, the BW doesn't offer complimentary hair conditioner.
I would be greeting my friends with flattened hair. Flatter'n flat.
I threw it in a wet ponytail and we headed out for our highly prioritized free continental breakfast.
Only there was none.
The food was gone. And it was only 8:30.
Cory kindly pointed out the lack of food to the lady with the dark brown lip liner. She glared at him. "I just re-filled it FIVE minutes ago."
And that was the end of that.
But at least the storm had cleared.
If I ever own a steel plant, I'm painting it aqua and I will only allow red and yellow trains to carry my cargo.
A few hours later, I was face-to-face with this beauty. I used to stock plastic shoes with her in the Meijer shoe department, about eighteen thousand years ago.
We looked like this, only we were usually wearing red button-down smocks and Mollie was always with us. (Hey, Mol! Wish you were there.)
Now we're actual ladies and we wear cardigans and hold babies and fry bacon.
And we both married boys named Cory.
Hey, look! It's The Corys! That's what we called them - The Corys. Don't they look happy together? They're real techy and smart. I love The Corys. Some more than others.
Sarah accompanied me to Courtney's book signing for A Sweethaven Summer.
I was so proud. And she looked so pretty! And my hair was so. dang. flat.
Also, I just decided: I'll not be wearing my scarf like that, moving forward. I'll stick with my traditional multi-loop. It looks too chokey. Like I'm hiding something.
Later that night Sarah and I hit up the town with The Corys for a fireside dinner and beverages. Then we headed to Dixon, IL for Courtney's book release partay.
And the punch.
I've never fancied myself much of a punch girl. Until that night. It was cranberry juice on crack. It had floating apple slices. I drank four cups.
I wish you could at least see it. It's hiding right there behind me and the Fancy Author.
Courtney was a superstar. People came in droves and I felt simultaneously proud of my friend and jittery-jealous that I couldn't shove all of her admirers out the back door so we could sit at a tiny table and talk for an hour or two. And drink punch.
Ah well, we'll always have Dallas.
Me: Yeah. We don't want a bunch of posed shots. Just get some candids.
Cory: But you're just....sitting on a couch. Talking.
So then we started pretending to be candid. And then we got to laughing and all of our chins came out and Sarah started waving her hand like a laughing grandma and I scrunched up my nose because it was so dang funny. And Cory got the shot.
In hindsight, I may have romanticized the whole "candid" idea. But I sure was happy.
That's the kind of weekend it was.