Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Survival of the Trippiest

When your best friend from childhood, who was the best man at your wedding, calls you up and asks you to be his best man, you’re pretty much going to say yes. And of course that’s what my husband did when he got that call. Yes, it threw our plans for a vacation the same week into a tizzy, but this was family. The kind of family you get to choose. The kind of family you show up for, even if it’s in Alabama.

No offense to Alabama. I mean, I love your song and your shoreline, but you are not the first place that comes to mind when I think romantic wedding getaway. But you are the bride’s home, so, Alabama , we’re yours for the weekend.

With much, much gratitude, we left the kids in the care of their very kind, generous, patient, and slightly masochistic grandparents, and we set off the long way, making lemons out of lemonade from the vacation that almost wasn’t. Sure, this wasn’t our original destination, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have a blast, now did it? So, we decided to make it a roundabout road trip. We broke out in full tourist mode, arriving in Memphis and promptly heading for Beale Street the first night and Graceland the next. How could you not? Little did we know we’d land smack in the middle of Biker night on Beale or that I’d quickly discover I am now old and barhopping is so far down the list of Things I Like to Do at Night, I’m pretty sure practicing my Mandarin is above it. But Hubs was happy, so I went with it. I just wish I’d worn better standing around shoes.

I love Graceland. It is awesome kitsch. I love the shag carpet, the paisley, the freaky fabric covered walls, the Tidy Bowl blue fountains, all of it. I even love the fact that the folks who designed the whole sightseer extravaganza clearly paid tribute to the ultimate tourist trap, Disneyworld, and made sure every single exhibit (and there are many, as every single thing Elvis ever breathed near was preserved for our viewing pleasure) leads out into a souvenir shop. Well played, Graceland.

Next stop: Nashville, home of my most wonderful friend that I’ve known since high school, so, roughly, since the time the earth cooled. My friend is 7 ½ months pregnant with her first child, and I couldn’t be more excited for her. I want to smother her with baby gifts (but it seems her mother has already done that, as is a grandma’s prerogative). I hadn’t seen her in months and months and months, and I kind of barged right in and insisted she let us spend the night, but she and her adorable husband (I want to keep him around just so I can make him say words in his awesome Aussie accent) welcomed us graciously and showed us some fine Tennessee cooking. They also took us to that weirdest, wildest, most creative ice cream parlor I’ve ever seen, and I would like to move in there are gain 50 pounds trying each and every flavor. I ate beet ice cream, people. And it was fantastic.

Locals to the area will easily guess our next tourist stop, given that we then had to head south toward Alabama. Why, yes, we did hook over to Lynchburg and pay our respects to the great Jack Daniel himself. It is such a crying shame that the county is completely dry, because the entire town smells like whiskey, and I do not care that you are not a drinker, you WILL want a drink. I am not a drinker, and I desperately wanted a drink with every fiber of my being.

When we finally made it to our hotel for the wedding, I was so happy to have enjoyed all this fun, but also jazzed that I had no responsibilities whatsoever in this shindig. The bridal itinerary (seriously) told us Hubs had to be at the church for pictures at 1:45 the next day. The wedding started at 5. That’s a long time to sit around in a tux. And me? I had all day to lounge around in a bed I didn’t have to make, read books, make sure the ice machine worked, and not take care of a child. Bliss. I will say that a wedding rehearsal in which you have no job but to sit there waiting is incredibly boring and yet very amusing in you have a tug of war between a stepmother of the bride and a coordinator with control issues. Please note I did not play Angry Birds (although I really wanted to).

The wedding was lovely, and even our last minute job of ferrying the happy couple from their hotel to the after party (read: the reception with alcohol) made for a ridiculous story of its own. The bride and groom are dreamily on their honeymoon, and I’m working on forgiving them for not hiding me in their luggage so I could go, too. We made the ride back without killing each other. Our final road trip rite of passage: eating at Cracker Barrel. And so, we returned to the land of laundry and giant piles of mail.

But they very best moment of all was when I walked back into my folks’ house, expecting the kids to completely ignore me, only to have Sammy sprint around the corner, tackle me in an enormous hug, and tell me he missed me with tears in his eyes. My big boy, so happy to see he, he cried. Doesn’t get any better than that.

Update: We just found out that the wedding photographer’s camera was stolen this week, and along with it, the memory care containing all the pictures from mid-ceremony on. I cannot imagine how devastating this must feel to the bride, groom, heck, everyone involved, not to mention how this must be the biggest nightmare for a wedding photographer. My heart breaks for them, as I send every snapshot I took, even the one in which my hair was rapidly deflating and I’m standing at a bad angle. Here’s hoping that lousy thief is caught red-handed soon.

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