I have returned.
I have returned from a week of the relentless pace of travel, the tiring luxury of tourism, hours and hours of backseat-riding and sightseeing. Back from being in a place where people from all over the place (but mostly Oklahoma and Arkansas) gather to have a good time. Back from the unavoidable loneliness of plain and simple homesickness. ;-P Back from seven days of seeing new places, trying new things, and living chapters of life that were heretofore unopened, but are now sweet memories I can tell stories about, think of and smile, and look back on forever.
So hello again, dear readers! Did you miss me?
I missed y'all. I missed home a lot, actually. The lilacs and the sound of the neighbor's tractor, my cat waking me up in the morning, hanging out clothes on the line, playing with the bunnies, making popcorn in the evenings. And watching Poldark. (My horrible family went ahead and finished the series WITHOUT ME and now I'm feeling the burn of vengeance in my soul. Look out.) I don't know -- every time I go somewhere I'm reminded of just how attached I am to my family and my home. When everything's foreign, it affects my mood and makes me feel so distant from everything that's familiar and dear to me. And the longer I'm away from my family, the more "on my own" I start to feel, and the more loneliness creeps into my heart -- even when I'm with other people I love, like my aunt and uncle (who really are awesome). There comes a point when you can't rely totally on your family, and you've got to rely on the strength and good sense you're given and the God who gave it to you. When I think about myself years ago, I know I'm stronger....but then, when I think about myself leaving home and going to college, it makes me want to cry. At the same time....I want it so much. I guess it just goes to show how far I've got still to go.
But I really did have an AMAZING time and I'm grateful for it. :-)
I didn't even tell you where I went, did I? Well now! I went to Branson, Missouri, which has got to hold some kind of record for the amount of hotels, resorts, theaters, and museums you can fit in one city. And yes, every time I say the name, still, I can't help picturing my riotous Irish chauffeur in the car garage with his coat off and his shirtsleeves rolled up.
So here's what I did last week.
- I saw miles and miles and miles of interstate from Pennsylvania through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally Missouri, and I realized, after watching all those big farms roll past my window, I am totally and completely a farmer. Farms make me so happy. I think I have dirt in my blood. (Ew, sorry, that sounds kinda gross. But you get the picture.)
- I saw license plates from pretty much every state in the Union except for Alaska, Hawaii (which is not at all surprising) and Wyoming. It is my belief that this is because Wyoming people live on ranches and they don't take vacations.
- I saw Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, and wooooowwwwwwza. I have literally never seen anything like it in my life and may never again.
- I went on a showboat -- the Branson Belle -- and same, it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I loved it. Especially the part where the performers came out and sang snippets of famous movie songs. I cheered loudly when one fellow came out dressed up as a cowboy and started singing, "Ooooooooklahaoma!" and my cousin and I basically exploded when two sailors came out singing "There is nothing like a dame!" for, um, very private and complicated reasons. Ahem.
- I saw Sight & Sound's production of Moses and OH MY STARS AND STRIPES. Absolutely incredible. Has anyone seen Sight & Sound before? You know what I'm talking about? I didn't even know that stuff was possible. Like, how.
|The theater at Sight & Sound (sir, put your phone away. Sheesh.)|
- Mary and I went swimming late at night in the outdoor pool at the place we stayed, and were overjoyed to realize they had their radio programmed on the country station and even more overjoyed when we heard some of our favorite songs. It felt like home. :-) John Pardi's Head Over Boots For You somehow became our theme song for the trip. Don't know how that happened.
- We went to Silver Dollar City for two days and experienced all of that. It's basically a huge theme park with lots of little shops, museums, demonstrations, cafes, theaters, roller coasters...you get the idea. They were having their annual Bluegrass and Barbecue festival, so we got to see some musicians, including The Willis Clan! I'd never heard of them before, but I'm now their newest fan. We went to one of their shows in the morning and then I went back to see them again that afternoon. The way the kids bantered with each other reminded me of my sister and I, and their music was like a salve to my weary soul. I kind of love them. (Oh yeah, and West Coast Swing dancing is officially my new favorite thing. Just WATCH THIS and you'll understand.)
- I may mention that I sort of developed a rather inconvenient crush on Jackson Willis, which on the other hand maybe I shouldn't admit to....
- I told you there were roller coasters? Yes. Well. You should know I have not ridden on any type of roller coaster in at least six years. I have a history of being traumatically terrified of them and for the past six years I shied away at every opportunity. Well....this particular day, I was feeling daring. It took some coaxing, and some moaning and groaning and long deliberation on my part, but long story short, I rode a roller coaster. And when that went well and I realized to my surprise and utter delight that I wasn't afraid anymore, I rode another....and another...and I absolutely loved it. It was one of those exciting moments when you realize, Hey. I can do this.
- I went down in a mine. As in, a creepy, dark cave under the earth. Yes, it was scary. But it wasn't hardly as bad as the one dude made it seem, and hey, I made it out!
- I went up in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis!!!! Now, that was a little scary too. We had to cram into a little compartment about the size of an EOS lipbalm, and then we were transported to the very top of the thing. Looking out onto the city, and the river, and everything for 20 miles.....it was amazing.
There were lots of wonderful little things....like the friendly waitresses we saw at restaurants along the way, the familiar country songs we could barely hear on the radio over the talking patrons, the long walks down 45-speed-limit roads outside hotels in Indiana, the awesome strangers who suddenly became friends, calling home and talking with Mama and Sadie again, sleeping outside on the screened-in porch. I couldn't possibly tell you everything. But these are some of the things, the ones I'll remember.
So, now that I'm back I have resolved to learn the guitar and how to swing dance. ;-) I'm also really excited to dive back into my novel that I'd almost finished plotting out before I left. I MUST WRITE. Going for a whole week without writing is like a monkey having to go without bananas. It's like...a horse having no grass to eat. It's like not eating popcorn. Torturous, people. I didn't take my laptop with me and in some ways it was really nice to have a break from everything, but I'm sooooo glad to feel the keyboard under my fingers again. :-) And now there'll be work to do on the farm, getting ready to open our stand, which will mean lots of new adventures and fun around here.
I'm really glad to be home to live it all. :-)
What have y'all been up to? (And yes, I may have picked up something of a southern accent from being around so many people from the south.)
Anything fun to share? Do you have plans for the summer?
And pssssssst.......only FIVE MORE DAYS TILL NAOMI COMES!!!!