Huckleberry Mountain Adventures

It was August of 1991 and I had just moved to Morgantown for Round 3 of my college experience.  I promised myself (and my parents… because they forced me) that this time would be different and I was going to focus on classes and learning and actually graduating from college.  Not just the fun stuff like partying and boys (which, for the record, was pretty fun).

In an attempt to follow through on that promise, I walked into my Intro to Biology class and took a seat right up front.  Normally, I would sit somewhere in the back so the professor would not necessarily know that I was too hungover to show up for a lecture.  This time, though, I planned to show up every day.  It was a pretty large class – almost a hundred students – and people began filling in every other seat, all the way to the back of the lab.  Then, just as class was about to begin, an old man came in and sat down in the seat right next to me.

Now, when I say “old man,” you should realize that I had the perspective of a self-centered twenty-year-old, so anybody who looked like they could legally buy me beer was automatically “old.”  It turns out that this particular old man was only about thirty.  He kept whispering ornery and sarcastic comments to me throughout the class, and even though he used the word y’uns way too often, I decided that we should be friends.

So friends we became.  We would talk before class and we got to know each other pretty well.  He had been happily married for a few years and his wife, now a pharmacist, worked as a paralegal at a local law firm.  I naturally looked to him for advice and approval when Sheepdog and I started dating a few months into the semester.  It was not hard to see the Marine in him when he met my fiancé for the very first time.  Protective and annoying, he was like the big brother I had always wished for.  We all became very good friends during our time at WVU.  And it was no surprise when he was the one who stood next to Sheepdog as his Best Man at our wedding.  It was also no surprise (especially to the girl who originally befriended him for his ornery ways) that his speech included the wish for our marriage that “all of [our] ups and downs be between the sheets.”

Afterwards, Sheepdog and I moved to Alabama for work and then back to New Jersey to be closer to my family.  The Marine hadn’t yet graduated, so he and his wife (and their awesome kid/ golden retriever, Gracie) stayed in Morgantown.  When we traveled to West Virginia to visit Sheepdog’s family, we would often work in visits to see the Marine and the Paralegal/ Pharmacist as well.  But once we started having our own kids it got harder and more inconvenient to make that extra stop.  And since we kept having kids, our get-togethers became less and less frequent.  They moved away.  We moved again.  And again.  Ironically, we all ended up in Georgia at one point and they came to visit us, but it was not the same.

Then last spring, we caught up with them at a couple of art shows where the Marine was selling bowls that he carves from reclaimed wood.  They invited us up to their home in North Carolina and we all went up the mountain to visit them last May.  We went on long walks and made jam and s’mores and told stories around the campfire.  It was awesome.

We had so much fun that we invited ourselves back this past weekend.  We rode on the 4-wheeler and hiked some new trails and watched the playoff games in front of a roaring fire with an awesome spread of layered nachos, buffalo wings and pizza.  The Marine took me out to his range and let me shoot his .40 pistol, as always emphasizing safety and reinforcing proper technique.  We compared abilities to assemble and disassemble things while blindfolded under pressure in the dark (things like heavy fire or conditions involving vomit or poop) – him an M-16, me a crib.  Still protective and annoying.  Still just like the big brother I had always wished for.

There are many times in my life that I live in the moment.  Then there are times when I am a little more contemplative.  This weekend had both.  I continue to be amazed by the seemingly random circumstances which have brought certain people into my life.  And I will continue to be grateful evermore.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Keeping Up With the Kids – LAX Bro Slang

I’m going to start a new post category today called Keeping Up With the Kids. I will include all sorts of ways that my kids make me feel old (tumblr.com, anyone?) and how I am compensating for/ coping with such abominations. Let’s remember that (in my own mind) I am about nineteen to twenty-two years old, despite the fact that my body is screaming otherwise at me. I still think I am totally cool and hip and in touch with the youth of America. And I’ll also tell you that my sisters and I make fun of (note: present tense) our mom for not knowing any slang or how to upload music to her iPod or even how to turn on her cell phone. So I am continually paying attention and trying to follow what the kids are saying and doing. I’m really just trying to keep up with them so they don’t start making fun of me…

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Yesterday Kid A (asked to come), Kid E (everyone else asked that he go) and I went over to Sister B’s house (she is having her turn out-of-town at the beach… I’m so jealous) because she said we could borrow some DVDs. While I was inside I took a look in her nightstand to see if she kept anything untoward in there (she totally DOES!)… just kidding. And that’s what you get for not submitting a guest post. Thanks for letting us borrow your movies, Case. I love you!

…sorry, I got sidetracked… so we were on our way over to Sister B’s house and as we were turning into her neighborhood I watched a teenage boy pull up to the traffic light in a rusted up, old Bronco with a raised body and muddy tires and I said, “Did you see the size of that?” And Kid A said, “That’s called ‘lettuce.'” And I was all, “I thought it was a lift kit?” and she looked at me like I was drunk.

“That boy’s hair, mom. When boys – usually lacrosse players, or ‘LAX bros’ – grow their hair out long like that it is called ‘lettuce.’ And when they tie it back they use a ‘flow band.'”

That is some fresh lettuce for a football player, Tommy.

I was learning new, hip jargon and I didn’t even have to look it up on urbandictionary.com! I felt so cool, so in touch. I kept asking her the proper ways to use these new words, and I kept attempting new combinations and possible scenarios. But for some reason my brain wasn’t working right and I kept calling it “cabbage.”

So by the time we got to Sister B’s driveway and we got out of the car, Kid A had just about enough of me and our Lesson of the Day. I was still screwing up all of the words and I didn’t want her to be frustrated with me so I started to do the Cabbage Patch dance real smooth, you know? Then I took out my ponytail and I let my own giant hair down. And I asked Kid A if she had a ‘lettuce wrap’ to tame my awesome ‘flow.’ Then I got hungry for some chinese food.

Kid A just sighed and then I think she posted something about me on her tumblr.com account.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…