28 Mar

Those were the most perfect 48 hours of my whole, entire life.  Certain times are held in my memory wrapped in a rosy glow, and this weekend in Atlanta with 6 of my best girls will have to join their ranks.  Last January I was going to Cancun on Friday morning with 4 of these friends to celebrate our turning 40, and on Thursday night, while I was going out to supper with my local best friends, I realized that my childcare plans had crumbled and I was stuck in West Texas in late January with three children and no back-up plan and a broken heart.  Which my girls here immediately took care of by throwing together a great party Saturday night and my parents came here on Sunday and we limped through.  But it was really sad.  Because I had separated from my husband about 5 months previously and lived in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t seen them for years and was turning 40, and in my honor, they were going to cheer me up.   And then I couldn’t go.

This January, Emily’s father, the beloved Mr. Jenkins, passed away after a brief struggle with glioblastoma.  I planned a trip to Atlanta to comfort her in early February and if you are a regular reader here at btc, you know that the winter weather canceled that trip.  Emily had turned our mutual bereavement session into a party and we were going to be staying in a hotel with Katharine and Melissa and Parmele and Morgan and Juliette.  That was another very big disappointment.  But then Parmele’s infamous Gran-gran passed away, so we would have missed her then.

And so we rescheduled.  For March 25.  And we all made it.  Even though Melissa’s grandfather is ill and every day is uncertain as to his condition, she took the chance and drove in from South Carolina.  That’s the kind of friendship we have.  She knew that if he had taken a turn for the worse we would have commiserated with her before she turned around to go right back home.

Emily and I addressed our sad circumstances by having seafood and a few drinks at lunch.  Then Katharine drove in from Alabama and found us and we helped her shop for the party she is hosting next weekend, and we planned her table decorations.  She explained that she had given up her credit cards for Lent.  And Sweets.  But she solved the shopping problem by charging her purchases to her husband’s credit cards instead of hers.  She has always been great at creative logic.  Anyway, we were sure he wouldn’t mind.

We stopped off to purchase a few provisions, including Garden and Gun magazine, where Emily had at least three, if not four stiries in the new issue.  She is a great photographer and magazines have her jetting all over the south to photograph houses, stores, and workshops.  We finally made it to the Hyatt where we were staying and we found Parmele and Melissa.  We took our own champagne to the lobby bar while we awaited Juliette and Morgan.

We all discussed the logistics of being sure that 15 children were cared for by seven fathers.  They all had a lot of phone calls with their husbands to tell them what activity was next, what the child should wear and take, who else needed to be picked up and what they should have for supper.  As usual, I just hoped that my children were safe and having a good time, but the details weren’t mine to arrange – thank goodness.

We went to a super-hip, sustainable gardening, locally grown, urban farmtable restaurant and enjoyed a great meal.  Unfortunately the beers at lunch and the champagne happy hour had caused me a horrific headache and right after supper, I had to go to bed.  Right after supper was about 11 p.m., so I didn’t mind too much.  The others stayed up with wine until the wee hours.  They were probably talking about me and comparing notes on how I seem to be doing, or maybe not but that is what I would have been doing.  I was glad they had the chance to talk about me outside of my hearing because I had begun that night to feel a little self-conscious.  It was like getting a divorce all over again because these girls all knew both of us and had not seen us since we started dating and then the early years of our marriage while they were all having weddings.  For those weddings, we flew to the Virgin Islands and Atlanta twice.  I missed Montgomery and Spartanburg, and I really wish I hadn’t, but Texas is so far away.

I almost was overwhelmed by emotion altogether.  (really? me?)   It was the combination of friendship and affection and adoration and gratitude and exhaustion and champagne and laughter and pride and embarrassment and disappointment and sadness and joy and all the rest of it.  Your typical catharsis.  And then there was that giant headache, so I was able to tuck into my sheets cozily and I never moved until 10:00 the next morning.  Bliss.

Katharine said that everyone she knew in Montgomery who had a party always made a trip to Atlanta to purchase their alcohol for the party, and since she was in Atlanta, she needed to stop and buy champagne and vodka.  So we parked at the liquor store while she went in and bought exotic items that they don’t posssibly export to Alabama, and Emily noticed that the car next to us contained my high-school-to-college boyfriend.  I did not get out, I did not speak to him.  I haven’t laid eyes on him since the summer of 1991.  And I was trapped in the way-back of a Tahoe fenced in by boxes of champagne and vodka.  And I hadn’t fixed my hair and he was with his wife and two babies.  I knew he lived in Atlanta, but what are the odds?  Of all the gin joints in all the world and he had to walk into mine?  I was probably shaking from the bizarreness of it all.

So we shopped all day and just had the most fun ever.  I bought some great shoes.  High platform wedge sandals with a rope sole, and get this – a see-through Lucite heel!  The swankiness knows no bounds.  They are awesome.

I think that is all I can report right now.  I am so tired, but I do have so much more to say.  About my seatmate on the flight over who was going to meet her online soulmate.  And the nice man I talked to today from Lubbock whose wife and children live in North Georgia and they aren’t divorced but have been separated for years and I probably offended him with my probing questions and my (very gentle, I promise) advice. 

And I still have to tell you about the makeover and the new jeans how I felt exactly like the baby elephant in a circle surrounded by the mothers who battle the lion or whatever predator is trying to eat the baby – or is that dolphins?  I don’t know.  I just know that my circle of moral and actual support extends far across the southern United States.  And Parmele makes me look positively docile when she has an opinion on something.  We all vowed to do a weekend at least once a year, so you will have to hold us to it.

more tomorrow, I promise.  You will not want to miss the story of my seatmate and her experiences in online dating.  I swear.


4 Responses to “soulmates”

  1. dad March 28, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    I take it you’re home. You see, you’re not the only parent, paying attention to your offspring…how long does it take (or last)? I dunno. So happy for the fine weekend.

  2. brightenthecorner March 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    we landed at 5:50 and I picked up children at 6 and took them to supper, grocery store, baths, almost fell asleep while putting Henry to bed, rolled Anna’s hair in pink foam rollers, wrote long, overly-effusive description of trip and fell into unconsciousness. Yes, I am home.

  3. Emily Followill March 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    I loved every minute! Thanks for putting it all in writing! Again, I admire all you are and all you are doing!

  4. Sadie March 29, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    I loved your description of the weekend. It was like a good movie…a tearful moment but lots of laughing. I want an autographed copy of your first book.

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