Orlando, FL to Grand Rapids, MI
It’s the last Friday of May 2012, late into the night, so I suppose it’s really early Saturday morning. I have just celebrated my last night in Central Florida with about thirty of my friends and I have nothing left to do but lie on the couch with my feet propped, large grin on my face and repeatedly thank God for the last five months. The experience was rich, the people real and the time so regenerating upon the prior state of my restless, twenty something soul. If there were hiccups, they were mild and quickly remedied by a Family Dinner or a conversation with one of the many loving friends I had acquired. It’s almost unreal, maybe even incorrect how flawless that time was, but there I lied, into the night, relentlessly and joyfully thanking God for everything.
During my time there, I kept in touch with the three musketeers and even roped two thirds of them into driving up to the Midwest with me toward my next location. Jessica traveling with two boys, all of my dreams had come true.
The trip started off strong – last looks with my closest friends at a coffee shop. What exactly is a last look? How do you actually perform a last look? Glad you asked. A last look is an intensive stare designed to provoke emotion upon the subject in which you are giving the last look. Tilt your head in an unnatural direction, completely obsolete to which direction you are actually looking. Proceed to pierce your eyes upon your subject in a manner somewhere between a stare and a glare. This technique will produce effective last looking.
I did this all throughout my going away party. I’d whisper someone’s name across the room, grab their attention and last look the sense out of them. But seriously, it only made people self-conscious, looking themselves up and down wondering if they had something on them, or did something wrong. A couple people even left their conversations, traveled across the room toward me, with a raised brow wondering what I had to say.
Right before we left for the coffee shop, as the boys were so kindly packing up the last remains of what I own into my car, I hear one of them, Leighton, yell, “Jessica! We are not taking this bag of hangars!”
Stubborn rage instantly swells in my stomach. Last time I road tripped across the country, I left the hangars and you know what, I spent about fifty bucks on hangars upon my arrival into Florida. There was no way I was doing it again. We were bringing the hangars.
“Over my dead body!” I yell back, “We are bringing those hangars!” We do this back and forth for a while – iron wills battling over a trash bag full of about a hundred white, plastic hangars. I somehow let my guard down, get distracted and disengage from the battle. My first mistake.
On our way to the coffee shop, during mid-sentence, the other musketeer, Jason, begins cackling. His only excuse – he had just thought of something funny. My defenses build, my senses strengthen and I know something is fishy. It takes about thirty seconds and then I see it. As we were following Mj’s car, that resembles more of a toaster than an actual car, toward the coffee shop, I see it. There in her back window is a white trash bag bulging with hangars – my hangars!
“Leighton! Those are my hangars!” I yell, completely amazed with his unashamed, creative and strategic move.
Then, ever so calmly, as he was lounging in my backseat, through a cheeky smirk, Leighton casually states, “Oh yeah. We’re not bringing those.”
Through yells, rage and a whole lot of laughing, I assure him that we are in fact, bringing those hangars.
When we arrive, I immediately tell the girls what Leighton has done and recruit them to get the hangars back into my car. They oblige, but Danielle, who was conveniently in town and well acquainted with Leighton says to me, “You know Jess, even if you get these hangars in your car, Leighton will just sneakily throw them in a dumpster at your first stop.” Deep in my heart, I know this is true. He would stop at nothing and at the very least, throw them out the window one by one along the way. But my will raged on and I grabbed that bag and shoved it into the very last spot opened for any last piece of anything in my car. I pushed, I punched, I recombobulated. And no matter what I did, the hangars did not fit and only hung over awkwardly onto the lucky person who got to sit in the back seat.
Tragically, Leighton was right, those hangars were not going anywhere.
I took a deep breath, played my cards correctly and still battled it out with Leighton. I did this all so we could “compromise” by him paying me for the hangars. “Fine!” he yelled, “I’ll just give you money if we don’t take the hangars!”
Honestly, I think we all won, in some way.
After coffee, in a little less than a day’s time,
Leigh and Jason at The Chocolatier in Chattanooga, TN
the three of us booked it up to Leighton’s hometown, where we spent the weekend before I took my leave for my summer dwellings. It was an awesome weekend, full of relaxing, new people, a total crush on Leighton’s dad who spent the weekend trying to convince me to come back in November for deer hunting,
Picking out my gun for November
a family farm and an adult pool party – which sounds dirty, but isn’t, I’ve just never been to a pool party as an adult.
So here I have been now, for a few weeks, in Chicago.