The Big Chill
I feel the panic start to rise up in me as I browse the health and beauty section looking for hair gel. I’m in a tiny store located inside Lubbock Preston Smith Airport and my plane departs for San Antonio any minute now.
Why can’t I find a travel-size tube of Tresseme hair gel? Why is this so vitally important right this second? Do they not have hair gel in San Antonio? Will I start crying again? I’ve been randomly crying since my family buried my stepdad AKA Bill a few days ago.
Deciding to board a plane in the midst of a panic attack probably is not a good idea, but I have to get to San Antonio (with or without hair gel) to see my buddies and enjoy the long weekend we have been planning for months.
In an effort to reach a more Zen-like state of being, I’m sitting in my tiny baby airplane seat and taking deep breaths. That’s when the thought pops into my head, “If this a-hole sitting next to me doesn’t start sharing the arm rest I’m going to go mental, again.” Apparently the a-hole has picked up on my extreme discomfort because he moves his arm and starts digging in his giant backpack which is resting on my leg.
If only I hadn’t taken an Ativan earlier, I would have a huge glass of Riesling and I don’t even care that it’s not even noon. I don’t really take to medication so I sure as hell better not start mixing meds and booze or I might start talking to the angels. That wouldn’t really be a bad thing, but it’s the sort of thing that is frowned upon in public.
I finally land in San Antonio, and head straight to the Havanna Hotel where I literally stagger into the welcoming arms of my buddies. They arrived hours ago and have been drinking margaritas all afternoon. All I can do is cry and try to explain what is wrong with me even though I don’t understand it myself.
Now there’s nothing left to do but dry my tears and play catch up because my buddies are two to three drinks ahead of me at this point. We head over to Bohanans for a fancy, schmancy dinner and some beverages.
We have added to our cast of characters with the addition of a friend of a friend who now lives just outside of San Antonio. I have never met her and I instantly hate her because she is beautiful, blonde and thin. She is also very funny and she and I bond over what is arguably the worse meal I have ever had in a fancy, schmancy restaurant, and I have had probably more than my share of these kind of meals.
It’s funny but it’s so much easier to bond with a stranger, or anybody else for that matter, when booze is involved. Have you ever noticed that?
The rest of the night is a blur, but I do recall being asked by a short, balding man in a wrinkled red robe to please lower my voice as I was sitting on the hotel veranda enjoying yet another beverage with my buddies.
The next day began with a pretty heavy duty hangover and breakfast at one of my favorite places, Cracker Barrel. I know Cracker Barrel is not considered cool and sophisticated but I love it. We ate a huge breakfast which I would just love to describe because I love food, but I will not bore you with my obsession. Let me just say that the pancakes were heaven. The meal was so much better than the fancy, schmancy dinner we had last night and much cheaper. *Note to reader, if you know me at all you know I hate to spend money.
Well, the spending money thing is about to change because our next stop is the outlet mall in San Marcos. As we approach the mall from the interstate, my heart beats faster at the sight of Ann Taylor, Coach, Coldwater Creek, Chicos, Michael Kors and Bananna Republic. *Note to Manny, yes I thought of you.
First God moment of the day happened in Chicos where every single outfit I tried on fit me beautifully and was 40% off. Do you know the odds of finding plus-size clothing that is not hideous and fits me and is on sale? The odds are astronomical.
The entire day was buying, buying, and more buying. I even bought some stuff for my husband, but I spent way more on myself. The only problem was I didn’t realize that I couldn’t stuff it all into my luggage for the return trip home. Have you ever tried to stuff barbeque tongs into an already full suitcase?
I was in such a good mood. I was blathering on about how full of joy my heart is and how I’m so in tune with the universe and God and everything like that when I’ll be damned if bells don’t start ringing out all over the mall. The bells were ringing at the same moment I was proclaiming that I am one with the universe. Apparently, the bells ring out every hour on the hour. Another God moment.
After shopping, we headed back to San Antonio and the Riverwalk to do what we do best, drink. The thing is when I drink I get even chattier than usual and that night was no exception. I was talking to everybody including total strangers. *Note to reader, that’s the same thing my mamaw used to do and it would drive me crazy. Yes, I have turned into her.
We went to a piano bar and heard the raunchiest, funniest version of “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers I have ever heard. *Note to my buddies, after hearing that you will forever be BSWs to me.
We met random people throughout the evening. Yes, some of them were kind of scary but I had my buddies as back up. Some people were kind. *Note to the very happy, drunk couple in the piano bar, thank you for letting us steal one of your chairs after we declined your offer to join your table. Some people were funny. *Note to dude outside piano bar who commented that we could be his long lost cousins from Arkansas, I don’t know if that was an insult or compliment, but one of my buddies said that at least we still have all our teeth.
There’s one last person I want to tell you about. I didn’t get to actually talk to the young man because he was already talking to the angels. He was obviously homeless and had probably not showered or ate in days. No, I didn’t give him any money, but I really wanted to give him a hug because I’m really into hugging these days; however, good sense prevailed and we continued walking down the Riverwalk towards the hotel.
As we were walking and sweating, I was loudly proclaiming that I was going to die from all the walking combined with all the humidity. Here comes another God moment. One of my buddies whom I’ve known since high school turns to me and tells me that when I die she will bury me in a pine box. *Note to reader, my stepdad was buried in a pine box seven days before my trip to San Antonio.
So many God moments in one day.
I arrived in San Antonio a crumpled mess and left with a renewed spirit. Other than the fact I ate too much, drank too much, and talked too much my long weekend with my buddies was awesome. *Note to reader, I used to hate people who peppered their conversations with the word, awesome. Now I use that word all the time. Isn’t that awesome?
The weekend reminded me of one of my favorite eighties movies, The Big Chill. That’s the one where all the old friends gather after the death of a loved one and they eat too much, drink too much and talk too much.
Toward the end of the movie, two of the friends are discussing the writing assignment one of them has to finish for People magazine. The writer, whose work is read by people while sitting on the can, says that he intends to write about their great weekend and his friend asks, “What were you going to write about before this weekend?” The writer replies with a smirk, “Next weekend, of course.”