As a true child of the 80’s, I have some really good friends that I met over the internet. A group of us met on a board while we were pregnant with our babies due in January 2001. There’s about 10 of us left who still post with regularity. We’ve shared all the details of our lives, painful and joyful and everything in between. Two of my internet friends even came from the East Coast to California for Rebecca’s funeral.
So when I got an invitation to a surprise party for one of them, I knew I had to go. Jen lives about 4 hours away from me, a long drive, but definitely within range. Another friend, Carol, lives near Philadelphia and we planned to drive to her house and visit for the afternoon. Then we’d caravan up to Jen’s party. Sounds like a good plan, right?
All was well for our trip to New Jersey to rendezvous with Carol. No offense here, but as we crested the bridge from Delaware and NJ came into view, I was completely underwhelmed. NJ looks exactly the way I always pictured it. It put all those Bruce Springsteen songs into perspective. No wonder he was always singing about being restless and wanting to get out. But a few miles down the road and off the main highway, things looked better. Carol lives in a cute little town with lots of big, old houses. I called Carol on my cell phone to let her know we were in town and to get directions to the restaurant where we were having lunch. No answer. I knew she was at a doctor’s appointment and I figured she couldn’t get to her phone. We kept driving along to her house. About twenty minutes later, my phone rings.
It’s Carol, telling me that she is right now in an ambulance on the way to hospital!!! Turns out that during the cat scan she was having, she started having an allergic reaction to the dye. She tells me that her front door is open and to make ourselves at home. I get off the phone with her and not a minute later, we pull over to let her ambulance go by.
We found Carol’s house and went right in. She has the cutest little house! We made ourselves at home, rifled through her drawers, opened her closets, used up all her toilet paper. We got ourselves some sandwiches from the Subway that Boo spied down the street and had lunch. We watched some TV and enjoyed a break from the car. I forgot my camera at home, so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of us enjoying her home. I couldn’t even use her computer to tell any of our other board friends what was going on, just in case Jen was wondering what I was doing in NJ. Carol was getting released from the hospital just as we were packing up to go, so we didn’t get to see her. We had another 2 hours of driving ahead us – we needed to be in PA by 6 pm, so we figured that we could leave around 3:30 and have more than enough time. Sounds like a good plan, right?
Giving ourselves 30 extra minutes as a buffer should have been enough, except for a few things. It was a Friday. It was raining. It was a 3 day weekend. We arrived in Philadelphia at precisely 3:47 and sat in traffic. Every time we thought we were free from the traffic, the cars in front of us were slowing down again. We trudged happily along and finally got off the main highway and headed towards Jen’s tiny little town. Bip chose this moment to want to get out of his car seat. NOW! He expressed his displeasure for the entire last 40 minutes of our trip. By now it’s clear that we’re going to be late to the party. It’s just a question of how late. Are we at risk of running into Jen in the parking lot? Are we going to miss the big surprise moment completely? Hard to tell. I can’t even call anyone and ask because she might answer the phone. So here we are, crying baby who refused to nap the whole time in the car, without Carol, about to be late to the surprise party. Nobody is very happy, but we have to keep going on.
We finally arrived at 6:20, almost 3 hours after leaving Carol’s. As we’re parking the car, I hope Jen doesn’t notice our Stampin’ Up! sticker (she’s also a demonstrator), our homeschooling magnet and our DC plates. Then I see one of her daughters and her husband I figured we missed the reveal. But no! She hasn’t arrived yet! Woo hoo, we made it! We were greeted like royalty by Jen’s mother and MIL and they introduced to everyone like long-lost friends. When Jen was arriving, her MIL positioned us so we’d be among the first people she saw.
When she walked into the room Jen reacted more like, “ah, you got me!” than surprise. She was laughing at her friends and family, then turned towards us. That’s when she got really surprised. She saw us there and her face just lit up. That moment was well worth the drive. We had a good time at the rest of the party, ate way too many homemade Italian cookies (and took a plate of them home), and got a chance to talk to several of Jen’s friends and family. Her MIL tried to talk us into staying over night, but we had to get back to DC.
We drove about halfway home and stayed the night in Delaware. We arrived home around 11:00 am on Saturday, unloaded the car, stretched our legs and headed out again. This time we were only heading across the river to Alexandria. One of my oldest friends, from way back in my Civil Air Patrol cadet days, was in town for the weekend. We were meeting up with her at a local yarn store, then going to lunch. Shanti is an amazing woman. She is in the Navy and in command of her very own ship. I have great respect for all that she has done in her career and I really enjoy reading about her adventures in knitting and in the Navy. She’s inspiration for short women everywhere. After lunch, Philip took the children home and I stayed at the yarn store with Shanti and knit.
I’ve been so busy being Mom the Taxi, Mom the Teacher, and Mom the Mom, that it was nice to be Just Lorri for a few hours. Shanti helped me out with the sweater I’m knitting Bip and I told her everything I know about hermit crab care. I think I got the better end of the deal.
So now it’s only Sunday and I’ve already had a fun, full weekend. It’s not often that I get to see old friends, so I am tired, but happy.
And you’ll be glad to know that Carol is fine and her cat scan turned up nothing scary.