but once in awhile, I find an excellent reason for a road trip.
Lissa and her adorable children were the recent excellent reason.
I've been plotting a way to connect with Lissa for some time. Last summer, Atticus and I talked about a trip to Gettysburg with our kids. Hey ... Gettysburg is east ... Lissa is east. This could work. But it didn't. The trip wasn't in the summer travel budget, and Gettysburg and the rendezvous were not to be.
So, when I found out about The Big Move, I knew this was our chance. Then I learned that Lissa would be traveling on I-70. Not an -I- that runs through our neighborhood. Oh, woe is me. But, not to worry. Have van, will travel. And what's a few hours in a van? Especially when you have three delightful (most of the time) travel companions who:
a. like books on tape as much as you do
b. like to stop for coffee as much as you do (though they normally pass on the coffee and ask for ice cream, Hershey bars or candy necklaces)
c. are as eager as you to meet up with the bonny gang (or, as Ramona said, while we were all piled into a tiny convenience store bathroom, just minutes away from the meeting place, "I'm desperate to meet them!")
We hadn't known exactly when Lissa would hit Kansas, but our schedule was mercifully open over the 2-3 day span that we were aiming for. It worked.
To anyone who doesn't have "an internet life" this whole thing sounds immensely strange. After Mass on Sunday, a friend asked if we were stopping at the parish hall for doughnuts. When I explained that I couldn't as I had to go home and finish packing so that we could drive several hours to meet "strangers" she looked at me with widened eyes. I said, "I know ... it sounds a little odd when I say it out loud."
"Oh, no, no," she replied politely. "And she's a writer, huh? Yes, well. I'm sure you'll have fun."
I did. The kids were instant friends; Ramona and Beanie were inseparable, the older girls held hands and chattered, and they all giggled over shared jokes from their mothers' blogs. At one point, we were called to the principal's office for allowing our children to have too much fun (the front desk rang us with a warning to please kick it down a notch) and I have to admit that I did feel bad that we were the cause of some poor, weary traveler's sleep deprivation. After all, I had been ignoring my children for "my Lissa talk time." I think the children were flinging themselves off the top of the ice machine when the phone call came in, but who knows? I was busy talking to Lissa.
When the girls and I woke up on Monday morning, Ramona said, "Whew! That was a short night! Cuz they don't allow long nights in this hotel."
I just have to add that WonderBoy is too cute for words, and that I want a baby just like Rilla. She's magically good. She goes to sleep happy, wakes up happy, looks at you happily and generally makes you happy. Touched by the fairy folk, to be sure. And Lissa is every ounce as warm, generous and lilting as you imagine her to be.
So, if you ever have the chance to meet up with Lissa and her kids at a Comfort Inn in Kansas, I highly recommend it. Just watch out for those ice machines.
Oh, and be ready to wipe away a tear when you face the fact that you will most likely never, ever really live next door to this beloved friend.