Because I had pickles and beer with my parents for dinner, and I am a bit dehydrated.
The 'rents and I, deciding to continue on in our tradition of being precious and totally fun, had made plans to have a late lunch/early dinner that involved beer and salty bar food. Done and done! It's been an extremely stressful month for my mom, a busy, rough week for my dad, and when I got home from work today they were stressed and tired. I gave Mom a hug and she got teary, explaining she was so stressed, worn out from caring for her mom who's been in the hospital after surgery, and I asked if she wanted to skip dinner and beer and stay home. "No," she laughed and sniffed through her tears, "I definitely don't want to skip that." With that I noted her hott Kansas shirt, went to change out of my work clothes, and donned my own Jayhawk tee to match. On our way out the door we told Dad he wasn't properly dressed, so he put on my little bro's Jayhawk sweatshirt, i.e. noticably too small with short sleeves and snug fit. And with that we were off.
We went to an old haunt where my parents used to date. I whipped a pen out of my purse, eyeing the graffiti on the walls and ceilings and asked, "so where are we going to sign our names?" Dad sought out a good spot on the ceiling while giving out his parental guidance, "don't get caught..." Four 'o clock on a Thursday afternoon, folks. This is my life (sometimes).
We ordered our beers and fried food course #1 (fried mushrooms), and my dad asked with a twinkle in those blue eyes of his, "so tell me about your career." I quickly clarified, "my current career?" Because my answer to that question would be pretty self-explanatory and that would be: coffee. He actually wanted to talk about my future, and present. While I had a little natural anxiety bubble up as he posed the question, considering past conversations with M&D about my "career," or lackthereof, I could tell in the way he brought it up that this might be an okay path to tread upon on this rainy afternoon. So I talked. The three of us talked. And it was delightful. My parents gave me thoughts on what they think I'd be good at, of course mentioned their concern for money, but dealt it out in suggestions rather than negative criticisms. We talked about creativity, and how if Pops and I don't get our chance to do things without a spreadsheet, rulebook, instruction manual, we go crazy. We talked about graduate school, which I am pee-my-pants excited about.
Long story short, I felt heard by open hearts and ears, and there was true communion around that bar table in the empty upstairs arcade. God granted us privacy, time, solace, and love today. He always grants us love, it flows abuntantly in my family; it was just a matter of me dropping my guard and them dropping their instinct to parent rather than listen as the friends of mine that they are, that allowed the love to flow more freely among us. We have had some borderline love-clotting at times, but today the chambers of our hearts were open and healthy, letting the maximum amount of communication, and grace, pass and recycle through.
As fried course #2 (fried pickles--amazing!!) was brought to our table, Dad blessed the pickles and then it was his turn to get teary. My father then placed his age limits on my marriage pool (I think we landed somewhere between 26 and 30--c'mon, Dad, really?) and told me what I need to hold out for in a man. He told me I need to still be in love at my 32nd anniversary, with a knowing wink. Moments before during his pickle prayer he prayed for my future husband, the man who "You created even before You created Bailey, Lord," to which I whispered, "because he's older!," to which Mom laughed. We're sarcastic even during prayer (sometimes), and my brother Kelly likes to steal people's plates of food and hide them while we have our eyes closed.
We exited our bar through a hidden side door that Dad was horrified he had never noticed in 33 years of pubbing, made a dash through the frigid rain that had been with us since morning, Dad convinced us his two Fat Tires would not impair his driving, got the doors for his girls, and we were off once more. Home...we thought. Minutes from reuniting with the cat, Mom said "Oh! It's the Expo!" Dad heroically made a Bond swerve into the left turn lane at the last second. All I could see in the direction of our turn was the library so I excitedly asked, "Books expo?!" "Business Expo." "Oh."
Turns out business expos are pretty darn fun. We wandered in like bums off the suburban streets (and in the defense of those who label people as bums, we had just come from a bar), and were quickly given green canvas bags for all our soon-to-gather treats from our business expo. I felt guilty at first taking a free bag, seeing as I usually enter these things wearing a suit, resumes in hand, but I almost immediately got over that. Let's be honest, I got down about four steps on the staircase and got so excited I forgot to feel guilty. Our first goodie: mini bottles of hand sanitizer. At the third or fourth booth, it hit me. Fall decorations on tables. Tote bags gripped in our adult hands. Free candy for the taking. Pause, check the calendar. Yep, October.
I am trick or treating with my parents.
I would say that at that moment I became giddy. Dad and I each made a basket at the Fisher Price hoop, winning a mug and some sort of calculator thingy. Ran into at least three people we collectively knew (extroverts? yes). The Courtyard Marriot had wine glasses set up for some sort of Water Pong, and Dad and I totally dominated there, too, collecting two more tote bags, holla. Mom asked me if I wanted a glass of wine. Confused, I then noticed the glass of merlot that had suddenly appeared in her hand. "Mom!" Shrugged her shoulders with a smirk. Eh, she wasn't driving. It's a business expo--live a little!
In the parking lot I decided to give my parents some reassurance in their parenting and admitted, "I was a Pong Virgin before tonight." To which Mom replied, "I still am."