Saturday, June 15 @ 1:05 pm.
There is a fish that keeps smacking his tail on the side of the dock. We aren’t sure why. It sounds like someone is trapped underneath the dock and feels like it could be the start of a low-budget horror film. The six of us are sprawled across the dock, lounging on faded beach towels from our childhood. Magazines and books are propped open and swimsuit cover-ups are serving as pillows. It’s cloudy. Very cloudy. And the persistent clouds keep spitting on us. I’m perched on a deck chair with my computer, attempting to capture my thoughts. Some are reading. Some are sleeping. Some are criticizing my music.
Quick note on the music. I gave them full warning. “Be thinking about music and come prepared to play music you like.” Because there will inevitably be that awkward moment when it comes time to play music. You’re sitting on the dock and someone says, “What music should we play?” “Oh I don’t know.” “I don’t care, whatever you want.” “Yeah, I don’t care either.” And then I play country music and my big city friends care and judge. But no one else’s phones will connect to my Bluetooth speaker and they are stuck with Chicken Fried or the Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston playlist. It happens every single time we are together.
This trip has been planned for months; a weekend trip to the lake to celebrate Bree’s upcoming nuptials. It would be a reunion with some of the most fantastic women I know. “Women” sounds strange and old, but I guess when we are all together we are a little strange and we are getting older. Thus, I will call us women. C’est la vie.
When I think about high school, I think about them. They are my people. Although, we’ve come to learn that most of us didn’t actually like each other when we first met. As Torie says, “Some of the people I think I like least, turn out to be the people I’m closest to.” In fact, we all agree that if we met today we probably wouldn’t naturally be friends. But, in my opinion that makes the best of friends. Friends by choice. The type of friends that you don’t see for a year and within 30 seconds of reuniting it’s like nothing has ever changed. Alright, I’ll stop with the cliché, overused friendship sayings.
Eight years later, we are scattered across the country – New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas. Last year marked the inauguration of our yearly lake trip. It’s Bree’s lake house that we visit, and given that this year we were celebrating her, I figured it would be nice if she didn’t have to plan the entire thing like last year. I know, I’m so thoughtful.
I sent out an email to the girls with details about the weekend and the potential food options. Since Patrick and I are an “old married couple” now and belong to Costco, I suggested we leverage the bulk cost-savings and purchase the majority of our items from there. I compiled a proposed grocery listing with several categories: Meat, Seasoning/Spices, Fruit/Veggies, Dairy, Bread, Beverages, Miscellaneous. Miscellaneous was my favorite category with M&Ms and PB&J. We were supposed to all go to the grocery store together on Thursday night. P was concerned about who would be assisting me with the shopping and cooking. I told him not to worry, I had my girls!
However, on Tuesday, Torie and Mara both informed me that they couldn’t come on the shopping adverture due to a Father’s Day celebration and babysitting, respectively. I thought, “Ok, that’s fine. I still have Bree, Neili and Jessica.”
Then Jessica texted me on Thursday morning, “I can’t come anymore. I’m getting dinner with my Dad.” I thought, “Ok, that’s fine. I still have Bree and Neili.”
Then Neili called me at 4:30 on Thursday, “Um, so, I’d really like to spend some time with my Dad tonight…” I thought, “Ok, that’s fine. I still have Bree.”
Then I called Bree at 4:35 on Thursday and she said, “I don’t think I can make it to Costco, but maybe the actual grocery store later…” I thought, “Ok, this is not ok.” And even though she couldn’t make it the grocery store later, to be fair, Bree gave me forewarning Thursday morning that she may not be able to make it, so I don’t blame her. I don’t do well at grocery shopping. I would rather kill spiders, or go sky diving, or….we’ve been over this before, so I won’t dwell. But, knowing my complete incompetence when it comes to food-filled aisles, the thought of purchasing all the food for six women to consume over four days at the Lake of the Ozarks gave me heart palpitations.
The final straw on the anxiety-ridden camel’s back came with a text from Patrick.
“My phone is almost dead. Call me at work if you need anything. I’ll be working late.” It was like on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” when you choose to call your lifeline and they don’t pick up.
I took a deep breath, put my big girl pants on and drove to Costco.
I spent an hour in Costco sprouting several new gray hairs agonizing over whether or not I got enough snacks or adult beverages. Eventually, I found my way to Sun Fresh, aka the normal grocery store. I sanitized my cart and wheeled toward the produce. Broccoli, carrots, onions, squash and zucchini. Check. Strawberries, cantaloupe, avocados, grapes. Check. That went smoothly. But, let’s be serious, that’s the easiest part of the whole shopping experience. Next came the meat. How much hamburger meat do you get to make tacos for six women? It is, in fact, one of life’s greatest mysteries. I grabbed 2.5 pounds with what looked like the least amount of blood…I mean juices. And then it went downhill from there. How much cream cheese do I need? What type of coffee creamer do people like? Will people like orange Danish rolls in addition to cinnamon rolls? They should; they are the best breakfast food in the world. Should I get the block of cheese or pre-shredded? I went with the block. Do you know how many brands and types of hamburger buns exist? And that is the point at which I wanted to cry. Outside of my comfort zone and so much uncertainty, staring at rows and rows of bread.
And then I heard a voice. “Libby?” I spun around. Who would be saying my name? Am I hallucinating? And then I saw him. My hero, my husband, my Patrick. He stood in the checkout line at the end of the bread aisle. He quickly took his few items off the conveyer belt, put them back in his cart and wheeled towards me.
P: “Where is everyone else?”
Me: “It’s just me…”
P: “Oh….” (That said it all.)
Me: “Why are you here?”
P: I needed to get food for Quinton and I got us some dinner.
Me: I’m so glad you are here. I don’t know where the limeade is.
My knight smiled at me, took the list from me and led me to the limeade.
That moment is reason #894 why I married him.
Fast-forward 24 hours. Unpacking the food at the lake, I realized I only forgot two items, goat cheese and mayonnaise. Put this one in the win column, folks.
Much to Patrick’s relief, my friends are wonderful cooks. They did let me brown the meat during taco night. But then I got bored and someone else took over. Some things will never change.