Hotel Thurston: Hope’s Big Adventure Part One

For purposes of understanding, I suppose I should preface this story with a bit of vague personal history. I retired in 2004 to help care for my then newborn and very precious grandson, Elliot. He was our first grandchild, and my weekdays were packed with shear joy from the time mommy or daddy dropped him off in the morning until they picked him up after their workday.

 ~In the meantime, a lot of stuff transpired~

When Elliot was old enough to start school, 3:30 pm became my favorite time of day because that’s when he would get off the bus at the end of our driveway, and, as is the way of Grandmothers worldwide, he was always greeted with smiles, hugs, and pre-homework snacks.

John retired in 2009, but almost immediately was contracted to train new hires at the company he retired from. He joined the daily grandparent routine as much as possible and enjoyed it as much as I did.

~More stuff transpired~

Fast forward to the present: Elliot’s mom is in the military and stationed 2 hours away. Elliot went to live with her for the school year. I’m happy for her and Elliot, but very sad for me (Grammy),  John (Poppy), and Jonathon (dad).

Sans Elliot, I felt a need to add a little adventure to my daily routine. To appease the writer in me, I put out a fleece amongst friends to see who would be willing to put me up for an evening and let me blog about it. I got a few bites.

My very first adventure trip was the evening of a girl’s night out to the Indiana State Fair, the girl’s night out that was crashed by two of the husbands, Dave and Dave.

~This is where the story really begins~

It was late when we returned from the state fair, so Joni put me up in “my” room. I’ve stayed at Joni’s a few times, in the same beautiful, cozy room each time. She calls the room the Beanie Room because of the large collection of Beanie Babies occupying the shelves of a bookcase in that room. This time Joni and Dave had added a TV with DISH connection. I felt as though I were in a swanky Beanie Baby themed hotel room. Joni told me I could watch TV to my hearts content; they slept with the TV on in their room, therefore would not be bothered by sounds in the night. I watched TV to my hearts content. It was heavenly.

Joni’s husband, Dave, works at a golf course and had to be at work early the next morning. He said he would brew coffee for Joni and me before he left. In the morning I awoke to silence and figured Dave had gone to work and Joni had probably been up for hours. I got dressed and tiptoed downstairs to look for Joni and coffee, but mostly coffee.  No Joni. We got in late; I thought, she must have slept in.  No coffee; I thought, that Dave, what a slacker.

The kitchen was dark and unfamiliar. I fumbled around trying to find a light switch. I ran my hand along the wall and found a switch, which I flipped on.  My ears were pierced with the sound of angry wolverines. I had found the switch to the garbage disposal. I quickly turned the switch off, but needed a few seconds to recover; I was in a mild state of shock from the sudden broken silence.

I found another switch and held my breath as I gingerly flipped it on. A glow of soft light came from the screened-in patio just off of the kitchen.  I grabbed a newspaper that was lying on the edge of the kitchen table, opened the sliding glass door and slunk my way to a comfy chair. A few minutes later, I heard soft but hurried footsteps on the carpeted stairs. Ah, Joni’s up …

No. It was Dave. He hadn’t set the alarm clock because he trusted his internal alarm. This particular morning his internal alarm failed; he had overslept. He shoved a cap on his head, ran out the door and drove away.

A few minutes later, Joni appeared. The perfect hostess, she offered all sorts of breakfast and coffee options, but I suggested we go out to breakfast. We’d already decided it would be a day of shopping for both of us, so we’d just head out before the stores opened and grab a bite to eat. I’m not much of a breakfast person, and I was glad to discover that Joni isn’t either, so we decided on Dunkin Donut’s drive-thru coffee and possibly an early lunch instead.

Coffee in hand, we headed over to Sam’s Club where I thought I had hit early Christmas bargain pay dirt: summer clearance items. However, Joni shamed me into realizing that it would be in very poor taste to give summer clearance items as Christmas gifts, no matter what a great buy, and no matter how much they would be in demand when next summer rolled around. I would buy them anyway. Joni would never know. Instead of a terrycloth pool-side chaise lounge cover for Christmas, Joni would get a ceramic Santa I got on clearance at the end of the holiday season at Hobby Lobby last year.  Win-win.

An enormous warehouse store, Sam’s club is the twilight zone of retail grocery shopping. Shortly after my summer clearance extravaganza, Joni and I were separated. She became hopelessly lost within the bowels of the frozen food section. I pushed my cart for hours gazing upon Paul Newman’s Own salad dressing by the case and M&M’s in 40-pound bags. It was not unlike my shopping trips to regular stores in the fact that I ended up in the magazine aisle.  I put my hand on the cold, gray, metal magazine shelf to steady myself as I skimmed the covers in search of one that really piqued my interest. I was intently reading the cover of a food magazine when I felt a tap-tap-tap on my hand. Curious, but disinterested, I looked in the direction of my hand; there was a large, and by large, I mean the size of a child’s shoe, bright green katydid sitting millimeters away from my pinky finger. For a split second, I thought it was a clever refrigerator magnet, or a life-like toy bug, but then the antennae moved to tap my hand again. I let out a short, high-pitched squeal, danced a little jig, and jumped back about a foot. The katydid held his ground.

Sam's Club: a popular shopping destination for katydids.

Embarrassed, I looked down the aisle to see how badly I had humiliated myself. There were 3 grown men who were so engrossed in shopping that they never even looked up. Either that, or my squeal was so high-pitched that only dogs could hear it. Perhaps high-pitched squeals were a common occurrence in Sam’s Club, what with the fantastic bargains and all. I high-tailed it to the front of the store, grabbed a manager and whisked her back to see the giant bug. I pointed to the katydid, who was still busily reading magazine covers. Joni appeared out of nowhere and offered her empty coffee cup and lid to the manager as a humane bug trapping device. The manager scooped the katydid into the cup, calmly telling me she was getting used to it. Just the day before, she had to escort a preying mantis outside the store in a similar manner. The place was obviously bugged. I suggested they hire new security.

We’d had all the adventure we could handle at Sam’s Club, it was time to move on. My trunk was fully loaded with Sam’s Club purchases, and unbeknownst to Joni, possible probable Christmas gifts. It was well past lunchtime and we had worked up an appetite.

Joni suggested a place she and Dave liked called Granite City Food and Brewery. I think Joni had the crispy shrimp tacos. I had a bacon, tomato, and avocado grilled cheese sandwich. The food and service were both good and we caught up on life events: kids, grandchildren, weddings, in-laws and future in-laws, since my son was getting married in a few weeks.

After lunch, I dropped Joni back at her house. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. On the way home, I thought of all the changes in my life and how certain friends have been there through so much of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve thought of friendships that fell apart because of a misunderstanding, or when the weight of a difficult time became too much to bear. Even success, sometimes especially success, can put a strain on relationships. I felt more determined to be the kind of friend who could weather the difficult storms, and the successes of my friends and family. I’m incredibly blessed for all the Joni’s and Dave’s in my life, and this Joni and Dave in particular.

A special thank you to the Thurston’s for taking me in, making me laugh and giving me something fun and meaningful to blog about. A special thank-you from John as well, for providing a safe adventure for his wife of 40 years.

4 Responses

  1. Sounds like an adventure only you can have Hope! I almost never have anything that exciting happen when I’m at Sam’s club, or anywhere else for that matter. The most excitement I get is going to Walmart and watching for crazily dressed people, you know, the “People of Walmart” types. I will open my eyes for more adventure from now on – maybe I’m just not looking in the right place. Happy travels and I look forward to your next adventure!

  2. I know you have a great sense of humor, but now I see you as a talented author as well. You should write a book.

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Cartoons by John Atkinson. ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

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