I spent last night at my parents' in preparation for our, ahem, journey, but the power's out, rumor has it parts of 95 are closed, and everything seems touch and go on account of the monsoon. I'm sorry, but rain now counts as a nor'easter? Doesn't the fact that we're nor'easterners mean that we can brave precipitation? Are we just getting desperate for some inclement weather? I've so geared myself up for this road trip and at this point am of the mindset that if we're doing this, WE'RE DOING IT. We load the car, Dorie's daughter brings us some muffins, and I've taken two Excedrin before 10 AM. Along the way, my mom proceeds to exhibit her inexplicable weather competitiveness, wherein every place in the world that isn't her front yard doesn't know from bad weather, and my dad puts Rush Limbaugh on the radio. (He's also a Republican Yankees fan. Is there no end to my capacity to love?) Seven hours later, Dorie has called twice to mock me and suggest car games, I've read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, decided that since I didn't see any damn gardens that New Jersey should actually be called the Burnt Out Factory State, and learned that Pennsylvania puts fake tree branches on their cell towers. The hotel is pretty generic but has an adorable little wine bar in the lobby. We finally get to my grandma's (my dad's mom) and take her to dinner. Phew.
I take my grandma shopping for a new comforter. I foolishly assume it will be an easy task, since she just wants something simple and blue. I quickly learn that a down comforter with a duvet cover is "too puffy," cotton is "too wrinkly," quilts remind her of the one she started in high school but never finished, sateen feels weird and flannel is tacky (okay, agreed), and the rest are "just too funny-looking, Red, I couldn't put anything that silly on my bed." Meanwhile she has a fake bird on her coffee table that chirps when anyone walks by it, but okay. We leave with nothing but a detailed description of the comforter that she wants that I'm fairly certain doesn't exist. Next we try to find her a sofa bed. Mark calls during and I learn that while my cell phone doesn't work in my kitchen at home five miles outside of Boston, it works beautifully in a furniture store in Delaware. He asks if I want to go to a concert with him. "I'm in Delaware," I tell him in the flat tone that Mike Myers uses to deliver the same line in Wayne's World. "What? You're where?" "I know. It's ridiculous." Then I notice a store employee sitting on a couch nearby shooting me a look of death, presumably for mocking her hometown. I mouth "sorry" and she shrugs; it seems somehow appropriate. Later on I find that out of boredom/insanity, my mom has visited the gift shop at my grandma's place and purchased a bear dressed like an Italian chef that sings That's Amore. Back at the hotel, she decides we need a drink and buys a bottle of wine from the front desk, which she proceeds to drink in the lobby (with some help from yours truly, of course). The guy that I'm dating texts me updates of the game that night since I'm trapped in Phillies territory. The Sox lose to the Blue Jays, the stupidest freakin' team in baseball.
Did I mention where my grandma is living? It was actually the whole premise of this trip. She just moved to a retirement community that was started by a guy who didn't like the options available for his own aging parents. It's basically like a lovely (and huge) apartment complex for people over a certain age, and they have their own restaurants and shopping and clubs (like book clubs, not nightclubs... ha). It's like college, fifty years after the fact, with nicer accomodations and better food. And no pregnancy scares! Um, so anyway, it's a great arrangement for her. Also, her sister lives downstairs. I text Favorite Cousin that, no shit, this is the kind of place I want to live when I'm 80. He texts back that I need a drink. Temporarily unsupervised yet again, my mom purchases a trio of jungle animals that sing The Lion Sleeps Tonight. It's time to go home.
Headed back, finally. I miss my friends, whom I love all the more for making me feel missed (via text, which I have subsisted on for the past few days). I miss my bed. I even miss work a little. Now that I'm home, the only thing I miss is my grandma. And Wawa, of course. When are we going to have those gems of convenience up north, already?