When I was in college I roomed with my sister and my lifelong best friend. They were responsible students. They did their homework. They studied for exams. I just pretended to do those things.
At that age, and all the ages before that age, I mostly just wanted to have fun. Remember that song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?” Yeah. I wrote that. Or, I could have, if someone else wouldn’t have thought of it first.
I always had good intentions. I always meant to do my homework and study, but then someone would ask me to order pizza with them, or come to their dorm room and make prank calls. Classic 90’s entertainment. (Really. IS your refrigerator running? I’d check it, if I were you). Sure, I had a ton of homework that needed to be done, but how could I say no? That seemed kind of rude.
You might be able to get away with not studying in high school, but in college it catches up with you. It only took a few horrible grades before I started figuring out that being irresponsible was not bringing about desirable results. I experienced my first steps towards being an adult during that phase of my life.
Now I’m a full fledged, card-carrying member of the adult race. Like all the rest of the adults I know, almost every minute of my day is devoted to fulfilling my obligations. I am not complaining. I love this life.
But guess what? Little, irresponsible, good-time-gal is still buried somewhere beneath my adult exterior. She’s still ready to have fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Scott was scheduled to chaperon his Spanish students on a trip to Costa Rica the week school got out. Olivia was going to be at Church Camp the same week. That meant Zeke, Eddie and I would be home alone.
My oldest sister, and her son were visiting one of my other sisters and her family in Colorado Springs this same week. That was fun just waiting to happen. We made a pretty last minute decision to hop in the car and drive to Colorado to join the party. We left at 2:30 in the morning, and drove 16 hours each way.
I could tell some people who loved us were a little worried about this plan (those are a LOT of miles to cover with just one experienced driver). I would guess that the car ride alone would have been worth the effort though.
My boys are 17 and 14. They are rough and tumble boys, and they have everything in common with their rough and tumble Dad. My boys and Scott have shared many road trips together going to various sporting events, and on missions trips. I can tell when Scott and the boys return that the time they spent together was the best stuff life has to offer. I was hoping for the same.
Trapping your teenage sons in a small car with you for 16 hours is key to getting a conversation started. This strategy did not disappoint. I talked and listened to these young men for hours. They had such interesting things to say. They’re funny.
I learned more about their plans for the future. We talked politics, faith and even about relationships with the opposite sex. Not for very long about that. That was their least favorite thing to talk about.
We missed Olivia and Scott a lot. I’m not going to lie. We also enjoyed a road trip with a lead driver who keeps a little looser hold of the reins. That’s right. I’ve got Scott totally beat in the let’s just go with the flow department. After we had been driving for several hours, one of the boys told me he had to go to the bathroom. I said, “The tank isn’t empty though. We have to stop when it’s empty, so we can fill it up.”
One of my sons responded, “Why can’t you just stop now, and fill it up even though it isn’t all the way empty?”
I thought about that for a while. I said, “Because Dad?”
That’s when we decided to defy tyranny. For the rest of the trip, when someone had to go to the bathroom, we stopped immediately. I filled the gas tank up when it was half empty and three-quarters empty. First trip ever that no one had to cry in agony from extreme bladder holding. Scott will shudder to hear of this complete mismanagement. I liked being in charge.
We had ourselves some fun. The boys were looking forward to spending time with their cousins. If I gave my kids the choice between Disneyland, a major league baseball game, or being with their cousins, cousins would win every time. Our kids have always loved their cousins. When they lost one, they started loving them even more.
One of the boys’ cousins just graduated from college. He’s joining the ranks of responsible adults. Poor kid. My boys and their two cousins enjoyed three full days of non stop boy fun. It was the perfect send off for their older cousin. Hearing these four boys giggling and teasing each other made their moms happy. Did you know boys can giggle? It’s a good sound. All the driving was worth it.
I was feeling good about being with my sisters too. These are women who are easy to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong. We fight. One time in Colorado I said something one of my sisters didn’t like. She said she was going to give me the silent treatment. That was the longest 60 seconds of my life. She said that she hoped I learned my lesson. I definitely did.
We spent a lot of time outside, and we saw a lot of pretty things. I tried to take as many pictures as I could. Boys aren’t very cooperative with that. After the first day, they told me they wanted to be done posing for family portraits. Fine. They’re not very good at it anyway. I am.
My big girl job is promoting Wisconsin. It’s easy, because I love Wisconsin. Colorado also has my heart. Pretty scenery and the outdoors make me happy. The low humidity, bugless air, and commonly blue skies are so cooperative. There wasn’t much reason to stay inside.
One day, one of my sisters and I were reading under a tree while the cousins played frisbee golf. My sister left to use the bathroom, and a man about my age approached. He was dressed very Coloradoee (real word). Coloradians don’t try too hard. That’s another reason I love it there.
He noticed my Wisconsin License plates. He said, “Are you from Wisconsin?”
I said, “Yes.”
He took a drag of his cigarette. As he moved closer, I noticed that he must have been wearing marijuana flavored cologne.
He told me that he moved from Wisconsin to Colorado 16 years ago. He said he plays all year round: white water rafting, fly fishing, frisbee golf, skiiing.
I said, “That sounds so awesome!”
He told me that he works a little here and there, doing odd jobs to fund all of his play. Mostly he just plays. I believed him. He definitely looked like my teenage nephew from Colorado. Only this guy was trapped inside a 40 something year old body.
He said he found Wisconsin to be distasteful. He said, “I left, and never looked back. When I have gone back I see my friends from high school, and it’s like, dude, you’ve never even done anything with your life.”
I said, “For sure. They probably just got married, had kids and are working hard to raise them. Seems like a total waste. Some people just don’t get it.”
He said, “For sure, Dude.”
Then he invited our whole family to get a free frisbee golf lessons from him.
I loved this time with some of my family. It’s true. I am one of those poor suckers from Wisconsin who never did anything with their life. But, I am getting better at recognizing an opportunity for fun when I see it. I’m learning not to hesitate. You can only grab an opportunity while it’s there. I’m glad I’m learning that.