This weekend did not turn out at all as I'd planned. But, as spontaneity often provides, I enjoyed myself immensely. Sometimes it is the unexpected that brings the most joy.
It had been a helluva week. Friday night I was looking forward to going to one of my favorite restaurants with Brian for margaritas, rescheduled from the night before when no one could drive anywhere due to the Midwest Monsoon. As I was driving home, Brian called to tell me we wouldn't be going to Fuego, because they were closed. Along with pretty much every business in downtown Arlington Heights. The good news was, I had power. He could see a light on in my downstairs neighbor's window.
So, because we are wise, resourceful and flexible, we hung at the Sushi Cottage and fired up the blender at home. Frozen Chai with Bailey's...mmm.
We toasted to the weekend, caught up on life, I gave him my recommendations for things to do in New Orleans after he sweats and saves his soul, and then we took a walk. My downtown was a ghost town. I've never seen it so empty. The movie theater was closed. The Starbucks was closed. Without power, everything was closed. It was odd but fun, and I was glad we took the walk because it's not something we're likely to see again.
We walked back to my home, Brian got in his car and we said our goodbyes, because I was heading up to karaoke. But when I got inside, I had a call from Amber so I called her back. I was going up this weekend to help her do some work on the basement floor, but she'd taken in a little water during the Monsoon, so it wasn't going to work. And then it hit me:
I don't have to go. I can stay home. I like my home. I can just stay in it.
So although Amber sweetly invited me to join her and Jesus and some friends for a night of dancing, I declined. Like I said, it had been a helluva week. Staying home sounded really good. I called the bar to let Nemo know I wouldn't be coming. I hope he's not angry with me. Much as I would have loved to see my friends, driving to Wisconsin to have a few beers, sing a few songs, and gaze upon the wonder that is my favorite bartender just didn't make me happy. And a very wise man recently told me that I have to make myself happy first, because that's the most important person. And staying home would make me happy.
But so did seeing a movie. Brian and I've been wanting to see "The Invasion," and we were supposed to see it after our margaritas the night before, so I called him. We made our plans to meet in Elk Grove for the 9:50 show. Yay!
I had a little time to kill, so I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up this book I've been meaning to read. Maybe you've heard of it - Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows? It's a little missive by some British chick, seventh in a series? I was a little more than halfway through my re-read of the sixth book (I was re-reading them all in preparation for the final installment) so I knew I'd need book seven pretty soon. It sat on my kitchen table, taunting me. But off I went to the movie.
It was very good. I'm not sure how many versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" we need, but that darn Nicole Kidman is just too darling. I really enjoyed the movie. And the SnowCaps.
Back home, I tucked myself into my own bed on a Friday night. I love my sheets. They are very old and soft, and they smell like the ocean.
I stayed in bed all day, drinking coffee (switched to tea at noon) and reading. Got through with book six around 10:00 p.m., and cracked the binding on the new book.
I woke up early (for me on the weekends, anyway) and drove to my dad's house where he was making me breakfast. I was in town because I'd been invited to perform at the "Back to School Bash" at East Aurora High School. It was also the unofficial opening of the newly renovated theater at my alma mater, now named the Hawks Auditorium, after our director, Arlene Hawks. So, since I was going to be there anyway, I figured I'd seize the opportunity to spend some time with Dad. We had a nice visit and some lovely eggs and sausage, and caught each other up on what's going on in our lives.
Then, I was off to EAHS for rehearsal. I was singing a song from "Annie Get Your Gun," which I was in when I was a senior. When I walked onto the stage, it was like nothing I'd ever felt before. The spirit was the same, but there were subtle nuances of difference. The stage has always been huge, but now they'd added an apron that extended it by many, many feet. Everything was new - the curtains, the lighting, the seats, the carpet, the sound system.
The sound system. Oh, my, the sound system. Singing in the auditorium before was like singing in a barn. But now ... it sounded perfect. It was a joy to hold a microphone and hear my voice over that system. I've never heard myself sound quite that good, or that bad. The system is so good, it picks up everything! But I felt confident, because with Bonni on the piano, I knew I would sound as good as possible.
When Patrick arrived, he ran through his song. And his voice over the system was flawless. He sang "If You Believe" and made me cry. Typical.
We had some time to relax between rehearsal and showtime, so I sat on a blanket under a tree and read my book. Patrick and I took a little time to give ourselves a tour of the school. It's changed a lot since we made our mark on the place, but it's still home. Walking down the hallway of the Fine Arts Department, I felt 17 again. The memories came like a flood. Tidying up the costume loft. Crying in Curt Parry's office the night "Damn Yankees" opened. All the rehearsals, the late nights, the skipped classes. I remembered them like they were yesterday. Its funny how my memories seem to only have room for happiness. I know there were some horrible things that occurred during my time in high school, but I'll be damned if I can remember any of them. No, all I can recall is the joy.
And there was joy to be had on Sunday, August 26. As I stood outside the Hawks Auditorium, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. The woman for whom the space has been named had a profound impact on my life. In many ways, she shaped the woman I am. She helped me understand my sense of humor. She encouraged me to find parts of myself in every character. She created in me truly high expectations of myself. And she loved me. She was my teacher for three years, she has been my director for 25 years, and in recent years she has become a friend. She's no longer Mrs. Hawks - she is Arlene. Her vision lives within the Hawks Auditorium, and it was an honor and a privilege to spend a day in that space with her.
After the show, it was back home to curl up with the tale of a certain boy wizard. Reading Harry's experiences through the fresh eyes of a 17-year-old Margaret was the perfect way to end a wonderful weekend.