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Claire doing an interpretation of a roast pig. Posted by Picasa


Claire & Stacey with some of Claire’s notes. Posted by Picasa

I’ve been trying to work last weekend into stories in my head. In fact, on Sunday night when I was knocked-out exhausted and finally in my own bed, I just stop running everything over in my head. Must’ve kept me awake for a good hour or so.

Toni asked me what the best part of my trip was. Now there’s a tough question. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Meeting Poppy and her daughter Clara Jane. One of the lessons I learned this weekend was that if someone brags about their children on the internet, believe them. They are not lying to you. Clara Jane loves to read, which immediately endears her to me. Plus, she wants me to read to her. I loved ALL of the kids at the gathering, but I probably ended up spending the most time with Clara because of our car trip (the non-puking leg) and staying at their house on Thursday.

2. Meeting Beege & Linnea. To my embarrassment, I didn’t recognize Beege at first. Things were a little crazy, granted, but suddenly I found some woman hugging me and saying, “hi Jess!” and oh, it was Beege! I think I’d always thought of her as an “adult” because she’s a preacher and a mom and all that, but sitting next to her on Cyn’s couch she was just, you know, Beege.

3. Cyn’s hospitality. Because even though she claimed to be freaking out and nervous, she was actually calm and totally fun to hang out with. Plus her whole family put up with us and her son has the most gorgeous eyes (see below).

4. Oh my God, this is going to go on forever, isn’t it? And either you have no idea who I’m talking about and you’re skimming over this whole thing thinking “boring!” or you were there and I’m not mentioning you and you are SO offended. Can you tell I just had a chocolate chip cookie and my energy level is going way up and I’m writing in run-on sentences and using exclamation points and gushing and…shut up already.

5. I felt taken care of the whole time. When things went wrong with my flights, everyone was ready to do whatever I needed. How many times can you say that about a bunch of people you met on the internet? That they’ll take you home with them?

6. Which brings me to Stacey Fish and her journalist/daughter Claire. All weekend Claire had been taking notes. (She doesn’t know how to read or write – shh…) When I rode with them to Sara’s for the hog roast, Claire asked for paper and a pen and began a list of her mom’s favorite books. When we were visiting Cyn’s consignment shop, Stacey wrote the word “butt” on a piece of paper. Not letting her lack of literacy stop her, Claire promptly read it off. At which point I took a picture of the proud mother and daughter (to follow).

Stacey & Claire volunteered to take me to the airport on their way out of town. If I didn’t get a seat on the flight to Dallas, they were going to take me home and put me on a plane in the morning. We drove through farmland in the greater Peoria area and I thought to myself, “self, if you don’t get on the plane, everything will be okay! Sure, you might miss work tomorrow but you’ll get to go home with Stacey and Claire.” So my mind was at ease. I said goodbye to them outside security, thinking, “well, I’ll probably see them again in a few minutes.” Sadly, it was not meant to be. I got a seat. I called Stacey to let her know.

Claire is sensitive to injustice in the universe. When she learned that I’d made it on the flight, she cried, “But WHHYYYYYYY did the plane have an extra seat for her, so she isn’t going to ride back to St. Louis with us, WHHYYYYYYYY?” (emphasis courtesy of Stacey).

I know Claire, I felt the same way.

to be continued…again…

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