Tonight I had the joy of being with Mess Cat and her family and our Cuz’n. Mess Cat travelled for business and has been away for a couple of days, so it was good to see her and hers. Adding in my Cuz’n was icing on the cake. And not that gross stuff that comes in a can that has no flavor. The good stuff.
It was a time of togetherness and laughter and just being comfortable with folks who have known you forever and frankly don’t care about your quirks and odd ways anymore. It’s been so long they’re just a part of who you are and not even noticeable anymore. There’s real grace in that.
When Mess Cat and her family had to head on home (long flight finally caught up with her), my Cuz’n and I sat visiting a little longer. Then I gathered my littles and all their paraphernalia and we headed outside towards our vehicles, conversation still going on. We stood out there and talked and laughed, and he even, with his observant self, prevented an accident from happening in the parking lot. (Seriously, this driver was not paying attention when he was backing up as a car drove in behind him–watching him back out later, yeah, he needed some refresher lessons.) The hot sun from earlier in the afternoon had gone behind a cloud and there was a nice breeze. The weather was perfect for hanging around outside “shooting the breeze.”
My Cuz’n is a good storyteller. He puts me in mind of my Daddy and my Granny, both of whom could tell good stories. They’d always leave you wanting to hear more. I remember many an afternoon, sitting on that brown couch at my Granny’s, listening to Daddy and Granny tell stories of family lore and the “old folks” and things that had happened in town. I guess it’s probably a “thing” in our family, as a big part of our family get-togethers is the sharing of our stories. We have quite a few who are talented when it comes to entertaining with stories of their day to days.
In the midst of our postprandial visit tonight, I thought about a country song called “Parking Lot Party.” I’m not sure of all the lyrics but the chorus goes something like this:
Cause there ain’t no party like the pre-party
and after the party is the after-party
At the parking lot party
It has a great beat, okay? Don’t judge.
I know that anyone who knows me well is shaking their head at this point…..You? Party? Ha. But I like the song, and laughing and telling stories and just visiting with folks you enjoy being with–that’s a party for me right there. The best kind of party.
That’s how I like to leave a good gathering too. Not “load ’em up, move ’em out, we got to go now” kind of thing–I just don’t have that in me. (Truth? I’m not that organized.) Daddy used to shake his head at how long it would take me to head out of the house and get in my car when the crew and I would visit. “Like a herd of turtles,” it has been said. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There’s something to be said for those parking lot or backdoor or backyard “parties.” We just move the visit out the door, slowly step by step, until we get to the car, get in, and eventually crank up and actually leave. (Unless of course, we forgot something, and then we start all over again…..)
Yesterday the littles and I went to visit our girl at her higher institution of choice. She’s doing pretty good, really good actually. We had promised we would pop in on Tuesday and bring her a couple of things she needed. Because of a mixup and miscommunication about required meetings, our anticipated hour and a half visit turned into a twenty-minute one. With a hurried exit and no parking lot party in sight. It was a so long, see ya, we GOT TO GO.
And it felt all wrong. I think that might be why she and I both felt a little broken after that. She’s been raised on parking lot/backdoor/backyard party goodbyes, full of stories that just came to mind and laughter and making plans to do it again and when. This hurried, harried, rather sterile goodbye was not the stuff that satisfies an aching soul by any means. Thank goodness for phone calls later in the day. (Yes, we talk a lot. It’s what we DO.)
Tonight I’m thankful for family who loves me anyway, and for the laughter and storytelling that brings comfort and joy. I give thanks for my Cuz’n and Mess Cat and Leroy who made time to be together, and for an awesome parking lot after party–at which the sense of going hunting in 32 degree weather in the dark of early morning when you pass by 3 grocery stores on the way was discussed. Among many other things. It was awesome. And I’m also thankful for who wasn’t there. My oldest, my college student. I missed her like crazy. She would have enjoyed the stories too, but I am thankful she wasn’t there because she is right where she is supposed to be. Having dorm “parking lot” parties, getting to know new fascinating people and hear their stories, and getting to know herself. Now that I’ve figured out we are a people of slow and gradual goodbyes, we will make time for that at our next visit.
‘Cause nothing good can come from being in a hurry. Especially when it comes to saying ‘bye. There’s too much fun and joy to be had by dawdling and taking your time.