Leave it to an elementary school teacher to put it all into perspective with a children’s book. “It sounds like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!” This was Jonathan’s first grade teacher, after I told her about the day I had on Friday – one day before the Buddy Walk. It was the kind of day that makes you forget everything about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it – and then makes you kick yourself for being such a jerk. From the moment it was clear the kids were going to miss the school bus, I was in full-on whirling dervish freak out mode, realizing the items on the to do list were too long and that the day – and my temper – were way too short.
I actually had high hopes that I would be able to keep it together on Friday, although in hindsight, knowing my anal retentive tendencies, was probably way too much to ask of myself. I knew that sometime that afternoon, a crew from a local air conditioning vendor was going to pull up to my driveway to install a new a/c unit. Yes, two days before the Buddy Walk, our a/c went out. (Last year, two days before Buddy Walk, I had to have a ROOT CANAL, so I guess all things considered, I am fortunate that this year, the work was on the house, not on me. Although last year, I actually quite enjoyed the chance to recline in a chair listening to innocuous elevator music for about an hour. BTW – you pretty much know you need to do something about the stress level in your life when a root canal is a good excuse to chill. :-))
But back to the a/c situation – Of course the a/c broke down just as we were preparing to welcome out of town guests into our home for the Buddy Walk. And not just any out of town guests (like my brother from South Carolina who visits all the time – sorry Thad, I’m not saying I take you guys for granted – I’m just saying that you totally know what to expect from me in terms of hospitality on the day before a major event – pretty much NOTHING – and you roll with it – and I love you for that!) But this year, Thad and his family weren’t coming for the Buddy Walk. The CHAIR OF THE ATLANTA BUDDY WALK, Jennifer Thanepohn, and her family were.
We had met the Thanepohn’s in person at the Downsed conference in Atlanta back in September and our families instantly hit it off, so when they said they were interested in coming down for OUR Buddy Walk, one week after THEIR Buddy Walk, I unhesitatingly invited them to stay with us. And if you know me, you would know that this was a pretty uncharacteristic move. Although I love to entertain, I also know how I can be before a big day that I’m in partly of – or completely in charge of (just ask Thad – or better yet, ask Phil ;-)). Let’s just say my usual response would be, “Oh – you want to come down for Savannah’s Buddy Walk? I could suggest a few convenient hotels.” “Why would that be?” you might ask. “Oh – I don’t know – just something about the fact that my head will probably be spinning around and green stuff will be coming out of my mouth ala the Exorcist at right about the same time you’re planning to arrive in Savannah! ;-)”) However, I had opened my mouth back in September (before any sign of green discharge had begun to build up) and had uncharacteristically extended the hand of hospitality.
So now it was just hours before their arrival and my house was filthy. (OMG –where did all this dust come from – and these cobwebs – should I try to pass it off as Halloween décor? ;-)) Six loads of laundry I had done two days before still needed to be sorted and put away, the bonus room where I was planning to put the parents was trashed since it normally serves as the children’s play room and not a guest room, toilets needed to be scrubbed, kitchen and bathroom floors needed to be washed, beds needed to be made and my office and the kid’s rooms still needed to be picked up so our guest’s children could have a nice place to sleep versus dirty underwear piles. I still had to finish the opening remarks for our Master of Ceremonies, Jamie Deen, and wrap up the entire opening program with our Buddy Walk chairman; coordinate the timing of a Coast Guard helicopter flyover; make numerous calls and emails coordinating Jonathan’s team, the J-WALKERS; make calls and emails regarding our news coverage and make calls and emails to our special opening ceremony guests. Oh yeah, I still had to buy face paint, brushes, glue, googly eyes, craft wire, washable markers, mums, scarecrows, sanitary hand wipes and numerous other items for the fall festival portion of our Buddy Walk. And then, I also had to go to Wal-Mart to buy poster board and print off a dozen new pictures for Jonathan’s 2010 Buddy Walk Wall of Fame poster.
And it was at Wal-Mart that things started to unravel. Actually, it was three days before when things REALLY began to unravel. I was on an excellent pace for BUDDY WALK before then. But early in the week, Charlotte became sick with a sinus infection and had to stay home from school for a few days. Then on Thursday, I was stuck at home for most of the day waiting for the a/c tech to come to my house to assess the damage. That’s why I was finally out and about on Friday – one day before the walk – doing all the things I had planned to do over the course of a week, in one day. So here I am at Wal-Mart and the photo project that should take five minutes is taking an hour after an equipment malfunction. (And let’s just say that although the person at Wal-Mart who was trying very patiently to try to retrieve my order from the broken machine, was nice and polite, her middle name was not exactly Hewlett- Packard.) When it became clear she was not going to be able to fix it herself, and that someone at Hewlett-Packard probably was, we moved onto another machine. By this time, the a/c guys are calling, wondering where in the heck I was. (I suppose I should have enjoyed that call – I can’t ever remember a service truck crew waiting for ME – how many times have I waited for THEM?) Anyway, I pull out of Wal-Mart, get home just shy of 2:00, show the a/c guys to the attic and start my Buddy Walk calls and emails.
They take much longer than I can possibly imagine. At 4:00 I walk down to the bus stop to pick up Jonathan. The house (which should have been Leave it to Beaverville hours ago) has still not been touched. I still have calls and emails to make. I tell Jonathan he can play Wii or play outside with his friends until I finish my work and then he has to go upstairs to clean his room. I wrap up, yell outside for Jonathan and he refuses to come in. I practically go nuclear. He comes in only after I come out, to physically retrieve him. He huffs his way upstairs and TOGETHER we quickly pick up his room. At this point, I’m just looking to clear some floor surface for a child’s sleeping bag, not for any MOTHER OF THE YEAR bonus points. I then unload the dishwasher, put away the dishes from breakfast, wipe down the kitchen countertops and table, scrub the downstairs toilet and rinse the sink and start making the bed in the bonus room – realizing now that I can kiss any thoughts of anything remotely resembling HOUSE BEAUTIFUL away. I’m now hoping the guests will arrive just as it turns dark so they won’t be able to see the dust. But I’m also starting to feel better, telling myself – these folks are easy – it’s always me that’s so hard (on myself.) I know the Buddy Walk is the top priority and by now, almost all my Buddy Walk stuff is done. I also know that if anyone is going to understand what I’m going through – it’s the chair of another BUDDY WALK.
By this time its 6:00 and they call to say they’ll be here in 50 minutes. I stink, still haven’t showered and realize that although I’ve made their beds, the guestroom pillows are up in the attic where the a/c guys are working. I’m thinking – no problem. 50 minutes to go. I’ll take a quick shower, head up to the attic to get the pillows. Everything else is done. We’ll order pizza. The kids and I can make our BUDDY WALK posters tonight, we’ll be able to visit and catch up, and I’ll stop sweating the house and start enjoying their visit. “Get over yourself, girl! :-)” BUT HERE’S WHEN IT GETS REALLY FUN!
The a/c guys take a break and I slip into the attic to get the pillows. Let’s just say that your attic in Savannah in the summer is not where you want to be (thus the rush to get the new a/c unit in the house.) It is blistering hot up there. In fact, I haven’t been up there since July, when our last out of town guests arrived. I went up there for just a few minutes to grab their pillows and to put them back when they left. Problem is, when they left it was so hot up there that I shoved the pillows into a few hefty bags and just threw them up there – anywhere. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough – it was that hot. So here I am on Friday, rummaging around for the hefty bags filled with pillows, wearing my big old clunky MBT fitness shoes which kind of look (and feel) like I’m wearing a big white anvil on my foot. (These are not ballet slippers.) So I straddle two beams in my big ol’ MBT’s – oh thank Goodness – I see the bag of pillows! And then it happens. As I reach for the bag, my right foot slips off a beam – and the floor beneath me gives way! I fall on my butt onto the beam where my left foot is, imagining what it must be like to be an Olympic gymnast who just blew her big beam routine. I catch my breath and after I stop swearing I almost start giggling because I can’t believe what just happened and what I’m seeing beneath me right now – (HOLY MOLY!!!) – Charlotte’s green shag rug. Yes, I crashed through the insulation and the drywall through the ceiling in Charlotte’s room! I rush downstairs to assess the damage and kind of shake my head thinking how lucky (but how stupid) I am, call Phil (who’s picking up Charlotte from dance) to give him a heads up on what to expect when he gets home, get the mini shop vac to clean up the fallen plaster and head into the shower. By this time, it’s 6:20. They’ll be here in a half an hour. (Oh yeah, I put the pillows in pillowcases and place them on the guestroom bed.)
Phil comes home, takes a look at Charlotte’s room, and shakes his head ala Ricky from the I LOVE LUCY show – (“Lucy – what did you do all day???!!!” – looks like you and Ethel got involved in another episode of CRAZY HIGHJINKS!!!”) Phil, probably knowing it’s best not to mess with me right now, calmly agrees to wipe down the tub in the kid’s bathroom which the guests will be using, while I get ready – and I’m now feeling much calmer as well. Ten minutes to go – okay so I don’t have time to blow dry my hair before the guests arrive and when they get here it’ll still be wet, but who cares? We’re chilling at home tonight and these are awesome, low maintenance, easy going people. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Ten minutes to go and I decide to light a pumpkin scented glass potted Yankee candle that someone gave me for my birthday. It has been sitting on the kitchen counter top waiting to welcome in fall ever since then. I pick it up, it slips out of my hands, and CRASH! It shatters all over the kitchen floor and I cut my left thumb. YES, THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING! Phil brings down the shop vac and scolds me for my bad language. (Yes, I have to admit, it was not pretty :-)) I yell to him to let me take care of it, simultaneously vacuuming and wiping the blood from my thumb. After the glass is gone, I head upstairs to get a band aid. Then I hear, “HELLO!” The Thanepohn’s have arrived. The a/c guys are still there. Debris is strewn all over the front lawn and the driveway. The front door is wide open since they have been going in and out all day.
But none of that matters. The kids instantly reconnect and head upstairs. The husbands also reconnect and head off to pick up pizza. Jennifer and I reconnect and five minutes into our chat, she stops talking, looks at me and says, “What’s that on your arm?” “Oh, that’s just a burn I got while cooking dinner with the kids on Wednesday.” “Brooke – that’s a THIRD DEGREE BURN! You need to treat that.” (CAN I JUST GO UPSTAIRS AND PULL THE COVERS OVER MY HEAD AND PRETEND THIS DAY DIDN’T HAPPEN NOW?) We laugh about how we’re too busy to take care of ourselves. She points to an old ankle injury of hers as a perfect example. She tells me to dig up some Neosporin. I head back upstairs. She heads to her car to retrieve her first aid kit. (She’s a former paramedic and comes fully equipped with everything needed to fix me up in no time.)
The a/c guys finally leave. Our guys come home with pizza. We all sit down to eat. We laugh, we talk. Then we make BUDDY WALK posters and I’m starting to relax. The kids are in the kitchen creating their own personal tributes to Jonathan and his team, the J-WALKERS. I sit down in the living room with the adults to make my poster. It’s something I had planned to do early in the week – something that “had to be done before the guests arrive.” But now they’re here and I’m forgetting all the crazy stuff I do and say and worry about that doesn’t really matter – completely focused on making the poster and completely focused on what the BUDDY WALK is all about – honoring Jonathan and his fellow extra chromosome brethren. For the most part, it had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But the clock was winding down and so was I. And I awoke the next morning to one of the best days ever.
DETAILS ON THE BEST SAVANNAH BUDDY WALK EVER TO FOLLOW!