Girlfriend Chop Suey
Once Biene and I realized we were going to be more than two on the 20th, we started figuring out meeting points. B is on the mountain. I'm in the valley. Lisa is in the South Bay. The logical meeting point for all of us was the Wal-Mart parking lot on Hammer Lane in Stockton.
Hammer Lane is a major exit point on Hwy 99, north and south, so finding it would not be a problem. Well, not a problem if you don't have major construction making the exit all but invisible and it's only mid-morning and the sun is out. The last sign I saw was Hammer Lane, 3 1/4 miles. Good, I'm thinking. That's less than five minutes and traffic was light. So, six minutes later I'm wondering where Hammer Lane has disappeared to. Eight minutes later I'm exiting at Lodi and pulling into an AM/PM mini-mart. Short of police and taxi drivers, the perfect person to give directions in a tow truck driver and there he was. I had indeed passed Hammer Lane by five exits so with a big thank you and good-bye, I headed south. Hammer Lane construction was not nice but I negotiated the confusion and pulled into the parking lot. There was a Mini-Lube. Biene and Lisa could not be far away and then - There they were. I hopped out of the car, let the door hanging open, said "first things first" and was hauled into a big bear hug by Lisa. Oh my goodness, does that Lisa know how to give a hug.
Lisa is an adorable bundle of energy and verve. She is laughter come to life. After the predictable laughs and giggles, we transferred my stuff into Biene's car and off we went. I consider the first official laugh of the day post-greetings to be when Lisa told me she crimps her hair to get it to look like mine looks naturally and of course that was the day I flat-ironed my hair to calm it down thus taking on HER natural hair look. Confused? Well, we weren't. We totally GOT the whole girl thing about hair and I don't think we shut up the entire drive.
Speaking of the drive up, be sure to read Lisa's account of the, as she so delicately put it, directional navigation between Biene and I. I will defer to Lisa's observation of the true and honest account of events regarding that bit of wrangling. After all, she was Switzerland. Biene will have another story to tell, but don't believe her. Biene, I was NOT whining. LOL
And finally, there we were at our destination. Maryellen of the to die for short short hair was outside and greeted us. Few people can wear hair that short but Maryellen has it nailed. Great shape to the head. Great bone structure. Here she is with my Biene.
One of my most long time and dearest friends is Barbara who lives in Diamond Springs, a tiny town just above (literally) Placerville. We have known each other since 1981 when she had two toddlers in diapers and I had one. Her family eventually grew to four and I added one more. We have been through the entire range of family experience together - births, high school and college graduations, severe illness, weddings, the death of a child (her eldest at age 24), and the passing of our moms and the advent of grandchildren (hers). She is a rock; a quiet center of calm authority and good common sense. In a stormy world, she is the anchor you want at your back.
I felt totally strange about going up to Placerville and not seeing Barbara. In fact, it felt downright unnatural. After all, Krista was on her way up to visit her son Paul (son number three and her best buddy) but no Annie in sight. What's with that?? Barbara asked later. Anyway, out came the cell phone and low and behold, she could join us for lunch. Here she is with Vicci (on the right) I've known Vicci through a Yahoo group for a couple of years and we had met on a couple of other occasions, but now I was finally about to get Barb and Vicci together in the same place.
Vicci is the most productive and prolific person I think I know. She has an enormous heart and is the heart of her family. If anyone could be described as a warm hearth of comfort, it would be Vicci. She quietly sat at the table, the noisy cheerfulness washing over her and just soaked it up. She has a lot on her plate caring for her 91 year old dad and I'm sure the energy around that table charged her battery for the rest of the weekend at least.
We were there for food but it became, at least for me, almost an after-thought. I don't know about anyone else, but I was almost unaware of the food. I know I ate but the warmth, sharing, and girlie chop suey that was being served up might have filled us up without the food itself. Well, may not Lisa. She was starved. LOL.
And finally, too soon, our happy lunch came to an end. Maryellen and Vicci needed to leave so that left B, Barb, Lisa and I to explore the Main Street of Placerville. We gathered up our piles of gifts we exchanged (see Happenings Part Three) and headed out the door with promises of seeing each other again soon. The comfort of this afternoon was amazing. I related to these women as easily as if I had known them for 25 years. There was no shyness. We all seemed to fall into the natural expressions of our personalities from quietly observant to boisterous and lively. It was a delicious chop suey of friendship.