The magic of being out after dark

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Spence and I went out last night — after working all day.

To Annapolis, a 50-minute cruise from home.

On a Wednesday.

To a loud, awesome concert.

It was . . . weird. Very fun. I felt young and old all at once, being out “past my bedtime” a good drive from home, sipping a cherry blossom lager that tasted like joy and smiling at my husband.

My husband. It still catches me sometimes . . . in a great way.

At 28, I often feel like the oldest young person I know. It’s not unusual to find me collapsed on the couch by 9:30 p.m., snoozing in a very unladylike fashion with a home show playing softly in the background. Back in college, I was a night owl constantly burning the midnight oil — because I had to. Commuting to school with a full course load and working part-time at the bookstore until far after dark, I got used to a rigorous schedule and running on fumes.

But things have changed. I’ve gotten more comfortable, perhaps a little lazier. I work full-time and “clock out” at 5 p.m., when we spend our evenings doing this and that. Without the chaos of year-long wedding planning times two, I find myself with so much free time now.

I love it, really. And it also makes early nighttime snoozes possible . . . but through this cold, cold winter, I’ve felt a little restless.

That’s why Wednesday night felt good — great, even. Live music. Good company. Chatting with strangers. Being out. After being encrusted with snow and ice for so long, even in the cold night air? It made me feel alive.

I remembered the early days when Spencer and I went to Annapolis just a month after we met, walking around the city for his birthday and still getting to know each other. He actually bought me a copy of Nicole Atkins’ album — the woman we saw perform last night — at a Borders that was still in business then. We listened to it the whole way home, the words pouring warm through our opened windows.

Four years later, I know all those songs by heart.


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Weekend wrap-up: Or, how I came to fall asleep on a six-foot tall dolphin

Happy belated Mother’s Day! I hope everyone had a chance to wish their moms a good day, or think about them if they weren’t close at hand. I spent the day with my parents in Annapolis and ducked over to the mall to see “Star Trek” — which was surprisingly, undeniably awesome! I’ll tell you flat out, I had very little interest in the franchise as a whole. My parents are both fans, but apparently I didn’t inherit the Trekkie gene. So I wasn’t really planning loving the film . . . it seemed vaguely interested and, sure, Chris Pine (young Capt. Kirk) is cute and all, but after spending all day Saturday on at an amusement park with middle school kids, I was kind of expecting to just fall asleep.

Um, no. “Star Trek” definitely isn’t a dead-woman-walking, pass-out-in-the-cushy-theatre-seats kind of movie! Probably the best movie I’ve seen all year — nothing to top it comes to mind! I would almost go see it again. Yes, that good.

And Annapolis was gorgeous . . . the weather in Maryland couldn’t have been any nicer yesterday! Perfect temperatures, glorious sunshine, a great breeze. We had lunch in a really nice restaurant, Dock Side Grill, and wandered around by the water shooting pictures. Some of my best shots:

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Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

All of this excitement capped a strenuous but very fun day at Kings Dominion in Virginia on Saturday. My 12-year-old cousin was singing with her middle school choir at the amusement park, and I went along as chaperone. I have to say, the kids were great — and I had a blast running around with the five girls in my group. It was very freeing to “return” to junior high as a 23-year-old, too, let me tell you! My cousin and her friends are all sweet girls, but some of those kids were just a little . . . rambunctious. And since I’m not ensnared in the complicated, awful hierarchy of seventh- and eighth-grade politics, I don’t have to pull any punches! If they were too loud, I could tell them to be quiet; if they were being obnoxious, I could tell them to calm down. I wasn’t worried about ridicule from a 13-year-old wearing earrings too big for her face and with a mouth to make a Sailor blush. Oh, no. Thankfully, I’m past the age of caring about any of that . . . and I tried to impress upon my young charges that one day they, too, will no longer care what others think about them (most of the time, anyway). Very liberating!

dolphinSo in all of our excitement running around the theme park, trying to dodge the storm clouds and oppressive heat (it was 90 humid degrees — yikes!) and drinking bottle of water after bottle of water, one of the ladies in my group had some serious luck: she won a giant dolphin playing one of the carnival games! And when I say it was giant, I mean it was huge — taller than my five feet two inches, I can tell you that! It took two of the girls (or one very exhausted me) to schlep that baby back to the bus at the end of the night, and then I got to share a seat with him all the way home! Dolphin almost had the whole seat to himself, really, because I had to turn him upside down, prop him up against the window and basically throw my own meager frame over him in order to not fall into the aisle.

I was able to read (Megan McCafferty’s Second Helpings — I’m more than halfway done and just addicted) on my way to the park, but all Dolphin and I could do on the way home was try not to force the other from our shared bus seat in silence. I grabbed the trusty iPod and fell into a very light sleep on our way back to Maryland. It’s hard to really doze off with a dozen 12-year-olds screaming at each other and singing round-robin versions of popular R&B songs. At ten at night. After ten hours in a theme park.

Oy.

But no matter — I was 12 once, and I distinctly remember going on field trips with my friends and basically acting like a total lunatic. My girls were very good and seemed to have a lot of fun, and I’m glad! It was my first time chaperoning a field trip, and I hope I wasn’t too embarrassing! And any of the pain, exhaustion or split-ear-drums I experienced were just payback for everything I put my parents, teachers and other chaperones through in my heyday.

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