She's gonna kill me for putting that picture online, though, let's just be honest, it is WAY more embarrassing for me. She may look like she swallowed a bug, but I look like a big dork. That's just the way it is. That's why I like her, she's laughs at my jokes, for some reason.
Anyway, back to the story: a couple of months ago, Aja said she was going to come to Wyoming to visit. Somehow (I don't remember if it was an accident or not), it was going to be on or around my birthday. That's why I like her, it's not every friend who is willing to drive nearly 1000 miles with three kids for a birthday, even a birthday as important as the big 3-0.
This is the text from the email I sent her about a month ago, after driving from MO to WY: "Okay, so this makes me very sad to say, but that drive is awful, and I would be a bad friend if I let you make it, with three kids. There's something about driving through either Kansas or Nebraska that is not unlike the Sisyphus myth, only with less rocks and more open, boring road. I mean I can't stop you from coming, but I can STRONGLY encourage you not to do it. You'd hate me by the end of the drive, and you'll spend the whole time here recovering."
And then she said: "It's okay. We still want to come. I know it's awful." That's why I like her, she's succinct. And stubborn, in a good way.
It was 14 (I imagine, hellish) hours in a minivan, but she showed up Sunday night...with a major head cold in the works. Everyone went promptly to bed.
The next morning, my birthday, we decided to load all the kids up in the minivan and drive the 2.5 hours to Denver. I said, "are you sure you're up for that?" as she was coughing and looked a little tired, but she said, "if we don't go today, I probably won't be up to going later. Besides, it'll easier if we get the kids out of the house," or something to that effect. The kids really were going stir crazy, so we went.
By the time we finished a long drive (it felt longer with 5 kids beating each other in the back two rows), lunch, Lego Store, and IKEA, she had completely lost her voice and was running a fever. I drove us back. I felt pretty awful she was so sick on her vacation, and she felt pretty awful because, well, she felt pretty awful, and also because it was my birthday and she brought the plague (ehem, cold) with her. But she also brought a homemade 4-layer chocolate ganache cake with her, so, even though she might disagree, I think it was a very successful birthday. That's why I like her, she understands the importance of birthday cakes.
The next few days were spent trying to create a balance between letting Aja rest and keeping all the kids from turning feral. Neither goal was reached successfully. Let's just say, there was blood and tears.
Yesterday, the last full day they had here, we decided to take the kids to Vedauwoo, 10 miles east of Laramie, where there is hiking and rock climbing. I knew Aja wasn't up for either activity, but I figured we could just find a spot and let the kids run around while we sat and relaxed. Did I mention by now she was showing signs of altitude sickness on top of her cold?
Relaxing didn't happen. The kids LOVED the rocks and didn't stop climbing, so we had to go after them. Yup, Aja chased after the kids, climbed rocks wearing Toms, sick and coughing and dizzy, like a boss. By the time we rounded up all the kids and sat down to picnic, she was feeling pretty dang nauseated, but she made it through. That's why I like her, she's resilient.
This is where one of the worst injuries of the day happened, Jubee threw gravel INTO Graham's eye. It wound up being fine, but it was scary and both Jubee and Graham cried quite a bit. The good news is, I think this might keep Jubee from throwing sand or rocks anymore. Phew.
We went back home, and Aja tried to nap while the kids played hide-and-go-seek in what seemed like an increasingly small living room space. After she woke up, we took them to the playground, and that's where the other major injury of the day happened: Sammy grabbed and twisted Jubee's arm as she went down the slide, and re-hurt the arm she sprained last week. Eeesh.
Stomach problems also struck more kids than not that afternoon/evening. It. Was. Rough. The whole house smelled pretty dang bad. After all this, Aja and I needed a break. We put all the kids to bed early, and, leaving Cam on watch, we ran away for about an hour.
We got some "Temple of Paradise" green tea at the local coffee shop downtown (lots of honey for Aja), sat on a bench, watched the sun go down over the train yard, and made fun of Temple of Paradise tea.
I tend to be pretty insecure about people. With the exception of my immediate family and Cam's, I tend to assume that most people in real life don't like me, and if I do have a friend they'll soon get over it. In fact, about once a month, I think to myself, "well, this is probably it, Aja probably doesn't like me anymore."
But she always proves me wrong.
This is why I like Aja:
She gives good advice.
She rarely gives unsolicited advice, and if it's unsolicited, it's needed.
She is very careful about what she says.
She is honest, but doesn't overshare.
She makes me think about what I'm about to say, and if I get gossipy or mean, she gives me that look which reminds me to shut up.
She motivates me to reach a higher standard, which friends and fellow Christians should do.
She is hilarious.
She forces me to think.
She drove halfway across the country to visit me, sick.
She has the same name as the Steely Dan album with my favorite Steely Dan song, "Peg." She doesn't appreciate that, but I do.
There's more, but since she's probably going to make me take down this blog post when she sees it tomorrow (because she's humble. Or is it shy? I'm gonna go with humble), I should probably not waste any more time typing.
I feel sad that she's not feeling well and didn't have a very good time, but, despite everything, I'm really glad she came (even though she probably regrets it). I hope, at some point, I can be as good a friend to her as she is to me. But I'm not driving my kids to MO anytime soon. Ick.
P.S. Cam said last night, as we heard Aja coughing upstairs while we were watching Property Brothers (did that make sense, or do I need to work on my syntactic ambiguity?), that I shouldn't have "made her" come visit. I told him I tried to talk her out of it and showed him the email I sent her a month ago to prove it, and then he told me that it must've been a self-fulfilling prophecy, and so her awful trip was still my fault. I hadn't thought of it that way. Well, this is probably it, she probably doesn't like me anymore. Haha.