My Crazy Awesome Irresponsible and Much Needed Weekend...part II

I knocked on the door of the hotel room. It looked like there was a light on inside somewhere, and I knew that Stephanie of Diapers and Divinity had checked in earlier that day. I pictured her reclined in a chair reading a great book - or worse! Napping! - while I rapped annoyingly at the door. I was almost relieved that after a few attempts there was still no answer.

I dashed over to the front desk to see if I could get my own key.

On the way down to St. George, I had been listening to a book on tape about a gal in the witness protection program. There had been a bit about hotel security. The criminal who kept trying to do her in had somehow continually cracked the code and discovered where she was staying each time she was flown in to testify in his case. The agents assigned to protect her always managed an escape - but usually just barely.

So when I walked into the hotel office, I was expecting to have trouble convincing the man behind the counter that I actually did belong to room 111 - even though I didn't actually know any of the other women checking in.

"Hi," I said in my brightest, most personable way. The man looked up and scowled. "Uhm...I would like to get a room key."

He sighed and looked down at his computer. "Room?"


He didn't look up. "Name."

I wondered if he wanted mine or the name of the reservation? Probably both - and eventually I'd have to prove who I was. With my invalid drivers license. And a picture that was taken just before I was married - pre-baby, pre-haircut, pre-disheveling drive to St. George. This would be tricky. "The reservation was made under That Girl," I ventured - though of course I gave her real name. Which pretty much felt the same as revealing some great and significant secret code.

Still, he didn't look up. Instead, roughly grabbed a white piece of plastic from his drawer, slashed it through a machine, and handed it to me. "There." He said.

"Er...thanks." I said.

I turned around and marched out - thinking the whole time 'this place has no security. I could be anyone. The hitmen are going to find us and we're all going to die.'

(spoiler alert! - the hitmen didn't find us. Nobody died. Though Stephanie did end up falling ill.)

I let myself into our room - which was empty. There were signs of life, though. One of the corners of those charming disease-infested hotel bedspreads was turned down to reveal the pillow beneath. An overnight bag tucked in the corner. They were Stephanie's, I deduced, and was oddly comforted by their presence.

I dropped off my things, wrote a little note to leave on the table for my roommates, and took off again into the night.

Garmin lead me to Target, where I collected some bottled water and some juice before they turned off all the lights and loudly announced that it was time for all customers to please GET OUT. They let me write a check (didn't check ID) but not for over the amount. At least I wouldn't die of thirst!

Garmin then lead me to a Harmon's where I chose some granola bars, a bottle of peanuts, and some instant oatmeal. I hate instant oatmeal, but I was desperate. I mean, I'm sure the pregnant pioneer women crossing the planes didn't exactly enjoy their ration of cooked dead neighbor's horse, but you do what you gotta do.

The harmon's checker was friendly, which was refreshing after my run-in with the hotel deskman and the checker at Target (GET OUT GET OUT I WANT TO GO HOME!). I asked if I could write my check for over the amount, and she said that I could! But not over $50. I held my breath for her to ask me for my ID - I got so nervous about it, in fact, that when she didn't ask and didn't ask, I decided to open my big mouth and say, "do you need to see my ID?"

"No," she smiled as she took my check. "I just need your phone number."

So I left Harmons with some snacking goods and an extra $40 in my pocket.

I was saved.

Thanks, Harmons! For allowing checks to be written over the amount, and for having somewhat lax security about it.

I returned to the hotel - exhausted - anxious again about meeting my roommates. But again, the hotel was empty.

I had received a text earlier about a bunch of bloggers meeting at another hotel in town to meet each other and etc. But I talked myself out of that adventure (which I now regret a little bit) because I was tired, I felt like I had been traveling all afternoon, and I was anxious enough about meeting my 3 roommates, let alone a whole gaggle of the gurus of the blogging world. Besides, I rationalized, it was late. Surely they wouldn't be socializing much longer. If I went, I'd probably get there as things were winding down.

So I stayed in and read the recent blog posts of my soon-to-be roommates.

When Stephanie, Hel, and That Girl arrived, I had keyed myself up so much about meeting them that I was certain I would cower under the grody hotel blanket and just watch them with wide, bat-like eyes and only be able to mutter the faintest squawk of greeting. I would be awkward personified. I was doomed.

But Stephanie breezed in with a story on her lips about trying to finagle an extra blanket from the Man at the Desk (who immediately assumed that she was not, in fact, just really cold - and was instead hiding illegal guests), and by the time she plopped down on the bed across from me, I absolutely loved her. She apologized that she was not feeling very well, and promised not to breathe on any of us.

Then That Girl and Hel (who were in a different car) waltzed in, and soon everyone was joking and bantering about our interesting hotel accommodations, the ways of toothbrushes, bloggers, blogging, and the funny things our husbands said, recently.

I was, in fact, quiet - but not because of a feeling of ill-ease. On the contrary. I was so comfortable, and so amazed by these women, that I actually wished I could just be a fly on the wall so that I could watch and learn and absorb without them having to bother about me. Truthfully, from the time I met these women to the time we said goodbye the next afternoon - I was learning and growing and being edified and strengthened, and pretty much just letting myself bask without having anything to give in return.

But oh, how I needed these women - on this weekend, in this town, in this way. I knew exactly why I had come - even though all signs were pointing to it being a really, really RIDICULOUSLY bad idea. I realized that I was never going to miss this opportunity; it just wasn't an option. The whole thing was an answer to prayer.

That Girl's husband gave her strict orders to stay up all night giggling. We stayed up until 2AM (which you moms out there know is quite a feat), and there was giggling. But mostly there was talk of the Gospel. Of Motherhood. Of Family. Of what it was like to live in China (Stephanie) and Brazil (That Girl) and what it was like to live in America after growing up in Australia (Hel).

And long after my compadres surrendered to the night, I lie awake with wide eyes and a churning mind. My imagination had been ignited - and my spirit had been fed.

And I was amazed by the miracle of that hotel room on that night. Four women, coming from completely different places in the world bunking together for a night in St. George, Utah - of all places. There was no way, I realized, that I would have ever known about the existence of these women (even though Stephanie recently moved to the town right next to mine) if it weren't for the blogging world.

I felt close to these strangers in a very real way. We all shared something uncommon in common. These women were willing to share their faith and their moments of trial and triumph in motherhood and in womanhood with people (like me) they've never met. That network was powerful enough - but now that I've met them, I feel irrevocably bonded to them.

And all this before I finally fell asleep around 3AM.

The next day got even better.

We awoke at our leisure - no alarm clock. No little monkeys bouncing on our bed. Nothing to pry us from our indulgent rest. I think it was near ten o'clock before we were ready to head out into the day. We decided we'd go get breakfast (they, like me, felt that breakfast was good ANY time of day) and then go to the temple.

So over eggs and buttermilk pancakes, we shared our love stories. You know, how we met and fell in love with our husbands? Real life love stories - real life hand-of-God miracles bringing two people together against all odds. Every story shared was a testimony of the reality of the eternal nature of true love. On our arms - goosebumps. On our lashes - tears.

So when we went through the St. George Temple together and afterward spoke in a whispered circle in that most holy place, we shared our spirits with each other; buoyed, lifted. These women were strengthening me - a literal strengthening that I felt physically - and even though again I had little to contribute, I knew that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

After the temple, we jaunted over to the visitors center where we were inspired yet again by a traveling exhibit by the artist Walter Rane. Friends? If you have a chance to see his work - especially this exhibit - DO IT! He painted the stories of the Book of Mormon, and I swear I was standing right there when Sariah, bent in anguish over their campfire, experienced a wavering of faith as she wondered if her sons would ever return home to her.

Too soon, it was time for me and my new friends to part ways. We said goodbye - which felt oddly unreal to me. I suppose because in the blogging world, visiting each other is as easy as clicking a mouse. But when our farewell turned to embraces? That felt very real to me.

I knew these women in the flesh for less than a day. Mere hours! But they've all left their mark on me.

I'm secretly plotting ways to get us back together again - meeting somewhere in the middle. Even though I am still without a valid drivers licence (shhhhh!).

I would submit that the moral of this story is that it pays to fly against reason and do something that you know is completely crazy just because somewhere deep down it feels right. Though, really, I suppose the moral should be: DON'T LET YOUR LICENSE EXPIRE!


Hel said...

Oh so wonderfully written. And my feelings are exactly the same. May I link these posts from my blog? I just couldn't say things as well as you just did.


Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Awww, what a nice post. What a relief that I didn't end up being the town fool in this story. :) I might link up, too, because your version is way better than what my lazy self was going to come up with.

I'm not kidding about the double date offer. Let me know and we'll get it on the calendar.

Janey said...

Oh my word you are so brave to go stay with ladies you don't know. I think I might add that to my bucket list, because as intimidating as it might be, I'm sure it can also be life changing for the better. What a confidence boost!

And never ever stop at a deserted exit; not just in the day time, but especially at night! While alone! While pregnant!

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