A few weeks earlier, I had mentioned to Jess that I knew that this was a big birthday for me, and I knew how big her and her sisters' hearts are, that I suspected that they might be thinking of planning a surprise, and
Fast forward a week, and we are all at Six Flags/Marine World when Mandi tells me that Jess told her about our conversation. She said she was going to come clean. They had been trying to plan a party, but it wasn't working, so I didn't need to worry about it. They were trying to figure out who on my list of Facebook friends were "real friends" and not acquaintances, old classmates I didn't really know, old coworkers, professional contacts, etc. Besides, they had asked my dear friend Tammy if she could come up, and she could not make it, so they just lost all the umph they had in planning it. Tammy's arrival would have been the biggest part, and they weren't able to make it work they way they wanted to. We had plans already to go dancing on the 11th, closing night for my old stomping grounds at Kodiak Jack's, so I was told I could invite who I wanted to go. The list of people that would want to or be able to go there was small, so that was easy.
Back to Friday night. We pulled up to the house and I recognized Kyla's car, remembering that she and Loren would be visiting for dinner, as well. This was going to be a lot of people, more than usual. Still tired, I walked in the door and into the living room. I always make my way to my mom to greet and hug her first, and so I was weaving my way through toward her, feeling somewhat stunned in my exhausted mind at the birthday greetings being said and shouted from all around me. Smiling as I slowly walked, I noticed a blur as someone rapidly appeared from the hallway and walked across the room to stand in front of me.
I blinked. I think my mind went completely blank for a moment. I couldn't wrap my brain around what I was seeing.
It was Tammy! And right behind her came Emily, her daughter and Becca's best friend.
The surprise had been delivered after all, and boy what a great surprise that was!
Tamily (Tammy and Emily) live in Orange County, and I was trying to figure out how long she'd been in Sonoma County, so I blurted out, "Where are you staying?" She said, "With you, I hope?" Of course!! My brain was trying to figure out where we'd pick up their stuff, never thinking that they might have traveled all day to get there. I have some pretty darn amazing friends!
We had a glorious dinner and visit, and I think it was one of the best birthday dinners I've ever had. We got home late, and it's always great to have Tamily there to add more joy to the morning and night time rituals of caring for the animals. Quick sheet changes (a weekend chore that needed to be moved up the list pronto) and fresh towels, and we were ready to collapse into bed ... and talk more.
Becca and I love being with Tamily. I am always so grateful that Bex and Emily get along and love each other as much as their moms do.
The horrors that widely differing personalities could have inflicted on our long and deep friendship are too much to even try to imagine. When Tamily are present, our family is whole. We look forward to a few years down the line when they can live closer to us, and fantasize about what we can do with the studio next to my house to bring all of us together.
Saturday morning I awoke early, as usual, shutting down the alarms so as not to disturb everyone, and quietly went about getting ready to move and milk the goats and feed the critters. I was surprised to see Emily slipping out, and she asked if she could help. What a treat that was, to be able to spend some quiet time with her in the morning. She milked Salsa all on her own, and is a real pro. Reading, and odds and ends followed until Tammy and Becca got up. Then we made breakfast and enjoyed spending time together until time to go to our early dinner.
Pack Jack's BBQ was *the* BBQ place for me for years. Brick oven smoked, simple fare, in a plain yet funky environment perched on the side of Highway 116 just outside of Sebastopol. Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, lots of napkins, and finger bowls (large!) to help with cleanup after enjoying ribs with their homemade sauces. Fire destroyed the restaurant many years ago, and I was so happy to hear that they were reopening this summer. Being that Tammy was a Sebastopol native, as well, we knew we had to go there for dinner, so off we went on a lovely drive through the country to meet the rest of my kids for another birthday dinner. We stuffed ourselves and had a great dinner visit, then drove into town to meet my parents at Starbucks. The plan was for Becca and Emily to spend the night with them so the adults in our group could kick up our heels at Kodiak Jack's.
After fortifying ourselves with some caffeine and sugar for the night, we kissed the girls and my folks goodbye and headed into Old Town Petaluma. The memories that flooded as Tammy and I chatted on the way were so fun to share with the kids. This place was our stomping ground from the day it opened, as we are both western dancers, with Tammy teaching and me competing with some teaching on occasion. We met at Kodiak's under unusual circumstances that solidified our friendship into a bond that is hard to describe and is lifelong. It shows the kind of people that Tammy and I are - we weren't petty and stupid about fighting over a man who had been two-timing us, recognizing instead that he was the problem, and discovering on the way that we had a lot more in common than getting involved with a cheater!
Kodiak's is closing, and the 11th was actually their closing night. We had such a fun time walking up to the bar and seeing Barry's shock of recognition of the two of us together there again. It made me feel even more like I was home when he remembered my old habits and got our drinks started. We found a table and gathered together with other friends and family, high spirited and enjoying being together. It was karaoke night, so it took a while for us to be able to get onto the dance floor, and Barry touched us all with his closing speech about this home away from home, and then sang a modified version of "I Love This Bar." (There's a cover charge. :-) )
Tammy and I put in our requests to the DJ and waited mostly patiently for dances we could do. So much changes in the world of line dancing and we hadn't been keeping up with the newer dances. We took a refresher lesson and got some of our non-dancing friends and family involved, so we had a good group when that song was played.
It was like old times on the floor with Tammy again, but we were beginning to despair toward the end of the evening that we wouldn't be able to dance our absolute favorite, when Tammy went up to the DJ and pulled a connection card. She used to work as a DJ and dance teacher at Two Steps Up, and when she mentioned that, magically our favorite dance was played shortly. It's one that isn't taught much these days (Hawaiian Hustle, choreographed by Petaluman Sue Shotwell), but it is soooo good that the few who knew it flocked to the floor with us and youngsters were trying to learn it on the fly.
Shortly after, the booty shaking and freestyle music started, so we gathered our things and regretfully said goodbye to the old place and old friends. Maverick's is opening in Santa Rosa and Barry will be there, but it just won't be the same as the old brick building filled with memories and spirits of old friends. There are new ones to make at Maverick's, so we'll have to check it out.
We had done all the chores before leaving home, so everyone was tucked in as Tammy and I rumbled up the dirt driveway well after 1am. Though we were tired and knew we should sleep, we collapsed on the couches in the living room instead and chatted another hour or so. Tammy and I needed to meet up with the girls in the morning so she and Emily could begin another long drive south on Sunday. Eventually we recognized that we needed sleep and that the goats wouldn't wait for milking in the morning, and headed off to bed.
Sunday morning, we decided to meet up with the kids for breakfast at the airport in Petaluma, and were able to spend more time together, laughing and talking over good food, before they had to hit the road again.
It was a full weekend, little sleep, but what an amazing way to spring into my 51st year! Many thanks to my girls for pulling this all together, to Becca for being such a good keeper of a good secret, and to Tamily for making that trek up to make it a truly special time. I am looking forward to the next time!!!