Posted by: Kate | October 22, 2010

The Best-Laid Plans

Apparently, I made God laugh last weekend.  That’s the joke, right?  “How do you make God laugh?  …make plans.”

The plan was simple, not very different from the prior two years: Gretchen and I would travel westward from New England, meet up with Barb and her mom, and we would spend a day or two wandering around the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival (known, to the insider crowd, as “Rhinebeck,” because it takes place in Rhinebeck, New York… we’re a creative bunch, what can I say?).

I went for the first time in 2008, and in my personal timeline it marks a fairly significant turning point.  That Saturday was the first time that I was fully awake of  how much my back hurt after a day of walking around; none of my companions seemed nearly as exhausted or sore as I was, and certainly no one in my immediate vicinity was stopping to touch their toes, stretch backward, squat down, and generally try and loosen muscles and joints that felt unreasonably stiff and sore.  In hindsight, it was the first time that I really struggled with spondylitis, though it took another seven months to get a firm diagnosis.

It was also the last big event before life tossed a steady stream of shit at my fan for a while: I lost my job and couldn’t find a new one, we received the diagnosis of infertility, my friend L was in the early phases of rebuilding her life after leaving her husband… and so on.  That trip to Rhinebeck was like one last glimpse of sunlight before disappearing into a long, dark tunnel, and I’ve never been quite able to decide whether I’m glad about that.  Would it have been better to know that some nastiness was lurking just over the horizon so that I could more fully appreciate the good while I had it,  or would the apprehension and wish to avoid the nastiness have ended up staining that weekend, too?

Anyway, I went last year, and was happy again: my back wasn’t better but I had steady treatment and an understanding of the problem, my employment search had never come to fruition but Willem’s had, and my infertility had magically evaporated and I was carrying around a tiny Isaac-to-be.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect out of this year.  We had learned some important tricks in prior years: when and where to make hotel reservations, which food vendors were worth an hourlong wait and which were not, that the vibe of Sunday’s festival was much more laid back and comfortable than the vaguely crazed edge that seems to characterize Saturday.  I have a pretty clear sense of my own capabilities and limitations, by now, and I was very much looking forward to the people, some of whom hadn’t seen me since before March and some of whom had never seen me in person at all.  I thought I could make a reasonable prediction about the course of the weekend: pack up Isaac, pick up Gretchen and her friend Aubrey, and arrive in New York Friday night.  Spend Saturday visiting museums or just sitting and talking and knitting, visit the festival on Sunday, and drive home by dinnertime Sunday.

Hah.  Aren’t I funny?

Things rolled  right along as predicted from my departure with Isaac around 3:30 until 6:00.  We didn’t make it a full three hours, or more than 20 miles, before Willem called to let me know that Splat, Emily’s guinea pig, had died sometime during the day.  That’ll be its own post soon… for now, it’s enough to say that she was just heartbroken, and while I knew I could just stick to the plans because Willem could handle whatever he needed to handle on his own, I also couldn’t leave that night.  Just couldn’t.  My baby needed me… and then my actual, chronogical baby decided to have a meltdown in the car, so that just reinforced my decision to return Gretchen to her car and head back home.

Em and I had a girls-only sleepover on the pullout couch, followed by a girls-only weekend in  New York.  She had a great time, both because it was new and different and interesting with lots of visual and tactile stimulation (festival fairs really must just be fantastic for ADHD, it’s like a yarny version of stimulant medication) and because it kept her mind off her sadness during the days.  The originally-planned group still met for dinner, stayed up late chatting and knitting and just reconnecting.

I came home exhausted, and overstimulated, and sore.  And also happy to have had a lovely weekend with my daughter and good friends, a nice hotel and a sheep-and-wool festival to boot.  If my plans next year go awry in a similar direction – without a pet death, that would be just fine, but the mother-daughter part?  That would be just fine.

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