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Monday, May 22, 2006

Who Says You Can't Go Home

The funny thing about my mom is she is one of the easiest and funniest people in the whole world to trick. Friday night I called her from the parking lot at her house, asking if Lane 1 and I could come over to spend the night. "Lois, it's 10. You guys won't get here until one in the morning."

"It won't take that long to get there. Besides, there is no traffic this time of night and we have to be at the university by 8. It'll be easier to leave your house at 7:30 than mine at 5:45 tomorrow."

"Well, of course you can come spend the night... but I might not be up... and it's going to be so late... you're really going to have to be careful."

"I'm always careful. I'll be there soon. Love you bye."

We walked into her house one minute later. "Oh my gosh! How did you? I mean, why did you? What..."

"We called from the parking lot, Mom."

"Oh, well, good. I didn't want you driving so late anyhow. Sit down. You want coffee? Soda? Lane, what do you want honey?"

"Thanks Mom, we're fine."

After talking about how we tricked her for at least ten minutes, she said, "Oh shit! You guys made me miss the end of my show."

She'd watched two hours of whatever show's season finale, only to miss the last ten minutes because of us. If that would have happened when I was Lane 1's age, she'd have killed me, no doubt. When Knott's Landing or Dallas was on, no one was allowed to even speak. Old girl is slipping with age.

She still didn't know we planned to spend Saturday night with her. That was another surprise for later.

It was so nice waking up to her face early Saturday, and the smell of home, plus she had a cup of coffee ready for me. Now that's love right there.

Since it was expected to be a very long day, we didn't drag my mom to the meet. Just me and my boy in Chicago, hanging out, spending quality time together, with me cheering him 'til my throat hurt, was the plan for the day. (Lane 2 was with Mr. Lane looking at houses, which I was thankful to miss.)

As we drove toward and through Chicago, we went through many of the old neighborhoods we grew up in, which caused me to give the boy the guided tour treatment. I was amazed at how much he remembered about living in the city. We left when he was 7-years-old but you wouldn't know that by the way he pointed things out. I took him by his old school, the candy store he loved, the park he played at and the house we lived in. It was all slightly out of the way but so worth it looking at his face as I watched him reflect.

After our detour, we got to the university amazingly before 8 a.m. What are the chances that a kid will outgrow their track spikes within a couple of days? Lane 1 somehow managed. Since he had a lot of time before his events began, I took off in search of a new pair. I waited until 10 and went to the mall I worked at back in the day and two strip malls along the way. In all, nine stores, none of which had spikes that would fit him.

When I got back empty handed, he said not to worry because his buddy would let him use his, since they were in different events. I can't tell you how thankful I am that he had a plan B. So much for spending all of that quality time with him. It was about lunchtime when I did make it back and of course he was hungry. I headed back out to grab hotdogs from my all time favorite grease pit.

I got everything on my hotdog, which I haven't done since I lived in Chicago. Knowing I was about to eat and make a huge mess, I decided to go sit in my car. I looked back at the boy as he happily took a bite of that familiar flavor of Vienna Beef.

In my car, covered in a napkin blanket, I chowed-down. The sun was beating down through the sun roof, the weather was perfect. I turned the radio on with my foot because my hands were covered in mustard and onions and relishy goodness, it was just in time to hear The Loop FM playing Sweet Home Chicago. The feeling of home was overwhelming.

In all there were 700 athletes competing. Lane 1 ran his little ass off, coming in third, fourth and the relay team he is part of also came in fourth. One of their runners hurt his back in another event and they had to replace him at the last minute. The boy really wanted to take first in something, so he was slightly bummed. It took a lot of convincing and reminding him that he made it to state and that in itself is plenty to be proud of. The girl's team took first in several events, which I think is what made it more difficult to convince him he was great.

Since this is already obnoxiously long, tomorrow I'll tell you about surprising Mom again, and maybe I'll even tell you about how and why she wrestled my ass to the ground. She told me to thank you guys for all of the jokes and links.