For some reason, they are some of the most difficult entries for me to write. And not because I don’t want to talk about them, but because there’s simply too much to tell. It’s like when you meet up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time, and you both start talking at each other, quickly trying to fill in every detail you’ve missed over the years, and then you walk away feeling just as distant as when you began, and exhausted.
So instead of trying to recount every detail of this past weekend, let me describe some of the moments that defined it for me. Even just the key moments make for an annoyingly long blog-entry. But if I had to sum up the trip in one word, it would be magic, for so many reasons.
Home Sweet Home
This year, instead of being split up among different hotels, we decided to rent a house for the TequilaCon Planning Committee. Dave, Brandon, Vahid, my friends Melinda and Reg (who typically make appearances on this blog as Natasha and Farnsworth), and I rented a house that made all of us squeal with excitement just about every 30-45 minutes. Well, I squealed. The men did whatever the masculine version of squealing is. Grunting? Chest-thumping?
Four bedrooms, five fireplaces, gourmet kitchen, gorgeous décor, back patio, fire pit, bottle of wine waiting for us… we couldn’t stop commenting on how beautiful it was. It was the embodiment of sheer joy. I was so excited about the house that I completely forgot to take any photos of it, so it will just have to live on in my memories, and in the link at VRBO.com. But for the record, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to want to rent a hotel room again on a vacation. Ever.
Waking up and eating scrambled eggs and toast slathered in creamy Irish butter and sitting around a high wooden table with friends you get to see far too infrequently in a house too beautiful to describe with magpies flying across the yard as the sun streams in was almost too much for my heart. I was in a constant state of giddiness.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live with three incredibly funny, intelligent, beautiful men at once, let me illustrate:
[Clickety, clickety, click. Bloggity, blog, bloggity. Twitter, tweet, tweetify. Format, upload, resize. These boys are addicted, I say. ADDICTED! And I loved every minute of it. I want to live with them forever.]
Apples to Apples
On our first night there, we were still exploring the house and stumbled across the game cabinet. They had all sorts of puzzles and board games, including the greatest game ever invented – Apples to Apples. Trying to describe the game to people and make it sound fun is almost impossible – like trying to retell a joke whose punch line you don’t have quite right.
No wait… I think it goes, So, the Rabbi says, ‘You think that’s bad? You should see her sister!’
Nevertheless, let me attempt to explain the rules: there are green apple cards and red apple cards. Everyone gets a bunch of red cards with nouns on them. The judge lays down a green card with an adjective on it. All the players lay down the red noun card (facedown) they believe the judge will feel most accurately fits the adjective, and the judge gets to pick the winner. If the judge picks your noun, you get to keep the green card. First person to get seven green cards wins the game. Now, usually any board game that involves parts of speech is not exactly one people are lining up to play, but trust me when I say that it’s a blast.
The reason I’m going into this much detail about a board game is because Apples to Apples is responsible for a new hip expression that all the kids will be using soon enough. During one round, Dave was the judge and he laid down the adjective, Extreme. I don’t remember what all the noun cards were, but his decision came down to my card, which was Adolph Hitler, and Melinda’s card, which was Sharks. I’ve found in the past that if you want to win at Apples to Apples, you should always play the Holocaust card whenever possible, because it’s really hard for someone to not choose it as the winner without coming off as a total jerk.
So clearly, I knew I was going to win when I threw down Hitler. The man is responsible for murdering over 11 million people. Does it get more extreme than that? Apparently for Dave, it does, because he chose sharks. Sharks. I lost it.
“Are you kidding me?! Sharks are more extreme than Hitler?! ADOLPH F*CKING HITLER? What are you talking about?”
“I’m not saying Hitler wasn’t extreme, but sharks have been around way longer than him. They’re still killing people today. They’re killing machines.”
“Sharks are fish! They’re not extreme! They’re not evil and calculating! They go off of instinct! They’re just hungry!”
“Look, the Discovery Channel devotes an entire week to sharks. That’s extreme. It’s really extreme. In fact, it’s shark extreme.”
shark ex·treme (shärk’ ik strēm), adj. exceedingly intense; the utmost or highest degree of extremeness: I’m a big fan of rollercoasters, but even I couldn’t handle the Blazing Phoenix at Six Flags over Molokai – that was shark extreme!
So there you have it. Sharks are apparently more extreme than Hitler.
On Friday, we loaded into our tricked out Toyota Sienna minivan and I drove us up to Taos for the day. The trip became a battle of navigators because we had Brandon with his vixen GPS and Dave with his iPhone and Reg with his map from the house. Taos is not on the 3G network, so Dave was helpless. Brandon’s possessive whore of a GPS kept trying to keep us from Taos. So, ultimately, it came down to Reg and his old school lines on paper that got us to our destination.
We visited the Taos Pueblo, where we bought blueberry and cherry pies made in adobe ovens and took pictures of skulls.
Then we drove to the Gorge Bridge which crosses the Rio Grande. I was terrified that the high winds would blow away my newly purchased cowboy hat, but found the courage to soldier on to try to get a few good photos. It was far more stunning than I was able to capture in these photographs.
But really, the most memorable thing that happened to me in Taos was Lindsey. Melinda, Reg and I were wandering through some of the shops when I saw a sign that said, Horsefeathers. Pre-Loved Hats & Boots. Magic Tricks.
“Magic tricks?!” I yelled. “Ohmigod! We have to go in there!”
As we walked through the door, we were greeted by a smiling man with pale blue eyes, wearing a pink shirt and a cowboy hat.
“Like your lids, ladies,” he said.
When he saw the momentary look of confusion flash across our eyes, he touched the brim of his hat.
“Oh, thank you! We just bought them.”
We wandered toward the back of the store where all the pre-loved boots were located. Mel and I were jealous that all the boys had already found used boots the day before, so we were committed to finding our own.
The owner came back to check on us and asked us where we were from. He introduced himself as Lindsey, and we talked for a while about the time he visited Chicago many years ago with his son. He saw a Cubs game and ate at the Billy Goat Tavern.
“Cheeborger, cheeborger. I sure loved that old Saturday Night Live. And that Gilda Radner, boy she was funny.”
He was charming and polite and looked you directly in the eyes when he spoke to you. He was everything you hope for in a Southern gentleman. Lindsey told us to holler if we needed any help, and he walked back to the front of the store.
I gravitated toward two different pairs of boots – one was a very old, vintage beat up pair that had clearly seen their share of clearing brush. Paint splotched, the leather worn down on the toes, they were $88. The other was a much fancier and stylish pair, in far better condition. They were $295. I had one boot on each foot when I walked to the front of the store to check out the full-length mirror. Lindsey looked at me, looked down at my feet, then pointed to the $88 pair and said, “Those are your boots. They fit your style. They fit you. Those are yours.”
And he was right. He sold them to me for $60 even. I was giddy.
As I left the store, I remember thinking that I didn’t see any tricks anywhere, but I know without question that Lindsey was pure magic.
An hour or so before TequilaCon began, we all headed over to the venue, The Pink Adobe, to make sure everything was in place. After countless hours of research, Vahid had settled on the most perfect location for the event. We sat outside and sipped drinks in the breeze and admired our new boots while we waited for guests to arrive.
Brandon and I started talking about how this whole event began, with me asking two people I had never met to come visit me in Chicago, for no other reason than the fact that I loved their writing and wanted to hang out with them. Why did they agree? It’s so crazy.
We talked about how I was excited and nervous when they arrived, and how amazing and special it is that five years later, we are still dear friends and still meeting up to laugh and meet new people and eat and drink. I started to get choked up, and then my 12-oz Maker’s Mark arrived just in the nick of time.
The TequilaCon gods blessed us once again by leading us to a private room upstairs. Bloggers started filing in, greeting each other with hugs and laughs and I knew it would be a good year. I got the chance to talk to people I met in Philadelphia last year, to finally meet bloggers I’ve known for years in the virtual world, and to get to know brand new bloggers.
The smaller crowd seemed to make for more mingling than in TequilaCons prior, and I was so happy to see everyone having a good time. Everyone loved the customized tequila bottles and lanyards and buttons that Dave designed, and Vahid was busy at work applying temporary tattoos.
Then, at one point in the evening, I walked out of the bathroom and straight into a familiar and wholly unexpected face – Dustin. He was the only member of the planning committee from Philadelphia who wasn’t going to be able to make it to Santa Fe, but unbeknown to all of us, Dave had arranged just days earlier to fly him down for the event as a surprise.
Upon seeing Dustin’s angelic face, I, of course, immediately shoved past him and punched Vahid on the arm, because that is how Sicilians show their love. When I realized that Vahid had been as duped as I was, I turned to Dave and then became a weepy pile of goo, which is also how Sicilians show their love.
From our magical house to my magical boots to my magical friends and all the magical people who made their way to Santa Fe, I couldn’t have imagined a better weekend. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming to this event and bringing their stories and humor and kindness and making it the wonderful celebration that it was. I can’t even imagine what next year has in store for all of us.
[My heart, she explodes.]
[For more photos, go here]
Filed under: General, TequilaCon on April 29th, 2009 | 15 Comments »