Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Wanted to Keep Them Around Just to Hear Them Say Their Vowels

Rachel and Dan were here for a few days last week, and those were some mighty fine days. I hadn't seen the dynamic Wisconsin duo for over a year, and it was refreshing to wake up every morning and have them puttering around my apartment. In fact, over the course of their stay, they proved themselves to be excellent house guests. It seemed like every time I turned around they were doing my dishes, taking out my trash, picking up my wet towels. I would've married them, if that type of thing was allowed.

I first met the pair when I was in grad school. Rachel was in my two-week crash course on How to Be a Instructor of College Composition before the fall 2003 semester began. On the first day of that training, we went around the room and introduced ourselves. Rachel said she was from Wisconsin (and thus believed you pronounced the word "bag" as "bayyg") and that she was engaged. This was good news for me. After all, I had a major crush on one of the grad student mentors in that course, and I had been assessing every girl in that room since the moment I walked in. And now that I knew a lot of the cute girls were either married or engaged or supposed lesbians, I felt better about my chances. Rachel put my mind at ease.

Rachel had a hellish first semester at grad school. She had a lot of work, a lot of stressful classes, and a lot of things to get done. She was in a different program than I was--she was an English education girl--and when we would badger her to go out with us, she would always turn us down. She finally came out at the end of our first semester, and she was kind of shocked by the whole group of us. We were a little wild, a little crazy, a little too familiar with each other, and we scared the crap out of her. I kept looking across the bar table and seeing her stricken face. I could tell she was thinking, Oh Jesus. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

But once we rolled her into the group, there was no stopping her. One of my fondest memories of Rachel was a night we were all at a friend's house, just sitting around a kitchen table, drinking, gossiping. Rachel had a few too many glasses of wine and then decided she was too drunk to handle a delicate wine stem anymore, so she got up, got herself a straw, and plopped it down into the glass and guzzled her Merlot that way. Resourceful. Half an hour later, she suggested we try on each others' clothes, so all the drunk and giggling girls clambered up the stairs and tore off their clothes and started pawing through our hostess's closet and trying on things like a T-shirt that had the words SQUEEZE ME painted across the chest. That night and the conversations and all the girly nonsense is not one I will ever, ever forget.

Of course, you don't get a Rachel without a Dan, and what a delightful little perk that is. Cute, funny, sweet (he learned one of Rachel's favorite David Gray songs and played it and sang it for her right before he proposed), and a pilot, this boy is a keeper. One of my favorite Dan memories is this: he took me flying. He took me flying more than once--Rachel refuses to fly with him anymore because she had the unlucky pleasure of being in the plane when Dan was simulating a impending crash and a subsequent recovery--but my first time was my favorite.

The flight was my birthday present. He and Rachel kidnapped me the morning after my big birthday celebration. They told me to get in the car. They told me not to ask any questions because I was getting a surprise. And then we showed up at the small town airport, and Dan took me out to his plane. It was fabulous. It was fabulous even though I'd woken up in a foul mood--the Wily Republican and I had gotten into it the night before--and it was fabulous even though I was hungover. My stomach might have turned over on itself once or twice, but it was worth it. It was one of the most glorious birthday presents I've ever gotten.

And it's been hard to live so far away from Rachel and Dan. I don't like being separated from them. Not one bit. So you can imagine how happy I was for the few days they were here. I tried to show them some of my favorite places, tried to convince them to move to Maine and take up residence in my spare bedroom. I don't think I was quite successful in that last effort--especially considering they definitely aren't in this apartment right now--but at least we were able to saturate ourselves with Maine-y goodness for a few days. Here are a few of the highlights:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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