Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Springfield Update.

Does that sound like a name for a newspaper?

Just like last year and the years before, Clay headed out to Springfield Thursday around lunchtime; I stayed here to work 'til closing time Friday and then go feed the birds.

I pulled out of the garage Saturday morning and was well on my way up the turnpike when I realized I had left without my pillows and also forgot to grab a blanket for the bleachers. I wasn't interested in turning around for 'em; I'd packed a towel for my hair so that was gonna have to be good enough to fill in for a spare pillow if there wasn't one in the room, and maybe I could pick up a stadium blanket with some odd local sports team on it so we'd have a soft place to sit and a souvenir too.

I love the driving, I like to feel what the car is doing, I like knowing what goes into it all; like new tires this year, two Kumhos on the front and two Goodyears, just a little bigger on the back… The Mark 8 is notably heavy and stays put fairly well, but I can still feel it loosen up just a little bit when I get just close enough to the back of a semi. With a pinch of great CD's in the changer and a good breakfast (Diet Dew & Cheez-it's) in the passenger seat beside me, I was ready to watch for cops & wrecks and just cruise right on up the highway to Joplin.

When I got out of the car at the Joplin Hobby Lobby, my two-day-old clearance-sale Avias were starting to hurt my feet, but I'd already decided I was going to check the shoes & handbags at TJ Maxx and have lunch at the mall while I was there. I parked outside TJ Maxx and made my usual compulsive pass through the handbag department; resisting the temptation of the one and only Coach bag because the color was just wrong. I checked the shoe department and also resisted temptation there because as cool as hot pink All-Stars would be, one-size-too-big is way too big for shoes that already make everybody's feet look too big. I did find a pair of Sauconys to replace my ache-inducing Avias, and then I took off toward the food court for some lunch.

Joplin's Northpark Mall was crowded just like Christmastime in a movie, and it seemed really huge. I'm still trying to figure out if it seemed so big because I'd never been there before, or if it really is bigger than any of the familiar ol' malls in Tulsa -- I'd just bet it's bigger. Every place in the food court had a line of people waiting; I ended up at Chic-Fil-A, 'cause hey, might as well get what ya know is gonna be good. I took my tray and turned around to find a place to sit. I'm not a real big fan of eating alone in public, but I plopped my purse and my TJ Maxx bag on the end of a long row of tables where there were lots of chairs between me and the next stranger. I wasn't alone for long, next thing I knew, a couple with several elementary school age little girls sat down at the same table. The dad ended up closest to me, so he and I ended up talking about chicken, Mexican food, and motorcycles with the dad while the girls chattered away with the mom.

I almost hated to get up and leave, it's hard to find those folks who are "friendly like they've known ya forever" without running into a few super-creepy ones. I have no idea if it was just that guy or if there really is a higher percentage of friendly folks in Joplin -- it was kinda cool to not feel all awkward about eating lunch alone in a crowd though… I want to see more of the Joplin mall sometime when I can stay longer; but I had to get back on the road, I had a little more driving and shopping to do before time for the races in Springfield. Once I was back out on I-44, I set the cruise and kicked my shoes off -- then turned the cruise off as soon as I'd tossed the shoes into the back seat.

I got to the first Springfield Hobby Lobby and eased the Mark 8 into the same spot where I'd parked the Limo the year before, and the ol' Velveteen Rabbit Windstar a couple years before that. It's funny how my brain seems to "take notes" when it comes to sounds and smells and situations -- like how I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Norah Jones cover "Wurlitzer Prize," or the last time I played this particular game on my iPhone was while waiting at the Dr's office, or the last time I knitted on that bag with the green cotton yarn "Bit Bang Theory" was on the TV. When I opened the car door in that parking lot and tossed my new Sauconys on the ground to step into them, the first thing I thought of was the near-migraine headache that I was trying to fight off the last time I was there -- so I tied my shoes with thankfulness on my mind; "feels so good, felin' good again." -- what a way to arrive in Springfield!

Y'all already know how I love the dirt track in Springfield, and the annual Sunday morning walk through "The Car Corral," but this year, I found out I'm crazy about something I had no idea I could like…

Branson.

The first time anybody I spent any amount of time with ever mentioned going to Branson, it was a little over ten years ago and I didn't really care either way. I probably would have went with him if he'd wanted me to, but I wasn't pushing for it and I didn't think it'd be my thing unless Bobby Bare or someone like that was there. Clay has family there though, and I'm crazy about his Aunt Linda -- so hey, it might be cool to see Branson one of these weekends…

And then I heard about The Coach Factory Outlet Store. My heavenly days, there's a Coach Outlet? Coach? Real Coach stuff at less-than-retail? Get me my car keys!

It was every bit as magical as I'd imagined, and the bag I've been waiting for an eB@y uber-deal to turn up on was only about ten steps from the door. Don't get me wrong, I made a lap of the building and checked the clearance shelves too, but I still wanted the same one that I'd wanted for a long time, and there it was… Oh, it is stunning, just stunning, the only hard part was deciding between black or tan -- and I ended up with tan, despite Clay's idea of "Just get 'em both." I came soooooo close, but I guess ya might say I halfway resisted the temptation.

I haven't made the switch yet, but I did drive home with it in the shotgun seat; and in all honesty, I did reach over and pet it a time or two…

I already wanna go back -- I can't stop thinking about "Just get 'em both," and if I find a wallet that matches this bag, it'll probably have to come home with me too.

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