I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

When I wake up… 

Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who wakes up next to you 

When I go out… 

Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who goes along with you 

If I get drunk… 

Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who gets drunk next you 

And if I heaver 

Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who’s heavering to you 

But I would walk 500 miles

And I would walk 500 more 

Just to be that man who walk a thousand miles to fall down at your door

– The Proclaimers

Lately, I feel like I have been that guy. You know which one I’m talking about. That guy always rockin’ a cheese ball grin on my face, always talking about how fantastic my weekend was, always having something go my way…

I’m not that guy.

I am hardly this lucky…

Or am I?

Monday was my twenty-fifth birthday. I am officially a quarter of a century years old. People keep asking if I feel older… I don’t. Honestly, I think 25 suits me better than 21, or 23, or 24. It’s round, it’s evenly divisible by five (which I very much enjoy), it’s the symmetrical most point of my current decade (another OCD win), and I think it matches more with where I am at in life. I work in corporate America, I own a car, my own home, I am the mother of one, and I am 25-years-old. Sounds nice.

Okay, I’ll stop with all of the self-prescribed back pats. Moving onto some things you haven’t heard in a while…

Two Fridays ago, I went to Charlotte to celebrate my impending birthday with Tay. She had made reservations at a Tuscan restaurant Uptown for just the two of us. We had such a nice dinner. We talked, caught up, laughed, shared a bottle of wine, ate pasta, and just enjoyed the nice weather and atmosphere. Afterwards, we walked across the street to the Epicentre.

I have never been to a dueling piano bar, have you? Well, there is always a first time for everything, and two Friday’s ago did not disappoint. Howl at the Moon is located at the very tip-top of the Epicentre in Charlotte. Tay and I walked in and I knew immediately it was going to be a great time…

The piano man was banging out The Proclaimers, I’m Gonna Be, on the piano and was mustering up the best English accent he could above the crowd. There was a fiftieth birthday party underway (John’s 50th – to be exact), the doors to the balcony were letting in the fresh air, and the bar wasn’t at all crowded. Ahh, the best of both worlds – people watching and booze. Tay picked a small bistro table over by the open balcony doors with ample view of the stage, while I ran to the bar to get us drinks.

I ordered her drink first – a vodka and Sprite with a splash of cranberry. The bartender had a hard time hearing me over the music so when it came to my drink order I decided to make it simple – a double vodka on the rocks (as opposed to my super hard to understand “vodka on the rocks with a shot of OJ – on the side”). Yes, you read me right, Ballas. After going halfsies on a bottle of wine at dinner, I, for whatever reason, felt it my civic duty to “go easy” on the bartender. I made my way back to our table and shimmied up onto a stool. Let the games begin!

The first person to catch our eye was a guest of John’s (you know, 50th birthday man). Right off the bat you could tell she was just a tish bit younger than everyone else in John’s party. Striped Dress Girl seemed like the kind of lady all of the other wives said was “fun” to her face, but really, after every get-together they would talk shit about her in the car the entire way home. “Can you believe she would say that!” “I honestly think she’s just with him because of his money.” “Ugh, Striped Dress Girl, she’s such a whore.”

Anyhow, as it turns out, Striped Dress Girl loved to dance. Which is funny because there is absolutely nothing that gives me more pleasure in this world than seeing grown women make a fool out of themselves… dancing. I’m telling ya, ol’ Striped Dress really gave those old broads a run for their money, especially when she got up on stage to dance to Pour Some Sugar On Me – the trashiest song ever made… like, ever. 

She swiveled her hips and dropped it down low. Striped Dress Girl swished her long, brown, unkept hair around like she was Tawny Kitaen on the hood of a Jaguar. Actually, she tried her best to channel the ’80s video girl… when she threw her leg up on one of the pianos and dry-humped the classical instrument as if this wasn’t her first rodeo (… if ya know what I mean). Tay and I were really starting to enjoy the show when she kicked her leg up once more, grabbed the bottom of her dress, and oh-so-sexily hiked her skirt up to her hips… exposing her full-coverage Spanx. Well hello there classy, how are ya?!

Tay immediately looked over at me and whispered, “I think she may be an entertainer.” I quickly responded with, “No, no, Tay. She used to be a entertainer… at least until she became someone’s second wife.” Her husband promptly yanked her off stage. And all the bitties in John’s group (sans Striped Dress Girl and her new hubby) went home vindicated.

Meanwhile, I had been eyeing a buxom blonde in her late forties/early fifties. She had been teetering back and forth to the bathroom; balancing her bigger-than-big boobs on blue heels as she walked by. I was amazed. How could God breathe the breath of life into each of us so disproportionately? Jugs could barely stand up straight and I could walk backwards and no one would know the difference. I guess some people are just lucky, right?

Wait a minute, we’re getting off topic. Now, where was I… ahh! Oh yeah.

Not too long after Striped Dress Girl hopped up on stage and shook what her Momma gave her (and failed miserably trying to show the crowd her lady bits), Jugs followed suit and raised the bar… by a lot. How, you ask? Well, as it turns out, Jugs is an Alanis Morissette fan and she made a bee-line to the stage when “her song” came on. She jumped, and jiggled, and held a fake microphone, and sang, and danced until her little heart’s content. Or so we thought…

Maybe she wasn’t thrilled with the crowd’s reaction, or maybe she was just feeling the moment, or maybe she was just all caught up in the fierceness that is You Oughta Know… but the next thing we knew, Jugs was trying to maneuver one of “the girls” out of her halter top. It was like watching a two-year-old try to get a hold of a goldfish. The damn thing was so big it took both of her hands just to tame the crazy thing – it just kept slipping and sliding around in there. She stood center stage as she fumbled, and fondled, and twisted, and finagled around trying to expose her unmentionables. It was by far the most awkward audience flash the world has probably ever seen. We were literally waiting for her to spontaneously jerk her tit out on stage.

But nonetheless, when the one boob finally managed to tumble out of her top… the crowd cheered and she was ushered back to her table.

We didn’t figure much could top what had already went down (and if it could, we didn’t want to be around to see it), so the two of us (Yandle [One of Tay’s boyfriend’s friends ended up joining us. He was most likely sent by Bradley for protection…] and I) finished our four-person Hurricane bucket and bounced.

Earlier in the evening, I had one of my signature Miss Clariss moments. We had walked past a slew of pedicabs or, what I like to call, rickshaws. No, this was not the first time I had ever seen a rickshaw; however, it was the first time I had ever entertained the thought of riding in one. I became obsessed with the rickshaws and insisted on us taking one to the next bar – The Roxbury (another infatuation of mine… mainly I just wanted to bob my head to the song and leave/get to say, “Yeah, we a great time the other night at the Roxbury…”).

Tay was hesitant. I even had a hard time convincing her it would be fun if we each got in our own and raced down Tryon. Thank goodness for Yandle. As soon as we made it out to the street, he stopped the first “Rick” we saw and swindled us a ride to the Roxbury. We piled three-deep into the pedicab cart and took off. I was on top of the world. Or so I thought…

Until we found out the “Rick’s” real name.

Sometimes life is so sweet you almost pee your pants with excitement.

When I heard “Rick’s” real name, I nearly peed myself.

Rufio. Our rickshaw driver was named Rufio. Perfection.

Without missing a beat, Tay, Yandle, and myself started shouting, “Ru-fee-ohhh! Ru-fee-ohhh! Ru-fee-ohhh! Ru-fee-ohhh!” down the busiest streets of Charlotte. All the while, I’m sure he was probably thinking, “Nah guys, never gotten this before…”

I was intrigued. Of course by Rufio’s name but mostly by his trade. However, Yandle was still stuck on the name bit, “Dude, is that like your God-given name?” I cut him off, “No, you dumb ass. That’s his stage name. So, Rufi – may I call you Rufi? Do y’all ever race these bitches?”

Our ride was short but I had enough time to collect the most important information: yes they race the rickshaws, of course Rufio kicks everyone’s ass (after all, he is a bike god [per his business card, that is]), and when rickshawers aren’t rickshawing, they play Frisbee Golf. Duh. We unloaded at the Roxbury, he handed us his card, and peddled on.

The evening starts to get blurry from here.

I remember going into the Roxbury, ordering a double vodka on the rocks, and having Tay take a picture of me holding up a peace sign in front of a Spice Girls poster. I remember going downstairs to the basement, finding a spotlight, and dancing like a banshee. I remember Tay making up “dance routines” for us and Yandle video taping us from a table. I remember not drinking all of my drink, walking to Prohibition, and Yandle buying me a shot as soon as we walked in. I remember the bar being cash-only. I remember the vodka being hot. I remember seeing Dre’, our friend from college, and having him catch me up on his pro football career. And I just vaguely remember spitting up out the open door of the cab…

What I don’t remember is falling down when I walked into Tay’s apartment or her asking me if I was going to be okay as I puked up my insides in her toilet. I don’t remember her SnapChatting photos of me in my hopeless state of inebriation to our other best friend, Kristen. I don’t remember her having to take my belt off, or my shoes off, or my dress off. I don’t remember why I didn’t put on the night shirt she had laid out for me. And I don’t remember her laying a towel down on top of my pillow for me to sleep on.

I woke up topless beside of my bestest friend, with my make-up still on, towel imprints on my face, and a wicked hangover.

“Tay! What the hell man?! Why did I sleep with just my panties on last night? Why did I wake up without a shirt on?” I exclaimed as I shuffled back into her bedroom from the guest bath. “What?! You slept with me naked?! I helped you get your dress off because you kept grunting and whining. I just assumed you would put the shirt on I gave you.” The shirt she was referring to still laid neatly folded at the end of her bed. “Nope. Slept nekkid.” We both laughed.

Now, that’s a best friend, people. Someone who takes pictures of you and sends them to your other best friend just so another human being can witness how ridiculous you are being, someone who asks the cabby to pull over as you reach for the door handle so you can throw up, someone who helps you get undressed, and then laughs the next morning when you tell them you accidentally slept with them sorta naked… that is the bestest friend you could ever find.

That Saturday, Tay took me to brunch (where I proceeded to get the best biscuits-n-gravy on this planet), let me take a nap, took me shopping, and then had dinner with me one last time before telling me goodbye. It was one of the best weekends we have had in a long time. Well, minus the whole throwing up and naked bit…

Fast-forward a week…

Alright, so you are probably thinking, “Why did you have to celebrate with Tay so early?” Well, because she couldn’t celebrate with me this past weekend. Where, you wonder? In the mountains!

Last Friday, after Mr. Big and I finished up at work, we drove up to our old stomping grounds – Boone, NC. A bunch of us (16 to be exact) rented a beautiful cabin way up a winding Banner Elk mountain road. Ahh, it was gorgeous!

This time, the cabin was big enough for our whole brood. It had a huge wrap-around deck, a six-person hot tub, a pool table, a ping pong table, a basement, a beautiful master suite, three other bedrooms, and a loft. It was secluded back in the middle of the woods. It was perfect. We spent the entire time playing board games, cards, drinking games, and cornhole. When we weren’t doing any of that stuff we were in and out of the hot tub, making $.97 pizzas, eating cupcakes, shoveling down chips and pretzels, telling the same ol’ stories over again, making fun of each other, laughing, and just having a fabulous time.

On Saturday, after a really nice brunch with everyone at the Banner Elk Cafe, Big, Byerley (Big’s roommate/BFF), Charlie (Byerley’s girlfriend), Bitchy B (Byerley’s BFF), Allison (Bitchy’s girlfriend), and I headed over to Hawksnest for a little ziplining. I had been wanting to zipline for quite sometime but was convinced I would never get Big to go with me. I mean, you know how he’s deathly afraid of heights. Remember last year’s birthday extravaganza? The one where he spent the entire day at Carowinds by himself in the waterpark? Well, I’m not sure if it was Momma’s words of encouragement or if it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up but Big was going… and he was excited about it!

The tour was fantastic. We zipped 11 lines through trees and valleys, over ponds and creeks, and under huge pines and oaks. We hiked some and even got the chance to cross two very swingy swinging bridges! The weather was perfect, the wind was breezing just right, and the sun was big and bright in the sky. I could not have asked for a better day!

That night, all 16 of us rode back down to downtown Banner Elk for my birthday dinner at Sorrento’s. They gave us our own private room (thank God). Dinner was nice. Of course Midget got drunk and made a fool out of himself, but his one-liners crack us up and make for good stories to retell over and over again on future trips.

Throughout dinner though, I started to become nostalgic…

Mustache surprised us all by bringing his lastest lady crush to my birthday weekend extravaganza. And all weekend long she kept making comments about how neat it was that we had all stayed together for such a long time. She was stunned by how long all the couples had been dating (Big and I being the longest at eight years). I just kept smiling and saying, “Yeah, we’re all pretty close, I guess.”

Here we were, at a white tablecloth restaurant, ordering bottles of wine and $42.00 plates of food, and talking about “old times” like we were 55-years-old. It was just a few years ago we were all in college, eating frozen pizzas, and drinking beer (… Okay, so we still do those last couple. Old habits die hard.). Who were we now? Had we really changed all that much?

Sure, we’ve all changed quite a bit. We all have grown up jobs. Some of us: work big corporate jobs, teach special elementary education, save lives, practice law, personal train, deliver beer, work in insurance, or are stay at home parents. Some of us are married, some of us will never grow up, some of us are single, or taken, or unhappy, or homeowners, or live far away, or are going back to school. All of us have changed, are lives are drastically different, but our core – who we are – is very much the same.

We all love a good game of quarters. The boys love cornhole, and betting (on everything…), and calling each other names, and late night runs to Cookout, and getting to scream, “DRIIIIINK!” when they catch someone drinking out of their dominate hand. The girls love to gossip, and swap “You’ll never guess what stupid thing he’s done now” stories, and snack, and stay just sober enough to tell the boys in the morning how ridiculous they acted the night before. We all give each other a hard time, but when it’s all said and done, we get mushy when we have to.

Throughout dinner, I would peek over my wine glass and down our long banquet table and wonder what it look be like 25 years from now. Would everyone still be there? Would everyone still be the same? Would we still tell the same stories? Would we still try to make time for things like this? Or would life tear us apart?

Mustache must have been thinking the same kind of thoughts because at one point he leaned over to me and said, “Whatever you do, you two (referring to Big and I) don’t stop putting things like this together. We’ve already started to drift apart. There has to be a couple of people in the group that coordinates these kindsa things so we will all stay close. You two do a good job getting us all together. Don’t stop.”

For 25 years, I have been blessed with a wonderful family, a good home, lots of love, and many nice things. I have lived a charmed life – a life most can only hope to have. I have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. But if there is only one thing I could take from this quarter of a century – only one life lesson I could keep – it would be friendship.

Friendship is a choice. It is a conscious effort. It is more than a phone call; it is the voice on the other end. It is more than a text message; it is another chapter of the story. It is more than a dinner; it is the company. It is more than a trip; it is the memories. It is more than a have to; it is a want to.

This first quarter of life tends to be your “friendliest.” You tend to make a lot of friends… and lose a lot too. You take people for granted, and hurt feelings, and break hearts, and say things you can’t take back because you’re young and you haven’t yet realized that life isn’t about having a go at it alone.

A lot of people don’t realize that life itself, is empty – it’s what you choose to do with it and who you choose to spend it with that makes life full.

In my next quarter, I want to focus on my fuller relationships. Friendships and relationships that make me feel full of happiness, and love, and joy, and excitement. I want to continue to make more memories like the ones I have shared with you above with the people I love the most. I want to grow my relationships.

I want to grow them so much so I will be able to answer my own questions 25 years from now…

Cheers.

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