Have you ever heard a lyric and loved the way it sounded, or the picture it painted, yet didn't quite know what it meant? Like the beautiful words should have depth, but you can't see that far into them? Well, this is the case, for me, with Paul Simon's lyric "she's got diamonds on the soles of her shoes." For whatever reason, I have wanted to be that girl. My confession: I don't know exactly what Paul meant. Did he mean this girl didn't put much stock in worldly treasures or measures of success? Did he mean she valued travel? Or the power of her choices for the direction of her life? If Mr. Simon can't give me an answer in his song, he leaves me no choice but to make up my own definition of a girl with diamond on the soles of her shoes. So, here was my week walking on diamonds.
On Wednesday afternoon, one of my best friends, Emily, and her cousin Katelin, arrived in Texas after a 21 hour drive from Michigan. Usually, I am the one itching to travel to visit friends, but when Emily and Katelin arrived I discovered the joy that is being a hostess. I had spent the previous weekend deep cleaning my apartment, laying out extra towels, making up extra sleeping spaces, and buying extra cereal. I wanted my home to become their home in Texas. When the girls finally did meet me at work to get a key to my apartment, they were in desperate need of showers and a place to relax (no worries, even they admitted they needed to freshen up after such a long drive!). I was so excited to hand over my key and say, "The place is yours. There are clean towels and extra soap in the linen closet. All food is fair game and the guest pool passes are in the drawer to the right of the kitchen sink." I was finally able to offer and share what I had in life with friends who I love! I had diamonds on the soles of my shoes.
When I was done with work and the girls were done with their time in the sun by the pool, I took them to a local restaurant/bar. It was 1/2 off burger night and there was supposed to be live music. We were out of luck with the live music, but the burgers were delicious and the company superb. We enjoyed the beautiful Texan evening outside catching up and reminiscing for over two hours. For us, there were no clocks or places to rush off to, only the pleasure of each others' laughter and conversation. All of us had diamonds on the soles of our shoes.
Thursday evening, after being wonderfully surprised with a prepared dinner by Em and Kate, we went to pick up my boyfriend, Nic, from the airport. It was an exciting time, let me tell you! It had been 32 days since we'd seen each other and this was the first time Nic would meet a friend of mine from Michigan (excluding our mutual friends from college in Michigan). Our first stop after picking him up from the airport was McDonalds. I had been craving an M&M McFlurry for almost two weeks. Nic and I had decided it would be a perfect way to celebrate his arrival and our time with Emily and Katelin if I held off on my craving and we all went out that first night. Once again, I was with people that I love, eating food that I love out in the Texas autumn night. We might have been eating at a McDonalds, but there were diamonds on the soles of my shoes.
I manged to get a half day off work on Friday so that I could have lunch with Emily and Katelin before they left for Mexico for the weekend. I introduced them to Whataburger (only in Texas!) and then spent the afternoon tiding up the apartment and waiting for Nic to get back from an errand in town. We had a wonderfully relaxed start to the weekend. Nic was sweet enough to accompany me on some errands on Saturday. We went grocery shopping and packed an incredible picnic we had been slowly building in our minds for several weeks. It started out as a daydream of mine at work, but once I shared it we realized we could really pack a picnic and spend an evening in a park when he visited this month! We had guacamole and chips, fresh watermelon, brie cheese and crackers, deli sandwiches and wine. After dinner, I told Nic I had to take him to Coldstone Creamery. I couldn't believe he'd never been to one! If you hadn't caught on, ice cream is a big deal for me (and my mom). I had to show Nic the wonders that are Coldstone creations. Mmmmm. To finish the evening off, Nic took me to a movie. Even though I kicked of my shoes during the picnic, the diamonds were still there.
On Sunday, I treated Nic to his first ever Renaissance Festival. Going to the Ren Fest in Holland, MI was a favorite summer event for my family and few of my nerdiest friends. Emily and I even made our own dresses three years in a row. Our crowning achievements were Eowyn replica dresses our senior year. That's right, I have no idea how to sew on a button or darn a sock, but with Emily's help I made a multi-piece replica Renaissance/fantasy costume. Boo. Yah.
I really wanted to share this epic dorkdom with Nic, and what better way than to take him to the Texas Ren Fest, the biggest in the nation. We got there a little after twelve and the place was already full of people dressed as everything from Anne Boleyn, to William Walace, to Sauron, to faeries, to Jack Sparrow, and everything in between. As two dedicated people watchers, Nic and I were in our element. It must be said that the Ren Fest, for many people, is simply an excuse to dress as their inner fantasy selves. This usually means lots of skin showing and costumes that have nothing to do with the historical Renaissances of the Medici family and Shakespeare. But hey! Don't burst their bubbles. If this is their only time of year (outside of Las Vegas conventions) to wear a leather corset, Celtic makeup and a raccoon tail (this describes both men and women at the Ren Fest), then let them have their fun! And play along too!
Nic and I watched the jousting tournament, cheering first for the German knight - got to pay respects to our shared heritage - and then the Spanish knight. We watched other shows as well, some comedic, some musical, and even a guy who flailed a flaming whip around. He was almost as cool as the guy with wooden balls on strings at the MI Ren Fest....almost.
The shops and their vendors are just as fun as the shows' characters. They call you "lord" and "lady" and try to lure you into their shops. We looked at leather works, swords, natural perfumes, and jewelry. Nic was told first by one woman that if he loved me, he would buy me jewelry. Then a second woman told him he should buy me shoes if he loved me. I told him I preferred a third option and that was food! I introduced Nic to scotch eggs and giant pickles. I am proud to say that the MI Ren Fest pickle vendors have wittier pickle jokes :) By the end of the day, we were sweaty, dusty, and tired from five hours of walking amongst the characters of World of Warcraft and Hamlet come to life. The diamonds may have been dusty, but they stayed on the soles of my shoes.
Monday was another relaxed day with Nic. Emily and Katelin returned from Mexico late that night. We all stayed up just long enough to hear stories of their time with Noelle and then it was bedtime. Although it was hard to see everyone leave on Tuesday morning and go back to work, some of the best things were waiting for me back at the apartment. When I came home from work, I expected emptiness to be the only thing to greet me. But Nic, Emily, and Katelin were too wonderful to let that happen. Nic had cleaned up my apartment, moved furniture back into place, bought me flowers, and left notes for me to find. The icing on the cake came when I opened my fridge that evening. My fridge was still full of the food the girls had brought, made and shared, and the things Nic and I had purchased for our picnic. Suddenly, my fridge, which is usually sparse (practically empty), was full of the love and memories of time shared with my friends. Here was an unexpected treasure of our time together in the form of leftover Mexican lasagna, half a watermelon, some brie cheese, frozen pizza, and a half bottle of red wine. I have never been so emotional about leftovers. I had diamonds on the soles of my shoes and in plastic Tupperware containers.