Do you like rollercoasters? The climb to the highest point and then the immediate drop that causes your stomach to move up in your throat? I used to love rollercoasters. (“Used to” being the operative words here.) Used to love the thrill of that nosedive. Now I feel total terror thinking about rollercoasters and I don’t enjoy that feeling of my stomach in my throat. I remember the last time I rode a rollercoaster. I was in my 40’s with my family at Busch Gardens (or was it Kings Dominion?) and I thought I might die. I did not breathe the entire ride, my teeth were clenched, and my stomach was definitely up in my throat! Have not ridden one since. I know my limit, and I reached it on rollercoasters.
“Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. It’s your choice whether to scream or enjoy the ride.”
My life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows these past 2 ½ years of being SOLO, and I have both enjoyed the ride and wanted to scream. Even more so this past month. If you read my recent blogs, you know that I have been in a rental “mom van” (a truly nice one!) since September 25th, when my car was flooded due to Hurricane Florence and my stupidity. It sat at Myrtle Beach Volvo waiting to be diagnosed for 3 weeks with the windows down and rain pouring in, adding insult to injury. This news pushed my stomach up into my throat! Due to the hurricane, they were so backed up with flooded cars that I asked the insurance company to move my “baby” to the Volvo dealership in Charleston, SC. Last Friday, the verdict was finally in. My car was totaled. The news was sad, but at the same time a relief, especially after the insurance adjuster told me that the “blonde” interior of my car was now green with mold and held a foot of water. Totaled. What to do now? I wanted the same car. Looked in VA and NC. No luck. Decided to expand my search to SC, and lo and behold, there were two cars identical to mine at the Volvo dealership where my totaled car was now residing. Things were looking up. The stars seemed to be aligning in my favor. I reached out to this southern Volvo dealership, and luckily, I was able to work out a great deal on the new car. And my insurance company truly came through for me (shout out to Nationwide!). So now, after a trip to Charleston, I am in the same, yet brand new Volvo. Thankfully. When I walked into the dealership and the salesman walked up and said “Leslie?”, I just hugged him (remember I am a big hugger!). I was so thankful for all he had done for me. He even followed me to return my rental car and brought me back to the dealership. Goodbye, mom van! But it gets better. We talked (can you imagine me NOT talking?) on the way back and discovered that he is from Charlottesville and went to high school and ran track with my son (the one year my son ran track!). What a small and wonderful world. Plus, I got a beach trip as a bonus. I mean, I could not come this far and not go to my beach house for a couple of days! Life is good.
“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” John Wooden
My previous funk has dissipated. Vanished. Replaced with a happiness even greater than before. Fueled by many recent fun and happy times. This past weekend was no exception. It was filled with my kids. All of them. We treasure these times now because it is so hard to get everyone together with all of our work and social schedules. But we try. We all met in Chapel Hill early Saturday morning for breakfast at the iconic Carolina Coffee Shop. A mainstay on Franklin Street (“the Corner” to you UVA folks). It was wonderful to have all of my kids together and watch them interact with each other. They too have missed being together. And as soon as we sat down at our table, I looked over and saw an old friend I have known since elementary school and the reason I am a Carolina fan. Could not believe my eyes! It was Jeff Whitney. We could not have timed meeting up any better if we had tried. I knew he was going to be in Chapel Hill but had not yet reached out to him. And there he was. When we were in the 5th grade, Jeff wrote a poem about Charlie Scott and UNC basketball. I was hooked on UNC and never looked back. Did you know I didn’t even apply to any other college? And yet, I never visited the campus before the day I moved in! So hard for my kids to understand, but that was the way it was “back in the day.” Jeff is also the reason we have a high school reunion every year, and every year I get a present from him! One year was a signed picture of Charlie Scott, the next year was the Sports Illustrated with Charlie Scott on the cover, and this year a special UNC basketball history book! I introduced him to my kids and we visited with him a bit before he headed back to Winston-Salem. On the other hand, my kids and I were looking forward to a full fun day in Chapel Hill!
After breakfast we had a shopping spree on Franklin Street and the student store, where I bought some Carolina swag for the new car and my kids talked me into a special early birthday present. We headed back to the tailgate, played cornhole, watched other football games on tv, walked around and visited with other fans, imbibed special concoctions, and had lunch. It was a gorgeous day! This was definitely a high for me! And my son, his girlfriend, and I climbed the 128 steps of the Bell Tower, something we have wanted to do each game day. The bell tolls every 15 minutes and every now and then plays “Hark the Sound” and “Carolina Victory.” Mark this off my bucket list!
Since the game wasn’t until 7 pm, we also had dinner at the tailgate. As I have said before, my daughter and son-in-law throw an amazing tailgate! This time, in addition to our family, several of my son’s friends, and my son-in-law’s friends came as well. The more the merrier! We broke camp, packed up the truck, and headed to the game. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful evening. On our walk to the stadium, I asked my kids if we had a chance to win… Nope, not a chance, they said. So when we found ourselves leading for the most part of the game, we were on a big high…only to drop down to the lowest low when VT ran over our defense converting three 3rd downs and one 4th down en route to putting the game out of reach with no time left. Talk about a low. A dagger to our hearts. However, it was truly a fun game (until the end) and a wonderful day. First time the student section in the stadium was full and they had to turn students away.
“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best parts of your life.”
Sunday found us all at breakfast again. Did not want the weekend to end so we sat around and visited until it was time for us all to hit the road. I love the sight of my children laughing with and teasing each other. Biggest high for me. We’ll all be together again soon. I am thankful for these times and never take them for granted.
“Remember that life is full of ups and downs. Without the downs, the ups would mean nothing.”
Do you sometimes feel as if you are on a rollercoaster in your life? I am sure you must… it is the way of life. We have to learn to be patient and strong during the lows and know that life will soon rebound back up. Try not to live in the lows, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.