Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Celebrating 21

On March 16th I kissed Ally the cat good-bye and told her I would be back soon to take care of her but while I was gone Larry would pay special attention to her. A quick pat on the head for Deuce the dog and a reminder for him to stay off my sofa while I was gone and then I was out of the house an on my way to the airport.

I haven’t flown for a while and was pleased to find our little international airport had been remodeled. The best part is that when I return home I won’t have to stand out in the cold to retrieve my bags as in the past. Timing was everything and I only had a fifteen minute wait until my security check began. I know it is only six days away but I always find it hard to leave home. I kissed Larry good bye and watched him walk across the parking lost on his way back home as I snaked through the short line.

It’s only a short hop from Bellingham to Seattle and I had less than thirty minutes before I boarded my plane to Las Vegas, I’m not a good flyer and thought maybe I could just sleep the whole way down. Wrong! Two thirty-something’s tried to one-up each other with stories of jobs, friends, trips, girls, college, and anything else that they could think of. Ten rows back and ten rows forward could hear them loud and clear and knew all about them and I am sure wished we didn’t. The remainder of the plane seemed to be bent on getting a head start on drinking before they got to Vegas. No crying babies on this plane, only a full plane ready to party when they hit the jet-way.

Kelly was waiting for me near the baggage pick up with a sign reading “welcome to sin city mom, there’s no turning back now.” I laughed as I hugged her then turned to find the nearest Starbucks and got sticker shock with my regular drink costing almost $1.50 more than anywhere I have ever traveled. Guess I will have to decide how much I really need my coffee in the future. A rental car mix up was fixed and we were on our way to Kelly’s apartment and a nap.

Later in the evening I got instructions on how to get to the grocery store for dinner fixings and Kelly went to pick up an old boyfriend, Drew, who was in town for spring break. We laughed over dinner that no one would believe Drew had a home cooked meal in Vegas. Kelly took Drew back to his hotel and we talked till we fell asleep on the sofa.

Kelly’s best friend Jerrilynn arrived on Friday and we met her at the airport then headed out to a local bar far off the strip to wait (almost) for midnight and celebrate Kelly’s 21st birthday. A few drinks, nachos, and several games of pool before we headed home at 2 AM.

Saturday night I took Kelly, Jerrilynn, and Kelly’s roommate Julia out to dinner at Hooters. Kelly works as a hostess at Marino’s Restaurant inside the Hooters hotel and casino. I bought Kelly a mini bottle of champagne to celebrate and we had a wonderful dinner with the staff all stopping by the table to wish Kelly a happy birthday. Kelly’s manager had the night off but he ordered a three layer chocolate cake from Freed’s Bakery which was voted the best bakery by Food Network. This was such a considerate thing to do for her birthday, considering they don’t do cakes or sing happy birthday to patrons; but again all the staff surrounded Kelly at our table and sang to her.

Later in the evening, back at Kelly’s apartment, she opened her presents and the girls changed into new party clothes and off they went to meet friends and dance the night away. A friend of Kelly’s got them access to one of Las Vegas’ hotspots, Tao’s, and when her name was called she and her party were ushered into Tao’s without the usual waiting in line. The girls arrived home about 3 AM laughing and talking about what a great time they had.

We slept most of Sunday before taking Jerrilynn to the airport. We returned home to a belated St. Patrick’s corned beef and cabbage dinner. We cut the Boston cream pie that Kelly requested for her birthday but never got around to eating. A little television and we crashed.

Kelly went off to school on Monday and I set out on an adventure to get to the mall on the strip, from NW Las Vegas. I knew all the freeways would confuse me so I took the back streets that look like freeways in some cities. At least the city is laid out well with north south, east west, roads, in a fairly flat valley, with the Stratosphere to get your bearings. A missed turn and the feeling of being a little lost was scary but I was successful. Momma needed new shoes. No, I didn’t gamble for them but I knew what I wanted and this was the only mall that had the brand I wanted. I wandered up and down the escalators with floors filled with shops for everything you could want or dream of. Such a difference from the little mall I have at home. Mission accomplished now I had to get home. It seemed longer getting back to the apartment and a little more stressful. A calming radio station of Christian music and a prayer and I arrived safe, if not sane. I learned to drive in California but Vegas drivers are another breed cutting you off and running red lights. Take me back to two lane freeways.

Kelly and I had out last dinner out and got pictures printed from her birthday celebrations with her friends. We settled on the sofa for some mother-daughter time.

Time to go home. Kelly took me to Hooters where I purchased t-shirts and Kelly got some of the Hooters girls to sign them. I will auction one t-shirt at the April general meeting of our Harley Owners Group and designate the money to go to the scholarship fund our group awards each year to a graduating senior in our county. The other t-shirt will hang at Harley-Davidson Bellingham and be raffled off with the money going to the GRADS teen parent program through the Bellingham School District. The Hooters girls loved the idea that the t-shirts would help others. One of the girls is the 2006 centerfold for the Hooters calendar and she was the 2005 calendar cover girl.

I dropped off the rental car, checked in for my flight and had lunch with Kelly. I hugged her goodbye at the security line and gave her a kiss. This goodbye felt every bit as hard as it did last August when I left her in Vegas to attend school and work. I love my kids and miss them. As much as I wanted to go home, I hated leaving her behind. Kelly is full of life, smiling and laughing, daring, bold, soft and sweet, that’s my baby girl. She’s twenty-one but still my baby.

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