Summer Nights

Sometimes, we get too wrapped up in the day to day trappings of living that we forget to just sit back and enjoy. Or remember. I know I do. Today was a bit of a rough day mentally as I tried to figure out finances (which is never fun for me), so I was listening to some music at work. I threw in some Mellencamp I had since I'm going to be seeing him in July (hooray!) and wanted to start getting pumped. (Yes....I know July is a long way off but I get excited waayyy ahead of time for things...much like my children.)

As I was listening I was hit with a memory. A very good, relaxing memory. One that I should start using as my zen memory.

It was a sweltering hot day in late July. Made even more sweltering by the fact that we were in a vehicle with no air conditioning, on black top surfaces in a traffic jam due to construction surrounded by big rigs in Chicago. Did I mention we had 2 toddlers with us and we were pulling a camper. We were headed into downtown Chicago to see the Sears Tower and eat at Eduardo's for traditional Chicago-style pizza.

We made it in and out with little problem. The pizza was great, the boys were mostly well-behaved, we had ice cream. How can you top ice cream?

We were headed to our campground about an hour from Chicago. The air had finally started to cool down since darkness had fallen around us and you could hear the crickets through the open window along with the rustle of the corn in the fields. We got to the campgrounds and everything looked dead. I read through the phamplet at the front gate, to see how they handle their late arrivals and I'm so glad I did. After closing time (11:00 pm) they put out tire shredders. No one, not even current campers, allowed through the gate with a vehicle after close time.

Okay, so here we are with a camper in the middle of nowhere, late at night, with 2 sleeping children. What do we do?

We keep driving. That year I was working a modified schedule so I was used to being up until 3:30 am or so, therefore, I was wide awake and willing to drive a bit further to find something else. Plus, the boys were sleeping and the air had finally cooled down enough to be comfortable. I took over the wheel, Chuck riding shotgun.

It was one of my favorite nights together ever. The windows were rolled down and you could smell the sweet, balmy, summer air. The boys rhythmic breathing coming from behind us. The radio on really softly, probably listening to Mellencamp. The moon was huge and full on up in the sky lighting our way through the back roads of Illinois. We really didn't know where we were going exactly, just knew we were headed west. Towards Iowa.

Chuck and I talked that night. Like we hadn't talked in a long time. Those summer nights take me back to our summer at camp when we first met and everything was new and exciting. I heard stories that night on those back roads of Illinois that I had, surprisingly, never heard before. I felt relaxed. In love. Happy.

We came up to a four way stop in the middle of cornfield alley, when we saw some lights. It was strange as we hadn't seen any lights for quite a while, save the occassional farm porch lights. Off to the southwest corner of this 4 way was a bar. But not just any bar. A strip bar. Advertising some big name stripper and a sign that said BYOB. Chuck and I just looked at each other. Surely, that didn't mean the same thing as in Michigan.

Yep. It did. Waiting in line...yes there was a line in front of the strip club of the corn....there was a line of dudes sitting on their cases of Bud Light cans. It was the wildest thing I think I've ever seen. We joked about how it's too bad the kids were with us as it would have been a case study on human nature like never before to go into that place.

We drove on. And talked. And just lived and enjoyed each other and the night for all that it was. And before we knew it, it was 3:00 am and we were in Iowa.

Somehow, the lights of the Iowa/Illinois border town, broke the magic of the evening and I was instantly tired. We ended up parking our camper in a hotel parking lot and getting a room to get 4 hours of shut eye before we moved on for the day.

On my Mellencamp nights or those balmy summer nights, I'm reminded of that night in rural Illinois. And reminded how great my life really is to be able to have and remember those moments.


Diana said...

What an amazing story! Definitely sounds like a night to remember!

Debbie said...

I love this story! I felt like I was in the car with you guys :)

grandma b said...

you missed your calling....you should be writing stories!

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