Last night at the Cardinal's game in St. Louis, Will and I sat behind an adorable family of six - two very nice and tired-looking parents and four kids under the age of 12 with personality to spare. They provided some alternative entertainment for those of us less interested in baseball.
The youngest little girl had her attention fixed on her soft pretzel, which she ate for an hour straight without any of it actually disappearing. Her strategy was not so much to actively chew but rather to let the pretzel dissolve naturally, and her lips and cheeks were speckled with light brown clumps of paste.
At one point, crouched beneath her folding seat with the soggy end of the pretzel in her mouth, the little girl asked her mom if the game was going to start soon. The mom took a long look at her daughter before giving her a smile and a short nod. It was the bottom of the third inning.
I tell you this story (writing from our adorable Airbnb in St. Louis) to provide you with the clearest possible metaphor for my mindset since graduating college. And to explain why, a year out of school, I have decided to spend the rest of my waitressing/tutoring/babysitting money on a road trip all the way out to California and back as if I too have plans to attend medical school in the fall.
My parents have given me a slightly worried smile and a short nod - I'll figure it out. My grasp on reality is soggy but at least I'm absorbed.
The trip has been wonderful so far. We began in Davidson with a walk down memory lane, then went on to Nashville where I bought a Mara Hoffman bikini top for $10 (cue applause) and ate some BBQ. Now we are in St. Louis.
I have fallen in love with St. Louis and its old-fashioned charm, its free zoo and huge green parks.
It's the kind of place where you half expect to see a journalist wearing a hat and wielding one of those large cameras with an exploding flash on top. The kind of person who would say "see here" as a way of interjecting.
I've been describing the city's aesthetic as an Industrial Revolution/World's Fair vibe.
And we've had a lot of fun. A couple of lovely strangers gave us our baseball tickets for free (amazing seats). We ate Ethiopian food, Will's favorite - spicy, stew-like meat and vegetables that you scoop off your plate with a porous pancake called injera. We found an apartment for Will, and hopefully for me too (job prospects pending).
We have plans to spend the day at Ikea tomorrow, which might seem weird if you've never been to Ikea before. It is a department store of domestic daydreams and delicious meatballs.
Next it's on to Colorado, and then a string of National Parks.
My soggy little pretzel-brain is loving every minute of this adventure. The innings of my life cycling by, I am crouched beneath my seat, facing the wrong direction, deeply engaged, and not bothering my mom.
Lots of Love,
The Mary Traveler