I arrived in Minnesota two days before my twenty-sixth birthday. I went to my Aunt Calie and Uncle Jeremiah’s house and had dinner with them after playing soccer with my cousins Cooper (5) and Vivian (2). We had a dance party before going to bed. It was a wonderful welcome home.
I stayed up way later than I should have doing laundry and trying to reorganize my life after nearly three months straight on the road without a “home” break. Then I had to get up super early the next morning because I had a flat tire I needed to get fixed and I needed a top off on my oil and other car fluids and I wanted to get all these errand-y things done before I picked up Alex from the airport. I started at Jiffy Lube for my free fluid top off and they didn’t come out to get me until ten minutes after they officially opened. Blargh.
Then it took trips to three different Walmarts before I found one with an Auto Center. (I didn’t even know some Walmarts didn’t have AutoCenters…clearly.) They also didn’t seem to be open when they said they were. This guy arrives ten minutes after they’re open and parks his car and walks inside. Crap! Was I supposed to go inside too?! Crap! How was I supposed to know? Usually someone is outside…
I have like an hour and a half until I’m supposed to pick Alex up from the airport. I turn off the car and follow the guy inside. Sure enough he tells the Walmart guys what’s wrong with his car, they take his information and I transition into panic mode. Alex and I only have nine days together and I’m going to waste some of those precious minutes stuck getting a flat tire fixed?! Seriously?! What is life?! Ugh!
Fortunately, the guy who cut me in line noticed my panicked face and struck up a conversation with me. After telling him my story he told me not to worry and when the worker guy came back he told him I was here before he was and to fix my car first. Whew. Thank you Universe.
It still took the whole time. Alex texted me to say he landed and I nearly started crying. They said it would only take forty minutes and that was over an hour ago. I paced back and forth in the lobby and eventually when I sat down I tapped my foot obnoxiously. I struck up a conversation with another person in the lobby, who, as it happens, was also on his way to the airport, but to catch a flight not pick someone up. Small world.
Once my tire fixed and I was back on the road I drove like the wind to the airport and somehow managed to take the turn for parking instead of pick-up and had to drive in a circle while Alex texted me saying he was waiting under the Delta sign. Gah!
I was simultaneously ecstatic and bummed. I’d had this whole thing planned and I’d been rehearsing it for about a month. I’d be in the airport waiting for Alex with a sign saying something clever. (It ended up just saying Amor – Spanish for Love.) Then we’d see each other and run into a hug and I’d say, “Hola guapo. Tienes novia?” (Hello handsome. Do you have a girlfriend?) And then he’d laugh and say something like, “Tu eres mi novia.” (You are my girlfriend.) And I’d say “Te amo.” (I love you.) and he’d say it back and then I’d say, “Ahora basame.” (Now kiss me!) Cute right? Yeah, totally not how that happened…
I got to the airport and he was already waiting by the curb. I threw the car into park, hopped out, and ran around the car and nearly tackled him to the ground throwing my arms around him and holding on for dear life. It was one of those jumping hugs where there’s so much energy between you that you have to keep moving because holding still and hugging doesn’t seem like enough. He picked me up once or twice and we kissed as if we were trying to devour each other. We just couldn’t get enough.
Somehow we managed to pry ourselves apart and get into the car. Since we were already close to the Mall of America we decided to go, because, you know, it’s a thing. Once out of the car we again hugged and kissed and couldn’t seem to imagine a world in which we were doing anything else. It felt like we were industrial strength Velcro, enmeshed together and nearly impossible to pull apart. In fact, I’m not sure we went longer than a few minutes the whole time we spent together without touching in some way, even if it was just holding hands. Nauseating, I know, sorry, I’m not sorry.
We eventually made it inside and Alex was wowed by Camp Snoopy or the Park at MOA or whatever it’s called now. Ok, maybe not wowed. But it is a theme park, albeit a small one, in a mall. It’s kind of impressive.
We wandered through the park and saw little tiny humans doing Zumba which was adorable. I found a Famous Footwear and got some new shoes, but basically the Mall of America is just a big mall, and we had no other shopping we needed to do so we left. We headed to our Airbnb to meet the guy and get the keys. As soon as he left we ran into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and cuddled. Sigh.
It was SO. NICE. I’d been so cuddle deprived. As we lay in bed I was like, “Oh, I have something for you.” And I took off one of the Navajo bracelets I’d been wearing since I got them in Arizona and gave it to him. I got him one in my favorite color and me one in his favorite color. He just started laughing and hugged me. I was a little bewildered. I was like, “Alex, what’s so funny?” And he was like, “Hang on, I’ll show you.” He got up and dug in his bag and then I started laughing. He was like, “Do you know what this is?” I said, “No, but I have a guess.” He told me to tell him my guess. I said, “Do you also have bracelets for us?” He did. But he made his. Adorable. If I haven’t said it before, Alex and I are pretty much the same person. This is just another indication of that.
We were both super hungry, so after exchanging bracelets we cut our cuddles short and went to a diner across the street to get breakfast. I knew if we went back to the Airbnb after breakfast we probably wouldn’t leave again for the rest of the day. I had to stop by the bank to deposit a check I’d found in my stack of mail at my aunt and uncle’s house, so we did that first. When I turned around from the counter Alex wasn’t where I’d last seen him. Talk about insta-panic. That was terrifying. Turns out he’d gotten into line behind me to get a roll of quarters so he could do laundry. Utter. Panic. So not cool. I held onto him for dear life after that. It was a beautiful day out so I took Alex on a tour of the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs to show him some of the places important to me in my youth.
On our tour around town I drove Alex past the place where my Grandma’s house used to be, and we walked around Island Lake Park where I always love going. I drove him backwards along the route I once walked when I was seven in shorts in January from my school to my Grandma’s house. I showed him the lake I biked around twenty-something times when I was five for a bike marathon. I showed him the yellow house I lived in from fifth grade until college and took him to Quincy Park where I made my first friends in Blaine, MN. We drove by Madison Elementary School and Northdale Middle School and even wandered around Blaine High School. It was fun having Alex in all these places and sharing all these stories with him.
After a full day of adventuring, and my non-stop storytelling we headed back to the Airbnb. On the way we stopped to get groceries. When we finally made it back we made dinner and called it a night. Huzzah for the reunion of two twin souls.