Madalyn and I arrived, safe and sound, in Louisville around 5:15 this evening. The travel gods smiled upon us (remind me to sacrifice a Samsonite in thanks later) and both our flights went well. The second flight was funny. I like to think of myself as being a bit more knowledgeable about geography than the average American (many of whom couldn’t find their own asses with both hands and a flashlight). However, I didn’t realize just how close Cincinnati (our layover city) was to Louisville. Once we got airborne our actual flying time was sixteen minutes. That is, officially, the shortest flight I’ve ever taken. We might as well have just driven the plane down the highway (where we’d likely been stuck behind a four-foot tall blue-hair with no peripheral vision doing 50 in the fast lane in her Buick).
We buzzed over to our temporary home, the Galt House, with an only semi-crazed cab driver who, on the plus side, did refrain from swearing, at least in English. Check-in went smoothly (I am always slightly paranoid that my reservation will have been lost since I make it so far in advance). We got up to our room and I am nearly positive it’s the same room I had last year. It is the same room location, that’s for sure. I just can’t remember 100% whether it’s the same floor.
I had mandated a rest time when we arrived in the room; however, this consisted of Madalyn watching raucous Nickelodeon shows for about thirty minutes and then spending the next half-hour asking me approximately every sixty seconds when we were going to leave. So I gave in and we headed downstairs. The first thing we did was get some chow, which Madalyn wanted to sit and eat overlooking the river. Then we drifted over to the main stage and then the t-shirt/memorabilia vendors. Madalyn picked out two t-shirts for herself and I picked two for Eliza. Mad’s own cash was burning a hole in her pocket so she bought a picture of the lads. Incidentally, the hotel was giving out $40 Visa gift cards to everyone staying three days or more. I used mine to pay for Eliza’s shirts so, woohoo, free shirts!
Madalyn had been a bit complaining through all of this, wanting to move on after only a few minutes at each stop. She had spied the fountain and wanted to go play in it. There is a stage at the fountain so, in the interest of peace and preserving camaraderie, I took her over there. I sat at the fountain’s edge and listened to music and she proceeded to get soaked while making friends with every kid who passed through.
Mad had a great time splashing around, singing and dancing to the music. The sun went down while all this was going on, so, of course, she started to get cold and begged to go up to the room to dry off. When she found out there were shows going on inside the hotel she was all for changing clothes and going down to check them out, so that’s what we did (after a phone call home). Once we got there, though, the fact that she is eight years old, not fifteen, caught up with her and she only made it through four or five songs before she crashed and burned. She was cold and tired (by now it was going on 11 p.m.) So, though I’d have liked to hear the next band up, we turned in for the night. Madalyn’s now snoring away (literally) in the bed next to mine.
I have warned her that she probably won’t be allowed in the fountain every day, simply because, for one, I haven’t brought enough extra clothing for her to go through two outfits a day and, secondly, there are other bands I want to hear besides just those at the Fountain Stage. I have told her to be ready to do a lot of things I want to do tomorrow. After all, that’s the whole reason we brought the Nintendo AND books AND her MP3 player AND Webkinz — so, if she gets bored with the concerts, she can do something other than hounding me about leaving. We’ll see how it goes. She does like the music and she likes dancing. I think tonight she was just worn out. She was an hour late getting to bed last night, then we had to get up early, spend all day traveling and then she was frigid and tired after the fountain.
As for me, I am just utterly thrilled to be back. Up until we actually arrived here at the hotel the promise of the weekend’s fun was overshadowed by my usual pre-trip stressing out and rushing around trying to get everything done. This happens to me a lot. I lose sight of the preparations and travel as a means to an end and, instead, focus entirely on them and how much I dislike doing them to the point of wishing I didn’t have to go at all. That, coupled with my bad attitude during last year’s AROTR, made me wonder if I really cared much about coming any more. Turns out I do. When I walked into the hotel lobby that I now know so well it was like stepping into a haven of fun and relaxation. When I looked out our hotel window onto the festival grounds I became giddy with excitement. It just feels right to be here. Like I belong. I need to be here to feed my soul and get back in touch with things that I love that, all too often these days, are shoved aside and ignored while I deal with life. I need to be here to be reminded of why I love these four boys from Liverpool and to remember and honor them, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.