I was sure I had thought of everything.
Packing for a weekend retreat, in October, in Austin, Texas, in a downtown hotel but with outdoor activities, is an adventure in uncertainty. Rain or sun? Cool weather, scorching hot, or both? Air conditioning: “barely adequate” or “meat locker?” So I got out the biggest suitcase and packed a little of everything.
Meanwhile, I had offered to make centerpieces for the tables. Gotta use those Texas Aggie Floriculture hours somehow! So I also had two large plastic bags filled with silk flowers and foliage. And, stacked on the driveway, about eighteen bricks.
You see, the theme for the retreat was “Lost in the City… Found by God.” As I considered this, a vision arose: urban-style bricks and concrete-grey foliage, with bright, pretty blooms rising above. Perhaps the four-foot-high stack of bricks left over from when our house was built contributed to the vision. Free containers, baby!
When I loaded the car, I put one assembled centerpiece in a cardboard box with my tools, wire and floral foam cut to fit the brick holes. The single-stem flowers for the tables were neatly bundled. All I had to do was arrive at the hotel an hour or so before we were to start setting up the room, and assemble the other five centerpieces.
But was I satisfied with just centerpieces? Nooooo. I brought an extra armload of flowers and the remaining dozen bricks, planning to whip up an arrangement to stand in front of the speakers’ table. It might take a few trips from car to room to move all those bricks, but that would be a piece of cake. Right? Yeah, whatever…
First I stopped for lunch en route, and time got away from me. Then Gyps-E Rose kept routing me off the Interstate and back on. Traffic slowed to a crawl as I got close to Austin proper. I would barely make it to the hotel by my self-imposed deadline of 3:00 PM.
Turns out, the parking lot is in a separate building from the hotel. Being so late, I would have time for no more than two trips. I found a parking space close to the Level 4 elevator. Yay! Full of optimism, I wrangled the suitcase from the back seat and wheeled it to the elevator. I would check in, empty the suitcase, take it back to the car and use it to roll the bricks up to my room.
The elevator finally stopped, going Down. The doors opened and instantly started to close again. “Yipe!” I flung myself through the gap and had to squeegee the suitcase into the elevator after me. Someone else got on at Level 3. For her, I noticed, the doors politely stayed open.
The elevator let me out in a “mugging-waiting-for-a-place-to-happen” alcove on the sidewalk, almost a block away from the hotel entrance. I wheeled along at top speed, checked in, and got into my room. The suitcase just took a minute to unpack, and I hauled it toward the garage again.
I love my car. Its remote door locks save me bundles of time rummaging through my purse for the key. So I got in the garage elevator, sprang out at the fourth level before the doors could slam on me, and zipped over to the car. Only to discover that I’d forgotten the key. It was back in the room, in my purse. It won’t work that remotely.
A short jog back to the elevator, wait some minutes, quickly pounce inside, retrace steps to hotel with suitcase flapping annoyingly against my leg. Back up to my room. Find purse. Grab key. RE-retrace steps back to the garage.
Flinging open the hatch and my suitcase lid, I started lining the suitcase with bricks. Fortunately, Security did not wander by. In went the flowers, and I trooped back to the hotel via the Bologna-slicer Elevator Doors of Doom. By now I needed a sedative AND a shower. No time, though.
The centerpieces went together easily at the cool worktable in the hotel room. Down I went, two trips with centerpieces, which looked rather cute on the tables, if I do say so.
One last trip for the suitcase and spare flowers. Then, looking WAY sophisticated, I knelt on the floor before the front table and started pulling bricks out of my suitcase. The retreat speakers and early arrivers tactfully ignored me, bless them. I was on the home stretch, and actually enjoyed crafting a playful / urban / casual floral piece. Which didn’t look half bad, if I do keep bragging on my work.
So there you have it, my reasons for laughing with a faint edge of hysteria any time someone says that getting there is half the fun.
Thanks for reading,
You know I’m linked up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisters, AND that I’m late to the party! Always in a flurry these days…..
…But there’s always time for coffee with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls. Click over to see Rachel’s stunning vacation video.
Jan, your arrangements were so lovely and so perfect for the whole theme. I treasure you, but I so wish I had been more available to help!!
You crack me up. I am always under-estimating the time actually needed to perform a certain task. Gets me in trouble. Often. And using your suitcase to haul bricks? Brilliant, lol.
Jan, this totally made me laugh out loud! Lexi and I had the same experience with the garage elevators. I almost lost her to elevator-dom when we were heading home from the weekend!
Seriously, though, thank you for all of your hard work. It’s the little things that make such a difference.