“You never know what you’ll run into at a motel pool”
My claims were correct, the trip started out with a Newport bang. Pulling into my grandmother’s neighborhood, we see the epitome of rednecks: a guy sunbathing in his front yard, with no t-shirt on and a belly so big he could have been pregnant with twins.
“He’s either drinking a huge mug of tea or ale,” my dad said. “I’d bet on the ale,” I respond.
I scrambled to get my camera, but to no avail. I did force my parents to drive back by several times throughout the weekend so I could snag a pic, but unfortunately he seemed to have gotten enough sun already.
The janky motel wasn’t as janky as I had remembered 5 years ago. Though it was still a motel, which gives me the heebee jeebees no matter what. However, the real motel excitement came when we all spent the day out by the pool Saturday. I knew it would be an interesting afternoon when a guy walked in with swimming trunks and huge boots on, a confederate flag tattoo on his chest, a rebel tattoo on one arm and barbed wire tattoo around the other arm. The guy had just graduated from high school in Elkins and talked so much it seemed as though he was part of the family. Topics ranged from marijuana brownies, partying with the Hells Angels, moonshine that made his “momma run nekked through the streets” and his girlfriends that beat him up and “stabbed him with a pickle.” (?!)
If there wasn’t anything else that could be more Arkansan I didn’t know what it was, until I felt the mosquitos. I’ve grown up in Arkansas so I know about the “skeeters” and how they love to bite me at any chance they get. Friday night, we were having a wonderful evening sitting on the patio drinking beer and eating delicious bbq, very peaceful, until we heard the “skeeter spray”. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a truck that drives around every night spraying who knows what into the air to get rid of the mosquitos. The sound elicited conversation among the Newport natives including my dad and his siblings, who recalled chasing the truck down every night on their bicycles. It was “what the cool kids did” and who knows what wonderful chemicals they were eating up, but “it kept the skeeters off for at least a couple days.”
As I’m listening to the stories, I realize I am itching up a storm. I already have 5 bites on my left arm and a handful on my ankles. We decide to move inside, only to find more entertainment in the form of my 90-year-old grandmother and her best friends filling up a room with laughter and wine.
The scene immediately reminded me of the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood- a group of older women sharing stories, life, acting like teenagers giggling over gossip. I walked in on a story about a civil war re-enactment one of the women had gone to. Though I didn’t hear exactly what happened, she was engaged in full-story mode and had the whole room hootin’ and hollerin’. She swore she would never go to another one again. And next thing that came out of her mouth was what had happened at the one the next weekend and how a little girl had just bent right over and mooned her.
So, on an end note of the weekend, I had a fantastic time with my family, specifically my grandmother. It amazes me how great of health she is still in, how beautiful she looks and how much I want to be like her. Upon her insistence, we spent hours Saturday looking through boxes and boxes of old photographs she had of all her kids and grandkids now grown up. We all bonded over hideous hairdos, overkill floral and ruffled Easter dresses, New Kids on the Block sweatshirts and memories from all of the above. I realized I’m a lot like Mimi- I get my love of pictures from her, my love of entertaining guests (she is constantly making sure everyone has eaten enough and has something to drink) my love of cooking and food, my love of dressing stylishly (which I am now positive I will try to do into my 90s if I live that long), and most importantly my love of people.