Happy New Year! I'm a bit late with these greetings because I have been as sick as a dog for the last week. It has circulated around my family since December 21, and now, on January 8, we are still sniffling and hacking.
And while Christmas itself may have been a germ fest, luckily we were all well enough for a big trip we had planned for New Year's. We took four neighborhood families for four days to my parents' mountain house in North Carolina.
It was refugee-style living as we put each family unit into a bedroom and left them to their own devices. There were children in closets, mamas on the floor, and lots of overlap on the sofa.
The trip itinerary included skiing and tubing. Now, there are two things my friends learned about me on this trip.
1. I don't liked to be touched.
2. I am afraid of heights.
I overcame the close quarters because we were with such jovial company. The heights, thing, however, was another story.
On the day of skiing, I rode with the pack to the lodge. I filled out the waiver and got my boots on. I walked to the bucket and got my poles. And then I stood, ski's in hand, and watched all of the children, ages 3-13, take the beginner class. My compadres, however, jumped on the lift and started their day of flying down the mountain.
As the sun hit mid-sky, I summoned up my courage and took the ramp up the bunny slope. Time to face the demon. I slowly shuffled my way over to a quiet patch, and looked in the belly of the beast. Several times before, beginning in high school, I had put on those death shoes and debated the pros and cons of going down ice on a toothpick, but never had I actually taken the plunge. And I was still wearing the yellow ski jacket that I had in high school, albeit a little snug and out-dated now, which had never felt the rush of wind across its sleeves.
On this day, I tried a little sideways trial run at the top of the hill, and after encouragement from the children and my husband, and with a very deep breath, I took off my skis and headed back down the hill.
Just ain't going to happen. And my friends made it OK. They asked me if I was good, if all was well, and then they acted like this little phobia thing was no big deal.
The touching thing, however, they had a ball with. They decided to apply pressure treatments on a regular basis, and would sit on me or give me big hugs or squeeze my toes. And then there was the farting. Lots of gas encroached upon my personal space on this trip, but I won't name names.
Because when you are in a fraternity of brothers, you don't rat anyone out. You don't post on Facebook the photo of a skinny man in a jock strap or tell people who burped like a sailor. You have secret handshakes and passwords, and you help each other's kids get breakfast. And you pretend not to notice each other's crazy parts.
It was one of those trips that could have gone sour very quickly, 17 men, women and children in a small space. But it didn't. It actually went incredibly well, and we all kept marvelling at that fact.
You see, I live in a neighborhood that has become an exception to any rule. We have made so many friends with other couples, and our kids count their best friends among the cul-de-sacs. It is stronger than any college sorority, and as wild as any fraternity. I call us Nu Beta, which pays homage to our neighborhood initials.
All are welcome. We hold rush each summer poolside, and if you can handle sangria in the daytime and enjoy dancing to hip-hop on weekends, you could be our next pledge. So brush up on your card games and come on by.
Until next time, keep crowin'!