I don't even know if I can adequately describe how much fun my life has been lately. It kind of stinks because the last few weeks of high school have been surprisingly pleasant ... and I'm about to leave (I'm really not complaining). I have attended three proms, am nearing the end of my curriculum in all of my classes, and have been mostly feeling on top of the world.
I thought that by the end of senior year, I would be totally anti-senior. I was determined not to go on senior trip, not to attend prom (even once!), not to fill out a senior survey for the paper, not to get emotional at graduation, not to ... not to ... not to. I believed that the end of senior year would be just like any other ... except I would be leaving the school and never coming back.
As much as I hate to admit it, senior nostalgia is coming on. And it's coming on quickly. I am graduating valedictorian this year and with that lovely title comes a speech. Every time I think about writing that speech, I get a little weepy. It is difficult to think of my friends, whether they be friends that I have known all my life or friends that I have met in the past year, and how we will probably legitimately never see each other again without feeling kind of bummed out. My friends have definitely influenced me for the better, and I feel the pressing desire to spend time with them while I can.
Such is growing up.
At one point, as before mentioned, I was anti-senior. I began to regret that a couple of weeks ago when I remembered that I purposefully did not sign up for senior trip. This wasn't a big deal for me because it was just a forty dollar trip to Six Flags, but I was kind of sad that I was going to have to go to school and be completely alone.
I asked around to all of my other friends a few weeks before the trip if they were going on the trip, and the majority of them said yes. I guess senior trip is a pretty big deal to most people. Only two of my friends were not going and one had to be at a District Championship for tennis. Thinking that it would be doubly miserable to attend school knowing others were having fun, I suggested that we (being Sattaporn and I) take the day off and take an adventure.
Really, there was absolutely no planning that went into this adventure. At all. Sattaporn and I talked about going to the vacuum cleaner museum and the world's largest rocking chair along I-44, but that was all speculation. Classic Laney planning. A lot of maybes ... nothing concrete. Because of some planning issues, we also needed to come up with another person to come with us. Like I said before, not one single senior friend we had was going to be missing senior trip. We were in a bit of a pickle; luckily, Savannah volunteered to come along.
I woke up the morning of "THE ADVENTURE" as Sattaporn and I had taken to calling it and I felt awful. Not only had I woken up at two in the morning thanks to Minsy. My stomach was not feeling peachy. I almost didn't go to seminary because I was worried that I would get sick in class. I kind of labored through class and got home and loafed on the couch (it's my number one cure for not feeling well) until it was time to go pick up Sattaporn. My health still wasn't tip top, but I grabbed some medicine and headed out. I was bound and determined to make sure that this day would be lovely in every way. Of course it would be! Adventure isn't swayed by a tummy ache!
I've picked up Sattaporn for a lot of things, and this pickup was no different. As I rounded the corner to his house, I whipped out my phone and called him to announce my arrival. "I'll be there in three ... two ... one." Then I wait a little awkwardly outside his house for him to hop in the car. (The reason for this is a semi-long story. Short story -- One time, I came to pick Sattaporn up when he wasn't even home ... So, now I wait for him). We hopped in my super sweet Mazda Miata with it's super sweet stench of new car and its cool manual headlights and we were on our way ....
Kind of. We had to make a quick stop at the bank ... just in case we wanted to travel to Vegas or anything while we were adventuring. Since we had absolutely nothing planned, spending a bunch of money was a slight possibility that we needed to be prepared for.
I fully intended to plan what we were going to do during the day in transit from Sattaporn's house to my own, but that ended up just being a lovely intention. When my dad asked where we planned on going, I had no clue. Forced spontaneity is just the way I roll I guess. Since we really had no clue (have I said that enough times? I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot. Let it be known that everything that happened during our adventure was totally spontaneous and unplanned. Ahem) my dad suggested that we take some Cardinal tickets that he got for being on the school board just in case. If we didn't use them, it wouldn't really be a big deal, but he thought that it could be a cool experience if we tried to scalp them and make a profit.
There is so much that I could say about this adventure. I've felt this way a couple of times about writing things ... that there's too much to say and by the end the reader will be bored out of their minds even though it's a thing that is really special. If I am boring, I apologize. I'll try to spice the next part up with pictures and stuff...
Here is our adventure explained with words.
ROLLA (where we learn that anything can become an attraction that people from all over the nation are dying to see)
There are certain parts of the world that you have no desire to explore. You might see fancy billboards that advertise the existence of adventure worthy places, but in reality, you recognize that the people are probably desperate for the money of unsuspecting tourists. We decided that for our adventure, we wanted to please these desperate sales people. Luckily for us, these little po-dunk shops and museums are sprinkled liberally along I-44. To name a few of these locations: The Vacuum Museum, the Jesse James Wax Museum, the Puzzle Museum ... if it is an object that truly exists, chances are, there is a museum in Missouri that corresponds with it. Anywho, our first stop was at a little gas-station turned attraction called "The Trading Post" located in Rolla. I'm not going to lie ... it was a pretty sketchy place. Dust coated everything and a funky smell lingered outside of the facility. We took a peek around, looking for some type of souvenir, but everything was incredibly overpriced. A strange display caught our eye, and we began to read the description. Apparently, the Devil Fish (as seen above) is one of the rarest things to swim in the sea. I asked the man behind the counter about it's history, and while he was explaining it's origins, a man carrying a tea pot and with long dread locks popped up behind Sattaporn and muttered something about tourist traps. I couldn't help but just look in awe at this guy. I tried to imagine his life story, but I ran out of imagination juice. After this strange encounter, Savannah, Sattaporn, and I made a group decision to get the heck out of there.
As we were driving to find our next destination, we saw a sign for a yard sale. And so, living on the edge of I don't know what, we plugged the address into our GPS and started driving semi-dangerously to a part of town I had never seen before. We did some awesome exploring, but to no avail ... the yard sale was unfortunately non existent. Bound and determined not to let that (and the impending rain clouds) ruin our sunny perspectives, we continued to drive around searching for a way back onto the main road (it only took a few u-turns). Finally, we made it to Goodwill, a home away from home. Within, we were on a mission to find clothes that looked extra tough. For some reason, (I can't imagine why) Sattaporn believed that we didn't look tough enough to be scalping tickets in the middle of St. Louis, so our goal was to find something that would mask our innocence. We didn't have much luck at the Trading Post and the Goodwill was similarly fruitless. Apparently, kids that go to Missouri S&T aren't really all that hardcore. We did end up with some sweet cheap shades and cool hats, so I don't consider that stop to be a complete bust.
With our new touristy accessories, we decided to really get our adventure underway. I knew of a few places in Rolla that looked like popular world destinations (such as the mini-Statue of Liberty and the Stonehenge) but I really had no clue where these things were located. So we started driving. Luckily for us, these locations just happened to be along our way!
The Descent (where we begin to recognize just what we've gotten ourselves into)
The World's Largest usually indicates something completely awesome. For example, on the way to Mormon prom, we ate The World's Largest Banana Split at the Iberia Drive-In. It was one of the craziest eating challenges I have ever taken and, though it beat me in the end, it was such a fun experience. This was my logic as I continued to repeat my request to visit the World's Largest Rocking Chair. Simply because it had World's Largest in front of it, I believed that it would be pretty stinking awesome. It turned out to be yet another tourist trap with a sort of vile, never-ending gift shop attached to it. However, it was still something that I felt was an essential Missouri bucket list item to check off before departure. Check!
At this point, it was time to buckle down and just drive. Up until this point we had just been mindlessly wandering to whatever place suited our fancy, but we had a sort of destination to get to. Listening to the sweet croonings of country music sensations, the minivan cruised along at a sweet 70 mph all the way to the suburbs that surrounded St. Louis. We stopped at the eatery strip that lies just beyond the Six Flags exit. OH, SIX FLAGS? Yeah, we hung around for at least an hour in the general area where the rest of our senior class was enjoying a day off. I know for a fact that we were having a much better time, so it felt pretty nice just to flaunt it (but not really ... because no one could see us) in front of our class. After some prime time lunch entertainment -- we watched a super car chase down the freeway -- and after the elation of loafing started to wear off, an executive decision was made. Leaving Applebee's was about as far as we planned, but with some enthusiasm and a full belly, we entered the lion's den that is downtown St. Louis.
Now, if you can, imagine us ... three scrawny little teenagers. Okay, you can stop imagining now. Just know, the next couple events are completely ridiculous in hindsight. We have no idea what we're doing or where we're going. We plugged in a HIP HOP MUSEUM into the GPS and expected it to take us to a good place. Quick fact, hip hop museums are usually the epitome of beauty and are not sketchy at all. Instead of finding a place to experience culture and high society, we found a construction site in the middle of the ghetto of St. Louis. You can be sure that I got us out of there as fast as I knew how. We then kind of made our way to the Arch, but got lost a bazillion times. At one point, we were in the middle of a hobo tent city. It was a little stressful.
The St. Louis Zoo has always kind of been my safe haven. I'm not sure when we decided to call it quits on the random wandering, but my memory reminds me that it was probably brought up in either one of two ways. Either Sattaporn noticed my increasing frazzledness and conceded to going to the zoo OR I said, "Can we just go to the zoo, please?" in a moment of selfish frustration. So to the Zoo we went. It was zoo member day, which pretty much meant that we got to do anything in the zoo for free, but it also was super crowded. We zipped through and saw everything that was worth seeing in less than two hours, which is a pretty impressive feat. After watching some mesmerizing donkeys for more than three minutes, I was calmer and ready to complete the rest of the adventure. Little did I know, the craziness was FAR from being over. In fact, in perspective, it had just begun.
The next part of our senior trip was ... believe it or not ... totally spontaneous. We were so strained for ideas that we looked up, "fun things to do in St. Louis" on our handy dandy iPhones. One of the results from our search was called the Delmar Loop. Apparently Delmar Loop is one of the top ten streets in the United States. It also claimed to have a great music and food scene. Basically, there was no question in our minds whether we would be there or not. We drove to a public parking lot nearby the metro station there, locked the car after hiding a few valuables, and got our walking shoes on. Savannah, Sattaporn, and I came to party hard.
I'm a little bit of a paranoid person. I see sketchy people and I automatically start to bristle. Unlike Bella in Twilight, I do not wander in strange cities alone. I would much much much prefer a little country town to a city any day (if I had to walk around it myself). I will not lie, Delmar Loop was a little frightening to me. Maybe it was the ominous clouds that were hanging low to the ground. Maybe it was the police officer that was smoking a cigar outside of the Metro. Or maybe it was the fact that there were tons of people like myself that were just shuffling around with no aim. It gives me the shudders just thinking about it.
I found out very quickly that Delmar Loop was a ton of little shops strung together on a street. They varied in their total sketchiness. Sattaporn would poke into a new store every so often and Savannah and I would shuffle in behind him. It was incredibly amusing to just people watch on Delmar Loop. We popped into a store that I can only politely describe as completely nerdy. The jargon was so funny; the people fit right in with the jargon. Fun fact -- Delmar Loop is also home to the world's only joyless candy shop. Love did not exist in that place ... it just added to the surreal feeling that I was experiencing.
Although all of these places are near and dear to my heart, the best experience that I had on Delmar Loop started out a little rocky. Literally. We walked into this SUPER HIPPIE store without really realizing where we were. Sattaporn went to look at free love tee-shirts or something and Savannah and I were somewhere in the middle of the store. I was trying to keep from looking to approachable, but I guess in secret salesperson code my attempt made me quite the opposite. Before I knew it, there was a guy in front of me. He said something along the line of ... "Wanna buy some rocks?" And then I was talking to this complete stranger about the magical properties of rocks. I didn't know how to politely excuse myself, so I heard about chakras and ultra rare meteorite rocks and rocks from the moon. Sattaporn was quick to come to the rescue and as soon as a convenient time came, we were out of there. I had a little spirit rock thing that the guy handed to me to have for free, so I felt like that was a worthwhile stop.
All the way down Delmar Loop and back is not just a walk in the park. My legs were SOOOOO tired, but I was still really content and happy to be where we were. It was getting near to the concrete thing that we had planned on doing ... that is, getting to the ball park to scalp some Cardinals tickets. Since we were so close to the Metro, we decided to skip driving around to find a parking garage (thankfully ... I think another downtown St. Louis driving incident would have done me in) and just take the public transit. I really grew to love these systems while my family went to China. Some of my fondest memories from our trip included squeezing into the subways and riding double-decker buses all over the place. My paranoia in cities does not extend to public transit, so I felt pretty comfortable on our way to Busch stadium.
I had no idea what to expect at this game. Scalping tickets always seemed pretty pointless to me ... I enjoy just doing what I signed up to do. For example, when my mom and I went to General Conference in October, she suggested we ask around for tickets and I moped about it for most of the morning. Even when given the opportunity to go to my favorite places on earth, I still am reluctant to ask random people to help me. This was definitely Sattaporn's time to shine. It was incredible to tag along behind him as he tried to sell these tickets. At first, we tried to give it to people that were heading the the stadium. For future reference, people that are heading towards stadiums usually have tickets already. Then we tried to sell the tickets to professional scalpers. After a little bit of haggling, it was obvious that we were going to get an awful deal if we resorted to using the professionals. I knew that our seats were awesome, but I just wasn't sure how much money we could realistically get for them. I think the highest we were offered was something like forty for the lump sum, which wasn't good enough for us. Looking back -- the tickets were free ... so technically any offer would be a profit. It was just an insult to pride though, I guess.
One of my bucket list items for before I leave for college is to go to a baseball game. So, it wasn't such a sad thing that we eventually decided to give up scalping tickets and go to the game. We managed to get a ton of advice from the scalpers and some random scalper pro, which was nice. I loved hearing their life stories and how they got into the lucrative scalping business. I was relieved, however, to be out of that situation and into a comfier one. When I looked at our tickets, I thought our seats were nice ... it wasn't until we were admitted through glass doors by an old-lady attendant that I knew our seats were awesome. We were so close to the field, but not too close. Directly surrounding us were a ton of rich people. I loved enjoying the atmosphere of the game. It felt like summer. It was gauzy and light and humid and wonderful. Sattaporn had never been to a ball game before, so it was nice to watch him experience the things I love about baseball for the first time.
We didn't stay for long. In fact, we were there for less than two innings. That was enough to check "baseball" off of our to-do list though. My dad had set a curfew for when we needed to be back home, so I figured that keeping the rules was more important than seeing who won the game. After a long wait for our train to arrive, we headed back to sketchy Delmar Loop to grab some food. At first, a place with music was a must. Every place that boasted to have great music was either a bar or a hookah joint place as well, so we ended up at a generic Mexican restaurant. I found myself reflecting on the day (I do that around ten o'clock sometimes).
It seemed like so much happened during the day, but in such a short amount of time ... probably because so much did happen in so little time. Was it worth skipping out on senior trip? Definitely. Spending time with my best friends on earth is always worth skipping something that is deemed a vital life event. I felt totally justified in skipping a day of school just to skip ... because I learned so many life lessons. I learned about haggling and driving in downtown St. Louis and when to stop talking to strangers. After driving home to the tune of country music and lively conversation and dropping Sattaporn off at his house, I crashed into bed. What a day ... what an adventure.