Because it is May, I had to race from a meeting on the south side of town over to Michael's on the north side of town at 8 pm because December Elizabeth didn't tell May Elizabeth that there were only six cookie sticks left for fancy birthday chocolate chip cookies and a class treat is needed for SOMEONE'S TENTH BIRTHDAY TOMORROW. As I drove, the sky was looking angrier and angrier ahead of me; by the time I got to the parking lot, I had to stop to take a picture because the clouds were so stunningly flat on the bottom and angry everywhere else. The view from this parking lot looks like the edge of the world, when in actuality it's just the field by Michael's.
As I raced into the store, a few other people were coming or going—a family with kids coming out of the front doors, a man with a ZZ Top-style beard and neck tattoos getting out of his truck a few spots away from the van, a lady just a few steps behind me (possibly on a cookie stick emergency, too—I saw her again in that part of the store after what happened next). What happened next: a giant flash of lightning so bright that it was like having 100 camera flashes pointed straight at me, followed by a ginormous crash of thunder less than 3 seconds later; everyone—me, the family with kids, the ZZ Top guy with the neck tattoos, the lady behind me—jumped into the air and YELPED. And then giggled nervously. It was like a convention of Startle Reflex people and I have to say it made the cookie stick emergency almost worth it.
And that's all I have time for tonight because, SOMEONE'S TENTH BIRTHDAY IS FAST APPROACHING. (!!!)
Every year Cheyenne puts on an elementary school track program for 4th-6th graders; they divide up the 28 elementary schools in town and run track meets for four days at Okie Blanchard Stadium at East High School. Today was Bridget's and Gracie's day, and the weather could not have been more different than the two years Maddie participated back in 2012 and 2013. Then, it was roasting. Today, it was freezing. F R E E Z I N G. But not the kind of freezing where you're prepared for it, really—it was beautiful out early this morning with lots of sunshine, and it wasn't until just before the meet was scheduled to kick off that the cold mist rolled in and froze everyone's bones from the inside out. I actually changed clothes before I left to go over, but I only put jeans and a sweatshirt on when I should have just grabbed my winter coat. I was not alone: a good 75% of the adults there to watch were also freezing, shuffling around in whatever they had in the back of their cars. In theory, good weather for track and field, I suppose. In reality, the Dillow girls were woefully under-dressed for the weather. (Big surprise I'm sure)
Bridget started out on high jump; she did have a coat, but left it in the stands and so as the rounds went on, bribed someone for her sweatshirt. I got overly excited about her clearing the bar in the first picture, hence the terrible, terrible technical quality. Ha. She did not receive a large amount of instruction on high jump form, so employed a strategy that looked a lot like "hurdle and hope for the best." She ended up in 6th place overall.
Gracie's first event was the 70 meter dash, which she fully intended to win after earning the best finish time of any boy or girl in her school during the practice phase. She won her heat handily, and made it to the finals. The poor boy behind her was pretty representative of everyone there for sure. After school she told me a story about how weird it was that the event judge asked her who her grandpa was after the first heat; she said "Richard Willis and Ed Dillow....????" and couldn't figure out why he didn't ask anyone else. I immediately knew why he had asked when she told me—because there is a Duane Dillow in this town who used to teach science at Carey Junior High, and people have been asking me if I'm related to him for 17 years now. Hee. I have never met this man, but I'm kind of dying to. Dillow is a rare, rare name.
In the finals, Gracie was assigned the lane next to the Jessup girl. The Jessup kids (both boys and girls) were on fire in every event. I'm not sure what they're feeding them over there, but they were awesome. They won first in almost everything... except the 70 meter dash, as Gracie blew past them all and finished in 10.49 seconds. She was chattering with cold when she finished but thrilled. If you click on the Instagram link up there, you can see the video Matt recorded (easier to post it to Instagram than mess with YouTube). You can hear me (obnoxious) and Mr. Dixon cheering her on; Matt is not afflicted by bad focusing/framing/excitability.
Bridget was on a relay team next; you can see her in her pink coat and black leggings (which I tried to talk her out of last night—wouldn't she be hot?) Her team finished first but was disqualified because someone accidentally ran out of her lane.
Gracie had long jump next, and while she is great fun to watch and extremely good at it, it was hard to compete against girls who were so much bigger and could fling themselves through the air farther than she could. She finished in 6th place with a 9'8" best jump, which is pretty good for someone her size. The Jessup kid who won the boys' long jump had either 14' or 16' feet something, I couldn't hear which but it was crazy far into the pit for a kid. Gracie informed me tonight that she will not be long jumping ever again because SAND. Sand in her shoes, sand in her leggings, sand in her soul. (They did not practice in a real sand pit to prepare)
At this point she was actually turning purple (I am not exaggerating) so I gave her my hooded sweatshirt to put over top of her fleece jacket and told her I'd hear about the rest of the meet later, because she could have either the sweatshirt or me. I race-walked back to the car in my t-shirt, embarrassing myself with the Willis Cold Weather Whinny the entire way. Bridget made it to the finals in the 4th grade 70m dash and finished 5th, and Gracie's relay team won first. I wish all the other kids who compete this week weather somewhere in between Cold Mist and Roasting.
Strangely out of chronological context in a book that was so painstakingly historically accurate (original broadside published in 1932, 62 years after News of the World takes place, but still so perfect that I had to stop and take a picture of it, as it was the first time I've ever heard of Beatrice Warde or the fact that this sign appears outside many printing offices, including the United States Government Publishing Office.
While I'm on the subject of News of the World, here's another bit that I had to stop and reread so as to think about it fully:
Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.
One year ago today I sent the girls off to school, took Ellie on a quick walk, and headed for the open road on the other side of the Sandias down the Turquoise Trail to Madrid, NM. It's probably just as well that I didn't get there until just before we moved, because if I had gone in, say, September, it would have been a struggle not to go back every week. New Mexico is so very tan, except for the parts where it isn't. (And yes, I had a giant slice of blueberry pie)
Timehop reminded me this morning that it was five years ago todaythat Bridget finally spotted the pink Jeep in Cheyenne.
In the five years since, our little hunt has turned into an epic game of spotting pink cars (and pink other things with wheels, too).*
I am certain I'm missing at least three photos that belong in this collage, but I'll find them and add them later.
She gets just as excited as she did when she was almost five years old when we spot one; more than one U-turn has been taken to circle back and get a picture (buried bug, pink Cadillac on stilts are just two). Maddie and Gracie don't even complain when we stop because they know it's not going to matter—when we see one, they know it's a foregone conclusion that there will be a picture. I purposefully have used only my phone to take these, because it's not about the best quality of picture, it's about getting the picture no matter what. It is fun, and it is so totally her thing.
An unexpected part of this project:
I KNOW I'm missing a whole bunch of submitted photos in this collage, but I'm working on finding them all a little at a time.
So many people are playing with us. We have received pictures from all over—from friends in Europe, all across the U.S., even from an American friend on TDY in England (hi Bob!). People often tell me they think of Bridget whenever they see a pink car, and that is awesome.
Again, missing a few—i.e. I know I have one of Keira in the picture somewhere.
This one came to us just today, from Air Force friends currently assigned in VA!
Sometimes people even hop in the picture, and that makes our day every single time. Knowing that people stop what they're doing to participate in what started as a silly little quest to hunt down an elusive Jeep makes us happy, like the world is a cheerful and connected place because of these souls who take a risk and buy the pink car. There aren't that many out there, even though we've definitely discovered there are more than we thought originally.
Here's to finding many more : )
*She is wearing leotards in so many of these pictures because we are pretty much always driving to or from gymnastics.