Where was I? My hometown. That’s right, queue it up:
I’ll be blunt: my job in the summer is a bitch. You start to see large families as nests of newly-hatched birds. Open mouths screeching for a worm split too many ways. When that happens, it’s time for a break. I make not a king’s ransom, so my reprieves from the endless waves of dining guests are few and far between. But there is one tradition I try to keep burning, no matter the timing, no matter the burden on my wallet.
The Great Minnesota Get-Together.
It used to be our thing, me and my dad. I’m not sure how many times in a row we actually did the State Fair, but it felt like something we always did. So it pained me when I couldn’t afford to take the time off work, or didn’t have a vehicle to make the trip. Last year, I decided that would never be the case again.
I can safely say, I stuck to this tradition for another year. Yesterday, during a small pocket of vacation between shifts, I went to the State Fair with my dad.
Spoiler alert: it was awesome. As always. We showed up at the same time, parked in the same spot, hit up Machinery Hill first like we always do so my dad could explain how farming used to be done. We downed some Nordeast just after noon. We tried the best Coconut Macaroons I’ve ever eaten. That’s what the poster said…and they weren’t lying. We stuffed our faces with smoked turkey before perusing the mysterious oddities for sale in the Bazaar. We sampled more Minnesota craft beers in the Agriculture building and had a lively conversation with a beer connoisseur where my dad learned more about beer than he had in his entire life.
This remains the one time a year my dad tries craft beers.
We ate gator meat and relished in the mist showers. It was high 90s and heat warnings were all the rage.
We explored the 4H building and marveled at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” made entirely out of seeds.
I watched 10 years carve away from my dad’s face. For the first time in years, I think he needed this trip more than I did. So, even though I didn’t eat anything on a stick, it was definitely worth the trip. That, plus the Coconut Macaroons were breathtaking.
After a day in rainforest-grade humidity (without the shade), you’d think I’d be pretty beat. Well, you’re right. But I sucked it up so that I could kill another bird while I was in the Cities: see a movie. And not just any movie, I was on a mission to see The World’s End.
I wanted a funny movie. I wanted to laugh to the point of tears. And while I did have several good chuckles at the classic Wright/Frost/Pegg team-up project, it struck too close to home to send me completely into fits. True, it’s a sci-fi comedy, but it’s also the story of a group of straight-laced friends being reunited by their black sheep buddy for one last night on the town.
As I am often that guy in my group of friends, I related a little too much. Pegg’s performance as an aging, down-on-his-luck party dude stuck trying to relive his glory days was both poignant and endearing. I get it, man, I really do.
I saw the movie with Brett, an old pal that I see far too little. He almost never sees movies, and catching him on the fly is next to impossible, but the stars aligned and I got to see my friend. Exhausted and short, the post-movie chat was worth its weight in gold. In an empty parking lot, overhead lights flickering amber, we talked about our lives, and our plans. It was the same thing I’d been saying to other people for weeks, but I felt like I was finally banking it off the right backboard.
Then that was it. My grandma sent me on my way with a full stomach and a prayer. 24 hours in the “big city” and I was roaring back to the North Shore. I was in no hurry. Maybe my foot was even stalling a little bit on the gas.
It felt good to get home. In the usual way, I suppose, a return to normalcy. A shelf for all your things. Rather humdrum.
Nothing a Sister’s Place burger, a jar of wine, and good book can’t fix. Belly full (again), I stopped at the post office, just for the ordinariness of it all. And that’s when I found the package.
I knew what it was instantly. I’d forgotten it was on its way. My heart got fluttery, but it was nothing compared to the tears on my face when I opened up the box when I got home.
Two original G1 Transformers from the 80s. Grimlock and Camshaft.
Yeah, it’s a little silly to get emotional over toys. But these are Transformers. You know me and Transformers. And these are originals. Crazy as it sounds, I don’t own any Generation 1 Transformers toys. I had a few smaller ones back in the day, but those have all disappeared in my many moves over the years. And I never owned Grimlock, king of the Dinobots.
I’m telling you: you haven’t felt anything until you’ve felt the striking cold of diecast metal on a toy for the first time in 20+ years. Pure bliss.
I dunno, maybe it was the movie, seeing my family (that includes Brett), or just trudging up childhood memories, I felt like I sort of ‘woke up’ yesterday. I’ve been on a pretty piss-poor spiral of doom-and-gloom lately. Maybe I need to look on the bright side.
At the very least there’s always Transformers.