My mom corralled us to celebrate Pop Pista's 60th birthday and my niece Mel's 10th. Dinner at this Mantorville mainstay, a place that rewards diners who want surf and turf at 4:30 p.m. with special deals. Pop Pista digs the onion rings; You can't get cell phone service here.
I had broiled walleye and wiped down the toilet seat so I wouldn't catch scrapbooking.
My parents were still at church when I rolled into town 3-discs into the audio book "The Paris Wife." I made a stop at the Super Target to buy something to spray in my hair to make it look like I'd washed it. I stood there in this gigantic building and considered all the ex-boyfriends, high school friends, former teachers and neighbors I could potentially run into in this store. I don't have this scenario in Duluth, where if I run into someone on a Tuesday, there is a good chance I will run into them again by Friday. Anyone I could see in Rochester would be someone I hadn't seen in a decade. I kind of looked forward to hearing a 20-minute life story from the mom version 2.0 of someone I'd last seen draped in yellow silk, weeping over the Lourdes High School pep band's version of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Then, of course, I saw no one.
As we're driving to the restaurant we see this tot come busting out the front door of a house, huge smile wrapped around a pacifier. She takes a right at the end of the driveway and cruises up the sidewalk to the corner.
"I don't think anyone is chasing her ..." I said.
My dad is retired Five-Oh; My mom loves to have entire conversations in baby talk. This bit of biographical info leads to a U-Turn in a residential area. My dad pulls into the driveway of the house of the young escape artist. The front door is ajar. By now the tot is out of sight. She's added a right turn deke move.
My mom knocks, then pretty much just walks into the house and explains to a this harried mom -- who has another younger kid balanced on her hip -- that a superfast child just made a mad dash from this address. The woman does this spastic jazzercise combination of trying to figure out what to do and my mom makes a grab for the baby.
"Do you want me to hold her while you go after the other one?"
The woman passes off a baby Ginger, hops on her son's dirt bike, and tears up the street. We Pistas wait in the driveway. No one says anything. Then finally I declare the obvious: "This is all very weird. Do you not see that this is weird? I mean, this is super weird. And kind of hilarious."
The mom comes peddling back with Houdini under her arm, half balanced on the bike.
Brother Pista, SIL Pista and my niece Mel are already at the restaurant. Brother Pista passes me a preview of the card that Mel made for my dad's 60th birthday, reiterating that she made this card herself. She came up with everything on the card on her own. This card is 100 percent ALL Mel.
On the front it says "Grandpa Pista" in marker. Inside is a picture of a rainbow and her homemade text: "I hope you get lucky on your birthday." Friends, I cried.
My parents have completely DIY'ed their basement into this pimped out pad. A wet bar, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Pop Pista made floor-to-ceiling book cases bookending the fireplace. It's a sweet set up. Obviously, when I moved back in with them when I was 24 I was premature. I should have staved off my regression for another 10 years.
My favorite find: A photo an old boyfriend, a professional photographer, took of me for a Halloween spread in Rochester Magazine in the early 2000s. This is on prominent display downstairs: