March 20, 2014

wild rumpus

Surprises. I have had a lot of them lately.

I have a complex view of surprises; if I know generally what to prepare for, what to expect, I will probably like it a lot; if it seems like everyone knows what it is except for me, I will be virtually tortured until the surprise is at length revealed; if I know something is up, but when I ask about it no one will tell me anything except 'You'll like it', I will be all but driven mad. But perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that I really have enjoyed every one of the most recent surprises immensely. I guess it is just 'getting there' that is hard for me.

About three or so weeks ago, my friends threw me a surprise birthday party (my little sister had a huge hand in it; I think it was even her idea in the first place). I am the sort that when I see something fishy going on - people quieting or shifting feet when I come near, sharing whispers and occasionally glancing my way, or the like - I fine-tune my ears, sharpen my vision, and become the most aware and suspicious sleuth I know.
    Having discovered the hard way from a previous mystery party that my attitude only increased my irritation as no one would tell me anything - that, of course, is what surprises are supposed to be - I, this time, was purposefully ignoring the symptoms of secret-keeping. And besides this, my friends (who had quickly learned my tendency to grow snoopy) were being extra careful to keep me in the dark.
    After returning home from some fun hours of lunch and shopping with one of my best friends, my little sister drew me into our library - my dad is amazing, and we actually have a room devoted entirely to books, and our grand piano (and well, the TV, too) - by playing one of my favorite video games, Spyro: A Hero's Tail. (I cannot resist it, and boy, does she ever know my weakness!)
    About to chastise her for gaming without me, I stopped short when I saw the elaborate streamers, and then looked to the side to see almost our entire church youth group huddled against the wall, smiling like excited imps - they looked somewhere between plain happy and mischievous - and it took me all of a split second to realize what was going on. Then they jumped up and yelled 'surprise', at which I teared up; this, partly because I was impressed at how well they had kept everything a secret without annoying me, and partly because I felt so honored, privileged, and special that they had put in the time and energy to make a surprise party just for little old me on my twentieth birthday.
    And you know what? It ended up being one of the best surprises I had ever had!

When my grandparents took me to the Ordway to see the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra last Friday, I knew exactly where I was going, exactly who with and what for; I was informed that the venue would be fancy - you understand I had never been there before - and that I would most certainly enjoy it a great deal. What surprised me was that it was well beyond what I expected: Infinitely lovelier, far more spacious and grand, and the music above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I learned that Mendelssohn's piece 'The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)' is possibly my favorite piece of music ever - other, of course, from my favorite song, In Christ Alone, and my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount.
    It was the best kind of surprise - better than I could have hoped or dreamed.

And this morning, one of my very best friends in all the world took me on a trip she admitted she had been planning for about a month. She had given me a card the previous Sunday at church telling me she was taking me on an adventure, and suggested some things for me to bring: Bible, notebook, camera, and (of course) adventure boots!
    She picked me up this morning and brought me to Minneapolis to a little bookstore for 'young people' (about ages 3 to at least 20). ;) It was called 'Wild Rumpus' - just like from Where the Wild Things Are. (And just for the record, I love that book!)
    We spent a few hours in that store, looking at new books, treasuring old ones we had read before, ogling various artwork, and petting the chickens. Yes, they had chickens in the store - petite little things, one black and one grey - roaming free for anyone to enjoy. Several children were chasing after the hens intermittently, and finally my friend gently caught one and cuddled with it for a few minutes. The hen did not seem to wish to leave her hand! There were also caged Chinchillas, many pretty birds, and even a small tarantula named Thomas Jefferson.
    I wish I could describe the ceiling for you, yet I am afraid I will not do it justice. The creativity raised my eyebrows and drew in my camera for a click or two. It had two layers, one of water and a lower one of ice, which appeared to be being cracked by a canoe. The sight daunted me for a moment. I was impressed by the imagination. Actually, that detail itself almost made the whole trip worth it!
    I purchased Enna Burning by Shannon Hale, a book I have read before but never owned (I wrote a review on it a couple years ago here on my blog). There were at least ten or more books I dearly wished to buy, but alas; a nanny's pocketbook is rarely full enough to purchase a whole shelf of treasures.
    Besides this, my friend and I enjoyed an unplanned but peaceful scenic drive around a lake, a visit to the beautiful Victorian-styled Lake Harriet Bandstand, the Lakewood Cemetery, and we even discovered a sidewalk 'little library' box, in which we left a secret note in dwarfish script (based on that found within the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien). It read,

'Greetings, dear reader.
I hope you enjoy your books.
From the green elves of the north.'

And I drew a little symbol using the first letters of my and my friend's names. I hope someone finds it and takes the time to discover what it says! Simple though it is, I presume it will make a nice bookmark for its discoverer. We decided next time we came by - for I am sure that we will, perhaps this spring or summer - to bring a book or two to trade. How will I ever give up one of my books, though, even if I get one in return?? Maybe I will just pick up a random book at a garage sale and trade that instead. 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.'
    All in all, though we felt a bit rushed - I am certain we could have spent days in these places and not have enjoyed all they had to offer - the adventure was wonderful, truly worth the wait. And I am so thankful to the friend who gave this to me as my birthday gift. (Let's have more adventures soon, eh?) ;)

I realize it has been long since I last wrote - over two months, I believe! Well, I shall simply have to make up for that. After so much time, I have much to tell.
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