August 11, 2013

Home Is Where the Stalker Is

A place for lucky ducks.
While I was in Colorado for my hen friend's wedding, I also had the freedom and free time to flutter around my old pecking grounds. When I did the math, I could hardly believe it'd been 9 years since I moved away from Colorado. Time flies when you have wings.

Like any return to an area we've called home, it's bittersweet. It's joyous to visit some favorite spots, it's sad seeing some beloved places that are changed and unfamiliar, or no longer there. All the sights are filled with memories, both good and bad, but memories from home are strong, and I enjoy revisiting and reflecting. It's also nice that I lived there long enough to not get lost or need a GPS.

On a day that may have been my birthday, my friend, Brandihen, and I flapped our way through town, dining with friends and enjoying some beautiful Colorado scenery. Earlier, she'd left her car to be detailed, so I took her to pick it up when it was finished. We didn't need two cars to go into the mountains, so I left my rental (not from Thrifty!) at a familiar grocery store.

After enjoying the scenery in improper footwear (rooster would not have been proud), we pulled back into the grocery store parking lot. As we pulled in, I caught a glimpse of the driver in front of us in one of her mirrors, and her face was so familiar.

"Oh my gosh!" I clucked. "I'm pretty sure that's my high school Spanish teacher." Brandihen didn't see the driver and didn't take high school Spanish, so she was no help to confirm it was her. I would have let it go, but Profe Centeno was one of my favorite teachers in high school, and I had her for a teacher for 3 years. Not living in Colorado, I knew I'd regret it if I just let her get her groceries unbothered.

I told Brandihen I had to say "hi," so I plopped out of the car and flapped toward Profe's car. As I got closer, I noticed she was still in the car. I hoped she'd be getting out of the car or walking, so I could casually say hello and we could chat about how I was her favorite student. But with her still in the car, I couldn't just walk up to her driver's window without scaring the crap out of her. I tried to find an area of the parking lot a safe distance from her car to wait, but I realized no one just loiters in the middle of a parking lot without looking like a suspicious creep. Painfully slow and awkward seconds were ticking and she was still in the car. I pulled out my phone and called Brandihen to create the illusion I was looking for someone in the parking lot. That could buy me time. But Brandihen didn't answer and Profe was still in the car. What is she doing in there?! I couldn't stand there anymore, so I shuffled toward the store. I wanted to say hello to my old teacher, but I also wanted it to look like a casual, surprise bump-in - not a stakeout after I followed her car. I thought about waiting in front of the store, but without a purpose, it would still look like I was waiting for her, and I didn't her to leave thinking I'd turned into a creep. So I went inside, but just like when I was outside, I couldn't look like I was staking out the entrance. I tried to look natural and casual, poking at bags of candy and boxes of soda, like I was making a huge life decision. The scene had escalated into a Seinfeld episode, except I had no George or Elaine next to me to buffer and make it funny. I was just a weirdo pretending to grocery shop while I stalked my former teacher. I kept looking up and still no Profe! As those dragging seconds passed, my mind kept racing. Why am I making this so awkward? What am I doing with my life? How can they charge so much for a bag of Snickers? When I tossed the Snickers down in a huff, I looked up and saw that familiar hair walking toward the entrance. I tried to look as natural as anyone could just standing in the promotional display of candy and soda with no cart. The door opened and I took a step forward. In walked a woman in the store uniform, flustered, stern, and with hair strikingly similar to my teacher's hair 9 years ago. I averted eye contact and left the store through the entrance.

You're not who I thought you were.

I walked outside to find my confused friend waiting in the loading zone.

"Did you call?" She asked.

"Sorry, I was trying to call Elaine."

Keep reading! In planning my trip, check out "I Just Wanted To Be Thrifty Part I!"

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