The last thing I needed to hear on Saturday morning, were the words, 'How did you get there? Why did you go that way?' No, it was not the I-phone lady, nor the GPS tracker woman. It was a human whom I had called for, amongst other things, a touch of sympathy!
Samantha and her friend, Jamie, had entered themselves for the 'Colour Me Rad' run, which takes place on the East side of Austin at the Travis Expo Center. The run is five kilometers, (amazingly enough, they do not calculate this in miles) and as they run, volunteers throw dry 'paint' at them. On Friday morning I accompanied my daughter when she went to pick up her 'starter pack'. It was a fairly non-eventful ride to the hall, and the staff, as expected, were very enthusiastic. 'What is your team name?', the very young man asked. 'The winners', was my knee jerk reaction, as this is the name I always give when asked said question. Samantha's elbow in my ribs stopped me from saying anything further. 'Just Simple, Colour Me Crazy', was typed into the laptop and the young man smiled and continued with his interrogation. 'Are you Samantha?', was responded to with a nod. 'Are you running, ma'am', he said, looking up from the screen. 'I don't run, young man', I replied in the most regal fashion I could muster, attempting not to laugh, and was about to add, 'I merely walk fast', but he beat me to the punch with a not too convincing, 'that's cool'. He continued to let us know, as he handed her the 'number bib' that we could purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts and packets of paint from the vendors at the tables behind us. 'Are the numbers significant? Is it like painting by numbers? Do we have to keep the paint in the lines?', were additional questions that came directly from my naughty gene. When I asked, 'can I use my own paint?' Samantha led me from the table like a mother who knows her child is just about to embarrass her! She collected the two 'competitor' packs, and we drove back to the office, with Samantha refusing to detour for me to buy a couple of pints of 'gloss' from Home Depot.
Although the actual run takes about twenty minutes or so, contestants are asked to come an hour early, and there is always much to do before and after, so I knew the outing would take up most of my morning. I had intended to get up extra early, complete my chores, and drive to my daughter's home so that Edward could drive us to the track. However, after not much deliberation, I realised the stupidity in this plan, as their route would actually bypass my house, and it would save me a lot of time if I drove myself. Rather than leave my house at 8:20 to ensure being at Samantha's by 8:40, ready to leave at 8:45, I did not have to depart until around twenty past nine! Her 'run' was at 10:20am, and it did not matter if I was not there for the preliminaries. This gave me enough time to complete 90% of my morning routine, and by 9:15, I was ready to walk out of my door. Map in hand, I got into the mini and started to drive. I received my first call from Samantha at this time, telling me that they, too, had just left home, and were going to be late! Having driven to the center on Friday , I was vaguely familiar with the route, but wanted to make sure my memory served me correctly. As she and Edward discussed the scenario, I approached the 'point of no return' traffic lights, and asked for a quick decision. As they deliberated, the lights turned green, and I told her that I would go the way of the map, rather than the alternative that they were attempting to give. Remembering Dana's words, 'Backtrack the way we go home', I went straight ahead at the lights, and left at the next set, and no sooner had I done so did I realise that this was not the backtrack that he had meant!
Calling my husband for directions is never a good idea, and while every fibre of my being was telling me to pull into the lay-by and recalculate my options, irrationality overtook, and I dialed the office number. 'How did you get there?' and 'Why did you go that way?' were probably two of the least helpful phrases in the history of phrasing! 'I gave you the map', was the third! Once again, driving along at highway speed gives you little time to argue before you reach another 'point of no return'. After the third round of 'How and why', I ended the conversation with a polite, 'thank you, and goodbye', and continued along the way. By the next set of traffic lights, my own GPS had reset and I set the car in the right direction. It was a reasonably straight route, and this time I chastised myself and began to mock my own inadequacies, (which is acceptable!) and made the same mental note as always after such incidents, which is to trust my own instincts!
Despite the faux pas, I made it to the track with plenty of time to find Samantha and Co., and take a few pictures before they had to line up! All the contestants were to be blasted with paint, by volunteers as they ran around the track. Most wore white tops, and many, including Samantha, adorned a multi coloured tutu. (I haven't read the history, so I have no idea why.) The 'paint' used is a powder, (I have attempted to find the ingredients, to no avail, so please, no libel action suits as my perception is not quoted as fact!) and apparently quite harmless, so when I told Jamie that I was going back to the car to pick up the three gallons of emulsion that I had just purchased from the DIY store, a look of horror came over her face!
Edward and I stood and watched as the 10:20 group huddled into the starting block, and counted down from ten, before heading out into the wild unknown territory that awaited them. Complimentary yoghurt's were a welcome treat and I stood in the relatively cool light of day and waited for the girls to come into sight, around the first bend of the track. We did not have to wait long before Samantha, arms in the air, waiving, emerged from the cover of the trees, with her t-shirt slightly less white than she had started. I waived back and made my way to the next point where she would appear, and watched as she ran back into the woods. As each group returned to the finish line, the runners were handed packets of this harmless powder and encouraged to stand in front of a stage which was the home to the in-house entertainment crew. Upon request, everyone opened their plastic bag and after another countdown, threw the contents into the air, causing a psychedelic fog to infiltrate the air. Watching from a distance, I tried to dodge the particles that were floating into atmosphere but no one escaped the residue. The temperature was not conducive with standing around, and the only thing running about me was my nose, and without going into too much detail, what was running was as multi-coloured as the runners' tee-shirts!
I stood at the side of the track just before the Finish sign, camera in hand. As I watched patiently for the girls to come down the final stretch, I was rather rudely shoved by a young girl with a very professional looking piece of equipment that had a zoom lens the length of the track! She had 'Staff' emblazoned across her chest, despite the fact she looked about 12 years old. 'Ma'am, I am trying to get pictures here!', she said, as she nudged me out of the way. 'Do you have a child running in this race?', I asked, as sharply as she had pushed. 'No? Well I do!', I exclaimed and repositioned myself. I failed to add that my child was 27 years old, but she is my baby and will always be so! The staffer reluctantly moved behind me, although I could feel her eyes, (and lens) burning into my back. Little did she know that the heat was a welcome respite!
Eventually, they crossed the finish line, covered in powder (no emulsion ..... Jamie was still not convinced I was not going to carry out my threat!) and went to the stage area with their packets of powder. I retreated as the countdown began again, and the air was subjected to the rainbow hue. I just wanted to go home! Ironing had never been so alluring! Having had more than enough fun, the girls emerged from the crowd, had their pictures taken a few times, and decided it was time to call it a day! I walked back to the car, still sniffing and blowing exotic coloured mucus. My jacket and hat were covered in a fine film of smudge and every time I blinked, the world looked as if I had taken an hallucinogenic! Austin at its very best!
I called my long suffering husband on the way home, and was less than gracious when I told him 'how' I had got to the track, 'why' I went that way, and 'yes', the map was very helpful. Basking in my own glory, I continued to let him know that I was travelling west along the highway, and was confident that I could find my way home. Knowing that I am directionally challenged, he questioned as to how I knew I was going the right way. He marvelled, albeit it somewhat confusingly, at my explanation. It was obvious. I had to go the opposite way. I did not want the signs to Houston, as that was to the east. I needed to go west. How did I know Houston was to the east. Simple. (When one is directionally challenged, one finds ways of overcoming!) Russia is to the east, and Los Angeles is to the west. I needed to head towards Los Angeles, not Russia. The snorts that stifled the laughter were probably not as vibrantly coloured as mine!
I arrived home, washed my kitchen floor, ironed, phoned my mother, and waited for Samantha to come and pick me up so that we could do our weekly grocery shopping. Even though she had bathed and washed her hair, there were still traces of the mornings activities around her eyes and ears. Hints of greens and yellow would appear when she turned in certain directions. I made the mistake of commenting that it might be fun to join them in their next quest for madness, and before I could say, 'Colour me NOT', she had a number of future events listed on her ever faithful phone.
The temperature did not rise much throughout the day, and I remained cold and wore my biblical jacket and hat for most of the day. I apologised to Dana for my shortness, and he promised (again) that he would never ask 'How' or 'Why', when I called asking for verbal road maps. I resisted the comment, 'that is what you said last time...and the time before...and....'. The Missouri Tigers and Texas Longhorns both won their football matches on Saturday, so the needle on life's barometer returned to 'good', and the only colour that remained in the air was the 'blue' of the college teams openents, who came in second, which matched my toes, as I literally tested the water to see if it was warm enough to swim, once more, this year. (Last week swimming was incredibly 'refreshing'!)
With a long weekend looming (Veteran's Day is on a Monday this year!) I plan to make the most of my 'day off', and shall no doubt find something to do that does not involve paint, running or driving without direction! Whatever I do, I am quite sure that the colourful cookbook of life will dish up..... another story!