Yesterday I embarked on the craziest road trip with two friends from work. As many of you well know, I will go to great - and I mean GREAT - lengths to find myself standing in a Trader Joe's. I just can't explain the obsession. Matt and I, on any road trip that we take, will map out how to detour to the nearest TJoe's and PACK our cooler FULL of quirky, kitschy goodness. We wept when we moved to Colorado, who due to state liquor laws, will never maintain a TJoe's chain. We leaped for joy when we moved to Tucson, and were equidistant from TWO TJoe's (could life get any BETTER?). And we mourned yet again when we moved to Michigan, and the nearest TJoe's was 2.5 hours away.
So far, our Trader Joe's stomps have included San Francisco, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; Napa, CA; Tucson, AZ (downtown AND Oro Valley); St. Louis, MS; Madison, WI; Chicago, IL; Rochester Hills, MI; and now, Ann Arbor, MI.
Anyway, there's this clinical instructor from Hope (I'll call her MC). She intimidates students with her spit-fire attitude, high expectations, and amazing clinical skills and knowledge. But the woman is fun and crazy and FULL of life. She passionately loves her family and the Lord and laughter. She's no-nonsense and loud and large-and-in-charge. We both love Trader Joe's. And so we decided to take a road trip.
Enter my other friend Martine. NO ONE makes me laugh nearly as hard as Martine. She will SLAY me with stories told in a thick Dutch brogue (she's originally from the Netherlands, but she grew up here, so she only pulls the brogue when it'll sweeten the funny pot). When it's your birthday she'll sing a loud and unfettered Dutch birthday song that includes holding aloft your invisible stein. The stories she tells me of when she was a young mom (four of her five kids are grown) will reduce me to a tear-and-mascara smeared face that I have to wipe with the burp cloth of whoever I'm feeding at the moment (yes, I get a clean cloth out afterward!). Martine is as close to a throwback hippie as you'll ever get, one who homeschooled her kids well before it was popular and soaked lentils and baked her own bread. She also passionately loves her family and the Lord. She was a balm to my soul when I was first going through our loss, crying and praying with me and hugging me through our 12-hour shifts together. She is 100% mom and 100% friend. When I know I'm going to work with Martine, I actually look forward to my shift.
So MC and I planned our road trip, and then MC invited Martine along as well. Oh my goodness. Put the three of us in a car, and it was un. be. lievable.
I can't even begin to describe the scene we created in that West Michigan minivan. Dance jams were pumping, all three of us were dancing, and when we got lost in Ann Arbor trying to find Trader Joe's (the Google map lead us WAY astray), we were a laughing, shrieking, yelling mess. When we finally safely landed in our parking spot, we were breathless, exhausted, and had zero eye makeup left on our faces (save for what was still smeared on our cheeks). MC all but announced our arrival in Trader Joe's and danced her way down every aisle.
I have never been so exhausted from laughing in my life.
But I love that these ladies are so fun and adventurous and full of life. I want to be like MC ten years from now, and like Martine twenty years from now. Any stress that any of us may have felt in the past few weeks melted away and our souls were restored for at least another day.
See? Trader Joe's unites people and makes everything better.