You know how it feels to anticipate something so much, for so long, that when it finally happens you're left wondering how the heck it happened so fast? That was my weekend in Coopersville. I'm saving the day-by-day details for my personal journal since what might be interesting to me might bore my readers to death! However, I'm going to wrap it up in a nutshell.
After months of talking to these people from around the world, we finally converged in the tiny town of Coopersville, MI. Well...technically we all stayed in Grand Rapids and went to Coopersville, but that's beside the point. I had spoken with a few over the phone several times and got to know these people who had similar interests (and let's face it, similar humor) as I did. I grew to adore these people that I had never met face-to-face. We counted down the months...then the weeks...then the days...right down to the hours. Then, there we all were, in the flesh, face-to-face. I was instantly comfortable with each and every one of them. It was like meeting up with old friends.
The first night we went to watch our friend, James perform The Del Shannon Show with James Popenhagen. He blew us away. The show was fantastic, the band was rockin', and James brought us a Del Shannon tribute concert that will be burned into my memory forever. The highlight of the night was
when I got to watch my Australian friend, Garry slide into the drummer's seat and perform Crying with the band. Very surreal!
Over the next couple of days, we went to downtown Coopersville a couple times (once for the HUGE car show that we plan on attending every year now). Our group also went to downtown Grand Rapids and had a lot of laughs at a brewery. We stayed up late, chatting into the night and spent the entire weekend playing pranks on one another in the hotel. It was like being in a college dorm with the best people in the world!
During our weekend we got to know the lovely Ms. Shirley, former wife of the late, great Del Shannon and she was perhaps one of the sweetest and most loving people I have ever met (I say that truly - there's no one like her). My daughter had an instant friendship with her Shirley's son, Craig and thought he was the coolest dude there (she's right - his positive energy and words of wisdom having been burning in my brain)! She misses him already! James and his darling wife, Katie were exactly what I expected; down to earth and so great to chat with. Taryn (our Buddy Holly girl!) and Jim were people we met for the first time there and instantly clicked with. Two cool cats right there!
And then, there was Garry. My Australian friend who traveled all the way to little ol' Coopersville with his equally amazing friend, Micheal to be surrounded by these same people. I look at him in the way that Dorothy looked at the Scarecrow (DOROTHY! *inside joke*). "I think I'll miss you most of all." I'm fighting tears writing this as I realize I won't get to sit across a table from him, sharing laughs and stories any time in the near future. Everyone knows I'm a big crybaby (and an ugly crier at that), but I held it together last night as we all said our goodbyes. That is, until we were back in our hotel room and my family had fallen asleep...I fell apart. From saying goodbye, to not wanting the weekend to end, to not wanting to go back reality...ugly cries happened. But, oddly, with a smile - how could I not smile after such a memorable weekend?
So, today I left Michigan to head back to Chicago with a heart full of love and a mind full of memories. I'll never forget it. Thank you to each and every one of you who played a part in that! I love you all!