Hippie Vans & City Museums

My three day experience in Kansas City equaled AWESOME DUDE!, but at lunchtime on New Year’s Eve, I still didn’t know how God planned to get me back to Michigan. I was open to pretty much anything whether He wanted to use the traditional “plane, train, or automobile” approach or the more miraculous “teleportation/beam me up, scottie!” approach. I trusted God and went about my merry way, and sure enough, by dinner time, I had three rides back to Jackson.

The only problem with having three rides is that you have to tell two of the rides, “Thanks, but no thanks…” I felt like a game show contestant, who has the option of looking behind only one of three automobile doors. I knew every door had something great behind it, but which one was the best? Door #1 – a church van with a college/ youth group. Door #2 – a car with buddies I knew from college. Door #3 – A hippie van with a bed, recliners, and college kids that were stopping at the City Museum in St. Louis. If you know me well, the answer is a no-brainer. Duh! If there’s a hippie van, that’s my ride.

The next morning I gave Kansas City the proverbial goodbye wave as I jumped expectantly through the doors of the Hippie Van and into my very own bucket seat. My travel companions included David (Driver), Val (Shotgun/Girlfriend of driver), Alison and Jason Manalp (twinsies), and Morgan (Bucket Seat Across from me). Anyway, we chatted while I chomped on potato chips and roasted peanuts until I slowly drifted off into a dream land where only the sleep deprived can go.

Then, before I knew it, I heard someone exclaim, “Is this the restaurant?” As I stepped out of the vehicle, I felt very light-headed and realized suddenly that sometimes I like sleeping better than eating. The revelation stuck for a moment, until the tantalizing aroma of St. Louis barbeque rose through my nostrils like a fire’s smoke through the living room chimney. “Mmmm… food….” was the only thought that restrained me from going back to my comfy recliner and dozing off. I don’t remember much of the meal. I equate the feeling of sleep deprivation to the week when I loaded up on vikatin after getting my wisdom teeth out. I know it happened, but I’m not sure how.

After the meal, we high-tailed it to the City Museum!

I woke up and got my “Fun Rob” game-face on. I determined to enjoy The City Museum even if I was sleep deprived. Little did I know, three party-poopers would surface in our van. Only half of us (David, Val, and I) enjoyed The City Museum in St. Louis… Let me be frank with you. It’s the best museum on earth! It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets the Wonka Chocolate factory, and it’s all made out of recycled material. There’s 60 foot slides, a bonfire pit, ladders to nowhere, hallways that get smaller until you have to slide on your back through them, and a whale that you walk into like a voluntary Jonah. During that heavenly three or four hours, I bravely swung across a ravine on a rope swing, saw turtles in a very unnatural habitat, swapped stories around a campfire, climbed through a metal maze of doom with airplanes attached, blazed down those sixty foot slides like a meteorite through the atmosphere of childhood, and witnessed a man juggle the flaming swords of death. In the craft room, I also painted an abstract version of “I Love You” to give to a girl. Yesterday, I threw it in the trash without sending it to her. Every rose has it’s thorn.

When I made it back to the van, I made sure that I rubbed every terrific detail in the face of the three party poopers. They spent their money on a Starbucks coffee. David, Val, and I spent ours on a lifetime of memories. Alison says that she still has bad dreams about how much she regrets not going into The City Museum, leaving me with one conclusion. I did my job. 🙂

The ride back was great. Alison and I talked most of the way home as Jason drove and Morgan navigated. On the ride home, I also found out how to tell if someone loves you or not. Step 1: Call them. Step 2: Say those awkwardly amazing three words, “I love you.” Step 3: Wait for a reply. If they a. say “Thanks” with a question mark attached, b. remain silent for way too long, or c. try to switch the subject, it probably means your sentiments are not being reciprocated. If all three of those happen in one minute, you can take the “probably” out of the previous sentence. If you’ve made that person a card with the same sentiments, quickly throw it away and act like it never happened, and definitely don’t blog about it.

Honestly, I’m not bitter at all, and my time in the Hippie Van far outweighed any brief romantic cell phone disappointments. After my call ended, I realized my focus had shifted dramatically while I was in Kansas City. I’m like any other person. I wanna fall in love, get married, make passionate love to my wife, and have a family. If that chain of events started tomorrow, you better believe I’d thank God for freeing me from a chains of chastity.

Yes, I want those things, but now I have a greater desire. Point blank: I want Jesus to come back. Now when I think about the fullness of time, I don’t pray, “Lord, just wait a little while longer so I can experience the joy of making love to my future wife and being a father to my future kids.” All I pray is, “Jesus, please come back.” My one desire is to hasten the return of Jesus. That’s it.

As the tires of the hippie van slowly climbed across the snow of my unplowed driveway, I grabbed my belongings and said, “Goodbye,” to my new friends. At 6 a.m., I fell asleep in my own bed with a smile knowing that Door #3 was the perfect choice.

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