Sunday, June 19, 2011

The love of my life

Ladies and gentlemen I have met the love of my life. He is 25, a little gray and wrinkly but it suits him, he's stubborn, and the boy can eat. He comes from Zimbabwe, his name is Mana (makes you think of the bread from heaven, huh?), oh, and he's an elephant. Sorry, to anyone who is disappointed about there not being an actual romance in my life, but I really adored this elephant.

Riding an elephant is something I've wanted to do my whole life, granted I've been once before but I was far too young to remember the event. Anyway, my friend Brandon found out about this dream of mine, called in a favor, and got me a discounted price for the gig. So I woke up at 4:45, far more excited and peppy than anyone should ever be at that time of day, and was out the door by 5:30.

After driving along with the sunrise we got to this place called Sun City. It had a Las Vegas feel about it, except for that the slot machines weren't all crowded until later on in the day. We met our driver there and then were off to meet the elephants! Brandon and I were the only bookings that day, so we had the whole heard to ourselves. They were gorgeous. I know I don't have favorite animals, but that day I would definitely have proclaimed elephants as the fairest in the land.

We rode around for an hour as the sun still made its way fully into the sky. There was mist everywhere as we rocked along to the rhythm of Mana's steps which could easily have sent an upset baby into a deep sleep.

We saw a couple other animals along the way, but mostly just beautiful scenery, peaceful quiet, and Mana's footsteps which were sometimes interrupted by an uncontrollable need to pull branches from nearby trees. It was one of those experiences that I can't adequately put into words, but these lyrics reverberated through my mind the entire time: "For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies, Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise."

After the ride we went to feed them. We could choose to tell them "trunk down" in which case they would bring their trunk right in front of our hands and we could fill it with food for them to lift to their mouths; or we could say "trunk up" and they would move their trunk out of the way and we could put the food directly in their mouths. They were adorable and forever prodding for more food, which I was always happy to oblige. I absolutely loved every second with them. They are gorgeous, smart, and entertaining. I definitely want to keep one.

The morning finished with a breakfast of our own while overlooking the park. Again, it was gorgeous. It was nice to just sit quietly and be a part of the world around me. I treasure moments like that.

I don't know what I did to deserve such wonderful experiences, but I'm going to try and keep doing it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Past the point of no return

This story will not do the actual event justice, it won’t even come close.

So there I was, living in South Africa, when someone decided to turn twenty-one, have a Phantom of the Opera themed party, and invite me. This made me happy.

Turning twenty-one is a big deal here. Unlike back home where the only things that really change in life is the ability to gamble and drink legally (unless you’re a me, then twenty-one means the beginning ridicule for not eternally attaching myself to another person and procreating…but that’s another story) here you get a key. I’m probably going to mess up the explanation of this tradition, and my friends from here can mock me if I do, but my understanding is that you’re old enough to start your own life and so you get a key to represent the “key to your life” or something more poetic than that. I think it’s a charming concept. I may choose to implement it in my future. For those of you who haven’t heard, or guessed, I am going to throw all my favorite traditions together in a hodge-podge and create my own culture. It’s going to be an exciting.

Okay, now that I’ve gone on a few bunny trails, let me tell you about this party. The birthday girl, Kaleela, has some serious musical talent. Coincidentally, so does her boyfriend Travis. So they dressed as Christine and the Phantom and things got theatrical. We were privileged with live performances of Music of the Night, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, and That’s All I Ask of You. Granted a case of the giggles erupted during the That’s All I Ask of You and eventually the audience joined in, personally I think it added a nice touch to the evening.

Then it was time for everyone else to show off a little “talent” with some Phantom based skits. Just keep in mind that I’ve said before I’m not a performer. My group was assigned the song Think of Me and we had to put together a skit based around that. We decided to just let the song play while we faced away from the audience and did a Dream Girls-esque/miming routine. Moves included the make-out fake-out, hula waves, and head banging. Be my guest, listen to the words and put all of that together.

I haven’t even mentioned yet, the place was dressed up to the nines. It looked like we had seriously stepped into the opera populaire. And of course what is a red, black, and white color scheme without chocolate? Lots and lots and lots of chocolate. Fudge, chocolate fountain, chocolate squares, chocolate mousse, chocolate cookies…basically heaven in culinary form.

I’m a sucker for theme parties. So much so that when my mom was asking what I wanted as going away gifts before moving to college I asked for costumes and party store trinkets. Yep, I’m that cool. Anyway, it was a fantastic evening. And now I kind of want to steal all of these wonderful ideas and throw a party of my own…except for the part where I don’t sing or act.

New idea, how about I have a tutu party for my 22nd. Get it? 22, 2-2, tutu. Just call me Ms. Wordplay, hook me up with Jason Mraz, and we can forget this whole awkward sentence ever happened.