I flew into Indianapolis in early May, ate dinner with my family, and then took off on a 2 and a half hour drive into the wilderness…or as close to the wild as I get as a city gal.
My friend, Katie, was getting married at Turkey Run State Park in Marshall, Indiana.
I’m pretty much retired from being in weddings at this point, and I don’t survive well in the outdoors, as much as there is a part of me that wishes I could. But Katie is one of my best friends, so there was no question about it. I would come out of retirement to be a bridesmaid, fly across the country, and tough out the wilderness. Because that’s what good friends do.
So I stopped at a Starbucks after getting a pre-wedding mani/pedi, full well knowing this might be the last Starbucks I see for several days, put the hotel address in my GPS, and prayed that I wasn’t going so off-grid that I lost cell service.
I arrived after two and a half hours, happy to see civilization and proud of myself that I didn’t have to stop to use a toilet somewhere along the way.
I checked into the one cabin that was left for that night, and requested that if a hotel room opened up, I might get it for the next evening as my parents were attending the wedding as well. I got the Midwestern hospitality that I have grown to expect and quietly miss living in Seattle.
I went to check into my cabin, killed a yellow jacket and a stink bug with the first thing I could find and assess as a weapon, which was the welcome binder full of activities and amenities nearby. I was glad I threw my coffee and sandwich trash in the bin outside of the cabin, as I didn’t want any animals trying to knock my door down in the middle of the night.
I decided then and there that I wasn’t built for outdoor life, and this was as close to camping as I could possibly get.
Being the disaster bridesmaid that I can only assume Katie and her now husband, Chris, would expect at this point in their lives, I showed up to the rehearsal in a dress that exposed my mangled knee from tripping and falling on the concrete after a skeeball tournament the night before, and kindly let her know that unfortunately this was the knee that would be exposed with the bridesmaid dresses the next day, so hopefully their photographers were good at photoshopping out open wounds.
We rehearsed, we went to a buffet in Marshall for dinner, where there was upset as an Amish family was sitting at the table we believed to have been reserved for us, but it all worked out at the end of the day.
I explained to everyone over dinner how I was concerned about getting mauled to death by a bear in the night, and was reassured that there were just cougars in these parts, not bears. I didn’t love the thought of being mauled by a cougar and couldn’t decide if I’d prefer that or a bear. Neither sounded like a good option.
As we exited the restaurant, I watched an Amish man drive his horse and buggy at the speed of light down the alley, and made the passing comment that I liked a man who knew his way around a horse and buggy.
Katie has put up with my bullshit for over ten years at this point, so it likely came as no surprise the amount of verbal diarrhea spewing out of my mouth.
When we got back to the hotel, Chris gave me a roll of quarters to appease me that night and make sure I could play the skeeball machine I had miraculously found in the basement of the hotel. I knew Katie had found a keeper long ago, but that act only solidified my faith in her choice.
I managed to lock down a hotel room for not one, but both nights when the woman running the front desk found me letting me know I could switch out of the cabin if I chose to switch rooms now. I secured my position as the Mariah Carey level diva of the bridal party when I gladly accepted, stealing the room that would have been my parents (though they had decided at this point that they weren’t staying the next night, so I’m not as terrible as I sound), and moved all of my things into the hotel within three minutes.
I texted my other friend from college who I was supposed to share a cabin with the night of the wedding, apologizing, but saying that cabin life was not for me and I was much happier in a hotel. The next day when she was describing her cabin, I asked if it was number 150, which she laughed and said yes.
I told her that was my cabin from the night before, and I would recommend not using the binder of amenities as I had used it as a murder weapon the night before.
The wedding was a good time with drinks and dancing and people genuinely enjoying themselves. I didn’t fall on my face or vomit in panic while walking down the aisle, so I figured that was pretty much all that was expected of me.
I’m sure I’ve said it before. I frequently tell people that they don’t know what it’s like to have a truly good friend these days. And I believe that I have the best friends humanly possible, Katie being at the top of that list.
It was sad to say goodbye at breakfast the next day. I’m always happy for any time I get to catch up with my friends, and I get to see Katie about two times a year if I’m lucky.
I’ve been hyper aware of how time moves so quickly lately. I drove away, sad I only got to see my friend for a little while, but happy that I could be a part of a day that was so important to her. Part of being a wanderlust is that it makes me have an appreciation and gratitude for whatever time I do get to cross paths with those that mean so much to me.