It was three days before the St. Paddy's Day parade, and I still didn't have an outfit picked out. It happened every year; I'd procrastinate so long that by the time I went shopping for something fun to wear, the only green items left on the shelves were a broken shot-glass necklace, light-up earrings that didn't light up and the XXL size of every four-leaf clover shirt. I had a vision of the perfect outfit: a green tutu, white tights, and a white V-neck T shirt with a witty Irish phrase across the chest or a giant picture of Mark Cuban's face on the back.
Mark Cuban had saved the St. Paddy's Day parade. The parade was a Dallas tradition, but this year the funds had run low. The planning committee needed to come up with $40,000 or the parade was off. Mark Cuban to the rescue! I was hoping to see him in the parade on a huge throne wearing a jeweled crown and eating grapes off a platter.
"What if I dress as a giant leprechaun?" Cayden asked. I tried to picture him in pointy shoes with a curly red beard and I couldn't hold back my laughter.
"You'd look ridiculous," I said. "Which is pretty appropriate for the parade, actually. So go for it!"
It was Wednesday night and we were at Top Golf with Carson, Geoff, Joyce, Joey and Bryan because our kickball game was rained out. It was my first time playing Top Golf. Imagine, if you will, golf meets bowling meets skee ball meets darts. Sure beats swinging a little stick at an even littler ball into a huge grass field in hopes of sinking it into one of 18 strategically placed holes.
"I definitely think you should go as a leprechaun," Carson said, equally amused by the mental image of Cayden in tights, skipping around with a pot of gold.
"I bought a shirt that shows a leprechaun drinking a beer and then it shows him throwing up a rainbow," Joey said. "It's pretty legit. Your turn, Whit."
I looked up to see him holding the golf club out to me. I'd had one too many beers to remember who I was supposed to swing after. I'd taken the next two days off work so I could spend a long weekend with Cayden before he left.
I took my place on the green square. I steadied my feet, bent my knees, and locked my right elbow. No matter how many times I watched everyone else swing, I still couldn't get the hang of it. I swung and missed. Swung and missed. Swung and made contact with the very top part of the ball, sending it rolling slowly across the green where it sunk into the outermost ring on the closest hole.
Lucky for me, everyone was too engrossed in their St. Paddy's Day conversation to notice, although I was pretty sure I saw a glimpse of pity in Cayden's averted eyes. Always a gentleman.
"I'm making Jell-o shots for breakfast," Geoff said. "Green ones. You're all invited."
Two years ago I made the mistake of doing Irish whiskey shots at 9 am, from which I learned to instead eat a huge, greasy breakfast before the parade.
"We were thinking about getting up early to devour some Pete's Specials," I said. "You know, eggs, bacon, pancakes, hashbrowns..." My mouth watered just thinking about it. "Y'all are welcome to join us."
To say I was excited for Cayden to experience his first Dallas St. Paddy's Day parade was an understatement. It was right up there with experience OU/TX Weekend and tailgate at an OU home game. And even more than that, I was excited to not have to experience everything alone anymore. Of course, I wasn't every really alone. I was always surrounded by my wonderful group of friends. They just all happen to be couples.
I hated to think that I needed a man to be happy, but that's just what it came down to. I used to be happy on my own, without having to answer to anyone or depend on anyone. I felt free and relaxed and alive. But something changed that night I spent with Cayden on the roof in Brooklyn. I'd never felt more relaxed, alive or free than I did that night. And I've never felt more alone than I do every night we're apart.