But the comfort of my couch was not in the plan. Nope, Erin had two appointments to keep, one nearby, and one with her sister in Lancaster. This would be an adventure.
After a rushed morning of schoolwork together with both of the kids, Erin and I left for her eye appointment. Her glasses were past due for renewal so she was going to have a check-up with the Ophthalmologist and pick out some new frames for her new specs. Jim and Kate had been the most recent to update their eyewear, Bekah and I had done so in the not-so distant-past, and Isaac still has perfect eyesight. Erin was on deck.
The fun of an eye appointment lies not in the, "Which is better, one or two; two or one?" of the actual exam, but in the choosing of frames. This is a fashion accessory which will be worn daily, with everything from one's Sunday Best, to Youth Group Casual, to Hiking the Trail Serious. This single accessory must convey the full sense of Who You Are in a glance; it must accent, with pinpoint accuracy, one's very personality and soul.
I had to step out for a few moments while Erin chose from the vast array of frames available in the shop, and when I returned she had narrowed her choices to three. She showed me her choices, I expressed an opinion or two, and she made her final selection. She chose frames that were not too small, rectangular with softly rounded corners, tortoiseshell in color, with a small silver detail at the upper corners. Her one concern was whether they were too much like Kate's new frames. I honestly couldn't recall with any accuracy just what Kate's new frames looked like, so I waved it off and we finished our transaction. Time to move on.
We had a few grocery items to pick up, so we accomplished that without much effort— rather, Erin accomplished this without much effort; I was experiencing a great deal of discomfort,... okay, agony. We soldiered on, accomplished our mission, and headed home.
After lunch and another bit of schoolwork Erin and I headed for Lancaster to pick Kate up for the next mission of the day. We met Kate in front of her school and as she walked toward the car I noticed that her glasses frames were not too small, rectangular with softly rounded corners, tortoiseshell in color, with a small silver detail at the upper corners. Yes, freaky but true, Erin had indeed chosen precisely the same frames that her not-twin sister had chosen.
So, back to our adventure. Kate directed me, turn-by-turn, in the midst of a flurry of story, through downtown Lancaster City, to the establishment where our next item of business was to be transacted. (Well, we stopped by The Pita Pit to get lunch for the Starving Art Student first, and the rest of her directions— and story— were given around her falafel pita.)
That Piercer Girl was friendly and humorous, in a straightforward and slightly snarky way. As we were her only customers we had her full attention when we came through the door. "What can I do for you ladies?"
"We're here to get our noses pierced!"
"All three of you?!"
And thus the final aspect of Erin's 17th Birthday commenced. Erin and Kate got rings in their noses.
The procedure was all very casual, (yet sanitary) with That Piercer Girl explaining carefully what she was going to do and why she was doing it before each step of the process. Erin had wanted to have the ring in her right nostril, but her nose is sculpted in a way that the left nostril makes more aesthetic sense. She wasn't able to talk Erin down from beginning with a ring, even though her experience informed her that a lot of people freak out over how very HUGE a ring appears to be for their first piercing. Erin wants what she wants. Erin doesn't freak out. Erin began with the ring.
As my youngest daughter was having a hole put through her lovely face another customer came through the door. This bright and cheery lady came waddling in on the perilously thin and floppy temporary flip-flops provided for her quite-recent pedicure. She was radiant with the joy of her fresh solar mani/pedi. Evidently there is a piercing somewhere on her person which requires a touch-up before she leaves for a vacation in the Cayman Islands with her ex-husband. Pardon me— not her ex-husband, she doesn't like that term since they're still such good friends— her "wasband", (sounds like wuz-bund; he "was" her "husband").
So we had an entertaining time discussing solar manicures, "wasbands", February vacations in the Caymans, and accessorizing for the beach. Well, I might not have discussed as much as I listened, expecting at any moment for the Twilight Zone theme music to begin playing. We lived in South Florida; I've seen others of this woman's species on the beach numerous times; it was fascinating to see her in her pre-migratory habitat...
As soon as Erin's piercing was complete it was Kate's turn. While Erin had taken it with nary a flinch, Kate, having done this before, was tense and expecting the inevitable. To her credit, she didn't kick That Piercer Lady or pass out. To my credit, neither did I.
Kate's piercing accomplished, (yes, also on the left nostril) we listened intently to the care instructions, paid up, and left in search of the care solution which Kate would need for her nose over the next few weeks, (Erin already has what she needs). We drove right around the corner to a CVS and learned that they had no such solution, we needed to find a Walmart. Upon our exit, Kate casually says, "Let me drive Mom, it'll be easier than directing you, and I know how to drive in the city".
I tossed her the keys.
Evidently, "knowing how to drive in the city" means romping on the gas and stomping on the brakes. While talking. Not just talking, telling a long, complicated, and many-faceted story. While taking the wrong exit off the highway, getting back on the highway going the wrong direction, taking the next random exit and following where the road then leads through more city streets in more wrong directions, while still talking faster than the traffic around us is moving, while the Mom in the passenger seat is locking the doors and peering around for any semblance of purpose in the twisting pattern in which we are going. Any questions about where in the world we might be are answered with a less-than-confident, "I know where we are"!
So did I- we were in Lancaster, PA, nowhere near the Walmart.
We eventually happened upon the elusive superstore, and just as Kate was feeling vindicated, I pointed out that just beyond the entrance to the parking lot was the very highway on which we'd been 20 minutes before... with an exit right at the Walmart.
After hunting through this third-world version of the popular stuff-mart we found what we needed and got out with our lives and valuables intact. The girls' noses may have helped us to blend into the surrounding culture— I can't be sure. I drove us back to where Kate needed to be dropped off at her school; easily and directly, beginning on the highway, back to where we'd begun.
In the end I must say that, while I would not have chosen for my daughters to pierce their noses, this is what they wanted to do. Not for some tribal religious significance, but simply for their own sense of personal style. Somewhat bohemian in nature, we nevertheless trust Kate's and Erin's professions of faith and the strength of their convictions. I love their faces, and the light that shines from their eyes is more precious still. That light shines out still, right around the little rings hanging off their noses.