Adventures

Danger at the Drive-In

It was a Friday. My friends and I were at the Drive-In.

EXT. VALI-HI: LAKE ELMO, MINNESOTA. DUSK.

We started the night off innocently with the movie Minions. Yes, Minions. No, I’m not proud of it. But honestly? It wasn’t bad. I know they’re slowly but furiously taking over our government, nay our world, but the film was not as disgusting as their marketing team is.

The first 30 minutes of Jurassic World rolled by and it was accompanied by a lighting storm. A soft one, but intense, like a soft grunge. A soft grunge lighting storm.

Nobody thought much of it. We knew it would storm but what we didn’t know was how fast it would hit us. How fast everything would change.

All of a sudden, right when the plot begins to thicken, the movie stops and a vague and anticlimactic voice flooded our car speakers. “Just to let everyone know…the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning…for Ramsey county…Anoka county…Dakota county…and Washington county…which is…where we are…so…you might want to leave.”

Severe thunderstorm warnings are no reason for Minnesotans to get their panties in a bunch. They happen often and (most) people look forward to them. Although, we knew this time would be different.

We quickly packed our Jeep and waited in the line of cars to get out of the lot. 10 minutes later and we were flying down 94 East on the way to St. Paul where my sister and her boyfriend would get dropped off, and I’d continue home 30 minutes away with my friend and her boyfriend.

10 minutes in and that’s when it began, what I like to call: 4D Jurassic World. What makes this storm different than any other storm? Two weeks prior to this fateful day, my mom and I took the soft top off of our Jeep, therefore making our Jeep TOPLESS. Open to anything and everything, and in this case: rain. 10 minutes in and the five of us packed in the car were soaked. Blinded by the torrential rain and wind, we parked under a bridge on the freeway with five other cars for about 10 more minutes. The freeway was a mess. People honking and swerving like madmen. Minnesotans are in no way bad drivers when it comes to driving in bad weather. In fact, I’d go as far to say as we are the true troopers. But this storm was a reflection of the chaos in Jurassic World. People were driving as if a T-Rex was chasing them. Or worse, the Indominus Rex.

When we arrived at my sisters house in St. Paul, it was my turn to step up to the plate. I sat down, buckled my seat belt, readjusted the mirror, and began what felt like my ascension into adulthood.

10 minutes away from home, and the yellow tint of the gas-light was shining in the corner of my eye. We were almost out of gas. I couldn’t bear the thought of being stranded on the freeway during this storm, but I knew I had to continue. After all, the Jeep can last a surprising amount of time with the gas-light on. Next thing I know I was driving on the highway a few minutes away from my house. Though, this time, the highway looked different. Street lights, stop lights, house lights, were all off. The power was out. Even if I needed to stop at the gas station, I wouldn’t be able to. It was shut down. I continued down the dark, eerie, and empty streets. Almost home. Nearly there.

Finally, we arrived home an hour after we left Vali-Hi. We were all in one piece, including the car.  My ascension into adulthood was basically immaculate.

All in all, the 4D Jurassic World was totally worth $8.50. It’s like I was actually soaked, freezing, and scared for my life! Now that’s what I call the drive-in experience.

But actually, this was an awesome experience. The funny thing about this night is that the last time my sister and I went to a drive in, it poured on us, and also I didn’t even want to drive to Vali-Hi in the first place because I thought I would be too tired to drive myself home. But I wasn’t! The rain woke me up.

P.S. – My Jeep was dry the next morning.

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Adventures

In Which I Eat Soup With the Elderly

On Wednesday my friend Leah and I decided to go to St. Mary’s, the catholic church in Swansea city centre (not to be confused with St. Mary’s of the Lake in White Bear Lake 😀 ) . We wanted to go mainly just to check it out, but also because it had been awhile since either of us had gone to church. We decided to see what it was like so we went to the lunchtime service at 12:45.

Just some interesting information: St. Mary’s church has been around since the 12th century, however it was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941 and wasn’t rebuilt until the late 1950s.

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Leah and I entered the church and it was completely empty, except for a few old folks drinking coffee and eating cake in a little makeshift cafe. After a few minutes of aimlessly walking around, we realised that the service wasn’t taking place there, but in the chapel in the back. We followed the signs and entered a small circular room with about 15 chairs circling around an altar. It was just me, Leah, and a bunch of elderly Welsh people. I’ve never been in a church that small or intimate but it yet it was comforting experience. It was actually nice saying the responses because it was something that I did basically every day in my childhood. It’s hard to forget things like that.

When we gave peace, everyone and the priest included, enthusiastically walked around to each other and shook hands. They were incredibly welcoming to Leah and I. During Eucharist a lady motioned for Leah and I to join everyone in a circle as the priest gave out the bread and wine. This was slightly uncomfortable for Leah and I because we couldn’t help but think of the germs that must’ve been on the wine glass. But whatever, we laughed about it (on the inside of course. I had repressed my church giggles this time, except for when the priest mentioned the prime banter he had earlier in the day with some school children).

After the service they all invited us to eat lunch with them in the room behind the chapel. This was the best part of the whole experience. We sat at a long table with the 15 other old Welsh people and ate chicken noodle soup, drank tea, and had dessert. We introduced ourselves to everyone and they immediately recognised that we were both North Americans. A few of them had been to Iowa and Illinois before and it was weird to think that they’ve been there before I have. One of them also saw Jimmy Carter at the Sainsbury’s in town once. He was there for the opening of the Dylan Thomas Centre. We talked about their grandchildren, university, the queen (who is having lunch with the priest in Cardiff next week!) and other elderly gossip. Leah and I both found it really easy to talk to them. I’ve never met a nicer or more welcoming group of people in my life. One of the reasons being that I’m sure they never see young people in church. Compared to America, the United Kingdom is very unreligious. People assume you’re agnostic or atheist before they assume that you’re Catholic or another religion. So for them to see two young people in church on a Wednesday afternoon must have been a shock. I think they were also excited just to see young people in general.

This is one of the best experiences I’ve had abroad so far. Talking to locals, especially elderly locals, is a great way to connect with a city. It not only is a way for you to learn about the city, but it’s comforting and good to have connections outside of university.

When we left they all wished us luck in our studies and invited us to come back. One woman even gave me the church schedule and showed me which times are best to attend. I hope to go back sometime soon. Leah is an exchange student so sadly she wouldn’t be able to accompany me, but maybe I can become BFFs with an old lady and go with her or something.

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