Well, after we finally arrived safe and sound, we had a feis the next day. I woke up super-early because we hadn't registered the night before and I wanted to scope the place out. It was still dark out, and I headed down to the convention center to find our area. There's this curved hallway with ballrooms on one side and a huge wall of windows on the other. It was completely silent except for white noise from the HVAC system, and I drifted along this hallway without seeing another person the whole way. It had a dream-like quality to it that matched the nightmare of the drive the night before. I took a photo of the view out our 11th floor window at 6:50 or so. It was snowy. Roads were still not clear:
Letting Maeve, Mike, and Leo sleep, I got Sophia up at 6:45 so she could not be rushed. She was ok at that hour, actually, and was happy for the croissants we'd remembered to bring. We had a suite at the hotel--sprang for it because I figured we'd actually eat there instead of going out. It was worth the extra money, and it paid off. We ate each meal in the hotel room at the kitchen table. Full fridge, microwave, sink, dishwasher--only missing a stove, but that was fine because we ate out of the fridge for the most part, with crockpot bean chili for dinner Saturday night.
I did her hair, which nowadays is a wig (but it totally fooled some other folk in the elevator, some non-feis people). We went downstairs to register. The woman at the table mentioned that their numbers had been decimated by the weather. Arkansas was under a state of emergency (which, can I just say, seems to happen way more often than it used to? Emergencies are emergencies, but it seems so drastic...or maybe it's losing its meaning). The sponsoring school, McCafferty, was missing a lot of their own volunteers and members. I can't imagine what this must have been like for them. For Sophia, it didn't change much for her day. There were, perhaps, 2 girls missing from her competition groups.
Anyway, we went back upstairs and and got her headband on and her dress. I thought to take a photo, which I usually forget to do until she's ripping her headband off after her last dance of the day. Too late then...
We went downstairs to practice with two girls for a 3-hand reel she was going to be in. Sophia's done plenty of 3-hands at shows but has never done one at a feis. I think one of the two other girls in her 3-hand had, in fact. Kind of inexperienced. There was another 3-hand group in her same age group, all novice dancers (meaning, the next step up from the majority of Sophia's dances' category) with way more experience. But they worked all together, the 6 of them, to practice and get things worked out. Sophia is usually a Left, and it looked like the three of them had decided she'd be a Right this time. Or something. Whatever. It all is a blur to me. Anyway, both of the other girls' moms assumed they'd come in second to the other team from our school--there was only one other team competing in their age group (remember, it's a small feis to begin with and then the storm...).
So they practiced and then were the second or third dance on their stage. They were cute, I will admit, and well-matched in height and appearance. And of course I'm Sophia's mom so I didn't care how they did, I thought they were lovely. Sophia came and sat down next to me afterward and said that she really liked dancing that one, that she wasn't so nervous in a group like that. I told her that even if they came in third, they were guaranteed to go home with a medal (which still means something to Sophia--she's not jaded, and 3rd out of 3 would still mean shiny things. I love this about her). She agreed, and went to practice with the other girls for their individual dances.
After the 3-hand, Sophia's next dance was the reel, which had a large field of competitors and she doesn't like the reel that much. We both knew it probably wouldn't pan out with a placement. But before the next dance, which was going to be her jig in the novice category (she placed last year in advanced beginner and so had to move up this January), which we also both knew wouldn't do anything for her award-wise, one of the girls from the 3-hand ran up to us.
"Sophia," she said, sort of breathless. "We got first. We got first in our 3-hand."
Sophia doesn't hide her thoughts very well--her face is very transparent. And you could tell she thought this girl must have it wrong.
"Are you sure it wasn't the other team from our school?" I asked.
"No," she said, grinning. "It had my name up there." (The 3-hand teams are named according to the girl in the center, but all 3 still place wherever they place).
So Sophia and I went back to check. And there it was. The other team from our school came in 3rd. We were dumbfounded. But very pleased.
And the best part? Not one of those three girls got snotty about it. They didn't rub it in or anything. They were happy for each other and moved on.
Sophia's jig was awkward, even as a lay person in the stands seeing it. But whatever. Her slip jig looked good, and her single jig looked even better. Mike, Maeve, and Leo came downstairs in time to see the single jig. While Sophia changed her shoes from the treble jig, Mike had his phone connected to my gmail page and there was a message from our school's director, that another family had wrecked their van on the way down the night before. I passed the phone to two other moms who were sitting with us, and I could read it on their faces the same thing I was feeling: that could have been us. That should have been us. There is no reason that wasn't us.
Everyone was ok from the accident, and they were picked up and brought back home to St. Louis, but it was hard to keep that in mind and still be happy for my daughter, you know? Every time I said it to someone, whether my mom or my mother-in-law or another parent there at the feis, I kept choking up. I had been so sick with adrenaline and worry and my heart going like mad the night before and playing head games with myself and trying not to burst into tears in front of my kids....anyway.
Sophia was taking her wig and headband off almost as she left the stage from the treble jig, as always. We got her stuff together and headed on back upstairs. Mike walked to the nearest grocery store and the girls got dressed to swim.
They were very, very impatient. Very. But Mike came back with lunch and I took them down to swim in the small but perfect for kids indoor pool. Leo voted to stay upstairs with Dad.
I lasted about an hour when the "IamsotiredI'vebeenupforever" feeling overcame me. It was when Sophia got bored with the pool and wanted to jump in the "hot pool" (whirlpool). So we got in the hot pool and bam. Hot water, bubbles, two kids, and I was toast. We dried off and came back upstairs. I volunteered to go back down and pick up Sophia's medal from the 3-hand and check, just to see, if she placed in anything else. I really wanted her to but I really didn't want to get her hopes up--there were between 6 and 8 dancers in each group and this feis was only recognizing the top 4 in each dance (our feis will give ribbons through 6th place, just for instance). I don't know how they decide this cut off--4th place, for instance, doesn't move you out of advanced beginner and into novice, but they still acknowledge you. But not 5th? At the Graham Feis last fall, we got Sophia's results online (after she didn't place in anything--but she was fine with that). She missed 4th place by .5 points in 3 dances (and by 10 points in another, but the .5 irritated me a lot).
So anyway, I went back downstairs and checked the Advanced Beginner wall. Nothing in reel. The novice wall I knew had nothing for jig. And then I couldn't find her slip or single jigs--the pages weren't up. I finally had to ask, and found they'd been misfiled in the Beginner section of the wall (they were taped up in the wrong spot, I mean). Nothing in slip jig (that was the dance she'd scored so badly on at Graham), but a 4th in single jig! I was so happy for her. I picked up the medals, had them engraved (we do this each time--I know not everyone does, but there is nothing more frustrating for me than to have a bunch of unmarked track and field ribbons in a box from high school and not know even what event I placed in, much less where and when), and took them back upstairs.
She was downright gleeful. I hope this never changes. I hope she doesn't get jaded by the process of dancing for points. Another one of the girls who danced in her 3-hand was also staying in the hotel (as was the entire other 3-hand team--these girls all dance together at shows and in class...I think a few of them are very competitive but for the most part everyone is nice). Her mom invited Sophia and Maeve to swim again and I decided that sounded like a fine plan. Mike took them this time while Leo and I sat in the hotel room enjoying bad cable TV and the big soft bed. Ah.
We ate dinner and the girls changed into pajamas after a long soak in the tub. They played, but didn't last long. It was very quiet in their room (on the hide-a-bed couch) early.
The moon rose.Here it is out our other window, looking down at a main drag through Branson. I haven't been to Branson since I was 12, but I have a feeling Saturday nights are usually more, well, hopping, than this was. But that was fine because I liked the desolate feel of the place, frankly.
So I didn't leave the hotel or convention center that was attached to it all day. Which was also fine. After the girls were asleep Mike and I finished off what was left of his birthday cake. Leo had some, and then a bath. Pajamas and bed.
I slept like a danged rock. I didn't get up this morning until 10. We packed up, had breakfast, and were on the road by 11:15. We got home at 4, and that includes stopping in Lebanon for lunch.
Overall, a lovely little feis. We'll go back next year, although I will pay closer attention to the weather beforehand and prepare better. Because my ten-on-Tuesday this week, you better believe it, will be 10 scariest road trips. No doubt about it, this one is number 1 or number 2 on that list. Oy.