An Unexpected Weekend has to be my most vulnerable piece I have ever written. Within this narrative I re-hatch my memories of my spontaneous weekend in Valdosta Georgia.
A few weekends ago, I made the spontaneous decision to drive down to see my girlfriend, Vanessa, in Valdosta, Georgia. She told me about this new brewery that had just opened and how an annual festival would be in town that weekend. It was perfect timing. Despite my excitement to see her and experience these new things, I was not looking forward to the four-hour drive it would take to get there. I didn’t know it when I started the trek down there, but I would soon find out it was going to be a weekend, unlike the rest.
The drive down was boring; nothing was interesting to notice besides the beats that filled my car. When I arrived, I did my usual routine. Vanessa lives on campus so, I stopped by the university parking office to get a visitors pass, parked in the designated area, and headed to her dorm with my belongings in hand. I knew she was still in class, so I let her roommate, Saige, know I was on the way so she could let me in. Once we got to their room, I sat with Saige and got to catch up with her while we waited on Vanessa’s class to finish.
After about 45 minutes, Vanessa walks in the door lugging her bag and internship things with her. She puts everything down, turns to embrace me, and the first thing out of her mouth is: “Can we please go get food? I’m so so hungry.” I was quick to agree; that drive took it out of me, and I remembered I hadn’t eaten much before I left. We ordered a pizza and called it an early night. We had the television running as we laid in bed with full stomachs, and quickly fell straight to sleep.
The next morning we got up around 10:30. We knew we had some time before we wanted to get to the festival, so we went and grabbed breakfast at IHOP. It was so great to just sit and chat over some coffee and breakfast. As cheesy as it sounds, I realized how much I missed her. When all was finished and paid for, we got some coffees to-go and headed out. I didn’t really know what to expect of this festival, because Vanessa wouldn’t tell me much about it.
She only said it was a small annual event, but it was always nice to walk around and experience it.
When we got there, I saw a long line of tents with different businesses and organizations trying to sell their merchandise or advertise their services. It was really nice to see all the local people showing off their skills. There was everything from homemade salsas, to custom art pieces, and lessons of different kinds. As we walked past some food vendors and street performers, Vanessa turns to me and has this look on her face. I ask why she looks like that, and she tells me she has a surprise for me. I’m confused, but I follow her pointed finger, and I see the most fantastic part of the whole festival. In the children’s area, there is a small petting zoo, and it has goats.
I cannot explain how much I love goats.
I run over to the pin and crouch down in front of them too excited for my own good. I see Vanessa laughing and snapping photos of me in my state of euphoria. It was the perfect ending to our trip to the festival.
We went back to the dorm to clean up and shower from being outside all day and got ready to go out to dinner. Before I made the trip to Valdosta, I had looked online at some restaurants I maybe wanted to take Vanessa out to. The one that I had found, Steel Magnolia, had good reviews and looked like a great place to enjoy an evening out. I asked if she’d ever been or knew of anywhere better, and she said, “No, but I’ve heard really good things about it! It seems to be the place to go for special occasions!” We both agreed that we would spend the start of our evening together there.
It was a decision well made!
The environment was perfect.
It wasn’t super fancy, but it felt just classy enough to make someone feel special. We started out with some wine and a cheese plate, and we both ordered something off the specials menu. The food was delicious. Everything perfectly paired and cooked. We both were filled with excitement, and joy of being able to be together again. We were too full for dessert, but we knew we still had another part of the night. We thanked our waiter, grabbed our things, and headed onto the next adventure.
The next part of the evening we were visiting the new brewery. We got there and read over all the craft beers they had that night. Vanessa doesn’t know a lot about beer and is pretty picky in the process of finding one she likes. We decided that since it was our first time, we would each get flights and share our picks. Surprisingly, Vanessa quickly found a beer she loved, but unsurprisingly did not enjoy almost any of the others we picked. She went back inside and ordered a glass of her new found love, and I got to enjoy the rest of our selections. We stayed for a while playing cornhole and giant Jenga with strangers and bonding over beverages. Vanessa took me by surprise and scored almost all of our points in cornhole despite telling me prior that she is “really bad” at it.
It was alright though, I loved every reason to celebrate her.
When we finished our drinks, we decided to meet up with some friends at one of the local bars. We parked the car back at the dorms and ordered an uber to take us because we’re responsible. We only stayed for what felt like a short time. We shared a few beers with friends while laughing and telling stories. Sometimes a song would come on, and Vanessa and her friends would sing and dance along. It was probably my favorite part of the night. I was able to see her be carefree for a while.
She is a senior and is working really hard with her classes, work, and her internship to keep everything in balance. I have seen her in a constant state of stress and worry, and to be able to see her be so carefree and relaxed this whole day was so amazing.
I loved to see how much I loved her.
When we decided we were ready to leave, we said our goodnights and headed outside. I pulled my phone out to order an uber, but Vanessa grabbed my arm. I looked over at her, and she was fixing her shoe because she said a rock had gotten in it. I helped her keep her balance until her shoe was finally rock free. When she was back on both feet, she looked at me and thanked me, but we didn’t look away. Vanessa started laughing, and I followed just the same. She said through her laughter, “Let’s do something crazy.”
Her facial expression changed slightly.
She was still joyful in every way but also had a small part that asked a question. I immediately knew what she was talking about. With no hesitation, I agreed. It was something we had joked about, but also something we really talked about.
We called a friend who was an ordained minister and asked her to meet us in the square downtown.
We eloped, and to this day, no one knows it happened.