The Chronicles of Kate & the Grit Girls: 18

It was time for our annual pilgrimage to…well…wherever we could find to go without husbands and children in tow. We’d done Charleston, Lake Lure, and a few other places. But this year we decided to go big. We went to Atlanta.

We stayed in a swanky hotel. It was amazing. Except, me being the good Christian girl I am, I was a little flummoxed by the silhouettes in the bathroom doors. They were like illuminated pin-up girls. In the lobby ladies’ bathroom. I checked the men’s when it was all clear – same ladies. I turned red. Frankie Ann nearly passed out.

We were right in the heart of the city where we could walk to just about everything. Olympic park was right outside our window, with the CNN center practically beside us.

The first order of business was going on the big skywheel. I’ve done the one in Myrtle Beach, and this looked exactly the same. Delia and I practically ran to get on, but Frankie Ann was having none of it.

“I’m scared of heights,” she said. “I can’t.”

“You are not scared of heights. You climbed all those stairs for that concert last year,” Delia reminded her.

“Yes, but that wasn’t dangling in the air, swaying back and forth,” Frankie Ann noted. “I wasn’t going to plummet to my death at a concert.”

“With the heels you were wearing, you could have plummeted,” I said. “This is safe. It wouldn’t be operating if it wasn’t safe.”

We made her get on. She sat stock still in the center of the seat as we began to move. Delia and I were nice and tried not to rock the car. The wheel halted and Frankie Ann panicked.

“Why did we stop? Is it broke? What’s going on?”

(c) Allison Wells 2019

I laid my hands on her arm. “Honey, they’re just letting more people in the next set of cars. It’s okay. Nice and safe.”

Delia was too busy with her big camera snapping pictures of the Atlanta skyline over Olympic park. There was a concert of some kind happening inside, as it was packed and people had picnic blankets laid out and there were children running all over the place. It almost made me miss my kids, but the idea of having to keep up with them in a big city did not appeal to me.

We went around and around, up and down, four times. Every time we got to the top, Frankie Ann would squeeze her eyes shut and begin to pray the serenity prayer.

“Where did you learn all the words to that?” I asked.

“It was hanging on our wall when I was a kid, I learned it quickly,” she replied, eyes still shut.

When we got back to the bottom and the doors opened, Frankie Ann was the first one out of the car. She knelt down on the platform and thanked God for solid ground. Delia and I could only laugh. The ride had been fun. We had seen our hotel, the park, and an amazing skyline as the sun went down. What could have been better?

We ate dinner and went back to our room to relax for the night with face masks and Hallmark movies. Frankie Ann loves her Hallmark movies. I felt bad for making her ride the skywheel.

The next day we put on our walking shoes and explored. The CNN center was bustling with business people and tourists. They were offering tours, but we decided to pass. None of us are fans of hard news. We did hit up the Dunkin’ Donuts though. Vacation calories don’t count, you know.

(c) Allison Wells 2019

We walked through Olympic park. We saw the official rings. And the place they lit the flame. I don’t know what that’s actually called. There was an Olympic ring fountain with water coming up through it and young kids running around getting soaked and loving every minute of it.

“Let’s go through,” I suggested.

“I’ll get wet,” Delia pointed out.

“That’s the point. It’s Atlanta, it’s ninety degrees at nine a.m.,” I said with a laugh.

“How about on the way back through?” Frankie Ann tried to compromise.

“Fine. But on the way back, we all do it.” I made them both promise. They did.

We went to the World of Coca-Cola and toured around. We had fun tasting the one hundred flavors of soda they offered there. I think we all felt like we were floating after tasting drink after drink after drink.

After that we walked back toward our hotel to rest. And I made them run through the fountains like they had promised. I went first. Water geysered up and shot right up my nose. That was a not fun experience.

“That’s what you get for making us run through these things,” Delia told me.

“You just don’t want to ruin your make up and hair. You can redo them. How often do you get to act like a kid without your kids?”

So without further thought, she ran to the center of the center ring and proceeded to get soaked. I joined her and we danced in a circle.

“Frankie Ann O’Malley, come on,” Delia cried out.

Frankie Ann shucked her shoes and flitted across to us, whooping the entire way.

And there we were, three grown women in our thirties, without children in tow, dancing around in a water fountain. We were surrounded by families, children with moms on phones, and we were enjoying an afternoon of acting like children again.

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