Small towns are great most of the time. However, they're not so good for hosting meetings in a discrete manner. Everybody just has to know all the little details of who your guests are, how you met, why they're visiting, how long will they be staying... you get the idea.
It was for this reason that us Iowa victims chose to meet Jessica & Louisa somewhere else. After a short brain-storming session, we decided on Des Moines, as it was not too far out of the way for Jessica & Louisa, and provided the rest of us with a workable (and not too far from the truth) cover-story for the short trip. Des Moines happens to be a good place to get parts (for whatever piece of equipment Frank decides needs one), and for shopping for the fall and winter work clothes that Kat seems to be lacking, and for which, I am in need.
The plan was to meet Jessica and Louisa at Applebee's for lunch. Mainly because it was the most convenient for everyone - but also, because the menu wasn't as spicy, and it allowed us to be sociable without being rushed. Since this was supposed to be a parts-run for us, and we were actually in Des Moines before they were even in Iowa, we took the opportunity to run our errands before meeting them for lunch.
This was really my first shopping experience as a girl, and let me tell you - it was overwhelming! I've "been a girl" for months now, and that certainly helps - I'd hate to think of what it would have been like to try this those first few days... well, other than the fact that I would have, at first, been in heaven. Anyhow, I've just been trying to coordinate outfits from clothing that I didn't have to know the size of... shopping is that, plus having some idea of your own body's dimensions and shape... knowing what looks good on your body... and then trying it on to ensure proper fit and look... and the selections to choose from were much larger than the closet at home.
Dorris was a real trooper too. I wasn't sure she'd be any help at ensuring I didn't pick something out-of-style, but we both seemed to shy away from anything risky (or risque either) and stuck with some more traditional and timeless pieces. I really wish Jaci... Ja... I guess Jaci is probably the least confusing for everyone, she's been living as and going by "Jaci" now. And it's not looking like either one of those two are planning on changing things. I'm sorry, I guess I'm still just a bit bitter by Kat.. Pete's decision about my future. Even though it helps Frank, and makes... Pete happy... I'm still not sure I'm happy with it.
Anyhow, I should get back on topic here... I really wish that Jaci could have been able to make it down, she's been really good with fashion knowledge and general knowledge about how to not look out of place. I'm hoping that Dorris & I did okay. At least I had Dorris with me, more than a few times she was able to dispense some sage advice about making sure that I got the right size. Had I gone on my own, I'd certainly be in pain sooner or later. I'll have to try and get with Jaci later and see how bad Dorris & I did.
I was hoping that I'd recognize them when they arrived, but they had beaten us to the restaurant and a very perky Jessica called out and came down to lead us to our table. It was impossible to believe that she was anything but the super-charged, ambitious, teenage girl she appeared to be.
I hadn't been sure that we would have any useful information for our two sleuths, but it didn't seem to bother them at all. They seemed more interested in just having new friends with whom they had this whole unbelievable story in common. I can't disagree with that line of thinking at all. After ordering drinks, we took care of the business-end of things, by exchanging more detailed contact information - and information about Frank & Dorris' 'former' lives, and what information I had about 'Pete' & 'Chris'.
Louisa, Frank, Dorris, and I all discussed how we had been adjusting to our recent changes, and even prodded Jessica a little about how her recent changes in getting out of high-school were going. At first, a bit annoyed that we were poking-fun at her, she quickly shifted gears and shared her thoughts of relief and concern at moving on, to again another life. It was a bit reassuring to hear that and think that even without the changes the Inn effected, life has a way of changing in a very large way. I tried not to bring the mood of the meeting down when my turn came, but I think that they could all see the affect of my recent visit from 'Pete', and seemed to steer me around it. I could see in Jessica's eyes, that there was a glint of recognition... or familiarity... and once our meals arrived, I'd all but forgotten the moment.
Then again, I could be mistaken... and it was nothing at all.
After lunch we... well, more like Frank, decided to have some dessert and I became more of an observer as Frank, Dorris, Louisa, and sometimes even Jessica settled in on some menial topics of conversation. I think it was at that point, when I felt like a child who was lost to the conversation, that I realized just who the witty, geeky, brown-haired teen and the attractive, dark-haired woman with the big, brown eyes weren't the women I saw on the outside... They both possessed an air of wisdom that contradicted their apparent ages. I was awestruck, as if I'd seen proof supporting the old saying, "Never judge a book by its cover."
It seemed much too short that we had to part ways, and soon I watched as they drove off, heading North for their next stop and we had to head home to finish chores.