Last year, on my 23rd birthday, my sweet older sister promised me tickets to see Wicked, which was scheduled to come to Charlotte in late May of 2010 (opening night on my 24th birthday, actually). She called it my 23rd birthday-Christmas-24th birthday present. Though I think she still sneaked in another small Christmas gift for me anyway.

So Mike and I left after work on Thursday for a weekend in Charlotte that would start off with seeing the show. We arrived in Charlotte a couple hours before we had to leave, which was good, as long car rides always drain me, and there is nothing better than sprawling out on couches, drinking tea, catching up with family, and waiting to leave for the show. In my case, waiting until the very last minute to get ready to leave for the show. Limited time found us rushing through the McDonalds drive-thru for dinner, where we ordered 3 cheeseburgers (one without onions), one hamburger, one Big N Tasty (extra pickles), one Angus beef burger, and three fries, and received 3 cheeseburgers (all with onions), one Big N Tasty (with 2 pickles – I suppose the second pickle was the extra), one Angus beef burger, three fries that ended up being way more than we needed, and no hamburger. I think Bon Qui Qui might have called out security for our complicated order

We arrived at Ovens Auditorium with 15 minutes to spare, got our tickets checked, then Mom and I decided to go to the bathroom – we only had a few minutes before the show began, and though the line for the restroom wasn’t that long, a mere three stalls and one woman who seemed to be having some issues slowed things up. We bonded with the women in line as we all panicked and cheered each other on to get out of each stall as quickly as possible – “go! go! go!”

But we missed the cut. The doors closed, and security announced that we would not be allowed in for 9 minutes. This has never been the case before, but we chose to use the bathroom, and I guess this punishment policy allowed for minimal distraction. Only 9 minutes turned into 12 minutes, at which point the boyfriend of one of our bathroom bonding sisters kindly asked security when we’d be let in, since 12 minutes had passed and they had announced 9. To which security man responded, “Well, now you have to wait 12 minutes.”

Except that 12 minutes turned into 15 minutes, during which 2 songs were sung and 2 transitions occurred, both of which would have been ideal for sending us in. Once again, bathroom-bonding-sister’s boyfriend requested that we be let in (about 35 people were waiting at this point, some of whom had been stuck in car accident traffic), and security man responded that the boyfriend and his girlfriend needed “to learn to exercise patience.”

Patience reached its breaking point for all of us at the 26-minute mark, and we began to corral both security guards, asking for explanations, management numbers, anything. My mother, who is one of the least pushy people I know, considered running past security, thinking that surely we could take them. After all, they can’t catch all 35 of us!

They finally let us in around the half-hour point, 3 great transition opportunities and 4 songs later (one of the most well-known, “What is this Feeling”). We were let in during the middle of the song, which was a successful perfect storm of disruption. I was fuming, and even though my father ran into the security guy later and he explained that there “may have been a mistake,” the explanation does not include any apology for his rude attitude, and for his treating us like 5-year-olds. Hmph.

But the feelings melted as Fiyero made his entrance, and Galinda shared her aunt’s hideous gift of a hat with Elphaba. I became entranced as Galinda giggled her contagious giggle, threw out witty remarks that had us rolling, and as she and Elphaba sang their way into Emerald City. I couldn’t stop the tears as Elphaba belted out “Defying Gravity” – it sent a wave of goosebumps through my body and brought to mind a vivid memory of Martha belting the same song during our trip to the vineyards in Chile. Martha sang, “And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free,” as the bus bumped along past the fields and the words felt so fitting in that moment. My heart beat more quickly as Elphaba and Fiyero sang of their feelings for each other, then broke as Elphaba tried to do good but was deemed a witch by the Ozzians. The tears flowed again as Galinda (now Glinda) and Elphaba sang their beautiful and chilling final number, “For Good,” before Elphaba gave herself up to the crowd hunting her down. The end was bittersweet, beautiful, and immensely satisfying. The acting was brilliant, and the production was phenomenal. Additionally, I determined that if Mike chose to wear tunics, tight pants, and suspenders for the remainder of his life, that would be all right by me.

The experience was followed with a trip to Emelie’s, a cute little shop that sold delicious treats, tea, and coffee. Mike described it as “a thrift store that decided to remove the clothing section and replace it with a cafe.” Not his decorative taste, but I quite enjoyed it.

Friday was spent recovering from the night before, and Mom and I did some serious shopping and put a dent in my birthday money. (Thanks, Oma and Opa, Grandma, and Mom and Dad for that!) We also stopped at Cook-Out, just as we did in the days of wedding planning, where we split a BLT sandwich, refreshed ourselves with soda poured over crushed ice, and talked about anything and everything. Mike enjoyed time at Smelly Cat Coffee Shop and going to the Apple Store with Dad. Dinner was steak, potatoes, and salad, and the house smelled like childhood, home cooking, and summer. We watched the movie Up, and as always happens when I watch that movie, I thought of three things: life is actually quite brief, I should really get into scrapbooking, and I wish we had our dog back.

We had our traditional Saturday morning breakfast on, well, Saturday morning – hard-boiled eggs and ham, cinnamon rolls, cheese, fruit, tea, and orange juice. I skipped out on tea to save room for Awake tea at Starbucks, where I met up with Emily and Ashley (my two sweet childhood friends) and we caught up on life, jobs, family, and TV Shows. I may have to start watching Grey’s Anatomy again after talking to them. After 14 years (gosh, I think we might actually be aging), it’s still one of the best things to hang out with them. Moments to cherish.

Saturday afternoon was more shopping, and a burnout of shopping, which Mom and I tend to hit at the same time, conveniently. We spent the rest of the afternoon resting, drinking tea, and eating homemade cheeseburgers on the back porch, where bugs were fierce and conversation was a fluctuation of intense then relaxed then energetic. Stef and Mea made the journey back to Wilmington Saturday evening with me, as Mike had left early Saturday morning to join his brother’s bachelor weekend. We arrived home at 11:00, and I didn’t get into bed until 12:30, because I can’t settle until I’ve unpacked and cleaned up from a weekend away.