Thursday, September 12, 2013

Farewell to the Love Shack

It's officially over. Our five year affair of fun with the Love Shack in West Mansfield, Ohio is officially over. It's hard to say whether five years have passed quickly or slowly. In so many ways, the fun had on that exciting weekend in October 2008 seems only, oh, maybe a year ago. At the same time, the worlds we are all in are oh-so-different now.
October 2008: Our inaugural gathering at The Love Shack
August 2013: The final gathering at The Love Shack
The Beginning: October 2008
Our good friend Gress took a job in Columbus after finishing speed school at UofL in 2008. We sent him off with a ridiculous shindig in July (that also felt very much like a shindig saying farewell to my college career...). By October Gress had found a place to call home in Ohio and where his, then girl friend (now wife), Boo, would be moving in with him. I'm pretty sure it was the weekend after Gress first received the keys to his new home that about 12 of us made the road trip north to visit. The house, located on several acres of land on a lonely state highway with few and far between neighbors, was still completely empty. We all brought pillows and blankets and cozy clothes and (most importantly, then) lots of booze. Most of us being still in "college mode" to some degree at least, floor beds were welcome. Simply having a pillow and blanket to go with the floor was a luxury--that is if you could find both before simply opting for passing out wherever you fell. We had a ridiculously fun weekend that I know all of us will always remember (despite how much we never remembered to begin with). 
Gress Family Portrait in 2008 before they were officially a family!
Present: The last weekend of August 2013, we packed up all of that stuff that hadn't even made its way into the home in October 2008 and had a convoy to Kentucky as the Gresses made their move back to Louisville. 

What's happened between now and then?

  • Boo & Gress got engaged and married.
  • Nic and Michelle, newlyweds then, are expecting baby #1 now.
  • Chad is engaged to a lovely lady none of us even had the pleasure of knowing in 2008.
  • Benzo has written and composed an entire album of original music that he now performs with his own band
  • Dani, no longer with her 2008 guy, is in a serious relationship with her current boyfriend and has completed her masters.
  • Joshie is overseas with the National Guard traveling all over the middle east.
  • Deutsch, not even 21 in 2008, is well through his Bellarmine career, working for a TV station while his serious girlfriend pursues her masters.
  • Jaso couldn't even attend our final trip to Ohio, because it was only days before he left for bootcamp with the National Guard.
  • Ben and Miche, who were merely friends on opposite sides of our circle of friends then, are now engaged--thanks to the sparks that flew in October 2008.
  • Me, a recent college grad with Mingus nowhere on my radar then (who didn't even make his first Love Shack trip with us that October), is now happily married almost two years and is expecting baby #1. 
The Story Behind the Name: The Love Shack
The house was named the Love Shack for obvious reasons, starting with Miche and Ben. It was solidified after Mingus and I. I cannot recall that I ever recounted mine and Mingus's beginning, but the Love Shack most definitely had everything to do with it. The funny thing about both Ben & Miche and Mingus & I is that our beginnings are so similar. In both cases we knew each other for years prior to a relationship. We'd been at many of the same parties, events and outings because of being in the same circle of friends; thus the reason we would end up at the Love Shack together--visiting mutual friends. However, between coming in on opposite sides of that circle and the fact that one person in each of the duos (Miche and Mingus) were in serious relationships throughout these years of crossed paths, we never really even got to know each other for years. 

But then the Love Shack happened.

Ben & Miche: October 2008
Their story happened all on its own accord; however, several of us dreamed up what a perfect match they could be leading up to that first weekend. Myself and the three who traveled north with me for that weekend even plotted on our drive how this weekend could be an ideal time to push the two together. No plotting was necessary. Although coming in separate vehicles, they two of them were already at the Love Shack when we arrived and the sparks were clearly already flying. They did not leave in separate vehicles that weekend and they never looked back either.

August 2013: The original Love Shack Lovers,
now planning a wedding!
Peat & Mingus: January 2010
A year and a half later I made my second trip to the Love Shack. I had not planned to make the trip at all. Why Mingus asked me to ride to Ohio with him for a weekend, when we weren't really even close friends and we never talked or why I said "yes" when he asked me on a Tuesday and we left on a Friday, are both mysteries that can only be described as FATE. I almost always had weekend plans with friends then, or when I didn't, I usually welcomed the down time. FATE is the only answer I have for why I'd agree to a last minute road trip with someone who was practically a stranger. But instead it was the best decision either of us ever made. While our time spent at the Love Shack that weekend was a blast--other friends joined us up there--it was the hours on the road to and from that opened our eyes to each other in a new way. By the time we returned to Louisville, neither of us wanted to say goodbye. We had dinner that night and spent the next day, MLK Day, together as well...and we never looked back.

January 2010: The road trip weekend that started it all!
August 2013: Married & Expecting in less than 2 months!
We've all made various trips to West Mansfield over the years. Sometimes it was the giant crew of us again, other times it was only a couple of us. We've had our crazy shenanigans, we've planned weddings, talked babies, cooked together, baked together, played in the snow, had fun trips to Columbus and so much more. An annual favorite was always Chinese New Year, which is what we celebrated the first weekend Mingus and I made our trip together in 2010. (See 2012 here and 2013 here.) 

There were eight of us who joined Gress and Sara the last weekend of August to help them pack up the giant Uhaul and embark on the caravan of five vehicles to Louisville. While maybe Miche & Ben and Mingus & I have our individual love stories that inspired the name for the Love Shack, I think the real love that the 70's ranch home brought about was a love of a group of friends. I know every one of us who ever made the trip to the Love Shack felt it... It was a special intimacy we share as friends that was especially nurtured at the Love Shack. Any time we gathered here, far north from our homes and out of the city it was more like a family reunion than a friend reunion. While the first trip revolved around our crazy shenanigans that were quite common at that time in our lives, as time rolled on, the trips were more about time together and the chance to try new things together and make new memories. We've all gotten busier and settled into our individual lives, but somehow we've grown closer even with not maybe spending quite as much time together. 

We will miss out getaway house, the Love Shack, but we are stoked to have our wonderful friends back in Kentucky and close to home for the rest of us.

August 2013: Ready to unload the Uhaul at their new Louisville home!


Michelle Delk said...

Peat couldn't have said it any better. Made my hair stand on end. So glad the Love Shack was and is. It changed a lot of lives and for the best. Love you guys man. Diesel and Miche

Rita Harris said...

Aww, I'm glad you got to read it and liked it! I felt it necessary to document our little love beginnings! XOXO

Sara Gress said...

What a wonderful tribute. I feel the same way about our family gatherings! I'm so blessed to have all of you as friends.