The Hallman League
I never said the Hallmans were cool, but we sure know how to have fun together. We kicked off summer 2011 with some Old School bowling. Something, besides proving I have no handeye coordination, happened over those twenty frames. I mean, I bet we looked like we were just bowling, but that’s not what was really going on over on Lane 1. We were becoming a stronger family. We were adding another memory to the Hallman collective. We were forging an even stronger bond between the five of us.
Wow, you're thinking, sign my family up for some of that happiness, right? It's all a matter of perspective. My family wanted to have a good time together. I think the Hallmans could have been at home with yet another board game or in our backyard with yet another movie. The magic ingredient is that we really like being a family. Bowling is an opportunity to enjoy one another in a new place doing something completely different. Well, it’s a new place for the Littles at least.
Johnny and I have a bowling background. His is a little more involved than mine. He grew up in the bowling alley around the corner from his grandmother's house in Mobile, Ala. I mean, literally, he grew up there. When he wasn't eating his meals at the neighborhood bar, he was grabbing snacks at the bowling alley in between games with one of his uncles. I know how sad and lonely that sounds, but he had a little safe haven there and he was a smart kid who took to the game. Johnny's a pretty good bowler even now, but it's not something we ever enjoyed as a couple or a family.
My own bowling alley experiences left me a little bitter about the place. See, my mom liked to bowl when I was very little and I was often left in the bowling alley nursery. No kidding. Such a place existed - a nursery in a bowling alley. Yeah. That merits its own column just for the therapeutic/ entertainment factor.
From where I sat in the "nursery," bowling alleys were dirty, smoke filled places where women wore too much makeup and polyester and men weren’t anyone’s father. You know what I mean? Even the few times Johnny and I went bowling as a young couple, the bowling alley was kind of a gritty place reeking of mediocrity and stale beer. The bowling alley in Conyers was completely not what I expected. It’s clean for one thing. The people there smile and welcome everyone. And it was filled with families! My childhood bowling alley file folder has been updated and reorganized to include my new experiences, friends.
I watched Johnny stand beside each of the Littles and give them tips on not falling down and not dislocating their elbows. Look, our copay has gone up to $250 for an emergency room visit, so we have to be extra, EXTRA careful now. Johnny is in his element at the bowling alley. I look at him like a guide for us, a Davy Crockett in funny shoes and a Braves cap. I take all this in per usual, absorbing these moments through teary eyes when our daughters are being parented and loved by their father. Their Dada. (Even the teenager still calls Johnny this at almost 17. How sweet is that?) They all look up to him so much and he really grows from that love and light. It's like some cosmic mutual agreement that he would love and nurture these children and, in return, he will grow into this better version of himself.
Once, just as we pulled into the parking lot of the bowling alley, one of those fast and furious summer storms rolled in and trapped us in our car. The thunder boomed and the lightening cracked. A few of us were scared, so we all climbed into the backseat to wait out the rain. We ended up laughing, singing and bearing witness to that storm as a beautiful act of nature. It hit me then, friends. That's how my family experiences this journey. We embrace each moment as a chance to grow, learn and simply be together. Simply put, we're the Hallman League. We may not be cool. We may not all be spectacular bowlers, but we sure know how to love one another and we know how to have a hell of a good time together too.