When Mark and I were dating we decided to go to the Minnesota State Fair as a date. To be honest, I kind of hate the State Fair. Well I don't hate the fair, I hate being at the fair all day. When I was a kid we went to the fair as a family every year, and to me it felt like we started at like 6:00 in the morning and didn't get home until midnight. Of course, I could be wrong (Mom, you will have tell me how skewed my memory is.) But I just remember walking all day, and my feet hurting so badly by the time we headed home. Still, I thought that going with Mark would be fun. The State Fair in Minnesota happens at the same time as a huge project Mark always had at work, the U of M turn month. For the entire month of August the All Kind Painters have days filled with more apartments to paint than they could count. Now, if I were Mark and I had painted a million apartments the last thing I would want to do is spend a day at the fair where my feet would hurt. He agreed to go anyway. I waited most of they day on a Saturday for him to get off work, and at about 4:00 he met me to head to the Fair.
The first thing I remember is that Mark wanted to drive and park, but I told him we would take the Park and Ride, to which he asked me if I had ever even ridden on a city bus. When we got there we walked around, I avoided the haunted house, afraid that he might want to go in. Mark looked at me like I was crazy while I scoured the Blue Ribbon Coupon book looking for deals. We walked and held hands as we weaved in and out of the crowd. Mark had two friends at the fair that day that he wanted to meet up with, Nate and Matt. As we were looking for them near the food building he was on the phone with one of them trying to figure out where to meet. He finally decided that we would just "keep our eyes open." I asked him what they looked like, to which he responded "they look like two horny guys." I thought to myself that this description had to be the least helpful thing I had ever heard, until somehow I spotted them. There they were walking with their sunglasses on, two guys, trying to decide how they felt about the new high waisted jean short trend. Mark introduced me, I grabbed a piece of pizza and we headed toward the Coliseum.
On the way to the coliseum I grabbed a turkey leg, and the guys watched me eat it like I was the only girl they had ever seen eat more than a green leaf in their life. Eventually Nate and Matt went their own way and I dragged Mark into the horse building. He was not pleased, because Mark was never a fan of risking ruining his shoes, but still he followed. I went on and on about how much I always wanted a horse, and my mom always told me that our yard was too small for a horse. Then around the corner comes the Johnson Family. The Johnsons love Mark like their own child, so they proceeded to tell me about what a wonderful person he was, and how lucky I was to have him in my life. Somehow Mark had this way of acting embarrassed while also being thrilled to receive such high compliments.
Mark finally decided to eat and decided to go with the Walleye on a stick. He was much more interested in trying new things, while I stick to what I know. By this time I was ready to head to the dairy building to get my ice cream sundae, and see the carved butter Princess Kay heads. If you live in MN you probably know what I am talking about, if you do not, you probably think I am crazy. We waited in line for ice cream, which Mark didn't order any of, and I scarfed mine down and made sure we stopped at the MN smoke free tent to remind Mark about how much money he was spending on cigarettes per year. When I describe our day at the fair, I really just notice how crazy I seem. So let me tell you about all of the traits of Mark that I experienced at the fair.
Trait #1: Patient Mark, he literally let me see whatever I wanted, even when quilts were the most boring thing he had ever experienced.
Trait #2: Impatient Mark, as much as this man loved chocolate chip cookies, he gave up on the Sweet Martha's line after about 3 minutes.
Trait #3: Protective Mark, as we were walking a man bumped into me pretty hard, because he was not watching where he was going. In comes Mark the protector, with fists drawn ready to knock out this man. I had to stand in front of him and confirm that I was not hurt for what felt like a very long time just to calm him down.
Trait #4: Romantic Mark, he decided that it would be the best idea ever to go on the Skyride. I would not say I am scared of heights, but I am definitely scared of rickety cars hanging from just a wire as they travel across the sky. But Mark could have been singing "I will show you the world" from Aladdin, because he loved every minute of overlooking the fair together.
Trait #5: Silly Mark, almost always my favorite of Mark's traits was when was silly with me. I included a photo from that day, and it captures how fun and carefree we were.
I do my best to remember silly Mark was always lying beneath whatever else was going on with him, whether he was tired, or stressed, or worried he was always looking to just have some fun. Mark and I left the fair at about ten after stopping by to see my sister when she left work. Once all of the buildings closed and only the bars were open we knew it was time to go home. Later on in our marriage we went to the fair twice more, but none stick in my head as much as that day. That day, despite how hard Mark worked, there was nothing else in life to wear him out and stop him from enjoying the fair with me. I look back now and often wish that we could have done a better job of "dating" after we got married, letting go of the worries of babies, bills, and budgeting and just be best of friends while we eat and laugh, and avoid stepping in horse poop. I would even ride the terrifying Skyride again if it meant one more date with my husband. If you still have your person, make time for the fair this year. If the fair isn't your thing, make time for patio dinners, boat rides, gardening, pickleball, whatever, just make time for one another.