Actually I was with a wide array of people I love being with, but I didn't have any kids or a husband along. Just me in our smaller car, accumulating varied messes and then cleaning them out at a trash can every few hundred miles/couple of days.
I find myself at a place where I'm not sure I want to use real names to talk about people online anymore? That's weird. IS THIS THE END OF... whatever this is? Or, was.
For my own records, for the handful of people that are rooting for me or just clicking for content they've been skimming for years, for the couple of RL lurkers that read this instead of calling me on the phone - perpetuity:
I stopped in central Fl on day 1/my way up, to meet a guy I'd talked to a lot on fb (he's a friend of RL friends) and his girlfriend. They were both great - we went out for Indian food and it was a little like, "I don't actually know these people," but really not so bad, and then when we went back to their place there was a distinct, "I could easily have kept talking to them for many more hours" vibe. I really only eventually left when I did because it was so late and I had 2.5 more hours of driving to do that night.
Also - she is SO MUCH like my friend Kristin, and he is so like Grant in certain ways, and she and I have some fundamental stuff in common; it makes me feel like maybe there are just a few prototypes of people, like cats (white, black, ginger, calico, tabby, etc).
When I went to leave their place, I saw their cat on the roof of my car, but you know. Cats jump off. RIGHT? I didn't even think about it. I sat in my car for a few, programming the GPS and updating some people on times, and then I drove off. The whole way through town. ONTO THE HIGHWAY. I was driving on the highway for a few when I sat up straighter, adjusted my rearview mirror a bit, and spotted their damned cat on the trunk of my car.
Casual, if slightly hunched, in that cat loaf position. I thought "if I just pull over, she'll immediately be ran over...but I can't leave her there!"
Anyway I made a big illegal u-turn when there was a huge gap in traffic to stop at the most secluded area possible, in case she bolted. But she just sat there on the trunk looking at me. So I put her in the car and texted them, "headed back to your place...you guys aren't going to believe this shit."
EXCEPT THEY TOTALLY DID. They were relieved she was ok and thankful I'd brought her back, but also like, "Oh yeah she does this, that's why she has a GPS collar. You've got to shove her off the roof of your car."
On my way to Tallahassee, I texted Grant and Co pics of the cat screaming at me in the car (because apparently she's just like other cats in not being into regular, inside-vehicle travel) and told them the story over speakerphone. They were dying of laughter.
Sooooo I stayed up a bit with Jess and Cale when I finally got to Tallahassee, but mostly was exhausted and on day 1 (uterus trying to kill me) of my period.
Bedtime was the beginning of me trying to reconcile my normal Princess and the Pea ways with travelling. Gah. I LOVE Jess and Cale, and their place is mostly awesome (decor, space
, cats, food
, etc), buuuuut they don't have allergies or asthma of any kind to contend with. I myself am a slob, but an allergic slob, so there are certain things that have to be in place - like no wall to wall carpet, seriously high tech vacuum, periodic intentional dusting, etc. Also they just have different cats than I'm used to? And their futon has a big bar sticking up in the middle of it. Anyway I basically tossed and turned for hours and then woke up far too early with my eyes crusted over, coughing and sneezing, each morning. By day 4 I was dizzy and light headed and tight in the chest, and had to do a lot of phone tag with pharmacies and Teledoc to eventually get an inhaler before I passed out in the middle of CVS. I've been on a steady cocktail of claritin and/or benadryl with albuterol, ever since.
I could spend the rest of my life talking to Jess, though. Two different days, we went out to coffee shops
and just talked for hours while I methodically shredded my styrofoam cup. One day Cale came too, and I got a bunch of nonsense out of my purse (mushroom playing cards
, tarot cards, various seashells) so everyone could fidget with things and look through stuff while we talked.
Sidenote: It's so epic that Cale
is someone I get along so well with, and could easily be good friends with in his own right. It would be so different to continue on with her and our 20 year friendship, with someone I felt awkward around inserted into our visits. Even when Jess was in the hospital and rehab last year, after surgical complications, it was easy to talk to and stay with Cale just the two of us. It makes me really happy for her, that he is as good as he is.
One day the 3 of us went on an hour+ drive to Withlacoochie (really) Florida, to swim in a cold spring. We stopped in the last available store, on the way, to get some food to take - the place seriously had gallon sized cans of boiled peanuts with faded labels and rusty tops. The vending machine outside only sold Faygo (.35 cents - quarters only!)
. The friendly cashier had a southern accent and just a couple of teeth. It was the pinnacle of "I hear banjos, paddle faster!" and one of many times I felt like I was in not just a different city, but a different country. I feel so distinctly Cuban once I'm outside of Miami-Dade County (where I feel white).The Springs were AMAZING
. Beyond amazing. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and something about the cold shock of water and the physical exertion was the perfect antidote to all the driving I'd been doing, and the lack of physical affection I'd started to feel like I might shrivel up and die from.
Really - I am suddenly quantifying how touchy each of my kids are and wondering wth I'm going to DO, when they're all grown up.
The Springs were even better because we got there when it was storming, and walked through the woods in the rain, and after we waited out the park ranger's orders not to get in due to lightning, we had the place to ourselves for a bit since the park had mostly cleared out.
Eventually it was time to I-10 it over to Jacksonville for the second half of this trip. Which sounded a lot like this:
Jean-Paul is doing great on all fronts, really having a kind of all-around upswing in love, career, mental health, errythang, so that's obviously cool. He's also the best kind of host, from not caring when or how I come and go and giving me my own key, to washing my allergen-coated bedding, and frequently having cookies or (gluten free even) brownies there when I'd get back. He's a host with lots of fluffy towels, and great conversation at the end of every day.
If anyone who reads this doesn't already know, he's both my 6th grade boyfriend/long time long distance friend, and Grant's cousin. So I get to do fun stuff like list our relationship as exes and
relatives, on facebook :p
He's also an IT guy, like Grant, so the guest bed was just like my own in that it was near a computer used for working from home on double monitors.
Him: I can't believe you slept through that conference call.
Me: You have no idea.
Jacksonville is a sprawling place that's woven it's way through various parts of my life. I lived in a huge, dilapidated, old house in "historic" San Marco when I was 10-11, until we were evicted. Then I lived in a tiny, dilapidated, old trailer in Sin City, until we were evicted, and then turned 12 living in a roadside motel on Phillips Highway. There was a westside trailer's spare room and a beach apartment's couch in there, somewhere. When I was 19 or 20, Bobby and I moved up there with baby Annie and newborn Aaron and lived for a few difficult months with my mom in Mayport, before getting a nice house in Mandarin that was working out well, aside from the whole "second trimester miscarriage/fetus buried in the backyard" ordeal, until that whole relationship blew up.
The point is that Jacksonville in it's entirety is like a mesh patchwork of different kinds of mixed nostalgia. I generally avoid chasing ghosts when I'm there, but I decided for some reason to go find the two story house
(from when I was 10-11). The path Laura and I used to walk to our bus stop is blocked now, so you have to go a few blocks out of your way to continue down the street the house is on. It looks the same, when you get there. Who cares, right? Except apparently I do, because I went and wrote a freakin' 4+ page long poem
about this fucking house.
On that note - I used to say I felt six deep down inside, and weird little anecdotes about things that happened when I was 6 would come out in my (fictional) writing. My most private inner self, was the me that laid awake night after night in bed with Laura sleeping nearby, eavesdropping and making up stories about fairies.
At some point that changed, though, and for the past few years if I were to be so silly as to talk about my "inner child," I'd have listed her as being 9. The me that lived in LuMar apartments and read Stephen King books I didn't quite understand all of, and had a baby brother, and a big imaginary world behind a closed bedroom door. "Recently molested, still happiest at Nana and Pa's house" Tina has been who I am under the exterior.
Well, during this trip I realized that's not really the case anymore. My deep down, vulnerable, kid self has somehow evolved into the 11 year old hiding behind a building when the school bus came, and then spending the day sticking my feet in a fountain and stealing books from the library. Down a few layers I'm now that me, simultaneously venturing out into the world and also extremely isolated. Menstruating and starting to think obsessively about sex, and crushed that my sister is moving away.
I don't expect this to exactly make sense. I realize it sounds pretty kooky. But I think it's interesting, anyway, that it isn't (as I once thought, in my mid-twenties) that a part of me is just gonna be 6 forever. Apparently that formative, private, underneath part of me is growing older, too, albeit much slower than the rest of me and for reasons I don't fully (consciously?) understand.
After I spent the whole afternoon in a coffee shop full of man buns, writing and editing this poem and talking to a woman nearby about Pokemon, and feeling sick, I went out to dinner with Kristin! And heard all about her recent adventures in Micronesia, and laughed about god knows what. Definitely the best part of the day. We took a horrible selfie that screams her jet lag and my allergy and asthma troubles.
The next day, I drove back down to central Florida to hang out with the new guy again. Girlfriend was at work. We went and swam in one of his friend's pool, and ate mangoes and played music, for hours, and told each other a bunch of shit about our lives. Then when she was off work, we met his girlfriend for Korean barbecue, the highlight of which is that he apparently walked in and claimed someone else's reservation. He said this was a panic reaction, and it caused a lot of laughter when the waiter approached us with the party whose reservation it actually was. Seems relevant that our group and theirs were literally the only people in the place, so it's not like anyone was getting turned away.
I spent a whole day with Kristin, her sister (who I've met several times), her mom (who I've hung out with lots), and her kids (who my own consider family). I adore all of them, individually and as a group. Sent plenty of pics back to my house. We walked up to a brunch place and then hung around sister's apartment until she had to go to work. Then Kristin and I drove down to St Augustine, where her fiance/love of her life was finishing up with his conference for the day and becoming available.
Man oh man. One, much as I love them all, just her (or her and her guy) is better. Two, we went to the most off the hook AMAZING restaurant (The Black Fly, on Anastasia Island). The three of us split three dinners and three desserts. Luscious crab cakes. Blissful scallops. Mushroom medley in puff pastry. Chocolate mousse cake with hazelnuts, coconut lime creme brulee, and bourbon pecan ice cream. Every single bite was moaning and heaven. They're grossly in love and infectious in their happiness. And, since he hasn't heard them all before, we get to tell him all of our old stories :D
We went back to their hotel and swam in their warm, salty pool, which was hilariously close to frequently passing freight trains. Lots of laughing, and everyone finding my hairs wrapped around them (which was an ongoing theme of the whole trip... it's almost as though I was on a mission to clog every shower in Florida). She's a bug scientist and he studies mangrove conditions around the world, so nothing I have to say about plants will ever seem inconsequential to either of them. Yet we can also be aghast together about tumblr porn that involves eyeballs being pushed out of assholes. THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE, I TELL YOU.
I went back through central Florida on the way home, specifically stopping in to spend an hour with this guy I only met this trip. It was an interesting conversation on a couch, and then I gave him a ride to work. He (like Cale, and Jean-Paul, and practically every other man I ever talk to apparently?) is an IT guy, and was tense about a problem he was having trouble solving at this new job. I was like, well, you sound like Charlie Brown's parents to me, buuuuut I'm willing to bet I know someone who can help with that issue. So Grant and him skyped through it.
IT guys are interesting, and a bunch of the ones I know don't really identify
as IT guys. Cale was going to be an attorney and this is just a way to pay the bills, Grant would rather see himself as a photographer or dad, this other guy would rather be around kids and has worked with kids at times. Jean-Paul is adamant that work doesn't define people and anti-capitalism in general. Like even when they make a ton of money (which is frequently the case) and enjoy their jobs, there's still this vague unease at being seen AS that job, which I suspect is partially because none of them seem to consciously choose it. It's a whole generational phenomenon where smart underachievers stayed up on computers instead of doing their homework, and missed a lot of high school/dropped out entirely, and then that somehow turned out to give them a super profitable skill set.
Back to my timeline here, my last stop was to see Samara, Bobby's wife (who I think is the bee's knees), about my allergies and general malaise. She sells and markets and graphic designs for some pretty natural and well planned out supplements, and I have been dead against hearing about them (or any other direct sales) before. But I basically walked in and said, "Clearly I need help. I am now ready to receive your wisdom." She's got grace for days so this was actually not awkward, and involved laughter and hugs as I told her about the Herbal Conference I went to in February, and how I stopped eating grains for months but just cheated a ton while travelling, and don't know if I can cut sugar at all, and so on... she's the most calming presence. I don't even know how to describe her energy.
I even had a long, civil conversation with Bobby before I finally headed out towards home o_O
So here I am. It's been a restorative sort of weekend featuring lots and lots of sleeping in my LUSCIOUS KING SIZED BED, lots of showing my kids pictures, and cuddle piles, and just a few occasions of venturing out with a couple of them at a time. Aaron, Jake, Elise and I went to a cafe and down to the ocean to look at jellyfish, yesterday. Later I'm probably taking some people to see The Secret Life of Pets
. I arrived home broken out, with canker sores in my mouth, tired like I haven't been since I had babies and still reliant on a couple of meds - so while I really did have a great time, it was good to get back to my nest. Definitely gonna be brainstorming ways to make future travel less physically stressful. When I went to Lakeland a few weeks back to visit my grandparents and other family, it was sort of perfect because I stayed at my friend Cindi's place (which is far cleaner than my own, and pet free) where I had my own room with a good bed, and limitless access to a bathroom nobody else was waiting on. Obviously it's not reasonable to expect everyone I know to be able to provide that kind of guest space :p I wonder how much of my trouble was about NOT bringing all my normal supplements with me (because they're for the whole family, some require refrigeration, etc). I usually take a LOT of shit every day, and strongly suspect I'm counteracting some malabsorption issues that way. I'm also kinda flabbergasted by how cavalier other people my age act about chronic extreme sleep deprivation? Jean-Paul acts like that's just "being an adult," and even Jess and Cale "can't sleep past 9am" (even if we're staying up talking til 3-4am?!). Kristin is basically ideologically opposed to naps. I'm just like, guys. GUYS! SLEEP IS A WELLSPRING OF GOODNESS AND LIGHT!
I also got back to the news that I'm getting a $5,000 grant I hadn't counted on, for this first upcoming year of grad school! I have a mandatory orientation for that next month, and I'm getting pumped about the whole situation. I met with my advisor and got my schedule sorted out a few weeks ago. Also exciting that the average age of FIU grad students is 31, so hopefully I can actually make some friends other than the teachers.
Not ready to let go of summer yet, though... bookstores are throwing Harry Potter parties; Grant, me, and Ananda are going to NYC next month. And, Kristin is coming here for a couple of days. I am failing abysmally at prioritizing book writing. Today I had to make a million appointments, take Isaac to counseling, drive Elise to and from camp, wash a mountain of dishes, cook us all dinner, and more. It took me 3 days to write this entry! This weekend seemed promising, but someone wants to come over, and I've been asked if I can cover some hours at the crisis call center.