Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Nice Reunion ...

Sunday morning and, by my standards, I completely overslept.  Not that there was an alarm set or that I have any pressing need to be on my way to Melbourne at the crack of dawn or anything.  No, it's just a phenomenon that is peculiar to me...I go to sleep, no matter what time, and I am awake 3-4 hours later.  Not last night.  Last night I went to bed around midnight and I did not awake until 8 AM!  I think that is a testament to the better conditions of this hotel room over the one from Friday night.

Thursday was my final work day in the LOVELY (?) Lake Charles, LA.  I can honestly say, I did not see much of the town.  Most of our traveling around town time was in transit to and from work, hotel and FOOD.  I was so full the whole time I was in that place, I thought I was going to pop!  The final day, six of us went to lunch at Darryl's, the place of the famous "best sandwich," according to my co-workers who had been to this destination on several occasions.  I wish I had been able to carry my camera with me, but it was not possible, so you will just have to trust me that this "1/2 sandwich" I was served was truly enough calories to keep a person going for about a week!  Three or four types of meat, three types of cheeses, brown gravy all over this, and jalapeno mayonnaise topping this cholesterol nightmare served on a huge sturdy bread LOAF.  My co-workers scoffed down a WHOLE one, while I managed to make my way through only half of my half....we all fought the siesta urge the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, 5:30 AM we were on our way to the airport, my co-worker heading back to VA and I heading on to FL for the weekend before our next jaunt starting Monday in FL.  I was not unhappy to leave the very plush hotel in which we stayed, because, lovely as it was, there was an unpleasant smell that permeated the place...sulfur.  I flew to Florida's west coast, away from the Melbourne that will be my ultimate destination, but close to some of my friends from those "Good Ol' Days" of FSU (Go 'Noles!!!)  It had been many years since we'd seen each other, and since rediscovering these folks on Facebook and such, I was determined to touch base with them, if at all possible.
Approaching Landing -- Sarasota, FL
Sarasota from the airplane

Three flights, a rental car, and a few driving faux pas later, I checked into my hotel in Venice, FL, at a little after 6:00 PM. I did NOT let the "Palmetto Bug" aka GIANT ROACH that greeted me, arms and legs flailing as he laid on his back, caught in the sudden sunlight streaming in when I opening the door to my room, dissuade me from proceeding with my plans.


I contacted two of my friends most local to this place and the reunion began.  Friday night was delightful.  I visited Betsy in her beautiful home just minutes drive from that motel, but seemingly in another world.  Absolutely stunning is the only way I can describe the way she and her husband Matt have remodeled their 20 year old home.  I considered requesting they adopt me, but since they have successfully raised two beautiful, talented daughters, one now in law school and the other in medical school, and they are still raising their high school junior, baseball player son, also destined, I have no doubt, for paths similar to his sisters', I thought they probably have their hands sufficiently full!  Bets gave me the tour of their home and we chatted about everything since Smith Hall Days of 1976.  Eventually we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious Mexican food and ..... chatted some more about everything since Smith Hall Days of 1976.  Back at their house, we finally wrapped up our Friday Night Trip Down Memory Lane session a little after 11PM and I  headed back to my fine digs with Mr. Palmetto Bug.

I slept with the lights on...ALL of the lights... I figured it was my best defense against sharing my BED with the little creepy crawlers.  Well, I use the word "slept" in its most loose interpretation.  The old song by Simon and Garfunkel kept running through my head as I was trying to talk to Joe on the phone and then to fall asleep...

"Couple in the next room
Bound to win a prize
They've been goin' at it all night long
Well I'm tryin' to get some sleep
But these motel walls are cheap
Lincoln duncan is my name
And here's my song, here's my song "

I dosed off now and then, and kept a watchful eye on the clock that would permit me to rise to start my Saturday.  Finally, the numbers lined up in red against the black plastic and I became vertical, heading in to take my shower.....twenty minutes of wasting perfectly good water, after having to convince myself I COULD actually take a shower in that filthy tub, with some sort of mouse or large insect "droppings" on the soap dish, and with still NO sign of hot water, I conceded to the fact that a shower was not to be.  So I cleaned up as best I could and went out to meet my friend whom I have always simply called, "Teach."

Teach and I ate our reunion breakfast at 8:30 AM in a little place across from the motel, the motel from which I had now checked out, having found better options a couple of miles away.  The food was good, though I doubt we gave it much of a test since we each just ordered plain egg on whole wheat's what we felt like eating.  Teach had brought with him a small package filled with old photos and letters from me to him, sent all those many years ago in the days of snail mail communications. We reminisced over the photos as we ate, and I saved the old letters to read later.

And then Teach and I spent the day meandering around the town and the area surrounding.  It was a delightfully pleasant meandering.  We walked on beaches and we took pictures of seagulls, and of each other taking pictures, and of the kids playing volleyball, etc.  We compared cameras...his a fabulous (aka expensive) model, mine a "I will not spend over $100," model.  As we were returning to the car at Venice Beach, I spied an interesting plant/tree and asked Teach if he knew its name.  He swore he did but claimed the "senior moments" defense.  I completely senior moments started when I was a high school senior, I think.
Teach on Venice Beach

Cute Kid...

Volleyball on Venice Beach
Seagull, giving me "the eye!"
So, because those types of things drive a person insane, we decided to stop in at a Barnes and Noble where Teach was convinced there would be a book on Florida plants immediately accessible.  Just as we hit the parking lot he hollered out, with much enthusiasm, "Sea Grapes!!!"  I had to laugh as I recognized the "Final Answer" for the million dollars had just been remembered.... But then the doubt crept in, so we went into the bookstore to validate the "winner."  And yes, he was correct!

Once in, we were nosing around at the displays and became curious about the "hot" item they are apparently peddling to all these days.  There must be major competition for these electronic book gadgets, but I honestly know nothing about them.  So we carried a sample from the table over to the girl who was waiting to 'splain it to those poor souls, still in the dark ages of book-reading.  Teach says to the girl, "Is this the whole thing?" as he handed her the lightweight item in the box."
"Yes," was her reply.
"How does it work?" asked he.

She carefully extracted the item from it's box and opened it to show these two losers the obvious.

"You slide your nook in here and then close's the cover."'s only the COVER for the thing that costs $199 and then free downloads.....but what is "my nook?"

Yeah, well, you get my point.  The world of technology has determined I will be better off with 10,000 books downloaded to a single unit that I can read wherever, whenever..... but I just don't think this gal is ready for that.  I'll buy the paperbacks when they have the burn sales.

We had a relaxing day, wrapping up with a nice search of the car, the parking location of which neither of us could recall.  We'd stopped at the mall to see about taking in a movie, an idea we ultimately rejected.  Instead we'd enjoyed a soda, a cup of ice cream, my first trip EVER to a Starbucks....and we chatted about those days, then, in between and now.  And...we forgot where we'd parked.

Teach at New Pass
Mural at New Pass
Hotdog and Beer!
Flowers at New Pass

We DID eventually find the car, and by 5:30 PM I had bid goodbye to my friend Teach and was checking into the FABULOUS hotel ... OK, so there is one of these EVERYWHERE, but it is clean and neat, with hot water, no visible bugs and BREAKFAST!!!  After contacting Betsy to line up another evening with her, I jumped in the shower, and immediately felt MUCHO BETTER!

Saturday night was pizza with Bets and Matt, and more chatting about the times we had together and the times we'd experienced since.

Waiting for Pizza!
Bets and Matt, washing hands before eating PIZZA!

Bets, after more than 30 years...still looking GREAT!

We talked of old friends (not that Bets looks old, I might add!) and of children, parents, siblings, houses, name it, we talked about it!  And, as if the conversation were not sufficient, they ordered a pizza (no, not the typical Dominos that I get) and we munched on tasty extra cheese and sauce smothering the mushrooms and pepperoni... When we wrapped up the evening around 10PM, Bets woke Matt from his comfortable snooze in the overstuffed leather chair, asking him to please snap a photo of the two of us.  He happily obliged, and, completely aware there were photos about to be taken, Milo and Miller insisted on being in the frame!  I am holding Miller, and Bets has Milo. (I think)

Me, with my YOUNG friend Betsy!

With that, it was last hugs, promises to get a reunion together with "the others" (Spank, Dots, Norm, et al) and off I went to the MUCHO BETTER hotel.  After a nice long phone conversation with Joe, in which he shared more of the work successes he has had while I am down here playing with old friends, I was ready to sleep.  As I lay my head on the pillow, I remembered the old letters Teach had given me, and I decided that MAYBE I could read one, or two.  I was halfway through the fifth letter before I drifted off.  Funny, as much as I think I remember things of those days, those letters remind me I have forgotten far more than I remember.  They are interesting to read.  I'll save the others for another day, but it was very nice to have those letters as sort of a diary of my 1977-1980 days.

And so I slept.  When I awoke, I was surprised to discover nearly eight hours had elapsed.....

Today I will set out for Melbourne.  I will miss seeing my friend "Spank," as we call her, as she is not in a position to leave town to make the trip up to see me.  Dots, is going to try, but if it is not meant to be, so we will ALL get together soon.  I'll take my time driving over, hopefully getting to my hotel before dark.  I have had a wonderful day and a bit here in Venice! me "the eye" at New Pass


Feral Female said...

What lovely pictures! Makes me wish I was there!

Judy's Corner said...

Thank you...I could have taken so many more, but was too busy enjoying catching up on more than 30 years....

Canyon Girl said...

Good for you -- mixing work with so much fun is an art, I think. I love the red in the photos, both his shirt and the little girl's clothes and the sign. Love it. My husband is from New Orleans and definitely the cook in our house, so I can relate to the being stuffed feeling.--_Inger

mixednut555 said...

Wonderful post,thank you for sharing.

Word verification is entlist