Thursday, May 23, 2019

the weekend, pt. 2


Back to my adventure - 

I woke up Saturday morning and enjoyed a couple of hours of watching waves and eating a pastry and potato chips for breakfast, the only portable snack things that I had. Oh well, Charlie enjoyed it.


The sunrise was spectacular and I was reminded again how much Taz and I loved the ocean and how much I still love it. It's like the ocean soothes me no matter what might be going on. I run to it in confusion and pain and it smooths over the rough parts and makes me whole again. One of the things I like about living in Florida is the beach.




Charlie was much more fascinated with the cars going by on the road rather than the beach. She's weird.

It's a fairly short drive up the coast to St. Augustine, our next destination. We were staying at the home of a dear friend. R married into my family 30 years ago and they lived in the same area as Taz and me for several years so the 4 of us were together a lot and had loads of laughs. The marriage did not survive but our friendship with R did and we spent time with her and her new husband as often as we could. They were the first ones to come to me last November and had invited me up to stay with them often. When I knew I had to get out of town for Taz's birthday, they were the first ones I called.

Additionally St. Augustine was a favorite weekend spot for Taz and me and the city holds so many memories so visiting there and walking the streets was comforting.



  Every time we turned a corner I had another memory of something Taz and I did on one of our visits. I sometimes worry that too many of my stories start with "Taz and I did this..." but at least with R I felt comfortable telling those stories...although I do try to limit myself.


 One of the things Taz and I always loved to do was get a popsicle at The Hyppo, which is a home grown St. Augustine gourmet popsicle shop. They have so many wild and creative flavors and everything is made fresh. They do not have any stores in Orlando so I was so happy when R suggested going there because I crave these things and hadn't had a fix in a few years. Taz's favorite flavor is Mango Habanero, of course. I almost got that but decided on Blackberry Lavender Lemonade instead which was delicious although I could have done without the little bits of lavender which had a texture similar to paper.

 Before the stop at The Hyppo, we had lunch at Pizza Time which was rated the #2 pizza place in the US by Buzzfeed. It was my first time there but it won't be my last. They have a wide variety of pies with creative toppings. It was hard to choose but I went with a slice of Lasagna pizza which was delicious and filling. I didn't even think about having dinner than night, I was too full from lunch.

R and I talked about silly things and serious things. Her divorce 12 years ago wasn't that dissimilar to dealing with a death so she was able to offer advice about both the emotional and the practical. 

She and Taz always had a lot in common so it was comforting to hang out with her and hear her views on things.

I was also comforted by the fact that my friends back in Orlando were asking me to check in periodically to make sure I was ok and became a little concerned when I was so busy talking to R that I didn't respond as quickly as I usually do. I had started this trip thinking that for the first time in decades I didn't have anyone that cared where I was going or what I was doing but I realize that wasn't true at all and that makes me feel loved. No one wants to feel like they're in this life all alone.

I woke up on the morning of the 19th to a message from a friend in England letting me know she was thinking of me and wanted to make sure I was ok. And I was able to truthfully tell her that I was. I woke up in a house with people that loved me. I had friends reaching out to make sure I was ok. I know how blessed that makes me.


 And I had waffles!

R decided that she and I would make waffles for breakfast following a new recipe she'd found. And by "we" I mean mostly her but I did whip the egg whites and I did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. Which I do.

I've read the recipe now and I can see that we didn't follow it exactly, we missed a few crucial steps and mixed up the order slightly but those waffles turned out great in spite of all that.

And it seemed appropriate to be making waffles on Taz's birthday. He loved waffles and loved making them for me. In fact, although our really nice waffle iron is still in prison (storage) in California and I may never see it again, he went out and bought a waffle iron for Florida a couple of years ago so he could keep on making them.

R and B (her "new" husband) and I talked all through breakfast and all too soon it was time for Charlie and me to get on the road and head home. I had a really great time with them and hope to visit often. It was the perfect place to run away to.

I had seriously contemplated stopping back at my beach motel to stay Sunday night so that I wouldn't have to be at home alone on Taz's birthday but I didn't want to spend the money. I'm glad I made that decision, I had a nice afternoon at home, got in some swimming and just enjoyed the home that Taz and I built together. I wouldn't let myself get morose or cry even though I teared up a few times. I didn't want his birthday to be about the things I've lost, I wanted it to be about the things I've gained from knowing him and loving him all these years. I really needed the time away and I needed a little time alone to reflect. I hate that he's gone but I'm so happy that I had him as long as I did.

I have no idea what this next year will bring or where I'll be emotionally next May 19. I do know that I will always keep that day sacred and celebrate the life of Taz and the family we built together.

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

roommates


I will get back to the story of my weekend adventure tomorrow but I just had to take this moment to record some history - 

The widow has taken a boarder

It reminds me of those Victorian stories where a couple is living a happy, respectable life and then tragedy strikes and the widow falls on hard times and is forced to rent out rooms just to scrape by, her former life being gone forever.

Now I do love the Victorian era but I never thought I'd be living out one of its storylines.

Have I ever told you about my roommate experiences? I lived with quite a few people before I got married.

There was the first roommate who locked herself out of the house one night and tried to wake me up by knocking on the door but I never heard it so she had to get a neighbor to help her get in through a window. We didn't really know each other and this didn't help us get on. She was mad at me for not waking up and I didn't think that was fair so I moved out.

The next roommate situation was with a group of girls I didn't know at all, I answered an ad in the newspaper. They were a little wilder than me...to be fair, pretty much everybody was wilder than me... and I was always coming downstairs to find random guys hanging around, anybody that they'd picked up the night before. Some of those random guys tried to convince me that we should hook up next but no, that wasn't going to happen. I like to at least know a guy's name before I see him naked.

So I moved again, this time to the home of a divorced woman about 15 years older than me who rented me her master bedroom. The room was nice but she was so unused to the idea of having a roommate that I would startle her each time I walked upstairs and she would scream. Let me tell you, it's not fun to be screamed at every single day. Of course, I find I have a lot more understanding of her situation now.

So yet another move to the home of a woman I worked with at the college. Everything was great for a while, we were actually doing things together and becoming friends. Then I walked in on her and our other (male) roommate having sex on the living room couch. That was...interesting. Then followed a few uncomfortable weeks while they were on and off so you never knew what you might be walking in to. She was all messed up emotionally from her divorce the year before and eventually decided to kick both me and her boy toy out and try living alone.

By this time Taz and I were together and he was in an unfortunate roommate situation as well so the idea of us living together seemed perfect.

It wasn't perfect.

Even that took a while for us to settle into a routine and get used to each other. There were certainly times in that first year that I would have moved back in with my parents if they hadn't moved 3000 miles away but eventually things smoothed out and he became the best roommate I've ever had and I never anticipated having another.

But situations change and now E, my new lodger, is here and she's very sweet. I haven't seen that much of her because she's working so much although we're both at home tonight. It's a little awkward but I guess I'd better get used to it.

At least she doesn't scream every time she sees me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

the weekend, pt. 1



Well, I survived Taz's birthday weekend. More than survived, I actually had a good time with Charlie and made some new memories. I really felt like Taz was there with me every step of the way.

You know how much I was dreading it. And don't get me wrong, it was hard marking this milestone without him. I would MUCH rather he was there with me, discovering a new beach, visiting a friend who has known us for over 30 years, revisiting happy memories in a favorite town. 
 
But that wasn't an option so on Friday morning Charlie and I packed up the car and headed off. When Taz and I would head off for a new place where we didn't know the road and might make a few wrong turns, we called it an "expotition" which is a word used in Winnie the Pooh and was our code for being patient and having fun no matter what might lie ahead. So Charlie and I were truly off on an expotition because the first stop was a beach town I'd never been to before and had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that dogs were allowed on the beach.

The drive was easy enough but what I found was that there was a giant road project going on and access to the beach was quite limited but, luckily, after a few wrong turns, the perfect parking space appeared and Charlie and I were off to the beach.



Unfortunately, Charlie doesn't enjoy the beach as much as I do and it was awfully hot (summer has truly begun here in Florida) so we didn't stay long. Besides, expotiting makes me hungry.


 One of the problems of traveling alone, besides being lonely, is that there is no one to hold Charlie when you want to go into a store or order at a restaurant. I solved the problem this time by just walking into the restaurant to place an order with the dog whether they liked it or not. Luckily for me, they didn't care. I had been craving sushi. That was always Taz's and my thing - eating good sushi - and I haven't felt like going by myself but when I saw there was a sushi place at the beach and it had outdoor seating, I knew that was the place. Charlie likes sushi too. She really does. Taz had these nori snacks (the seaweed wrapper for sushi) and he always shared with her so she likes the taste.

Then it was time to go find the motel I had booked for the night. I had originally planned on spending both Friday and Saturday night at the home of a friend but she had to go to an event on Friday night so about a month ago I found a pretty inexpensive motel right across from the beach that was pet friendly. It sounded perfect and got good reviews but you never really know until you see it in person so I was hoping I hadn't made a big mistake. I've traveled by myself for years and have stayed in hotels and motels alone before but this time it seemed different and somewhat overwhelming. Luckily, the motel felt right to me from the first moment I drove in. It's definitely old, probably built in the '50s, but it was clean and comfortable. Each room has a full kitchen so if I'd realized that, I would have brought groceries.




Now, it was also a bit of a quirky place. I saw more shirtless cowboys than I've ever seen before and if I'd been looking for a random hookup, this was probably the place to find it. I found out later that part of the road crew from the big construction job were renting out half the rooms. But, I kept to myself and didn't go out of the room after dark so my virtue was safe.




I found an awesome place for dinner just a block away from the motel. It had a takeout window so I could order my food without breaking any health code laws by taking Charlie into a food establishment. They had awesome shrimp tacos and a killer view. In that moment, I felt happy and peacefully content. Taz would have liked this place too, they had barbecue. Of course I wished that we had discovered it together.


Across the street from the restaurant was a dune top deck with benches so that I could watch the waves and not break any laws by taking Charlie onto the sand. I'm really a rule follower at heart and Charlie certainly didn't mind not getting yucky sand in her fur so we were both happy. I sat and watched my beautiful beach until it started to get dark. I felt it was probably safest for me to be back in the room so off we went back to our little motel room.



It wasn't the Ritz but it had everything I needed, like Wifi (even though the password was an abomination) and I slept like a baby. I heard later that the shirtless cowboys (seriously, I never saw them wearing shirts) got a little loud and rowdy but it didn't wake me up so I hope they had fun.

It had been a good day and I had another fun one coming up but this is already too long so I'll save it for next time.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

birthday


I know I'm supposed to be all brave today and come up with words of wisdom but I don't have any. I miss this man more than I knew was possible and on this, his birthday, I am shattered.

I don't understand. I'll never understand.

Friday, May 17, 2019

birthday thoughts


When going through Taz's phone 6 months ago I found this - something he typed out on his birthday 4 years ago and saved.

Seeing those words means more to me than anything. Well, what would actually mean more than anything would be to share his birthday with him here but... But I can't change what has happened, I can only appreciate the fact that finding these words (and some other things he wrote that I will share later) is such a gift.

By the time anybody reads this I will be away on my road trip. Right now I'm getting ready for it and I'm finding it hard to concentrate. I think road trips were a lot easier and much, much more fun when they were something we were doing together. 

Trying to learn from my experience at the beach and from Taz's example, I am trying to pack snacks along with all the clothes, beach equipment and makeup that I will need. Unfortunately, too much thinking and my head starts to hurt so I imagine I'll forget something but I guess I'll figure it out as I go along.

I know I'm not the only one who will be hurting tomorrow. My heart is with anybody that loved Taz and is missing him now.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

the sweater

2018 took more from me than just Taz. It also took my beloved sister, Gari, after a 3 year battle with cancer.

  
She was my best friend but she sure didn't start out that way. She was 20 when I was born and in a few short months she had her very own bundle of joy so I imagine my arrival didn't fill her with happiness. Who wants a baby sister when you're ready to start being an adult? For all of my childhood, I was just another kid added to her family of 4 kids, another responsibility.


Even when I became a teenager, we really didn't have that much to do with each other. If I'm being honest, she kind of intimidated me. I felt awkward and gawky around her.

But something happened when I finally became an adult and we had the Internet as a buffer. We started writing to each other, neither one of us enjoyed talking on the phone, and we learned that we had a lot more in common than we had ever realized.


In addition to the major similarities such as our relationship with our mother, our feelings about new people and new situations and other inner feelings, we discovered that we both adored the beach, dogs, buying jewelry on TV, and Winnie the Pooh! We had a similar sarcastic sense of humor and we loved hanging out together. The four of us (sisters and 2 husbands) had so many fun times, so much laughter.

Because of our shared love of Pooh, I received many of her Pooh collectibles when she passed away last August but last weekend my brother in law (who has been in my life since my birth so he's really my much loved brother) brought me one of Gari's Pooh sweaters and I love it so much. Since it's definitely summer already here in Florida I figured I wouldn't have a chance to wear it for quite a few months but last night there was a chill in the air and I ran to put the sweater on.


It's a big, oversized, comfy sweater and it felt like my sister was giving me a hug. She had become my best friend and I miss her so much every day. Having her sweater is a poor substitute but I'm so happy to have it. I can see wrapping myself in it whenever I need a little comforting.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

the key


To anybody else, it's just a key, nothing special. I have plenty of house keys so the one up there could easily be replaced. So why did I just about have a breakdown when I realized I'd lost it on Monday?

Because that's the key that Taz used every single morning for 2 1/2 years when he took Charlie for a long walk before work. It started because I had to leave for work so damned early and he left later so he took Charlie out for her last walk before she was left at home for the entire day. He loved going on that walk with her, I think they spent the time wrestling with the problems of the world. He even kept doing it after I got my new job last year and didn't have to leave so early.

He attached one of our spare keys to a blue cord so that he could wear it around his neck and not have to worry about losing it out of his pocket.

So Monday night, when it was time to take Charlie for her last walk of the day, I went to look for the key in its regular spot and freaked out when I couldn't find it. How could I have lost Taz's special key?

I looked all over the house, even in the freezer just in case I had a blonde Jonni moment. Hey, it's happened before.

Nothing. I couldn't find it anywhere, not in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or car. So I started going back over my day to figure out where I might have lost it.

I finally came to the conclusion that I had accidentally left it in my pocket rather than putting it back on the front table where it always is. So when I went out to the store and gas station, it must have slipped out of my pocket. I tried to call the store but nobody answered so I determined that I would drive there the next day.

I went to sleep sick to my stomach, thinking that I may never see Taz's key again.

Now, I know it's kind of silly to care so much about a key. It's not like it's a magic key and that if I find it again I'll also find Taz. And it's not like losing it is going to change ANYTHING about my situation. It's just a key. I do know that.

But I still cried over losing it. I couldn't help myself.

The next day it was raining and storming too much to make the trip to find the key and I resigned myself to the fact that it was lost forever.

Resigning myself to something is rarely the end of things for me so I un-resigned myself today and decided I couldn't rest unless I'd checked everywhere. I drove out to the store after work and tried the gas station first. I really didn't expect that anybody would have turned in a little key on a string so to be truthful, I didn't expect to find the key BUT I walked in, asked the girl behind the counter and watched in amazement as she pulled Taz's key out from a box under the counter. She had a weird look on her face, like she couldn't believe anybody was actually asking about that key. I wonder how long they would have kept it before deciding to throw it out.

I swear, I felt like I was going to faint, I went all cold and clammy, because I couldn't believe I'd really found it. I had a huge smile on my face and I might have shed a few happy tears once I got out to the car.

I know, in the grand scheme of things, this is a really small thing. My life would have gone on just fine if the key was really gone forever and finding it didn't solve any of my problems but having it again makes me happier than I've been in a long time. I don't know why, I just know it does. 

At this point, I guess I'll take any little victory I can get.