Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Like coming home

It seems like my annual case of the Januarys are soon followed each year by beach fever. I was looking thru the Bonechives this morning and realized I posted about having beach fever last year on February 25th. This year, it's a day later. I feel so regimented...

The last hour of the trip to Gulf Shores takes you off Interstate 65 and onto state highway 59. At first, there's nothing much but trees. But after a few miles, you start thru a string of four or five little towns with churches and Auto Zones and Winn-Dixies lining the side of the road.

The terrain has now completely flattened out. You see your first palm tree. And finally there's Foley, with its outlet stores and its golf courses. The number of seafood places increases exponentially. And you know you're almost there.

Old 59 has become familiar over the years, but I still remember my first trip. The anticipation. The excitement as the road came to end, realizing what lay just beyond the walls of the hotels and seaside restaurants. Going to the water park. Eating pizza at Papa Rocco's. Catching my first throwed roll at Lambert's. But most of all, I remember the ocean.

Taking off my shoes and running thru the sand like a four-year-old. Or a mental patient, you decide. Standing like a statue and letting the uprush wash over my feet. Sitting in the sand under the stars and feeling like God was almost close enough to touch. My amazement that such a place existed and my regret that I had let twenty-two years of my life pass before I experienced it. It was love at first sight.

I always knew there was a beach, that the waves crashed, and that the ocean was salty. But until I experienced the amazing peace that is listening to the rush of the waves, until I got my first mouthful of salty water, until I saw the ocean meet the sky, until I felt that indescribable breeze engulf my whole being, I really didn't have a clue.

Since that first time, everytime, coming to the beach feels like coming home.

I hope to get home soon.

"Little umbrellas shadin' margaritas. Coconut oil tannin' senioritas. Oh, now I know how Jimmy Buffet feels..."

Friday, February 22, 2008

3WW: The Punch

(This is for the Three Word Wednesday exercise. This week's words were: punch, t-shirt, unravel)

I had stripped down to my tuxedo pants and t-shirt and was sipping on my second glass of punch when the door to the reception hall opened. The wedding party had all gone, but as best man I figured I should hang around. Now it was just us two.

He walked like he had two bad hips and poor equilibrium, his feet barely leaving the floor, leaning forward slightly as if each step might be his last. Stopping at the first chair he came to, he sat down. I tried to break the ice.

"Cops gone?"

"Yeah," he sounded almost hopeful, as if something had finally gone right with the day. A few seconds of awkward silence followed, until I spoke again.

"It's, uhh, good they got there when they did. I've never seen so much hair pulling. And all that cursing... inside a church building!""

"Yeah," he repeated his earlier response, this time with no inflection at all.

"Boy, in all the weddings I've been to and been in, I've never heard someone actually object when the preacher asked for objections," I chuckled, but it wasn't sincere. "You should write a book."

He looked up at me as if I were speaking jibberish, but didn't respond. I continued.

"The whole thing was like a movie, but in slow motion," I spoke as if I were giving a first-hand account of the Mount Saint Helen's eruption. "Like I'm standing there hitting frame advance watching the entire thing unravel."

This was now officially a one person conversation. Each sentence I spoke was followed by a few seconds of silence until I spoke again. I was alternating between utter disbelief at what I had just witnessed and trying to look on the bright side of a situation that had none.

"Really sucks about your car. I'm sure most of those dents will buff right out. Where did she find a baseball bat anyway?" I shook my head in disbelief. "Must have been the something borrowed."

He seemed almost in a trance, as if the Earth's moon could come crashing thru the roof at that very moment and it wouldn't even phase him.

"Hey, how many people can say their wedding made the local news?" I leaned over and gave him a friendly punch on the arm. Again I got the jibberish look.

This was becoming more and more uncomfortable. I took a sip of punch then paused as if savoring it to buy myself a couple more seconds.

"This is really good punch. You want some?" I held up my glass, then pointed towards the bowl. "There's... plenty."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Me in twenty-five years?

The afternoon was much like any other. I was lounging in my underwear working on an email to Axl about how to make the Reds into a contender this year when the phone rang. It was my sister. She was speaking in a hurry.

"Turn on Channel 48 news!"

"OK... why?"

"Just turn it on. Hurry!"

"Alright. It's on, but all I see is a weather forecast."

"Wait until the weatherman comes back on and look behind him."

"What? Why?"

"Dad's on there."

"Why is Dad on Channel 48's weather?" I was completely clueless at this point as to why my father would be at the TV studios.

"They're at the fire department programming weather radios for people. And Dad's up there." Ah, well now it all made perfect sense.

The weatherman came back on and sure enough, there behind him amidst a crowd, was he who reared me. It appeared the only two people who were even cognizant of the televsion camera were the weatherman--you know, because that would be his job--and my Dad.

There he stood, lingering just over the weatherman's right shoulder, looking at the camera but trying to look nonchalant at the same time.

And then... he waved.

It was both hilarious and incredibly embarrassing. And OK, maybe a tad exciting.

Sometimes I think he has discovered my blog and now he's just trying to do things to get mentioned on here.

"I'm seein' my father in me. I guess that's how it's meant to be. And I find I'm more and more like him each day..."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lime Green & Mulberry

I was all set to wax Bonetically today about VD, romance, and the like. Then I received a letter from Momma Bone this morning. And, well, all that other stuff can wait for another day, or year. I've edited it only slightly, to take out real names and a couple other minor things.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day 1973

by Momma Bone

Valentine's Day usually means a box of chocolates, roses, a nice card, or maybe a very nice dinner out at your favorite restaurant. And all of that is okay, but Valentine's Day 1973 meant so much more than all of that put together. That was the day we brought home a little 6 and a half pound baby boy by the name of Bone.

I know red is the normal color for Valentine's Day, but our little Valentine package came home in a little lime green shirt and pants that had been picked out at Woolworths long before I was ever married. I worked at the telephone company and everyday would walk to Woolworths on break, for lunch, or just to look around and pass some time.

The moment I laid eyes on that little outfit, I bought it, and put it back hoping for the day I would get lucky enough to have children. I bought the matching set for a little boy and a little girl. Several years later, I put the little girls outfit to use, too, when we brought home your sister.

I don't know how Uncle D got out of school as long as he did, but when Mamaw and Papaw came to Cullman to see you, Uncle D stayed with us to help me out at home. He kept the house looking pretty, would give you a bath every morning, dress you up for me, and bring you back to the bed so I could hold you.

He tells everybody now that I would lay back there and yell, "Bring me the baby." We didn't have the modern technology that they have now, so when I got home, I was in bed from that Tuesday until that Sunday morning that I couldn't even get up and take care of us. I remember there was a very nice convenience store across the road from the trailer park where we lived, and Uncle D would walk over there everyday and get what we needed in the way of food, diapers, and formula.

Grandmother worked in Huntsville, and every night when she got off work, she would come over and bring us a big supply of groceries to help Uncle D out during the day. Lots of nights, she would have supper already cooked and bring it to us. Dad worked during the day, and didn't have a lot of hours that he could be there with us. (I know you don't remember this probably, but years later Grandmother was on her way to our house with supper when she had her bad car wreck.)

And during the summer months of 1973, Uncle D came back and lived with us and got him a part time job at a little ice cream place in Cullman that no longer is there. He really loved Cullman, and in years following we would take him and Uncle R on vacation when we went to Tennessee.

There were two front lots at the trailer court (right next door to the big technical school at Vinemont now) and we were lucky enough to have the lot under the big mulberry tree. Thank goodness for that because as you got a little older and a little louder, the only way to keep you from crying was to take you outside and let you feel those mulberry leaves.

Don't ask me why, but I know that it worked. Uncle D would get you in your stroller after the weather got pretty, and take you outside under the mulberry tree, and you were satisfied. Did not cry at all once you saw the mulberry leaves.

Thought you might enjoy seeing a picture of you under that mulberry tree. The tree that I still glance over and look at every Tuesday when I head down through Cullman County.

Happy Valentine's Day, cause you sure have made mine happy since 1973.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thirtysomething On Ice

Saturday night, I did what I'm sure many 34-year-olds were doing on the weekend before Valentine's Day. I hit up the local ice rink for the Valentine Date Skate.

Admittedly, I was not aware of the Valentine Skate when I planned this outing. It was an unexpected bonus. Couples got in two for the price of one, which would have been really cool if I'd had a date. Or been willing to say Little Joe and I were a couple.

I'm not sure how it is where you live, but here, the ice rink tends to attract mainly younger visitors. I would say ninety percent of skaters were in the fifteen and under age range. So I felt right at home.

We wound up with a nice group of our own. Five guys, three girls, and three kids, none of which were mine--girls or kids. I'm fairly certain it's the second highest number of people I've ever got to come to anything. Second only to Festivus 2006, which attracted fourteen. Normally, when I try to plan something, it winds up being... well, let's just move on.

I was a bit nervous at first, as I hadn't been skating in over ten years. But once blade hit ice, it all came back to me. (Cue appropriate Celine Dion song.) It was like I had never left. Like I was born with bladed foot. Soon I was weaving in and out of traffic, knocking over little kids, gaining more and more speed, until... it all came crashing to a halt.

But here's an odd thing about me. And probably not the only one. I actually like falling when ice skating. It's fun. Kinda like the luge, except there's no hope of winning a gold medal. Fortunately, I fell right near the benches where people rest. When I looked up, there were like eight heads peeking over the rail at me. A couple of people asked if I was alright, then I heard one kid say, "Whoa! Cool!"

I almost fell a second time when some slow skaters cut in front of me. They really should have their own rink. Like the shallow end of the pool. I had to think quick to avoid planting some girl face first into the ice. It was a true "What Would Brian Boitano Do" moment. So, naturally, I made a plan and followed thru.

I grabbed her shoulders to twist myself sideways, then continued around and past her, while in the meantime completing the most awkward 360 in this history of ice sports. Think Rosie O'Donnell taking ballet. On second thought, don't. I just got a quick visual on that.

Wolfgang was a hoot to watch, too. (Did I really just use "hoot" on my blog? Good heavens, how old am I?) It was his first time ice skating. I don't think he ever let go of the rail for more than a couple of seconds. I tried explaining that he was going to fall. That most likely everyone who had ever gone ice skating had fallen. But apparently, he wasn't born with bladed foot.

Still, there must have been something about the feel of that rail. Or maybe it was the thrill of turning a lap every fifteen minutes. Because as we were getting ready to leave, someone mentioned that we should do this again sometime. And Wolfgang chimed in enthusiastically, "I'll come back anytime. I'll come back tomorrow night!"

I also took part in the Snowball Skate. It's not as fun as it sounds and there's no snow involved. (Yeah, I was not happy about that.) But I skipped out on Limbo On Ice. I figured I might be nearing my allotment of Brian Boitano heroics for one evening.

Overall, I think a fun time was had by all. I'm already looking forward to the Back To School Skate.

"When Brian Boitano was in the Olympics skating for the gold, he did two Salchows and a triple lutz while wearing a blind fold..."

Friday, February 08, 2008

3WW: Crossing Over

(This is something I wrote for this week's Three Word Wednesday. The words were: bridge, disturbed, still.)

Christine crossed the bridge into Carrollton five times a week. Ten, if you counted the trip back. It was the trips back when she felt the most alone.

Crossing over into Nebo, the sleepy town lay quiet and still. The streets all but deserted. As she passed the darkened houses, she would think about her friends, all married now. Why wasn't that her?

All she had ever truly aspired to be was a faithful partner and loving mother. Instead, she was driving in from work at 11 o'clock on a Thursday night, to an empty apartment where the appliances and furniture seemed to take on more of a human personality with each passing day.

She had promised herself she'd stop waiting tables before she turned thirty. When thirty came and went, she amended it to thirty-five. Now, forty didn't seem so bad.

The prospect of changing jobs seemed too intimidating. It was easier to just keep doing what she had always done. Tips were decent, and she knew she couldn't make this much money doing anything else she was qualified to do.

Most of the time, the only people she spoke to all day were people at work. That had disturbed her at some point years ago, but by now she had grown used to it. Friends were busy with their families. She never made an effort to get to know her neighbors. And her mother hadn't uttered a word to anyone in over three years.

Christine felt like she had missed some very important lesson or step somewhere along the way. Each day felt like the world was speeding by, leaving her farther behind.

No one cared if she slept until 3. No one noticed when she came home late at night. Would anyone notice if she wasn't there at all? She wondered that often.

Her phone rang. She recognized the number. Her heart sank into her stomach.

"Miss Grant?"
"This is Lydia with Lakeshore Assisted Living."
"It's your mother. I... think you should come right over."
"My mother? What happened!"
"Your mother... just asked to see you."

"We may lose our focus. There's just too many words we're never meant to learn. And we don't feel so alive..."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'm back, baby!

The little publicized Bone blogging hiatus is officially over, at nineteen days. To put that into persepctive historically speaking, it's longer than the Cuban Missile Crisis, but slightly shorter than the marriage of Lisa Marie and Nicolas Cage. Also, it has received slightly less publicity than the Mike Gravel Presidential campaign, but slightly more than the latest Carrot Top DVD.

So why come back now? Why today? Maybe it's because today is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday. Perhaps I was reminded of my own ill-fated trip to the Mardi Gras in 2001 and that inspired me to write.

Maybe it was the guilt of having received three Excellence In Blogging awards (thanks Sage, Gautami, and Marcia) in the past few days, yet not having blogged in almost three weeks.

Maybe it had something to do with the secretary at work making it a point to tell me the actress who played Amy Vining on General Hospital had passed away. And three other people emailing to tell me the same news. Really people, am I the biggest GH fan any of you know? On second thought, don't answer that.

Or maybe there is no reason. Maybe it's just one of those great mysteries of life. A question that has no answer. Such as, why is there no other word for synonym? Why don't they make mouse-flavored cat food? Why did John Waite only have that one song? And what is the point of that football robot thing Fox shows on the NFL games?

I apologize for the extended hiatus. Honestly, I think my case of the Januarys just lasted a little longer this year than it usually does. For about two weeks, all I wanted to do was come home in the afternoon, climb into bed and watch TV. OK, so that's always what I want to do, but for about two weeks, I actually did it.

I hate being down. I've always felt like I'm the one who is supposed to be up. With friends, I always feel like I'm the one who's supposed to entertain and make people laugh. In school, I was the one who winked at the dark, mysterious Spanish teacher, and later became Spanish Club President.

Thankfully, I do feel like I'm emerging from these winter doldrums. Possibly because it's 10:00 at night, it's February, and it's 70 degrees outside.

So what have I been up to, other than working and lying in bed? Let's see, I caught a nasty stomach bug for a couple of days last week and lost eight pounds with the on-your-knees-clinging-to-the-toilet-seat diet. After that, I walked around all light-headed and dizzy for a day or two. That was pretty cool.

I also watched Stroker Ace one night on CMT. (Wow, I can't believe I just admitted that. I must still be light-headed.) All you need to know is it stars Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. If that doesn't scream cinematic magic, I don't know what does. Oh, and there's also a rousing performance by the incomparable Jim Nabors in a supporting actor role.

This weekend, I downloaded seventeen songs, as I continue to use up the three iTunes gift cards I received for Christmas. The new downloads include Adam Sandler's Chanukah and Thanksgiving songs, "Puttin' On The Ritz" by Taco, "Tricky Tricky" by Lou Bega, "Who's Johnny" by DeBarge, and "All My Life" by the vastly underrated R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo.

Thanks for the emails and IM's and comments checking on me. One thing I was reminded of during this hiatus is that we do make actual friends doing this blogging thing. I've missed you guys. I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you and returning to writing about all the insignificant things in life.

"I ain't missing you at all, since you've been gone away. I ain't missing you, no matter what my friends say..."