Ok, I’ve been on a little sabbatical from the blog, in part because I took some time off from the city at the end of June, and in part because I have had a lot going on! I’ll start with the sojourn I took back to several homelands, and finally back to the city I call home.
Just after the Super Moon of the end of June, I awoke before dawn to hie myself to the subway and then to the airtrain and finally to JFK airport. I cut it pretty close, since my flight was leaving at 7:30, but I got there in the nick of time to check my bag, grab a bagel, and board the plane for Tampa Airport.
My flight was direct, oh blessings, and my sister picked me up from the airport. We had quite the trip ahead of us, as we planned to go to Miami to visit my Aunt Elisabeth and take her to dinner as an early birthday present. We drove down to Sarasota for a brief pow-wow with my grandmother and then onward to Miami, about a 4-hour drive from SRQ. We got there in the early evening and weeded her yard and did the little things around the house which she can no longer take care of easily herself. Then we went out for dinner at a cute Italian place where they brought out the sugar-free cake we’d brought her and we all sang “Happy Birthday.” Though she says she doesn’t care about birthday, we were glad to show her a little fun.
We headed back to Sarasota that evening around 10 and it was a tough drive, since I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, but I made it with the help of gas station coffee and we got to Skye’s little beach bungalow around 2 am, where I promptly passed out on the couch. Unfortunately, I had to wake up early the next morning to help Skye return the rental car.
I had a couple of days in Sarasota to spend with my grandmother and sister, indulge in a little beach action, and go through my car, which was full of books and belongings from my last sojourn to the west coast in the fall of 2012.
I reorganized and repacked. Skye and I planned to go out with our friend Lara, who had been one of our sister Erika’s best friends for years. We went to the Ritz for happy hour and enjoyed a lovely sunset.
The next morning I finished my packing and made the rounds in Sarasota, stopping by Elysian Fields to see my former coworkers there before commencing part one (or 1.3) of my massive roadtrip.
I made it as far as Montgomery before I had to stop for the night and found a little locally owned hotel to stay in. The next morning I got up and continued on my way to Northwest Arkansas, the land of my birth. I made it sometime that afternoon and was happily reunited with my parents and my niece and nephew, who were staying with my folks for a few weeks before spending the summer with their dad’s parents in Ohio.
The house in Arkansas was about the same as always, dusty and full of life – all sorts of life, from dogs and cats to the multitude of spiders who had, rather disturbingly, colonized the trashcan right by the head of what was to be my bed. I slept on the couch, instead. Mom’s best friend from college had also chosen that day to arrive for a visit with her young grandson, Cade, and her troll-like snorting pugdog, so we had four dogs, two cats, and three kiddos – quite the full house!
That Friday night, I had plans to meet up with my good friend Dannelle, with whom I had the chicken pox when I was little. Her mom used to babysit me when my parents were hard at work at the bakeries and we pretty much grew up together until she moved to the next town over and we no longer went to the same school. We had a fun night on the town in Eureka Springs and got some yummy breakfast in the morning.
Then I went to join my best friend from high school, Jake and his family for an outing on their boat on Beaver Lake, just outside of Eureka Springs.
It was a beautiful day on the lake, and great to be with people who were like my second family in high school. I’m not sure when I last got to hang out with the whole gang, but I felt very lucky indeed!
That night, Jake was playing a show in Fayetteville and my other best friend from high school was having a birthday party, but in the end I had to take a break from driving and just stayed home and caught up on sleep.
Sunday I went to church and saw all of my friendly church family and watched the kids put on their song and dance from Vacation Bible School, which my niece and nephew had attended the week before. Though we didn’t have a lot of real family in the Ozarks, we had no shortage of adopted family, mostly people at my church, and it is always a pleasure to see them.
We met up that afternoon at the King’s River with Gayle and Cade and my friend Dannelle joined us, too. The kids enjoyed splashing in the water while us adults waded in and then chatted on the banks about this and that, watching the youngsters frolic.
The next day mom and the kids and I set off for an adventure on the Buffalo River, one of northwest Arkansas’ treasures. We loaded up the kayaks with our camping gear and dropped off one car at the end-spot and then got on the river.
It rained a bit, mostly threatened to, but didn’t follow through with it, and we pulled over on a nice long sand spit and Cameron and I found a good place for us to make camp and gathered wood for our fire. Cam and I worked on our stone skipping, but he certainly surpasses my skills. I remember the time when my uncle Flip taught him how to skip rocks when he was younger – maybe 5 or 6? Though Cam probably can’t recall him very well, it is nice to think that something of my dear departed uncle was passed down to the next generation. I’m sure he’d have taught Cam to juggle if he’d had the time.
Mom pitched the tents with our help and with our camp set up we set to making dinner. I built the fire and set to cooking dinner while the kids cavorted in the water and mom organized our camp. Dinner was delish – veggie burgers for me, sausages for everyone else. Mom popped some jiffy pop as an appetizer, with only a few minor setbacks, and she and I sipped her traditional “sundowners”: wine mixed with sprite and lime.
After dinner we cleaned up and played dominoes for a bit in Cam’s tent before I read them a bedtime story and we all trundled off to dreamland.
Cam got up first in the morning, apparently having been disturbed by a leaking cooler in the night. We set to making the fire back up and I cooked up eggs and veggies and sausage patties for brekkers. Mom made us some coffee and the kids had hot chocolate. Then we packed up our gear and got on the river.
It was a perfect day for a paddle and we made lazy progress down the green river, stopping to swim and explore whenever our hearts desired. We had lunch by a clear spring that feeds into the river and the kids enjoyed jumping off a rock into the water.
We got to the endpoint by the afternoon and mom and I went to pick up the other truck with Cate while Cam stayed to pull the kayaks from the water and unload them.
We packed them into the truck and started back to Green Forest, with a stop along the way for fireworks.
Cate and I dropped by Dad’s beer store for a visit and said hello to spotty hound dog, Spanky, who keeps him company there. Not to mention his multitude of birds. Then home we went, back to the house of my upbringing. I planned to leave early the next day and needed to spend the afternoon packing and searching for a journal I’d misplaced last November when I left Arkansas for Florida. I hoped it was there somewhere, but I was yet to find it. Finally, in my search for one of our childhood books, East o the Sun, West o the Moon, I found my journal on one of Erika’s old book shelves, camouflaged with other tomes. I was overjoyed, as were mom and dad who had been searching for it ever since I realized it was missing.
We made dinner that night and the kids and I set off fireworks on mom’s party patio – it has been her labor of love since Erika’s death, now nearly two years ago, which is hard to believe.
I got up around 5:30 the next morning for my eastward departure. Dad came down to check my oil and make sure I was good to go. Kissed him and mom goodbye and roused the kids just enough to say I love yous, and off I scampered, a full thermos of coffee and a cooler of snacks at the ready.
The drive to Hillsborough was long and arduous with rain. I didn’t make it there till around midnight, with the time change, but I made it without incident, which is always a good thing. Except my speedometer stopped working for a while, but that is just what it does sometimes. MC and her husband, Eric, welcomed me to their little house with snacks and beer and chit chat before we all succumbed to sleepiness and called in a night.
The next day was the 4th of July and MC and I spent a lazy morning having breakfast on her porch and catching up. I gave them their wedding present and they were both delighted with it, to my delight. After lunch we made our way to the house of some friends of there for food and fireworks.
Everything went off without a hitch, except the grilled pizza, which MC and I were counting on, as vegetarians. Also it rained at one point and then darkness descended and no one had, apparently, brought lanterns. Efforts to cook were scratched and MC and I went hungry. (The chef got too drunk and tossed several nearly finished pies from the bridge into the swollen river below! Tragedy!). I also had a hot pizza tossed onto my hand, which left several burns on my wrist and hand, which seem to be scarring. I guess it isn’t the 4th of July without a few alcohol fueled injuries. At least no one died 🙂
On the way home from that party we stopped by the Bevel Summers house (the band I met back in May in New York). We partied with them for a bit and MC and Eric went home, leaving me to chill with the band for the rest of the night, which was mucho fun.
The next day I was meeting up with my friend Susanne to head back to NYC. MC and I had a nice breakfast together and I readied my belongings to take off on the final leg of the trip.
I picked up Susanne in the afternoon and we drove back to the city to commence our so-called High School Summer. The drive up was fun and relatively quick, compared to my other stretches.
We got to the city around 2 a.m. and I slept on her couch before heading home the next day.
Since I returned from my sojourn, I’ve been catching up with catering gigs, painting nails at the fabulous Beauty Bar, and occasionally figure modeling for drawing classes. I’ve recorded a couple of songs, which can be heard here and here.
It has taken some time to get all my odds and ends reintegrated: my book collection increased, with samplings from my big sister’s horde of paperbacks.
As part of the aforementioned High School Summer, Susanne and I have been going on some adventures, but that’s another blog entirely, and will wait for another day.
Love and miss,