There hasn’t been much time to write over the past week or so, nor have I had much to say, having been felled by a bout of ‘walking’ pneumonia. (I think this means that it’s pneumonia, but not so bad that you can’t get up and walk…which I’ve been doing, in between bouts of hacking up a lung.) Despite this ‘pneumatic distraction,’ I did manage a few outings, and in the midst of the many, many things that are coming to natural ends around me, these field trips have been saving graces.
Last weekend, I got to spend an entire day with my friends Matthew & Holly. We went to the Aquarium (verdict: too many people, not enough air conditioning — although Holly did have some sort of transcendent experience in front of a jellyfish display), a crafts show, a couple of restaurants, a bar, a college (where we saw the most saintly tow-truck driver on the planet pull a car off a cliff), and Rock City (yes, it really exists, but we refused, on principle, to pay to look at rocks). We considered stalking an author we all like, but decided to pass in favor of beer.
It was quite a field trip and I was proud of the fact that I didn’t hit the wall of exhaustion until 4 pm, which was when I started asking, “How much longer until we get home?” from my perch on the visitor’s hump on the back seat. Even in my feverish state, I was incredibly happy that I got to spend time with these particular pals, because they are hilarious and I love them, and the next time I see them will be whenever they manage to come to my house 12 hours away. (I’m luring them with promises of golf).
I also had a lovely, lengthy lunch with the amazing Susan C. and her ‘foreign’ friend, Cayte, who was rather quiet the entire time, the poor dear. The Inimitable SC (her official title) is who I want to be when I grow up — brilliant, hilarious, inspiring; truly one of my favorite people on the planet. My sons loved her first, and I weaseled my way into the relationship — the same way I squeezed my way into a friendship with Claire, whom I also adore and admire, as well as April and Laura and Courtnay. It is a wonderful thing when your kids spend three years finding the most amazing people on the mountain, and then graciously step aside and let you be friends with them for awhile. (Thanks, guys!)
A few days ago, Court and I headed down to Nashville to get our 80s on at a Duran Duran concert. There were torrential rains on the way, and when we got to Nashville, parked and walked over to the venue, the line to get in was hundreds of people long, snaking down the sidewalk, because they couldn’t let people in while it was raining (outdoor venue). We tiptoed our way through standing water to join the back of the line, and were minding our own business when a pickup truck gunned it across two lanes on an otherwise empty street to go through a huge, deep puddle, sending a wall of nasty mud and gasoline-tinged water onto all of us in line.
My entire left side was soaked. Joined by my fellow drowned rats, I let fly with a few choice words and an international hand signal of contempt as he gunned it away. But then I saw that, due to his poor planning, he was stopped at a red light not even a half block away…
I’m gonna blame what happened next on the fact that, just hours before, I’d been given a shot of steroids at Urgent Care. [Actually, in the spirit of true confession, let the record show that I was trained up by my brother on how to handle vehicular menaces on the mean streets of Manhattan, so we can’t actually pin this on the steroids, because I definitely wasn’t on steroids all the times we took a running start and slid across the hood of a yellow cab that was blocking the box, or chased down some Town Car that sideswiped us off our bikes…]
Anyway, when I saw that the truck was stopped, I didn’t even think about it. I just took off running.
By the time I got to the driver’s side window, my chest felt like it was on fire (did I mention the whole inconvenient pneumonia thing?) I stepped up onto the running board so my face was level with his and the smirking asstard looked at me and shrugged his shoulders and said, “What?”
“Do you feel good about what you did back there?” I yelled, smacking my hand on the glass. “You feel good about soaking a bunch of people you don’t even know? Who does that? What kind of [here you may imagine the string of profanities I deployed] are you? Was that fun for you?”
Now, here’s where it gets unbelievable. The guy rolled down the window and said, “Hey, my kids are in the car, lady!”
I was stunned. Can you imagine a dad saying to his kids, hey, look at all those people standing in line! Watch this! and then doing such a ridiculously unkind, unprovoked act, and then having the audacity to tell me that *I* was in the wrong for calling him out on it??! Unbelievable.
I leaned around him and looked in the back seat and said, “Hey, kids, your dad’s a horrible example to you. Try to do better.” And then I walked back to the line, to my new soaking wet fan club.
I’m happy to say the night improved thereafter. We found good seats and there was a nice cool breeze and only a sprinkle during the show, which I was particularly grateful for since Court had already told me, “If it starts raining, we’re out of here, Pneumonia Girl,” and I believed her. The music definitely brought back memories of my teenage years, and not surprisingly, the lyrics were all still lodged somewhere in my brain.
When my friend of nearly thirty years was here a few weeks ago, he’d just seen this same concert and told me how happy he was that I was going to see it, too. He’s that kind of friend — absolutely loyal and true, and plus, he will do absolutely anything to make me laugh (including embarrassing himself in very public ways, which, aided by some selections from the bar and a corporate charge card, he did very well when he was here). I treasure that. I thought of him after The Great Soaking Incident, because I had no doubt that he would have been right there next to me, cheering me on and then laughing with me when it was over. [My brother, on the other hand, would have silently stripped the truck of all of its aftermarket add-ons and thrown them in the giant puddle in the few minutes it took me to delineate the guy’s moral failings. We’re a good team like that.]
In any event, in light of these field trips, and reflecting on this experience as I start packing to leave, I submit to you this rather random, but very heartfelt, public shout-out to the pals who’ve pulled me through the past year: the Home Team (you know who you are!), and the Away Team: particularly Susan, April, Claire, Courtnay, Laura, Stephen, Warren, Walker, Chris, Matthew, Holly, Allison, and my amazing OT professor, Becky. That’s leaving out a bunch of terrific people who have formed and shaped this experience, but these are the Stars of the drama called Graduate School.
Thank you all!