Tales from my Surfboard Part 6: The Game

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It was spring 2012 and it was Fenway Park’s 100th birthday. I was also turning 33 and hoping to finally see my favorite player, Jason Varitek # 33, at Fenway before he retired. Although I had made the pilgrimage “home” – to Fenway – many times, I had never been to a game. I just didn’t seem to have time or money.

I was in town for the weekend at the end of May for a race. I was scheduled to run Boston’s Run to Remember. I had contacted Lily to see if I could crash with her for race weekend. She was dating someone at the time, so we were “just friends.” I always asked if it was ok for me to show up when she was with someone so that I did not cause issues with her current relationship. If it was going to cause issues, I would just get a hotel room in Southie.

Lily said it was fine. She was working that weekend and they probably wouldn’t be home much that weekend anyways. I had a key to the house. I could crash on the couch and do my thing. Her current girlfriend wouldn’t mind.

On Saturday, I arrived about lunch time to drop off my stuff and park the car. I would take the T into the city to go to the race expo. The race was early Sunday morning. I went into the kitchen to drop my car keys on the table in case Lily needed to move it while I was in the city.

Sitting on the kitchen table was an envelope with my name on it. There was a single ticket to the day’s Red Sox game. I had definitely not been planning on going to a game. I was in town to race. The night before a race I am typically in bed super early. While the ticket was unexpected, I was also excited.

Lily knew I had never been to a game in-person. I was waiting until I turned 33 to see my favorite # 33 player. He had just retired that year, which completely took the wind out of my sails. However, Lily said in her note that she wanted me to be able to see a game at Fenway for the 100th birthday celebration and she did not know when I would be in town again to go. So she left me a ticket to go to the game.

I took the T into Boston and went to the race expo. After the race expo, I went to the game. It was a day long celebration. Before the game, I had lunch at the most amazing sportsbar just outside Fenway. This sportsbar even had TV sets in the restrooms. I could still watch ESPN even while going pee.

I had an amazing time at Fenway at my very first Red Sox game. I felt just like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch with my own Fenway Family.  It would have been even more amazing if Lily could have been there with me. We would often meet at “home” – Fenway Park – in the city. Lily had to work, but we were able to facetime during the 7th inning when she was on a work break.

Of course the Red Sox won. I had the most amazing time of my life. I also had a little too much to drink, but it was Fenway and I was not driving. I rode the T back to the Cape and Lily picked me up at the T station.

I will admit I don’t remember a lot about that night, but Lily and her current girlfriend were still fine with me crashing on the couch the night before the race. They also had a bit of fun with me. When I woke up in th morning for the race, I had a bunch of Red Sox stuff written on me in red sharpie. I did not have enough time before the race to wash it all off. I had woken up late and needed to get to the start line. 

Waking up that morning before the race felt a lot like the scene in Garden State when he wakes up the next morning with stuff written all over him in sharpie. Lily and her current girlfriend took me in to the city and dropped me off near the start line for the race. It was one of the few times I actually had someone there to see me at the starting line for a race. Even though we were not “together” at the time, it was still nice.

That Red Sox game was one of the top highlights of my life. Even though we weren’t together at the time, she still knew me well. She gave me one of the best gifts ever. 

More than the game, thank you for the memories. 

Tales from my Surfboard is a series that remembers lives of people lost to COVID. Stay tuned for another installment … 

My Forever Valentine

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Today is Jude’s 10 birthday and also his gotcha day. I adopted him on Valentine’s Day when he was two years old. Jude was seized by the humane society from a hoarding situation. He was found crammed into a tiny trailer with over 30 other cats.

When I adopted Jude, I had been searching for a month for a suitable companion for Kitty. Kitty was distraught about being alone after Kip passed away. Kitty would get so upset about being home alone while I was at work that I would come home to multiple puddles of vomit because he was so upset. Kitty needed a companion.

Kitty was declawed (please don’t judge – it was the 90s when he was declawed and I have not declawed a cat since). Being that Kitty was declawed, he needed a companion who would be gentle with him, as I did not plan on declawing a cat ever again. This meant that Kitty did not have claws to defed himself, but his companion would have claws to potentially harm him. We needed someone with a gentle disposition who would not take that advantage.

A friend of mine had heard about Jude at the shelter. He was friendly with all other cats and was very gentle. He was good about playing with his claws in. He was also quite shy and they were looking for a rather quiet home for him. 

Jude’s name in the shelter was Raymond. Given his story and his shelter name, I knew he was meant to be. Raymond was my grandfather’s name. I had Jude picked out as my baby name for a boy. I always use their shelter names as a middle name. Jude Raymond could not have been more perfect.

I brought Jude home and did the slow introduction process with Kitty. They bonded immediately. It was love at first sight. Jude was indeed very gentle with Kitty. In addition to being declawed, Kitty was a lot older than Jude and was a senior. Jude played with Kitty, but seemed to sense when Kitty was tired and would stop playing. Then they would cuddle.

Even though Kitty was declawed, he taught Jude how to use the cardboard scratcher for his claws. I had bought scratching posts and cardboard scratchers for Jude to use. Kitty would “use” them first and then Jude would mimic him. Jude was a fast learner. Kitty taught him many things.

After Kitty died from cancer, Jude was alone for 6 months. It was just the two of us. I could tell Jude was sad from losing Kitty. We played all the time. Jude was ready for a companion, but it took me longer to be ready to adopt again. 

Then came Simon. Jolene came later. There was supposed to be 2 cats and a dog, not 3 cats, but that is a story for another day. This is Jude’s story.

Jude is an amazing older brother to Simon and Jolene. Jude is the oldest. Now he teaches them everything, just like how Kitty taught him. 

Jude has really come out of his shell since we moved from the apartment to the house. He plays a lot more in the house than he did in the apartment. He still rolls around on the floor. I never knew a cat to just roll around as much as Jude does!

He truly is happy. I’m so lucky to be able to see the wonderful relationship he has with Simon and Jolene. Jude still has some shy tendencies from his days as a stray. He is gentle when he needs to be. Sometimes he does play rough with Simon. 

Jude will always be my Valentine. He was meant to come into my life at the perfect time. He indeed took asad song and made it better.

Happy 10th Birthday, Jude. Happy 8th Gotcha Day. Thank you for being my Forever Valentine.

Minimalism – Entertainment Media

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When it comes to downsizing or decluttering, they say to always leave the most difficult items until last. For many, the most difficult items are sentimental items. For me personally, the most difficult items are CDs and DVDs. I love music. I love CDs. 

Artists create albums as a work of art. It’s not just the music, it’s the cover art and the insert that goes with the disc. In this way, CDs are similar to records for me, only CDs are smaller. The exerience is almost the same. The one key difference is that the sound of a record is vastly different than a CD, but I digress. Everything else is essentially the same.

I am at that point in my minimalist journey where I feel comfortable tackling the hard stuff. I do think that part of this is pandemic related. Part of it just happens to be where I am in my journey not related to the pandemic. I also have goals in life that are causing me to be more ruthless in my decluttering strategy so that I am prepared to meet my future goals with less stuff.

Here is my strategy and how it is going with my some of my most challenging decluttering categories.

Books

Originally, I thought books would be a hard category to downsize. However, when you look at CDs, DVDs and books, I found it very easy to downsize books in comparison to music. I started with close to 1,000 books. I would spend hours cataloging them by various methods – author, title, genre, ISBN. 

I can borrow books from the library and frequently do. In fact, I was borrowing so many books from the library that I was not reading the books in my house. There is no point in keeping all those books if I am not going to read them. It is time to pass them on so they can be read and enjoyed by other people.

Decluttering my books has been a very gradual process over the past decade. When I declutter books, I donate them either to the library book sale or to the Little Free Library cabinets that I tend to find in parks. 

If I enjoy a book so much that I have checked it out of the library at least twice to read it (two different distinct times, not simply renewing a book I did not have enough time to read), then that is a book I need to own. My goal is to only own books I enjoy enough that I read them several times. If I only read a book once and do not have the urge to read it a second time, then it is time for that book to move on to be enjoyed by someone else.

After a decade of going through this process with these perameters, here is my current status. 

There are 8 books on my book shelf that I have identified as books I have read multiple times, intend to read again in the future, or simply cannot part with (books that have special autographed messages from the autthor). 

In addition to the 8 books on my bookshelf, I currently have one reusable shopping bag full of books that I intend to read. As I make my way through this bag of books, I am deciding if I will keep the book or if the book will be donated and move on to be enjoyed by someone else. So it is entirely possible that I will end up with more than 8 books on my bookshelf as I make my way through the bag of books I have.

My goal is to make it through this bag of books this calendar year in 2021.

 DVDs

My goal for DVDs is only to have as many as I can fit in the DVD cabinet. Right now, not only is my DVD cabinet full, but I have DVDs that have invaded by bookcase. DVDs have been an escape for me in the pandemic, and I do not have cable to watch TV, so I have more DVDs than space allows.

I have decided that I am definitely keeping all of my TV series and my baseball World Series. I am currently watching all of my movies to decide what is staying and what is going. This has been a challenging exercise. 

I will admit that there are some DVDs where I am on the fence. If I am on the fence, those DVDs are going in a special box. They will not be donated to the library book sale this year. I labelled the box 2023 and am going to put it in a closet. If I don’t feel like watching any of those movies in the next year to the point where I pull them out of the closet, then they will be donated in 2023.

There are some movies where I watch them, and right away, I know that I am done with that movie. Either it has served its purpose – I enjoyed it, but it is not one I reach for on a regular basis, or I have “outgrown” the movie. I am no longer at a point in my life where I feel like I will watch that movie again. I have enjoyed it and it is time to move on.

I am currently working my way through watching my movie DVDs to help everything fit in the space provided. The goal is that the DVDs will all fit in the DVD cabinet and that there will no longer be DVDs invading the bookcase.

Records and CDs

This is probably going to be a shocker for those who know me well, but I have decided my records and the record player will be leaving. I had a record player and records long ago that were lost in a flood. Then, for graduation for one of my four degrees, I was gifted a record player. Over the years, I acquired a milk crate full of records all second hand from either the library book sale or from the used record store in town.

In looking through my records, almost 100% of my record collection is a duplicate of an album I own on CD. I rarely listen to the records. To be frank, it is a pain in the ass to connect the record player, place the vinyl on the turnstyle and line up the needle to play. Sure, I love records. I love the feel, smell, and sound of them. However, I am getting much more enjoyment out of my CDs and they are easier to use. The records and record player are just weighing me down at this point. I have future goals that require me to be as light and nimble as possible.

When it comes to CDs, this is my most challenging category to downsize ever. I love music. I love CDs and my collection. A few years ago, I got rid of a shoebox full of CDs. At the time, it was hard. I was all emotional donating a shoebox of CDs. You know what? I don’t even remember what CDs were in that shoebox. I don’t miss them at all. 

Looking at my CD collection today, I have 700+ CDs. I don’t listen to them a lot. CDs are similar to the 80/20 rule for clothes. I listen to about 20% of my CDs 80% of the time. 

The CDs are also way out of their space. All of the CD cabinets are full. CDs have invaded the bookcase. They have overflowed even the bookcase and are just laying around in boxes on the floor. I have way too many CDs. While CDs are my most favorite form of music, I’m not listening to them as much as I used to.

A few months ago, I stopped listening to radio. I just can’t take news anymore in the pandemic. I had to stop listening to news in order to keep my sanity. I still get news. I do not bury my head in the sand about anything that goes on. Now I go to a few different news source’s websites a few times a day to get my news instead of listening to it on the radio. This way, when I have had enough news, I can stop looking.

I also splurged and put Sirius radio on my phone a few months ago. I now listen to music without commercials and without news. I am thoroughly enjoying a bevy of my favorite music stations. I enjoy satellite radio so much, I am not listening to my CDs as much.

This does not mean I can live without my CDs. I still love them. I still have times when I listen to CDs because I want to hear a certain album or a certain song whenever I want. Although I am enjoying radio on my phone, digital music is my least favorite form of music for listening. My CDs still hold a tremendous amount of value for me.

In 2022 this year, I have embarked on a project to downsize my CDs. I am listening to every single CD.

Yup, that’s right. Every. Single. One. 

As I listen to them, I am deciding which ones I am keeping and which ones I am donating. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised. I will pick up a CD and think “this one should be donated,” then I listen to the CD and fall in love with it all over again. It stays. There are other CDs I pick up and think “this one should have a free pass to stay,” but I force myself to go through the listening exercise anyway. Then Ilisten to the CD and think “why was I going to give this one a free pass? I never listen to it and it’s horrible.” 

I have come to realize that just because I enjoy a specific band or musician does not mean I need to own or like every single piece of music they make. There are some bands where I have all of their albums just to have all of their albums because I love the band. But you know what? I may love the band, but some of their records really sucked. And that’s okay.

This year I am enjoying a muscial journey through every single CD I own. Again, the goal of this exercise is for all of the CDs to fit in the CD cabinet. CDs should not be invading the book case and overflowing into boxes of CDs sitting on the floor because there are so many of them. 

I only want to keep what I truly love and enjoy. That is the entire purpose of life. Just because I love a band does not mean I need to keep their one album that sucked. No artist is able to produce albums where every single one is stellar. Some are less than stellar. That’s okay. 

Conclusion

My biggest goal as a minimalist is to only be surrounded by things that are useful and things that I love. Just because a band brings me joy does not mean I need to keep an album that I did not love as much as the others. 

I also now have future plans that are going to require me to be nimble and easy to move. The more I am able to downsize, the easier it will be for me to realize my future goals. Even if I do not realize my future goals, my goal for right now is to only be surrounded by what I love. If I don’t love something, then it needs to leave. 

Yes, I love CDs. I love music. CDs are my favorite form of music. I’m sure I will be just as happy with 300 CDs as I am with 700 CDs. As long as they are all albums I love, that’s the point. I do not have a set number of CDs I want to declutter down to. I just want them all to fit in the CD cabinet and not overflowing and invading other spaces. 

What is your most challenging decluttering category?  

Minimalism: Shoes

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Shoes are hard to minimize for some people. There is a stereotype out there about how women love shoes and have entire closet fulls of them. You hear tales of people having 30, 70, even over 100 pairs of shoes! If that is what makes you happy, go with it.

As a minimalist, I try to have only what I need. For me, shoes are a necessity. As a runner, I would rather pay more money to have a few pairs of high quality shoes that are going to preserve and protect my feet than be fashionable.

I have roughly 6 pairs of shoes right now (pictured above). Each pair serves a purpose.

Starting at top left, there are my rain boots. Those are obviously for rain. I started wearing rain boots back when we started to measure rain in inches, and the field at Fenway Park was underwater. You needed rain boots to be able to walk without wet feet. As someone who has previously experienced homelessness, dry feet are a must. You must keep your feet dry to stay healthy. I always have a good pair of rain boots. This black-speckled pair is the third pair of rainboots I have owned, after pairs one and two became cracked and started leaking water.

Next to my rain boots, are my sloggers with blue paw prints on them. I also like to refer to my sloggers as “shit kickers.” These are water proof, similar to my rain boots, however, they are shoes. Sloggers are great just to have by the door to slip on when I need to go to the mailbox, the garage, or just out in the yard. Not only are they good for small amounts of water when it is raining, but they are also good in mud.

On the top right, are my snow boots. I live in the northeast USA, so we definitely need those. For all of my shoes, the priority is traction. I need all of my shoes to have good traction so I do not fall. I am already a fall hazard with my MS, so any extra traction I get is most welcome.

On the bottom left are my everyday shoes. These sneakers are actually trail running shoes. I choose trail running shoes for my everyday shoes specifically for traction. Trail running shoes are designed to help you grip on uneven terrain and help you to stay steady even in mud. I have been using trail running shoes for my everyday shoes for a few years now, and the traction is great. The only way the traction on these things would be any better would be if I was wearing cleats.

Next to my everyday shoes are my slippers. Everyone needs to be comfortable around the house. Again, I chose slippers that have hard soles with good traction. These ones do. They are not your typicaly slipper soles that are either simply flat or just have lines of ridges. These slippers have bottoms that provide traction. So if I do end up running outside in my slippers (typically due to some issue with the outside feral cats), I do have traction both outside as well as inside. Traction is essential even in slippers, as I have to do the stairs to get to the washing machine, and I am walking on non-carpeted floors.

On the bottom right are my running shoes. I run in Mizuno wave riders and have been my entire running career. I’ve been running in Mizunos for about 15 years now. I typically have two pairs to rotate in and out to preserve the support. However, I just rotated a pair out that had reached it’s mileage limit and are out of support. I only have the one pair right now. I have not yet obtained a second pair to be able to rotate in with these ones.

All of my shoes serve a purpose. I have everyday shoes and slippers. I have running shoes. Then I have my seasonal items of rain boots and snow boots. Sloggers are a luxury. I could probably live without them. However, I just like having them by the door. I can slip out of my slippers and into my sloggers if I need to go outside quick and I know I have great traction in my sloggers.

I am definitely not the type of person that has a closetful of shoes. Each pair serves a purpose. When they become worn, lose traction, or no longer support my feet, I replace them. Being a runner, my goal is to be as kind to my feet as possible so that I can continue to run as long as possible.

While I do not have a set number of pairs for shoes, every pair serves a purpose. I am not a stickler for numbers as a minimalist. For me, as long as my items are useful, beautiful, and fit in the space I have to store them, I am fine. 

I do not need extraneous pairs of shoes. More shoes would just be more things to store and take care of. I do not want to have to take care of more things than I need. The less things I have, the less things I need to clean. However, I do have enough shoes to be able to function in my everyday life. 

By having fewer pairs of shoes, I am able to purchase high quality items. They last a long time and are kind to my feet. I replace things that need to be replaced. This year, I will be looking to purchase a second pair of Mizuno wave riders to be able to rotate in with my current pair.

Minimalism is not always a numbers game or how few things you have. For me, minimalism is only having things that are useful and things that I need so that I am free to focus on the things that are most important in life. What’s most important are my cats, people, and experiences. I have enough shoes to meet all of my life needs.

Tales from my Surfboard Part 5: Ren Faire

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Lily had a 3-day weekend off from work and decided to come out to New York to visit me. I only had the weekend, but that was ok. It was the early to mid-2000s, when I was still working in radio. One of the perks of working in radio was that we sometimes would do things in trade. 

Businesses would donate their product or service to us in exchange for radio spots. Of course, these were in addition to their paid spots. We could use the donated items for on-air giveaways, which gave more exposure to the business. Some of the items we could have as employees. We were limited to one item every 6 months. 

One item I chose every year was tickets to the Sterling Renaissance Faire. 

Lily arrived that Friday night once I was out of work. It could be a 7-8 hour drive from the Cape, depending on traffic. Of course, on a Friday, it seemed like she hit all the traffic from the Cape bridges to Boston to Albany to Syracuse. Still, she was generous with her time. Even after spending the day driving, she made dinner for me when I got home from work that night.

After dinner, we went into the backyard, where there was a firepit and some lawn chairs. Of course, there was radio too. I worked in traffic, which has absolutely nothing to do with traffic on the roadways, it is about traffic on the airwaves. I was the one responsible for programming my stations, telling it when to play music, when to play weather, and when to play commercials. If one of my stations was off-air, then it was either my fault in programming or some larger technological issue over which I had no control (like the transmitter tower being buried in snow). 

This was a hot August weekend, so Lily and I were in the yard and built a fire. We had the radio going. Not only so I could listen to be sure it was on the air, but also because I genuinely liked one of my stations.

We had a bottle of vodka to make gimlets. We stayed up late into the night drinking vodka gimlets by the fire with the radio playing. Sometimes we would talk, sometimes not. We didn’t need to always be talking to each other to enjoy one another’s company. We stayed up late into the night when we decided it was time for bed. 

We did not have any set time to get up in the morning. We just planned to get up whenever. It was about and hour and a half to two hour drive to Sterling. The faire did not start until 10 or maybe 11 am.

Saturday morning arrived bright and beautiful. We each packed an overnight bag. This time, we packed my corolla. We were in NY, and Lily already had a long drive to get here, so of course we would be taking my car and I would be driving to save her on driving. 

It was a gorgeous day for a drive. We listened to our driving music – typically Dave Matthews Band, as we headed northwest towards Great Lake Ontario. We made it to Sterling and parked in the grassy field as indicated. We spent the morning wandering the faire arm in arm. We loved how the people at the faire would stay in character and engage faire-goers “in the street.” We were all part of the show whether we intended to be or not. 

About lunch time, we had our time period lumch of turkey legs and mead. We watched the joust on the field. After the joust, we wandered once again, taking in the sights and the atmosphere. 

Lily and I ended up involved in a (staged) fight over some perceived slight. It had rained the night before in Sterling, so there was ample amounts of mud. It ended up being a fight in a mud pit and it was one of the best acts that both of us ever saw. We even ended up with mud on us too! There are little boundaries between act and spectator at the ren faire.

Lily happened to notice something new this year on the water. We made our way over to a small land-locked lake for the pirate show. Imagine being on a real boat in water, surrounded by pirates! It felt like we were on set for a movie scene. It was wonderful. 

The ren faire closed at dusk. We decided to head back to Oswego, where we had booked a hotel room on Great Lake Ontario to spend the night. Dinner was in order and we found this amazing sports bar on the pier called the Penalty Box.

It was only August, yet there was hockey on all the TVs inside the Penalty Box. Lily and I were in heaven! It was so great to be able to see hockey in August. After dinner, we took a walk on the pier and headed back to our hotel.

Our hotel room was right on the water. We sat on the balcony watching the ships in the harbor and the lights of bouys dancing in the dark. I remember telling Lily we had to get up early for breakfast. She did not quite understand why, but went along with it.

Sunday morning, we were up bright and early for breakfast. I hardly ever got up this early, but it was worth it. I was taking Lily to Charlie’s. 

Charlie’s has no phone, no address, and no sign. It’s one of those places that you have to just know where it is. Typically people find out about it because someone else took them there. We drove to the middle of town and I started counting streets to try to get there – that’s how I remembered where it was. 

When you arrive at the building, it doesn’t look like a restaurant. It doesn’t even look like a building. It looks like a large dumpster sitting there waiting to be picked up or an old boxcar that was left behind and is just sitting there forlorn.

You park on the street and walk into the boxcar. It opens at 6am. There is no set closing time. Closing time happens whenever they run out of food. Closing time could be 7am, 9am, 10am. 

You sit at a table and just wait. There is no menu. It is breakfast only and you eat what is served. 

The waitress brings coffee and orange juice. Then, she brings the breakfast of the day. The most amazing omletes that melt in your mouth, fill the whole plate, and taste better than any omelet you have ever had. I have also had French toast there that is the best French toast anywhere. Everything is served with hash browns, sausage and bacon, so it is a full American breakfast.

When you are done, there is one price for the breakfast you are served. There is a box up front for you to pay for your meal. No waitress is needed to check you out. You just put $10 per person in the box and you are done. Of course, you can put more or less than that in the box. It is an honor system. The place does a brisk business and always sells out of food well before noon each day, so I am sure they are doing fine. Remember to tip your waitress as well. 

When you stop to put your money in the box, you can see into the kitchen through the window. There is one man in there – Charlie, the owner. He cooks all the food every morning. There are two waitresses. 

After breakfast, we leave to go back to my apartment. Lily understands why we got up so early for breakfast. It’s just one of those places you either know about or you don’t.

Lily and I went to the ren faire together for a few years. It made for a fun summer outing in NY when we were not in MA on the Cape. 

Stay tuned for more memories of remembering those lost to COVID … 

Tales from my Surfboard Part 4: Contemplation Rock

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Lily had taken a week off from work and wanted to come out to New York to visit. I could only get a 4-day weekend off from work and was worried about her being bored the other days of her trip. When I was on the Cape, I had waves to ride and beaches to explore. Upstate New York has more cows than people. Quite frankly, it’s boring.

We decided to organize a reunion of college friends that same week. Instead of coming to my apartment, Lily did some research and chose a location in the Adirondacks that was about equidistant for everyone. Well, it was equidistant between me and our friends. Lily had a bit more of a trip from the Cape, but she said she didn’t mind.

There was a small grouping of about 5 campsites together in a loop on a lake in the most remote part of the Adirondack Park that we reserved for the week. Lily and I shared a tent on the water. The other four sites were occupied by friends we had gone to college with. People could set up their tent, come and go as they pleased. We spend nights by campfire playing cards. This was our reunion.

Everyone had arrived on Monday. The four days I had off meant I was there Wednesday through Saturday. I felt bad I was not there for camp set up or tear down, but those were the days I could get off from work. Lily had an old coleman tent from growing up that she set up on our site. I brought an extra cooler with me to replenish supplies of both ice and food. I remember that Lily had brought a whole watermelon to share with everyone. There was no room in the coolers for it, so we floated it in the water to keep it cool. She was able to place branches in a section of the water in a way that would keep the watermelon in one spot and prevent it from floating away into the rest of the lake, or sinking. 

Because we were on a land-locked lake, there would be no surfing this trip. Lily did use the roof rack on the car to bring the canoe. Before the Prius, there was the Subaru. During the day, we had great times with our college friends. We went off hiking in a group on the trails. We would hang out at one campsite for meals, everyone contributing something to the meal. There was music blaring, card games played, and memories made. 

The first day was cloudy, but dry. I remember that night it started raining. It rained the rest of the time we were there. No matter that we changed into dry clohes, it was like we could not escape the rain or the damp.

There was a lull in the rain the second night I was there. It was late – dark – and Lily and I were in the tent. We were changing into dry clothes and still felt damp after all the rain. Everyone else seemed to be asleep – it was into quiet hours for the campground, so if people were up, they were not making any noise that extended beyond their own campsite. 

The rain had stopped, or, at least, it was more of a fine mist. Lily looked at me with a grin and asked “how about a walk?” I grinned back and nodded. We did this a lot on the Cape. Late at night, in the wee hours of the morning, we would take off for a walk on the beach. We had some of our best conversations that way whether we said anything or not. You know how it is with that one person – how you can have a complete conversation with them without saying anything at all?

Lilly and I put some extra layers on, as it was chilly out. We left the tent and Lilly immediately headed towards the water. There was a giant rock on the lake, a little bit offshore. Lily insisted she wanted to go out and sit on the rock so we could be in the middle of the lake to look at the stars and the moon. I didn’t know how we could possibly get to the rock without getting in the water. With all the rain, we were pretty much wet all day anyway, so why not? 

Taking the canoe out would have been illegal without a light. I could tell that Lily just wanted to be in the moonlight. Somehow, in the dark and the fog, Lily managed to find smaller rocks to step on and use to get to the large rock safely without having to go into the water. We jumped from rock to rock like it was the lava game you play as a child.

When we got to the rock we sat cuddled together for warmth. I remember leaning back and just gazing at the stars. We were in the least inhabited part of the Adirondack Park. When you looked at the night sky, there were so many stars, it was like gazing into Heaven. You could see the entire universe from there, or at least, it felt that way. 

We could definitely see more stars than what we saw on Cape Cod. Even at night on the Cape, there was always lights. There were lighthouses and buoys providing guidance and safety to passing boats and ships in the night. 

In the middle of the Adirondacks, there was nothing but wilderness. We had camped in the middle of 14,000 acres of nothingness. It is the least inhabited area of New York State. The stars in the sky go on forever.

We gazed at the stars for I don’t know how long. It felt like forever, and it was a beautiful forever. It was one of those nights where you just didn’t want it to end, and it didn’t – until it did.

It felt like we were the only two people in the universe, sitting on a rock in the middle of a lake gazing at the stars. In an attempt to not break the magic of the moment, Lily spoke in a whisper, “we can do this, right?”

I knew what she was asking. We were in a long distance relationship. I had left Massachusetts to come back to New York for school. Lily had stayed in Massachusetts. I had wanted to stay with her, but I couldn’t. The small liberal arts college we had attended cut my major. I was there on scholarship. I needed to complete my education. Unfortunately, that meant coming back to New York where I still had residency and tuition was cheaper.

Even though I had absolutely no clue the answer – I had no idea if we could do it or not – I gave her the only answer I could – “yes” – because in that moment, I believed.

We whispered into the night, talking over the logistics of our situation. We both had goals we were trying to achieve. Life took unexpected twists and turns in our endeavor to reach those goals. We were up against some pretty daunting odds. The world at the time was a scary place. There were so many things to navigate.

Despite all the hurdles, we spoke of our hopes and dreams that night. I believed. I believed we would make them all come true. “Yes, Lily. We can do this. We’ve got to.”

Little did we both know what lay ahead of the two of us over the next 23 years. We didn’t know all the twists and turns life and society would take. 

In that moment, sitting there on Contemplation Rock, as we came to call it, we both believed that no matter what life would bring, we would always come back to each other, even if it was only as ships passing in the night. 

Stay tuned for another Tale from my Surfboard, honoring memories of loved ones lost to COVID. To be continued …

Wonderful Year 2021

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The past two years have been hard for everyone. I’ve lost so many people to COVID that I don’t bother to keep count anymore. It’s more than 10. Last year was especially difficult. Despite the challenges, I have to say that 2021 was a wonderful year.

One of my favorite holiday movies is It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. It’s about the lowest point in a person’s life and how a community came together to help them. It sounds cheerful, but the ending is only happy in contrast to the dark depths of despair that led to the conclusion.

This year was one of my most challenging. I lost my job for the first time ever. In over 25 years of working, I have never been unemployed before. On top of that, someone stole my identity and committed fraud on my social security number so I was not able to access unemployment. To add insult to injury, my former employer knew about the fraud – at least 5 months before they terminated me – and never told me about it or did anything to respond to the Department of Labor’s inquiry about suspicious activity, 

I was absolutely terrified last spring that I was going to end up homeless, separated from the cats, dead from COVID, or some combination of the three. I’ve lived through some pretty tough times, but last spring was the worst.

One friend from childhood stepped up and organized a GoFundMe for me. People I’ve never met donated. It took a community, but that community and those donations paid our monthly bills while I was unemployed and searching for work. It took me two months to find a new job.

Thankfully in the middle of this mess, internet service and improved cell phone service finally reached my rural little area. I was able to find a permanent remote job. I am able to pay the bills and keep us all together.

Much like Bedford Falls came together to help George, the pets and humans of Cats of Twitter (and also just kind humans), came together to help me. I cannot express how thankful I am and always will be for the kindness and generosity that helped us through that trying time. Unemployment is not something I ever want to experience again.

It truly has been a wonderful year.

I am thankful that I am able to work from home. I can be home with the cats. They are my favorite coworkers. I will always treasure this time I am getting to be at home with them. 

I am thankful that 2021 was the best year of my running career in nearly a decade. This was my highest mileage year since 2015. In 2016, I was in the hospital with a bad MS epsiode. It’s been a long, hard road to get back to this point. Not only was this my highest mileage year, but I successfully completed two half marathons within a week of each other. 

I typically have to space my races 5-6 months apart. I have never had races this close on the calendar before. I was able to achieve medals 19 and 20. It’s hard to believe that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and I currently have 20 marathon medals. 

Sometimes I do get sad and lonely about all of the people I have lost in the pandemic. I can list on my fingers the number of people I know from before the pandemic who are still alive. The people I lost cannot be replaced. However, this past year, I have made new friends. I think I have more friends right now than I have ever had in my life. I am so grateful for each one. I treasure every one.

All of the friends I have made, I have not met in person. I have met them online through the amazing Cats of Twitter community. Yes, we are on Twitter. My cats are very popular on the internet and they don’t even know it.

I treasure the friends I have made. Some talk to me daily. It’s nice to have people to talk to again about my day and to hear about how their day went. I love learning about new people, new places, new cultures. In a world of pandemic cruelty, there are still good and kind people in this world.

We sent more Christmas photo cards this year than we have ever sent. (I do still have some left, so if we missed you, let me know,) I do Chrsitmas photo cards so people can see the cats. The past few years in the pandemic, they have become the only way people get to see me too.

I have a friend in England who sent me a package of the most beautiful Chrismtas presents I have ever received. We have never met in real life, but I feel like she knows me. Each gift was useful, meaningful, and precious. The artwork above was done by her daughter of the three cats for me.

Another package arrived the week before Christmas unlabeled. I had to figure out who sent it (I did). It was from another online friend I have never met and was filled with presents. It’s not the presents themselves that mattered. It’s the kindness and the thoughtfulness in them. Again, this person has never met me in person, and yet every item seemed like it was chosen just for me. Every present was perfect.

I was in foster care when younger. I remember getting Christmas presents and feeling like a third wheel. I was one of those kids you “adopt” for the holidays – the ones where you pick a tag off a charity tree to shop for a 15 year old girl. Yes, I received lovely, age appropriate gifts. Yes, I was thankful to receive the gifts and to be remembered on Christmas. Yet, the gifts were not personal. It was just a tag on a tree where some stranger bought presents for a child they never met.

Even though I have not met my online friends in-person, the gifts they sent me were all personal. I feel so special and so loved. For the first time in my life, I am not just a tag on a charity tree. People cared enough to do something nice for me.

Of course, the best gift this Christmas is the fact that the cats and I are still together. We are together thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers who stepped up and helped us during our time of need last spring. I will be forever grateful to all the people who donated to keep us all together this year. I am in awe and amazement of your kindness. It is humbling.

As challenging as 2021 may have been, it really has been a wonderful year. 
Thank you to everyone for loving us and supporting us through these challenging times. I am amazed and delighted that there is still kindness in the world. I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with the cats helping them live their best lives. 

Tales from my Surfboard Part 3: The Drive-In

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It was one of those rare visits when we actually had the entire day to spend together. My visits were short due to my work schedule. I typically only had off from work from the time I got off Friday night until I went in for my next overnight shift Sunday night. 

Since Lily worked second shift, if I drove to the Cape Friday night, we would have Saturday morning together before she went to work. If I waited until Saturday morning to make the drive, we were like two ships passing in the night. Hello / goodbye / don’t forget the Red Sox are playing tonight.

On this particular visit, I made the drive Friday night and Lily had all day Saturday off. We did not have any set plan for the day other than traveling down Cape. We planned to drive the Old King’s Highway towards Provincetown. We did not actually expect to go to P-town on this visit. We were just going to load the surfboard on top of the Prius, throw the beach bags in the trunk and set out for the scenic drive to see where we ended up. 

That’s what we did.

Windows down, car CD player blaring, we enjoyed the lazy scenic drive. Traffic was light on 6A. We were not headed towards any tourist destinations. 

It was about mid-morning when we realized that in our excitement, we had headed out without breakfast. We had just wanted to get on the road to beat the heat of the day.

It was convenient then, when we saw a little sandwich board on the side of the road that had “Coffee Ahead!” written on it in chalk. The sun was shining, and there was a gentle breeze as we were close to the ocean. There were 3 signs for coffee ahead in total.

There was just a dirt parking lot near a small structure that looked a bit like a lemonade stand. It appeared to be staffed by a bunch of college kids on their summer break. This was their summer job in exchange for time on the Cape, we supposed. We both ordered delicious coffee and had muffins that were bigger than any muffin I’ve ever had. The muffins were so big, they could have been waffles in another life.

We enjoyed our stop in this little garden type area and carried on. Fortified with coffee and muffins, we decided to head to Truro and have a glass of wine before the weekend got busy with tasting.

The winery had just opened when we arrived. We had fun looking around the gift shop. We headed outside to the back veranda. There was a nice stone area with a beautiful garden and tables dotted about. We decided to forego tasting and just asked for one glass – a rose for Lily and the driest white on offer for me. We sat peacefully listening to music. There was a quartet of musicians in the garden playing music that made it feel like we were relaxing in a fairy place.

We stayed relaxing until just after lunch when it started to get busy with tasters coming in for the day. We had lunch at our little garden hideaway table. I remember it as one of the most delicious grilled sandwiches I had ever had. The sandwiches were grilled outside in the garden with us too. 

We purchased a case of wine, a few glasses and momentos, and loaded those in the trunk with our beach bags. I remember picking out some of the signature wines that were in glass bottles made like lighthouses. 

Lunch out of the way, we still had no agenda. Lily and I once again cruised down old 6A just to see what we could find. 

We found a little secluded beach just outside of Truro and set up a cozy little beach camp for a few hours. It was one of those perfect days. I remember it being a day full of sunshine, water, sand, and laughter. 

We just played on the beach until well into the evening when we were hungry again. That beach was almost like our own private oasis. Only a few other beachgoers were there that day. 

After a day in the sun, we headed down the Cape a little more looking for food again.

We did not have far to travel when we came across a little ice cream stand that also had food items – hot dogs and fries, things like that. We decided that worked and enjoyed our dinner surrounded by families with small children and groups of teens out for some summer fun. 

There was a bulletin board at the ice cream shop /hot dog stand where we happened to see the listing for the drive-in in Wellfleet. There wasn’t anything I really wanted to see, but one flick that Lily did. The drive-in offered two shows. The first show was some Godzilla-like thing followed by the picture that Lily wanted to see.

Of course, we headed to Wellfleet to the drive-in.

We tuned the radio to the station required to be able to hear the movie sound. I remember getting our beach blankets out of the trunk. We cuddled together in the backseat to watch the movies with our legs up on the headrests. It was cramped in the backseat of a Prius, but that was also what made it nice.

I don’t remember the movies much, although I do remember the movie that she had wanted to see. I made sure to buy the DVD of it and have seen it many times since. It was actually a book that had been made into a movie. I remember our only argument over seeing that particular movie was that I had said “but I haven’t read the book first.” Lily laughed and said it didn’t matter. We would watch it anyway and could read the book later. 

To this day, I think it’s the only time I’ve seen a movie before reading the book of something.

I remember how much fun we had at the drive-in that night. It was the most magical time.

I don’t even remember the drive home after. I remember we had the most perfect day. 

Of course, Sunday morning I had to leave for home so that I could go to work that day. 

The drive-in we went to is closed now. I will always remember that day as special.

To be continued with another Tale from My Surfboard.  

 

The Aesthete Blogger Award

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Thank you so much to @CompassStories for nominating me! I’ve been so glad to meet you and to read your work. I enjoy following your stories on wordpress and on twitter.

To learn more about the Aesthete Blogger award, here is the original post and creator:

Admita @ The fictional journal and their 

https://thefictionaljournal.wordpress.com/2021/03/23/the-aesthete-blogger-award/

(I am not the best on technology, so hopefully I am doing all the rules correctly.)

Tell me something about this world that you admire.

I would have to say resiliency. Even in the face of adversity, people persevere. We are able to find creative solutions to difficult problems. No matter how bad things get, people keep going and don’t give up. When people use that resiliency to show kindness to others is when I think humanity is at it’s best. 

What is your favorite form of creativity?

This one is so hard! I love art, music, photography, writing, theatre. It’s just hard to choose. If I absolutely had to choose, I would say slam poetry. Slam poetry combines a piece of those other elements I love. It is a performance art form of the spoken word and is a type of theatre. I have written and performed one slam poetry piece, only because I find I have to be truly inspired to work in that medium. 

 

@CompassStories questions:

What do you enjoy most about your work?

To my surprise and delight, my work has evolved in ways I never thought would happen. I started my blog as a way to showcase my photography with short life quips and posts on simple living. In addition to simple living, I am also writing reflective autobiographical pieces (Tales from my Surfboard) and have started writing fiction. I am very proud of the fact that all of the images on my blog over the past six years is my own original photography. However, I have gotten away from the landscape photography focus and have put more of myself into my writing. I have been vulnerable in ways I didn’t think I would allow myself to do. It’s been freeing, really.

How have you gained an audience over time?

I’m still not sure how many people that follow me are real or are robots (sorry, folks!). I try to keep things real, genuine, honest. I just keep putting myself out there. I figure even if no one reads it, it’s an exercise for me just to put myself out there. I’m honestly not sure about gaining an audience. I’ve never gone for the numbers. To me it’s more an outlet for my voice, whether my voice is heard or I’m screaming into the abyss.

What’s your favorite season and why?

My favorite season is fall. I’m a marathon runner, and all the best races are in fall. It’s easier to train through summer than it is through 4 feet of snow in winter! I love the fall weather and the leaves. I also have MS, so fall weather in the 50 degree fahrenheit range is perfect for me. It’s the magical time of year when it’s baseball season, hockey season, running season and football season all at the same time. I also love to go camping in fall.

What are your current favorite shows?

I don’t have cable and I do not stream shows online. I work at a computer all day, so streaming a show on the computer during leisure time is not relaxing for me! I do have favorite shows that I watch on DVD, so they tend to be older shows. My five favorite shows are: Cheers, MASH, Star Trek: The Original Series, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Six Feet Under (only one of the 5 I don’t own on DVD – I borrowed them from the library). 

Share something you created:

I recently started writing fiction. I am currently working on a three-part short-story series set in a fictional town called Golden Fork in the Gold Rush Era of the United States. I have had a few private readers of part one. I am currently working on part two of the series. 

In Honor of my Aesthete Blogger Award nomination, here is an exclusive: 

Never before published or revealed: The Golden Fork Series (working title) Part One: Prologue 

Prologue

The peddler turned his carriage around the bend late in the afternoon. This would be his last stop of the day before bedding down for the night. The past few days, he had been traveling through remote homesteads with miles between each one. After this house, he would travel almost a week to reach the booming town of Golden Fork that had sprung up near a mine.

It was a good thing, too. The peddler was low on wares and needed to reach a place with more people to replenish his wagon. Business had been good on this trip. Many people were stocking up on things for the holidays coming.

As the peddler started up to the last house, a young girl started running toward him. He stopped, unsure of whether there was some emergency or she was just eager for his wares.

As she approached him breathlessly, he could see she carried a bundle. The peddler stopped the horses and waited for her to catch her breath. He tipped his hat “Ma’am.”

“Hello, Sir. Are you by chance heading towards the mining town?”

“I am,” he replied.

“I’m wondering if you might be willing to give me a ride to the town?”

The peddler was puzzled. The mining town of Golden Fork was a week’s trip on horse. “Ah, look here, miss. I don’t take passengers. I’m not a ferry or a train. You don’t have kinfolk to go to town? What do you need and I can see if I have it here in my wagon.”

The girl was insistent. “Please, Sir. There is no train here. I just have to leave. I won’t be any trouble to you. Look here,” she uncovered the package she held in her arms. “I can pay my way,” she continued. “I do fine embroidery and millinery work. You can have these linens to sell in exchange for my passage. I have skills. I intend to find work in the town.”

The peddler looked at the most beautiful handiwork he had seen and thought of how much he could charge for it. The holidays were coming and people were spending their savings on fine gifts. He pulled on his beard, thoughtful, and looked towards the house. If there was someone else home, they were either inside the home or out in the field. He looked at the girl more closely.

“How old are ye, miss? It wouldn’t be proper for me to take a traveler all that way with no chaperone. Are you running away from something?”

The girl stood taller and looked more dignified than her 18 years. “I’m old enough to know my own mind. I need passage to the town for work. They won’t miss me here. The wages are needed more than my company.”

The peddler looked back at the home again. It was still quiet. He was thoughtful. “What else do you have in that package?” He asked. “I’m low on supplies and would not want to be accused of being inappropriate with a female as I roll into town.”

The girl answered, “I have enough food for myself for 5 days. If you can share some supplies, I am willing to do more handiwork to earn my passage if you have something in your wagon that can be embroidered or sewn.”

He continued to stare at her.

“I’ve lived here all my life. Worked the land too. I’m fine sleeping on the ground if you sleep in the wagon so it is proper. Please, I need passage to town.” 

The house continued to be silent. Still skeptical about the arrangement, the peddler gave a slight nod. He knew what it was like for your wages to be needed more than your company. He held a hand out to the girl and helped her into the wagon. 

“There are some linens back there. You can do what you can,” he said. 

“Thank you, Sir,” she beamed back at him as she accepted his offer of a hand into the wagon. 

With the girl named Rose aboard, the peddler looked again at the forlorn house. He turned the horses and started on the trail that would lead to Golden Fork. It was time to be going and find a safe place to bed down for the night. 

Rose did not say much on the trip to Golden Fork. The peddler still wondered if she was running from something. At the same time, he was glad for the quiet. The peddler had never before taken on a passenger. True to her word, Rose went through all of the items in the wagon and was able to sew and embroider even the most simple of scarves into things of beauty. He would definitely be able to raise his prices on those items for the holidays. 

Being a gentleman, the peddler did not take her up on her offer to for her to sleep on the ground on the journey. He had her sleep in the wagon and he slept on the ground. He figured it would be safer if she was out of sight. The last thing he wanted was to be accused of being inappropriate. This arrangement was weird enough as it was.

After a long week of traveling, Rose and the peddler were only about a mile outside of Golden Fork. 

“Where should I drop you when we get into town?” The peddler asked. 

Rose tried to think of a way to evade the question. She had never been into town and had no idea what was there or what to expect. “Oh, just on Main Street will be fine,” she replied.

The peddler raised an eyebrow. He seemed to know that she didn’t really have a destination in mind. He wondered again if there was something from which she was running. She was a polite young girl, but not much of a conversationalist over the past week they had traveled. 

Rose stayed in the back of the wagon as they made their way into town. The peddler ignored her request of Main Street, thinking it would look improper for him to just drop her off there without a chaperone. The peddler made his way to a side street of town, where he could stable the horse and park the wagon. There was a boarding house in town for miners and other traveling menfolk. He had never seen females at the boarding house and wondered where Rose would stay in town.

That wasn’t his business. The peddler had already become too involved when he agreed to take her on as a passenger. He pulled up to the stable where the horses would stay and let Rose know she could come down from the wagon. 

Rose exited the wagon with bright, wide eyes. She seemed to take everything in as if she was seeing town for the first time. She actually was, but the peddler didn’t know that. 

“Look here,” the peddler started. “You have kin or someplace to stay? There is a boarding house, but it’s for mining men. I’m not sure where a young lady would stay.”

“Oh, I’m off to find a job with board,” Rose jutted her chin out with confidence. “I’m sure that my skills are in demand here in town.” 

The peddler looked at her skeptically and then offered, “Hey, you did nice work on those scarves. You should take one with you so you have a piece of your work to show them like how you showed me.” 

Rose nodded and thanked the peddler for letting her take a scarf. He knew she would not accept coin for her work and it would look improper if he were to give her coin here in front of the stables. 

“Well, time to get the horses taken care of and the wagon put away. Good luck to you,” said the peddler.

“Thank you for the hospitality,” Rose replied.

She hesitated before leaving. The peddler reminded her “I’ll be at the boarding house for a few days before I take off again.”

Rose nodded. She smiled, and then started off from the stables towards Main Street and her new life.

Main Street was busy. But then, being from the country, Rose had never seen an actual Main Street. She knew Golden Fork was a mining town but it didn’t dawn on her just how many men would be about. 

Main Street held a boarding house, a saloon, a barber, general store, a dinner room, and a post office. It appeared that there were other businesses on some of the side streets too. So far she had not seen a dress shop or a millinery. Those might be on a side street. 

Rose looked around to try to find a friendly face to ask for directions. It seemed like there were a lot of men in a hurry. It was early morning, and they all seemed on their way out of town to the mines. 

Out of the corner of her eye, Rose caught a woman, a little bit older than herself, duck into the general store. Of course! The general store would be the perfect place to start her search in looking for work. She could sew and make clothes for them to sell. 

Determined, she hiked up her skirts and headed towards the general store.

(This has been your exclusive sneak peak at the fictional Gold Rush town of Golden Fork in 1849.)

Nominate some people and spread the love:

Lou Farrell @LouFarr00389955

Ami @DaysWithAmi

Lia @ConduitOfMagic 

Rebecca @chipmunkofpower

Sue Kerr @PghLesbian24

My four questions to my nominees:

What inspired you to start your blog / writing? 

What is your favorite time of day and setting where you feel most creative?

What is your favorite coffee or tea and why?

What is your favorite era of history and why?

Aesthete Award Rules:

  • Use the official logo/graphic of the award and display it on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Show some love to the one who nominated you!
  • Mention the creator (Asmita@ the Fictional Journal) and link it back to the original post.
  • Tell me a something about this world that you admire.
  • What is your favourite form of creativity?
  • Nominate 7 lovely people and notify them by commenting on their posts; spread some love!
  • Ask your nominees 4 questions.
  • Share something you created. (can be anything!)
  • And lastly, just so you know: I LOVE YOUR CREATIONS!

Tales from my Surfboard Part 2: The Window

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We did not set out to live a Melissa Etheridge song, it just kind of turned out that way. Of course, I had a key to the house. I arrived at Lily’s fairly late – it was about 2 am. I drove straight through to get there as soon as I got off work. 

I knew she was still up or had just gone to bed. She worked second shift and it takes time to wind down after work. That, and the Red Sox had won that night. I’m sure she had danced around the living room about that. 

Completely bypassing the front door, I went to the bedroom window, which was already partway open to let in the night air. It was August and the weather was hot. She lived a few blocks from the ocean, so the breeze was not as strong here, but there was enough to allow some relief from the summer heat. 

I opened the window the rest of the way and climbed through. I had been doing this for years. I used to use the door when I arrived, until the Big Commitment Fight. Since that, I always entered through the window when I first arrived.

We had been playing this game for about 6 years now. I had a key. I used to use the front door. Lily started talking about commitment and moving in together. We had been through this before. The last time she talked commitment, I moved out of state (there were other factors that went into that decision too). Yet, I still kept coming back. When someone is your soul mate, you are still drawn to them, no matter how scared you may be.

Well, the Big Commitment Fight, I stated that I would not move in. I didn’t have a reason, or at least, not a valid one. The reason was fear. I was young, I was broken, and I was terrified of commitment to something good. You see, I was much better at self-sabotage than I was at making things work.

Well, anyways, in the course of the Big Commitment Fight, Lily screamed at me “The next time you walk through that door, you better be prepared to stay.” Thus, the reason why I now climbed through the window when I first arrive. 

She knew I was coming. I always called or sent a text message ahead of time. Sometimes she had weeks notice. Sometimes I said “I’m at Trader Joe’s (in Hyannis) what do you want for dinner?” I always gave a heads up of my arrival. Even though I had a key and an open invitation, I didn’t want to abuse it. After all, I didn’t live there.

We were friends, first and foremost. We had this unspoken agreement. If one of us was with someone, we were just friends. The times when we were both “available,” we were with each other. I knew on this particular visit that Lily was alone.

I climbed through the window at 2 am. Lily stirred, so I whispered “hey it’s me,” and she went back to sleep. I crept to the kitchen and put my car keys on the table before settling in and getting ready for bed.

That was another part of our unspoken arrangement – the car keys. We always traded keys via the kitchen table. Lily’s Prius had the necessary roof rack and ties to transport my surfboard that my Corolla did not. Her Prius also had all the requisite stickers and tags that allowed me access to the beaches using a local vehicle. When I drove the Prius into beach parking, they never even checked my license to see I wasn’t a Massachusetts resident. They just noticed all the tags on the car checked out. Lily would take the keys to my New York Corolla so she had it for work and errands.

Keys on the table, I jumped in the shower quick before bed. I was careful not to get water all over the floor. One of Lily’s complaints every time I visit – “there is sand everywhere.” I didn’t want to make a bigger mess than necessary. 

Shower taken, I climbed into bed. Tomorrow was Saturday. I was going to get up and take my board to one of my favorite beaches. Lily had to work, but that was okay. We had the morning to spend together before she had to work. I fell asleep looking forward to tomorrow. 

To be continued …