[As I write this post, Site #143 is occupied]
On December 30, 2015, around noon, the radio in our red Ford Escape will begin to emit static. It will crackle and hiss as my favorite country music station fades in strength. Fort Myers will be receding, falling away into the south…into the muggy soupy haze. The traffic on I-75 will be roaring past us. The final songs are playing. I hear the lines:
“Lookin’ in every trailer park for her red pick-up truck…”
“If you’re gonna cheat on me, don’t cheat in our hometown…”
“There’s a tiger inside of those tight fittin’ jeans…”
I think I hear,
“Tell it like it used to be, when you were still in love with me, before you got so used to me, and wanted someone new…”
Wait, a signal burst from the station,
“Billy gave up his wife and children…just to satisfy your 14 carat mind.”
and, just as the faint sounds of the best country music station in Florida fades into the ionosphere,
“You never called me ‘darlin’, darlin’…you never even called me by my name.”
“Before you got so used to me…” It’s not that we are “used” to Florida, its just that the calendar will turn over in a few dozen hours to 2016 and we have places to see. Former sharecroppers shacks in the southern cotton and soy bean fields and places in the western deserts. We’re trading the Royal Palm trees for the Saguaro. If you open your Rand McNally and look at the U.S. map, we will be riding along the belly of this great and varied country. Landscapes will change…but the heart of this traveler will be setting a course toward the sunsets.
Our days and nights in Florida are at an end. A night in Fort McCoy, another in Tallahassee and then we begin making our way through the heart of the deep south. Mobile, Natchez and Vicksburg. There are campsites waiting for us. I have important personal business in Monroe, Louisiana…I hope it’s not hot and glaring in the sun when I sit beside that headstone in the cemetery in Monroe. Then Shreveport and onto Dallas. Mariam will fly back to New York City for several days of business-related meetings. I’ll stay back…back in Texas where I will plug away on my novel. I’ll sleep alone in the Lone Star state. How much trouble can I get into while scribbling away in Arlington.
What are we leaving behind us? So many things, mostly pleasant and a few not so. The heat and humidity, unusual this year, will not be missed by me. (But, I do enjoy going outside without wearing fleece.)
[Big Cypress Wildlife Refuge]
We’re leaving our friends in Jupiter, Brad and Linda, who were so gracious a few weekends ago on the Atlantic coast.
We’re leaving my high school classmate, Katy (and her husband) who prepared a wonderful lunch for us in Zephyrhills. Katy is my proof-reader. We’re leaving my teaching colleague, Dianna (and her husband) who showed us the sunny side of St. Petersburg. Dianna is a transplanted Connecticut yankee. Good luck in the Florida heat, Dianna. Teach those children well.
We’re leaving the sublime beauty and stark nature of the Big Cypress and Everglades Parks.
The malls, the walls, the sand and the alligators. The seashells of Sanibel. The sunsets over the Gulf. My learning to sail with Russell and sailing teacher, Randen.
I will miss the Bike Bistro, where I bought a mug and had Mariam’s broken spokes repaired. (The free ball-point pens were orange-colored). Farewell to Paulette and Emily who provided me with the best iced coffee on the hottest of days. They were more than baristas, they became my friends.
[Paulette (left) is a gifted artist & Emily (right) has a dog-siting business. They are the top two baristas in Fort Myers]
Gone will be the pink flamingo yard ornaments, adult tricycles, golf carts and circling Turkey Vultures.
Out of my life, like a cool breeze on a hot day, will pass the best public libraries this side of 42nd Street.
I will no longer drive along San Carlos Boulevard and tip my cap at the strippers who are all standing in front of Fantasy’s, waving to the passers-by.
New adventures are awaiting us on the roads to the West.
If you’ve read between the lines of my posts, you may have noticed that this writer is a restless soul. I feel unspeakably lonely sometimes, even when Mariam and friends are near. It’s my dark side. My nightly companion is a melancholy that can’t be described easily. Have you ever dreaded something and welcomed that thing in equal portions? Love and hate. Approach and avoidance. The beautiful and the obscene. The sacred and the profane.
Clearly, almost certainly, it’s the air sign of mine. Gemini. The twins. Perhaps that explains my dual nature.
But, I think I can be fixed, like an old Chevy with faded paint that’s not running on all cylinders. Yes, I think I’ve found the place that could be my Fountain of Youth. I stumbled on this ghost town while googling the Mohave Desert. I’ve never been there, but I know it exists. It will be an unusual place and it bears the oddest of names. It’s in the California desert. It’s alongside the dunes and sage and cacti of the Southwest. I’m not going to tell you (yet) where this place is located. You will need to stay in touch.
Keep reading my posts. I have so much more to share.
Good-bye Site #143. It’s been a great two months. Perhaps we can do this again sometime. I’ll buy the wine and pay for the room if you sing that song I love…