Monday, August 5, 2019

A Story

When I was a senior in high school I applied to exactly two colleges. One was Duke because that's where I wanted to go and my back-up was the University of Denver because, well, it's a short story but it involves my stepfather and I do not care to go into it. Frankly, I think he wanted me as far away as possible.
Anyway, although I tested quite well and had good SAT's, my grades were not perfect. I had missed three months of school in my Junior year due to almost dying from mononucleosis and although before I got sick I had been a practically perfect in every way student, after I recovered I simply wasn't as obsessed with getting straight A's.
Almost dying will do that to you.
So Duke sent me a nice letter saying that no, they would not accept me in the fall but would accept me for the spring semester following that whereas DU (yes, DU) was happy to take me as I was as soon as possible. Since there was no way I was going to stay in Winter Haven, Florida in that house for one more day than was absolutely necessary, I signed right up for whatever Denver had to offer.
Of course, I'd never been to Denver but I'd just gotten back from a fairly extensive tour of Europe with a group and felt quite cosmopolitan and shit and was sure that I could handle Denver. Why not? The brochure looked pretty good. Interesting buildings, trees on campus, mountains to the west.
So my parents flew out there with me and when we approached the city I thought to myself, "Dear god, what have I done?" Denver was not green. It was brown. Instead of lakes and rivers and an ocean there were mountains so high that they looked as if they might pierce the sky in a painful way. Well. There I was.
I got settled into my dorm, met my roommate, a rather awkward but sweet girl who was actually from Denver and began my fairly brief college career in Colorado.
I was such a round hole in a square peg and I won't get into all the ways that was true but let's just put it this way- I was so fucking miserable. I was homesick for my tribe and the boyfriend I'd left behind. I listened to Joni Mitchell's "Blue" relentlessly. I entered my first real bout of depression. And the worst thing of all was the lack of trees and water. I just...could not deal with that. I'd go to the Botanical Gardens and walk around and smell plants and cry.
I stuck it out for a year and a half but that was all I could do. I was a complete mess. When I went home for a Christmas holiday I started up a romance with a guy who lived in Tallahassee. The boyfriend I'd left behind had left me behind but this boy, this different boy, was sweet and he told me, "If you hate Denver, move to Tallahassee. You can live with me."
Poor thing. I took him up on it.
And basically, that's how I came to live here. That was forty-five years ago.
The romance did not last and I think I lived with that sweet boy for about a week but then I was taken in by a friend of his, a woman I love to this day. And honestly, I still love that boy and we are still friends so it all worked out.
But I'll never forget driving from Denver to Tallahassee in my little, crappy Ford Capri with my rocking chair (still have it), my pressure cooker (I've replaced it), and my parakeets (dead a long, long time now) and how I felt when the country I was driving through went from dry and bare and spare and cold to verdant and green and humid and warm and goddammit, I was so happy.
And in an example of extreme ironic coincidence, just as I started writing about trees here and how much I love them and all of the green that grows around me I suddenly heard a huge cracking, ripping noise which I know all too well from hurricanes and storms and which sent a huge jolt of adrenalin through my body (I am sitting on my back porch) and then the whush of leaves as they are being dropped from one place to another and finally, the loud crash of a large tree limb hitting the ground.
When I tell you that the earth shakes a bit when this happens I am not kidding you.

That, my friends, is a hellvasciously large pecan limb and somehow it avoided taking out part of the porch roof OR the AC unit. It just grazed one of my camellias. 
Time to get out the chain saw. Well, not for me to use but for Glen to use. Cut, haul, burn. 
I love my trees with all of my heart but they can kill you dead if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time but I will live with that threat gladly because if I'd had to live in Denver for another year I probably would have died at the age of twenty. 
Please know that I am not disparaging Denver or Colorado. Some people are mountain people and they find themselves at home and their souls at peace in the mountains, whether those of the Rockies or the Smokies or the Alps. But as I said yesterday, I am a flatlander and a southerner, too, to be honest. I need the water and the warmth. I need an ocean nearby. I need the grace of the green for my heart to be at home. As beautiful as mountains are I never feel like I belong on one although I have had some beautiful times on a few. I can appreciate their beauty and their majesty but they are not where I belong. 

Sometimes I am not sure I belong here, either. I moved to Tallahassee on a whim and an invitation which was no doubt given with the thought that I'd never accept it. I came to call it home. I made friends who are still friends to this day. I learned to love the rivers and the beaches although to me, the ocean will always be the Atlantic which is where I lived when I was a young child. Still- saltwater. I have come to love the ancient oaks, the Spanish moss which drapes their limbs, the azaleas, the camellias, the ferns and palmetto, the canopy roads, and the red dirt. I stuck around. I fell in love with another man from Winter Haven and he ended up moving here and playing music with a guy I met the first day I arrived in Tallahassee. We had two kids. It was okay for a few years and then it wasn't. We divorced and I went to nursing school and met a guy in a bar who was inappropriately tall. He asked me to dance (my ex-husband's band was playing) and before I knew it, he'd claimed the highest shelf in my closet and was giving my children Christmas presents and you know the rest. 
We had two more children. He built businesses. The children grew up, some of them had babies of their own. And now I am as rooted here as one of the oaks and I could no more leave this place than I could leave my own body. 
Which I will someday. 
But probably not today. 

My last remaining baby of Dearie's is laying eggs now. This is what they look like. 

Can you see how round her eggs are? Such a pretty egg. 
I am getting seven eggs a day now. When the babies start laying, and it looks to me like they all may actually be hens but I've been wrong before- I could theoretically get eleven eggs a day. 
I live in a place which is not only verdant but fecund. And I suppose that's where I'm meant to be although I don't really believe in fate or "meant to be." Things happen. Boy kisses girl. Girl packs her car. One Capri carload of stuff becomes enough stuff to fill a huge old house, to furnish the life of a wife, a mother a grandmother. 

That's how it goes. 

That's how it is. 

Love...Ms. Moon

P.S. Those trees in the DU brochure? They were not there. Fuck them. 
P.P.S. That awkward, sweet girl who was my roommate eventually became the State's Attorney for Colorado and then the Secretary of the Interior for George W. Bush. I am not shitting you. And by the way- she DID inhale. 


  1. Super random Colorado related question. Did Jessie meet Vergil in Colorado? I had a memory the other week when you posted some pictures and I'm wondering if I made it up or have a bizarrely complex brain.

    1. No. They actually met in North Carolina at the Swannanoa Music Gathering. But Vergil WAS living in Boulder, Colorado at the time. So you have an excellent memory!

    2. Oh good. Just enough memory to not be extremely creepy :)

  2. How I agree! I travel this country over, and my heart sings when I begin driving the rolling hills of the Connecticut Western Reserve that I've called home these seventy odd years. It's mine, it's green, and my trees are oak and maple, and maple syrup. See you tomorrow.

    1. We who live in our heart-places are so lucky.

  3. Dear Mary, I looked up information on Las Novedades. It began in 1890 but was sold to a chain in 1972 that went belly up. The building was sold again becoming the rather notorious El Goya, a club that is now also defunct.

    1. Oh e! Now I feel ashamed. I could have looked it up too. I'm sorry it's gone. I went there a few times and it seemed magical.

    2. No need to feel was every bit as historical to Ybor as the Columbia, an interesting piece of history that was gone before I came. Thanks for your question.

  4. How can you have written this blog for so long and NOT TOLD us this stuff? I am so glad that you did. It's another puzzle piece in the beautiful life of Mary Moon which you have been so kind to spin stories from for over a decade. I'm with you on the trees and the flatland and the water. Do you know I went to UNC in Chapel Hill because I loved the trees?

    1. I think I have talked about some of this before. Maybe not to this extent. And oh, there are more stories! The two hour exam I walked out of after ten minutes...
      I think I may have told you this but I'm pretty sure my mother went to Chapel Hill when it was an all woman's college.

  5. Now that's a story. Life is so serendipitous and yet sometimes exactly right.

    1. I think we perceive things as turning out the right way because it's the way they turned out. Who knows? I think about parallel universes a lot when we chose this boy's kiss and not that one. You know what I mean?

  6. You've definitely had an eventful life. Glad you're where you need to be right now.

    1. I have had some adventures. That is the truth.

  7. I am a Denver girl living in Ohio now. BUT when I left Colorado I lived in Tallahassee for 11 months. I couldn't even make it a year. The thick trees made me claustrophobic. I was used to wide open spaces (like the Dixie Chicks, lol). I followed my husband to Tallahassee and to a few more places before we landed here in Ohio. I am lucky to still have family in Denver to visit. It is interesting how much our environment impacts our memories and comfort. -Sarah in Columbus

    1. We are opposites! And I find that delightful! Yin/Yang. Balance in all things.

  8. Yes. It is strange how entire lives can be built upon accidental happenings - totally unplanned. After Denver, did you complete your college education elsewhere? By the way, I love the word "fecund" but I doubt that I have ever used it.

    1. I did, Mr. P. I got my BSN in nursing at Florida State University. I think I have used "fecund" in conversation a few times but got mystified looks. It is not a commonly used word but it is a good one.

  9. I get it. I remember being at a work conference in Albuquerque (high altitude like Denver). My boss and I were standing outside looking at the landscape--desert far as the eye could see. I asked him if he could imagine himself living there (we both live within half a mile of the Chesapeake Bay) and he said, "Do you see green? Blue water? No. Just no." Funnily enough, my in-laws live there now, so I visit. But even though it has a beauty of its own, there is no way I could live in the desert.

    1. Exactly. No green of trees, no blue of water. And quite frankly, incredibly tall mountains freak me out. So do giant waves, though. Maybe it's just a height thing.

  10. OMG! parallel lives!!! I had a Capri. I loved that car. it's been my favorite car ever, well, except for the Volvo I guess which I drove for 24 years. the Capri was eventually hauled off for scrap. it just was never the same after getting hit for the third time in the same spot. as for college I also made an inappropriate choice , was miserable for the year I attended and with only 6 weeks left in the second semester was set up for smoking pot and kicked out. I lasted longer than many who got kicked out much earlier. they couldn't catch me until they set me up with a stooge. and yeah, mountains are nice but I could never live thin them with that tiny section of sky and all that snow.

    and pecan trees. one of ours dropped a limb about that big a month or so ago and another smaller but still big is laying out in the yard right now.

    1. I ended up hating my Capri. It fell apart, bit by bit. And had no air conditioning which was fine in Colorado but not in Florida. My seats had to be propped up with boards by the time I got a new car. What color was yours? Mine was green. But it did get me a lot of miles down a lot of roads.
      What shit that you got kicked out for smoking pot. When we were in college, EVERYONE smoked pot. Jesus.
      And I agree with you about snow. It's pretty when it first falls. Magical. But then it turns gray and slushy and I don't even want to discuss trying to walk or drive on ice. How do people DO that?
      Pecan trees. Ours are old and don't really produce enough nuts to worry about but they do provide shade. And firewood.

  11. Oh Mary you made me laugh at the end of this post. You continue to amaze and delight me. I can’t imagine you in Denver. I got some serious heebee jeebees in the Sears Tower looking out at the unending prairie. We need trees and salt water to breathe. Your observations of the natural world mean so much to me thank you thank you. Every time I type ‘thank’ on my iPad Jesus pops up as the next logical word. Haha. Love

    1. When I wrote my book that got an agent and when she was helping me edit it she told me quite tactfully that it was not necessary for me to describe the sky and weather every time a character walked outside. Oh well. The book never sold anyway.
      I am glad that you like the sky and the weather and the trees and the flowers. I cannot seem to stop writing about them. They are the world we live in. They make life possible. Their beauty is my god.
      Thank Jesus for them. Although, come to think of it, they were around before he was so that's a little confusing.
      And thank Jesus for you. Animal Jesus.

  12. Yes! Parallel lives. I didn't have a capri but lasted less than a year in freezing upstate New York. Listened to Blue relentlessly too. I actually miss the humidity when I'm away from Florida. How I've come to love this crazy place with all of it's weirdness.

  13. Wow! So many things I never knew about you! This was a wonderful post -- I loved getting the backstory and the chronology once again. I only went through Denver once but my impression was the same -- brown, brown, brown.

    That limb! Holy crap! That's scary.

    And now I'm off to look up the Secretary of the Interior for George W. Bush...

  14. Oh Mary so glad that you or one of the grand babies or Glen was hurt. That is a huge pecan limb and I know how heavy they can be.

    I was brought back to the age of 15 living in a beautiful house that had a fantastic wrap around porch, lots of trees and just a beautiful place that had great energy. Our family was happy there and I cannot say that we were ever that happy again in my teenage years.
    My mom was really particular about all of us staying away from water during an electrical storm.
    This one beautiful day there was not a cloud in the sky. My boyfriend had a convertible and we were going to Lake Palestine to meet up with some friends.
    I was home alone and decided to take a bath. I loved long bubble baths because it was reading time for me. I would soak until I was a prune and the water cold.
    I was immersed into a Harlequin Romance novel when I heard a huge crack of thunder and then a loud crash that had me jumping out of my skin but that was all I could do because I was trapped in the bathtub by a huge pecan tree limb.
    Thankfully it was the upper part of the tree that crashed into our bathroom and not the heavier parts but still there was no way out and I was alone.
    Screaming didn't help because we had one neighbor and she was practically deaf. I was terrified.
    Thankfully my mom and dad arrived home. I am not sure how long I was trapped in that bathtub. I just know that I was very naked and afraid.
    I know how bad it could have been and I learned just how fast a storm could move in because I had rain pouring down on me.
    Bless You Mary that you were not hurt.
    Oh I loved the story of Denver and the egg is just too beautiful to eat! Hugs, Beth


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.