I am home. I am back from the beach, from the sweetness of being with such long-time loves. And I do not use that word lightly. What I had with these women so very long ago in nursing school was indeed love and the bond we formed then has not been loosened the least as the years and decades have passed.
I'd brought salad greens from the garden and bought some shrimp on the way to the island and I made Anne-Helene's shrimp salad for our supper. I remembered everything I needed- the avocados, the corn, the little seashell pasta, the boiled eggs, the olives, the Havarti cheese. We all sat at the table and ate and I told them the story of Anne-Helene and how she came into my life in Cozumel, me thinking she and her traveling companion were some sort of celebrities on holiday because they were so beautiful, and how a Norwegian woman ended up showing me, a Florida woman, how to make shrimp salad. I had also brought sourdough dough to let rise and bake. It had been refrigerated and then transported in a cooler and I knew it was going to take hours for that process so we saved that for another time.
We sipped and talked until relatively late after supper and shared stories, secrets, and all the things that we still, somehow feel safe sharing with each other. We are such different women but essentially, we are all the same women as we were forty years ago.
We have changed, of course, in many ways. We all had our daily pill containers, we all groaned and bitched and laughed about our aching joints and bones. None of us can remember a damn thing when it comes to names and sometimes words. The entire weekend was like a guessing game or a game of charades.
"You know- that guy. That guy that was in the movie with that woman and there was a dog? Come one- YOU know. THAT GUY!"
I have to say that google was employed frequently. Thank god for the google.
It was reassuring to us all, I think, that we are going through all of this together. If one of us is in early-stage dementia then we are all in early stage dementia.
On Friday we stayed home all day, just enjoying the beach and doing more talking and laughing. The water was quite choppy and even Terry and I didn't get in. Terry's from Colorado and last year she was the first to brave the November gulf and I jumped in after her because I would follow Terry anywhere and I have to tell you that it felt so good I will never forget it. It was, as I said at the time, exquisite".
Oh shit. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
The Apalachicola Seafood Festival is a big deal and has been a big deal for many, many years. Billy's mama was crowned Miss Florida Seafood there fifty years ago! There would be thousands of people. And you know me- ones and ones of people is about as much as I can deal with at a time.
I announced the fact of the festival to my girls with the vague hope that they would say, "Oh, yeah, let's skip that," but no.
"There won't be a place to park!" I said.
"We'll find a place!" said Vicky.
"There will be so many people!" I said.
"You'll be fine," they told me. "Take an Ativan."
They didn't even bother to answer that one.
We got in Vicky's Jeep vehicle and drive across the bridges and yes, there were many, many people and yes, we found an excellent parking spot, and thankfully, they did not force me to go to the part of town where the booths were all set up selling all the food and arts and whatever. I was texting Billy about this the whole time and he did ask me to buy him a white straw cowboy hat with a purple feather roach clip if I saw one. In the biggest size they had.
Unfortunately, I did not see one.
I bought nothing.
Oh god. I was so disappointed not to be able to go there. I just gazed through the window in sorrow, seeing all the lovely books that I could not buy.
I was absolutely amazed at the number of new little shops in Apalach that have sprung up recently. Let me just say that the little fishing village I have loved for so long is not the same. Not the same at all.
I can't believe that Vicky, Mary, and Terry didn't tell me to shut the fuck up and kick me in the ass.
They must love me.
He read it and said, "Yeah, that's awful."
As grateful as I am for the experience of getting to see these women, of our time together in such a beautiful place, even the act of leaving my routine for that is difficult.