Search This Blog

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Anniversary I Never Forget

  is the sum of   +      Yes my friends - it is that time again. The anniversary of the day, the very moment, when TheQueen knew her future and it was good. I missed posting this last year and it was a different sort of celebration anyway. This year I'm more on top of my game. This year so many new happinesses have piled on top of each other I am sure Mama must be up there in heaven, picking the best stuff off the shelve and showering it down on top of me. Thank you, Mama. I feel your presence all the time.  So - for the 43rd time I'm gong to remember that special day by posting the story of how TheQueen found ThePrince

Long long ago there was a cheeky teenager, just past her 19th birthday, who was studying music at
big city university. One Friday, as she walked into the orchestra room, the flute player spun around in his chair, looked straight at her and asked her if she wanted to drive to North Carolina with him the next day.

“Sure” she said, desperate for anything to do on the weekend, when most of her friends split for home, leaving her to rattle all alone in a monolithical cement dormitory. Besides, he was one of the really good looking guys she and Robyn had decided were “cute enough to take us out”. And he had such a voice - deep sonorous basso profundo with the most delicious country southern drawl - not hick, in fact, very cultured, but oh so Southern. And startlingly blue eyes. Blue like autumn skies. And he was big - not fat or anything - just big with a big aura, a big presence. Nothing hesitant or shy or self-effacing. This was a man, not a boy, and he was inviting her to spend all day with him.

“Right.” he said. "Meet me at my house tomorrow at 10 a.m." and he gave directions to a row house in the Fan district, a few blocks from school.

Poor thing. Little did he know that he’d just arranged a date with his exact opposite in the GreatClockUniverse. She was no ditherer. No lingerer. No procrastinating late comer. She was an EarlyBird - always 15 minutes before hand, sometimes more. For this important assignation she was a full 30 minutes early, knocking on the dark and silent door of his first floor apartment.

“Stood up!” she thought. “Impossible” Nobody stood up this girl, no siree. And she stomped the four blocks back to school, snatched her fiddle out of her locker, slammed the practice room door shut and began to saw away, muttering imprecations, curses, indignant affronted descriptions of what is expected in this world, and other dark and damning words. But ...

She was also innately fair and as she scraped away at Kreutzer, she had to admit that the man had said come at 10. Perhaps he was out filling up the gas tank. Or perhaps he was renting a trailer. After all, the purpose of the trip was to retrieve his piano, waiting for him in his old place in Chapel Hill, NC. And so, at 10 o’clock for sure, she rounded the corner of Lombardy and Floyd and there he was, waving an arm, smiling happily and calling out “Hey Baby!”

She crossed the street and he invited her into his apartment. He offered her a beer, and though she hated the stuff - still does, in fact - she was also aware of what is cool and for a still-teenage girl at college, drinking beer at 10 a.m. was truly cool, so she said yes. He was back in a flash with a mason jar full of the most delicate, most mellow drink she’d ever tasted. His own home brew. There were gallons of it in his little bachelor kitchen. Now, be it gallons or pints, this stuff was potent and it was only moments before she was definitely in the mood to be entertained. And entertained she was, with music, books, ideas, and talk talk talk, tumbling out of this delightful man with his shelves full of books, boxes full of sheet music, head full of poetry in three different languages and kitchen full of nectar. Best of all, he was happy. Neither cynical, sarcastic nor jealous of another’s musical ability or progress, he was ready to share, to learn, to listen and to admire. In the highly competitive world of performing arts, here was someone with a blend of such innocence and courage there was nothing to do but laugh with pure pleasure and maybe fall in love a bit.

After a while the two of them tooled off in search of a U-haul place. Across the Lee Bridge at an Esso Station on Cowardan Ave., where Caravatti’s Junk Yard used to be, he stopped and went in to arrange a rental. Minutes passed and when he returned he stood right in front of the car and grinned at her through the windshield; one of those beaming, sunshiny “Ain’t this Grand?” grins. And as she stared up at him, suddenly he turned into an old man, still standing there, still grinning. She blinked; gawped; stared again. She looked down at her own hands and they had turned into an old lady's hands, the skin papery and spotted with large brown freckles, sunk down between the tendons. They were her grandmother’s hands. And she thought “My god. I’m going to be riding around in a car with this man when I’m an old lady.”

For some reason he had decided to rent the trailer in NC. Probably the Richmond outfit didn’t have what he was looking for. They motored on down I95, past the tobacco plant and warehouse district of south Richmond, past Petersburg, through Emporia. They talked the whole time, chattering, discovering, opening, sharing. At one point he said “well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me” and she thought “oh boy, there’s a lot you don’t know either”. And at that, there were some surprising points of contact. He had graduated from the same high school her dad had gone to. She had played a concert in Chapel Hill that he had gone to hear. He had taken lessons in Winston Salem while she had been a student at the School of the Arts. At Herndon, NC they stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. She had never been to one. In fact, fast food then consisted almost entirely of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes and fries. Fried chicken was a real treat and, of course, to a 19-year old, it didn’t foretell the diet doom it was to present later on.

The October skies had been gray all day but they grew heavier and more threatening as evening approached. Rain began to fall. At a Carolina gas station he picked up a small box trailer and two ice cream sandwiches. “How did you know ice cream is my all time favorite treat?” she cried and to his question of “Then don’t I deserve a reward” she answered with a resounding kiss. Of course, this was in the days when, first off, girls worried about being thought forward or even worse; fast! It was also at a time when she was very wary of anything that would cause boys to sidle away from a touchy feely woman. Of course, this was no boy. 28, he’d told her. But when it’s the right guy, with the right gift, only a kiss will do.

It was harder to be chatty on the long dark wet drive home. Especially when the passenger was one of those Superior Morning Persons. For an SMP, darkness means it’s time to close one’s eyes. She still didn’t realize she was dealing with one of those Stubborn Night OwlsSNO’s think SMP’s are silly, especially the types who creep out of cozy warm beds before the sun is actually above the roof tops of the houses across the street. All those delightful discoveries were waiting up ahead for them. On that day, in the hypnotic glare of headlights on raindrops, she grew pretty drowsy. “I like to drive. Go to sleep” he told her and eventually she did.

It was too late to get back into the dorm when they reached Richmond. She’d known it would be and had signed out for the weekend. He gallantly put her up for the night. She was there the next day when other friends came around to help shove the piano down the narrow hallway and into the apartment. It was well into the afternoon before she made her way back to her place, to pace the dormitory halls till her girlfriend should show up and she could tell her the exciting news about the upcoming nuptials.

There have been many more rambles, in half a dozen different cars, since that October 16, thirty nine forty two forty four years ago. In 1991 the two of them took the trip to North Carolina all over again, even to starting at 1617 Floyd and to looking for some sort of U-haul place on the south side. They found the KFC in Herndon had moved a block but it was still serving up the original 11 herbs and spices recipe. They'll probably go off on a ramble today, the two of them, getting older, but not yet quite as old as the geezers in her vision.

But that is the story of my anniversary. We also celebrate a lovely wedding anniversary in April. It’s important, but not more important than October 16, when my favorite cute couple started out on life’s journey. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I even had a life before that day, although I can tell stories from that Mesozoic Era. It’s as if 10/16 were my real birthday; the day I began living my grown up life. BD, who had a head start on me, says he feels the same way.

There are a lot of stories in my bag of tales, but this one is my favorite.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ooops. Time Got Away From Me

I didn't mean to stop posting about my trip - and I promise - before the weekend is over You, Yes, You, You Lucky Readers, will get to hear about TheWeddingInRomania! But for today TheQueen is going to talk about HerRoyalSelf.

TheQueen returned from her travels with the dread Vacation Poundage clinging to her regal form and some of the vacation photos are (ahem) Not as Attractive as She Would Have Liked. So she buckled down on her menu planning and joined an exercise challenge from SparkPeople dot com.  Every morning she - er, sorry, I'll get off my throne now - I get an email with New Exercises To Do.  They're fun. They're challenging. They're shaking things up and I am loving it. It is just the mind-stir I needed.

Yesterday's challenge was to snack smartly and get in 30 minutes of cardio. I know that cardio really means get your heart rate up and I am sure I felt it beating now and then as I climbed the hills of Maymont Park yesterday. Was it sustained for 30 minutes? probably not but I got in about 3 hours of walking altogether and that is good enough for me.

I'm not really a bad snacker, most of the time. so long as I can stay away from the Cheetos - and I never went near a Cheetos store. (I don't count the grocery store since I think of it as  a place to get food - not junk. Junk comes from 7-11 or a gas station store). So yesterday was not much of a challenge. It was some challenge since Sister and I were at CanCan, a very tony restaurant that can serve you up some calorie laden goodies .... think lobster mac 'n' cheese. Drool. but they also make such delectable goodies as roasted beet salad with walnuts and water cress. Do you know how rare watercress is in a salad? Lawsie I love that green! succulent. peppery. delicate. yum. On my plate. Lucky me!

It was warm enough for us to eat outside and there was a wonderful blues singer on the sidewalk serenading us at just the right decibel. We caught up on TheWedding and TheTrip and swapped horror stories about pilots going on strike and 1 year old triplets squirming in the seats directly in front of us, screaming for 5 hours.  Then she said "Let's go to Maymont"

As a true Richmond VA girl - I know Maymont. It's a Gilded Age mansion that was given to the city upon the death of its owner, Sally Dooley in 1926. It lies on the rolling bluffs of the river bank just across the river from where I lived as a teen. You could walk there, though we usually drove and I have a lifetime of memories tied up with the place. My sister has even more because they've always operated an animal rescue operation on the premise and my 2 younger sisters volunteered there for years. The house, alas, was never open when I was a girl. It was left to the city. with almost all its gilded and glorious furnishings,  but no money for upkeep. By 1929, gilded money had dried up and the house was closed to outside visitors till after I moved away from Richmond. In the 1970's a non-profit was formed to restore it but I just haven't ever had the opportunity (or taken the opportunity) to go inside.

sister and I rectified that yesterday and boy oh boy - did we have fun. Himself asked me later if the Dooley's had good taste and all I could say was that they had exquisite taste for the taste they had. What an explosion of ornamentation. I loved it  loved looking at it - and was oh so grateful I neither had to live with it or clean it. But boy oh boy - it was like looking at all the glitter and glitz you could dream of in a single building.

So - what a rewarding, happy, joy filled way to spend Day #8 of my 30-day challenge. Still loving it - still feeling the obligation AND desire to watch what I eat - still wanting to reach my October goal.

For day #9 I will go to the gym and do the exercises - which look interesting and fun and yeah, probably hard. But I'll be thinking about day #8 and smiling.

And in my next life I get to sleep in this.