Thursday, November 05, 2015


I read this article this morning and it made me ponder... 

Yesterday I was chatting with my friend and he said that he has a friend that has never been to a funeral or had anyone close to them pass away.  How is that even possible?  The first time I experienced the death of a loved one was September 2, 1978.  We were living in Groton, Connecticut and I remember that we had the most hideous sounding doorbell.  The sound of this doorbell was much like the time out buzzer at a basketball game; horrendous and obnoxiously loud!  I was sleeping in the room closest to the front door when, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard that doorbell buzz continuously.  Even at the age of 9 you know when the doorbell rings at that time of night it's never good so I lay frozen in my bed, waiting and barely breathing.  My father was out to sea so I knew that it wouldn't be him getting up to answer the door.  When I look back on this time it baffles my mind that my mom was only 33 years old when this happened.  My parents were never an age to me, they were just "mom and dad", it wasn't until their deaths that it dawned on me that they were once in their twenties, their thirties, forties, etc. 

In 1978 my mom was 33 with 3 children while her husband was on patrol for at least 3 months.  She was the epitome of a Navy Wife.  She took care of everything while my father worked or was out to sea.  She made sure we were taken care of and had everything we needed.  I cannot imagine what ran through her mind hearing that doorbell woke her up and continuously broke the silence of the night until she got up to see who it was.  I stayed in bed listening to the sounds in the house.  If my sisters got up I'm not aware of it.  I heard my mother get out of bed and walk down the hallway, past my door and without even opening the door she started crying.  It wasn't a cry, though,   It was a wail.  As my friend described it yesterday it's more of a primal scream.  It comes from the gut and once it starts it's hard to stop or control.  It's pure, raw emotion and at times it has no sound, which is even more frightening to hear.

I found out later that when my mom reached the door she looked through the peephole and saw my aunt and uncle (her sister and brother in law) standing there.  Being that we lived in Connecticut and they lived in Massachusetts this was not common, in fact, they had never been to our house before this.  My mother knew someone was dead without even opening the door.  When she finally managed to let them in she learned that her mother, my Nana, had a massive heart attack the day prior and was dead at the age of 58. 

That night was the beginning of my grief, something I didn't understand until several years ago.

1978 Nana - heart attack
1986 great grandmother - natural causes
1991 great grandmother - natural causes
1992 grandmother - breast cancer
2003 father - lung cancer
2003 great uncle  - lung cancer
2007 aunt  - COPD
2009 uncle  - lung cancer
2009 mother - cardiac arrest
2012 uncle - lung cancer
2012 grandfather - lung cancer
2014 cousin - liver disease

I feel like I'm failing to list someone.

The conversation I had yesterday made me think hard about my life experience - though it's something I do think of often, anyway, unfortunately.  I wondered how different of a person I would be had I not gone through the experiences I've had.  What if I experienced my first loss of a loved one in my thirties?  Would I appreciate life as much?  Would I care for the people in my life as much? Would I realize how short life really is? 

Am I naive to think that most people start experiencing the loss of loved ones when they are in their 50's and 60's?  I see people in their 60's that still have both parents and that baffles my mind.  I can't help but think that they have absolutely no clue what it feels like to not have them and I have to stop myself from being bitter and mad when they react in absolute grief when their parent passes away in their late 80's.  Yes, it pisses me off.  I feel that they should feel lucky.  They should be thankful they had them in their life that long. I want to tell them to stop crying and be happy they died of natural causes and didn't suffer through a horrible illness before having to make the decision to take them off life support.

Even though it's been difficult I am a better person because of all of this.  My grief has ended relationships with people who do not get it and can't handle it because of their own personal experience, or lack of.  One day they will get it and they will think of me and the words they said out loud to me and will perhaps be sorry (but probably not). 

I feel like I have a secret that so many people do not understand.  I have told friends and about it and I let them know that until they experience loss in such a profound way they won't get it either but when they do, I am here and will always be here.  Today I handle it like a pro.  I am the person friends come to when they want to cry because I get it.  I understand and would never shame someone for having feelings they can't control as others have shamed me before.   You can't tell anyone how they need to grieve.  It's a personal experience and not everyone will handle it the same way.  Don't tell me to get over it because I would never say that to you. It's good to purge and not hold it in even if it's years later. 

We all know that nothing will bring them back but that doesn't mean the hole in my heart, because they are gone, hurts less.

Here is the (GREAT!!) article I read:

The Day I'll Finally Stop Grieving

by John Pavlovitz
October 31, 2015

“How long has it been? When is he going to get over that grief and move on already?”
I get it.
I know you might be thinking that about me or about someone else these days.
I know you may look at someone you know in mourning and wonder when they’ll snap out of it.
I understand because I use to think that way too.

Okay, maybe at the time I was self-aware enough or guilty enough not to think it quite that explicitly, even in my own head. It might have come in the form of a growing impatience toward someone in mourning or a gradual dismissing of their sadness over time or maybe in my intentionally avoiding them as the days passed. It was subtle to be sure, but I can distinctly remember reaching the place where my compassion for grieving friends had reached its capacity—and it was long before they stopped hurting.

Back then like most people, my mind was operating under the faulty assumption that grief had some predictable expiration date; a reasonable period of time after which recovery and normalcy would come and the person would return to life as it was before, albeit with some minor adjustments.
I thought all these things, until I grieved.
I never think these things anymore.

Two years ago I remember sitting with a dear friend at a coffee shop table in the aftermath of my father’s sudden passing. In response to my quivering voice and my tear-weary eyes and my obvious shell shock, she assured me that this debilitating sadness; this ironic combination of searing pain and complete numbness was going to give me a layer of compassion for hurting people that I’d never had before. It was an understanding, she said, that I simply couldn’t have had without walking through the Grief Valley. She was right, though I would have gladly acquired this empathy in a million other ways.

Since that day I’ve realized that Grief doesn’t just visit you for a horrible, yet temporary holiday. It moves in, puts down roots—and it never leaves. Yes as time passes, eventually the tidal waves subside for longer periods, but they inevitably come crashing in again without notice, when you are least prepared. With no warning they devastate the landscape of your heart all over again, leaving you bruised and breathless and needing to rebuild once more.

Grief brings humility as a housewarming gift and doesn’t care whether you want it or not.
You are forced to face your inability to do anything but feel it all and fall apart. It’s incredibly difficult in those quiet moments, when you realize so long after the loss that you’re still not the same person you used to be; that this chronic soul injury just won’t heal up. This is tough medicine to take, but more difficult still, is coming to feel quite sure that you’ll never will be that person again. It’s humbling to know you’ve been internally altered: Death has interrupted your plans, served your relationships, and rewritten the script for you.

And strangely (or perhaps quite understandably) those acute attacks of despair are the very moments when I feel closest to my father, as if the pain somehow allows me to remove the space and time which separates us and I can press my head against his chest and hear his heartbeat once more. These tragic times are somehow oddly comforting even as they kick you in the gut.
And it is this odd healing sadness which I’ll carry for the remainder of my days; that nexus between total devastation and gradual restoration. It is the way your love outlives your loved one.

I’ve walked enough of this road to realize that it is my road now. This is not just a momentary detour, it’s the permanent state of affairs. I will have many good days and many moments of gratitude and times of welcome respite, but I’m never getting over this loss.
This is the cost of sharing your life with someone worth missing.
Two years into my walk in the Valley I’ve resigned myself to the truth that this a lifetime sentence. At the end of my time here on the planet, I will either be reunited with my father in some glorious mystery, or simply reach my last day of mourning his loss.

Either way I’m beginning to rest in the simple truth:
The day I’ll stop grieving—is the day I stop breathing.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Check Your Neck!

Have you ever really looked at an image of your skeleton?  It's so weird!!  I was going through some stuff that Robyn​ brought me from my storage in Charleston when she came to visit this past weekend and found a CD - it's the CT scan from my 2010 visit to my ENT which led to my accidental diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

Yeah, that skeleton is me...

Coincidentally it's September and September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.  Speaking of ThyCa.  Can I just say that I don't mind the butterfly being the symbol of thyroid cancer - I get it - the thyroid resembles a butterfly.  However, I really dislike the awareness ribbon colors which are teal and pink.  Two of my least favorite colors.  Blech.  Is that bitchy and trivial?  Probably so, but hey... just my opinion.


I have told the story about finding the lump, the needle biopsy, surgery and recovery so I won't go into all of that.  It's been 5 years since my thyroidectomy and I still have that little lump that led me to finding out I had cancer.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I wasn't concerned about that lump and never went to the doctor.

When looking at the CT image I stare at my thyroid area and try to pinpoint what spots are the calcification and can never figure it out.  Thankfully it wasn't missed by the doctor!  It's kind of weird looking at your own skeleton and then seeing the outer area of my body being so large back then.  So much has changed in 5 years and all for the better.  "New" body, improved health, getting married, moving South of Miami!  If you asked me in 2010 where I would be in 5 years there's no way in hell I would have guessed any of that!! 

 Life is a journey, not a destination.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 22, 2015


In 2000 the State of South Carolina voted on whether to keep the Confederate flag flying over the State House. At the time the American flag flew on top, then the South Carolina State flag and ending with the Confederate flag on the bottom. The majority of South Carolinian's voted to remove it from the State House, I being one of those votes.

After much controversy the State decided to place the Confederate flag on the grounds of the State House. I felt so passionately about the removal of the Confederate flag that I drove from Charleston to Columbia to watch it happen. These photos are a few that I took that day, July 1, 2000. It was one of the most tense things I have witnessed in my life. I was with a friend that was black and we couldn't believe what we were seeing. People were within inches of each other, faces turning red, veins popping out of their necks screaming at one another. The words "racist", "redneck", "N-word Lover", among others were freely thrown about. SWAT lined Gervais Street and all around the State House. The largest Confederate flag I have ever seen was laid out on the Capital steps (I'm trying to locate my pic of that - those were days of actual film!) and we were nervous about what might happen if the angry words turned physical. We made a plan on where we would run to if that happened. Thankfully it never did.


The flag was ceremoniously lowered, a large part of the crowd cheered while the others booed. Within minutes Civil War reenactors were rounding the corner of the building with the flag and proceeded to the newly installed flag pole in front of the Capital building. For those not from the area, if you are coming down Main Street in Columbia toward the State House you end up at the intersection of Gervais and Main. The State House is directly across the street. If you were to cross there, heading toward the front steps of the Capital, you would walk right past the Confederate flag. It's one of the first things you would see. It's right out front.

I have been back and forth with my feelings about this subject and have weighed both arguments heavily. I am fully aware of the history of the flag and I hope that before people jump on any bandwagon they do their research also.

"Heritage not Hate" is what a lot of bumper stickers say in the South but what does that mean? The heritage that people are speaking of is a heritage of oppression, segregation and battles to protect the right to enslave people. This is not a "heritage" that the State of South Carolina should be proud of. It does not represent all of its citizens and should be taken off the lawn of the Capital. Explain this flag any way you want to. Try to convince people that it should be glorified but the simple fact is that it represents a movement of inequality.

That's not something to celebrate. That's something to be ashamed of.   It's time to take it down.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Key Largo - Day 2 & 3

On the 14th we got up early and had breakfast at Harriette's Restaurant in Key Largo.  I wasn't feeling very well but ate anyway since we had a big day ahead of us.  Before leaving I got a key lime muffin since it had amazing reviews online.  I figured I could eat it later that evening when I was feeling better.  I ended up getting sick and vomited my breakfast up that morning anyway.  Ugh.

After breakfast we headed to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for our snorkeling adventure.  I brought my own snorkel and mask that I bought for the cruise to Mexico a few years before and we rented one for Tabitha at the gift shop/ticket office.  We previously made reservations for the longer snorkeling excursion since I read that it was less crowded and they took you to two different dive spots, one being the Dry Rocks Reef that is the site of "Christ of the Abyss", which I really wanted to see.  When we called the office that morning to confirm our reservation they told us that the conditions were slightly rough so they wouldn't be going to the Christ statue and that only experienced swimmers were allowed.  We are both experienced swimmers so that was no worry but we were definitely bummed that we couldn't see the Christ statue.  We decided to do the shorter tour instead.

After checking in and getting Tabitha's mask, snorkel and fins for both of us we headed to the designated waiting area.  While sitting there I assessed the crowd and tried to figure out who, out of all of us, would get eaten by a shark.  I, for the first time in my life, wasn't the meatiest one so that made me feel better!

Surveying the other passengers...

After boarding the boat we headed out on the ocean and the water was so pretty, blue and inviting!  We kept saying how lucky we are to live so close to this and how we need to take advantage of it more often. 

Breathtaking, clear blue water of the Keys!
 Tabitha is super excited to go snorkeling!

When we finally reached our snorkeling spot they gave us the rundown on the reef, how to protect it while you are swimming and also where not to go while in the water.  One by one we sat down by the ladder, put our fins on and climbed into the amazingly warm water and headed out to the reef.  The swim to the reef was a good distance from the boat and the water was definitely choppy that day.  Once we got situated in the water we went under and swam toward the reef while the water bobbed us all over the place.  Every once in a while we'd have to come up and check out where we were and if we were swimming in the right direction since the current was so strong.  We definitely weren't the only people doing that! When we finally reached the reef we could relax more and explore the area.
Tabitha and I should have discussed how to communicate with each other while under water!  I would point that I was headed in a certain direction but how would she know that I wasn't just saying to look at something?  Lesson learned!  We are definitely ready for next time!

We swam, drifted, floated and explored and it was so beautiful.  I have to admit that I'm a huge scaredy cat of the ocean and I was constantly on high alert for sharks but we didn't see any, thankfully!  We later found out that several other people did see a small shark.  Glad it wasn't me!  Anyway, I would get so lost in looking at things that I wouldn't see Tabitha and would do a mini-panic and turn in a circle to look at her.  I should have tied a rope around her!  Later on she said that she was just giving me some space and I was like "Noooooo - don't leave my side - I'm scared of the water!!" I love it.  I love being in the ocean but I also respect it - and what lives in it!!

We saw some really cool stuff while snorkeling and one of my favorite things was a sea urchin that was sitting on top of a huge piece of coral.  So cool seeing one!  Reminded me of when that girl caught one on Naked and Afraid.  I love that show!

Sea urchin sighting!!
The absolute BEST thing we saw while snorkeling was a sea turtle!  We were near maybe 2 or 3 other people when all of the sudden I saw something big swim by.  I did a double take and realized it was a massive turtle.  I couldn't believe it!  It swam ahead of us then did a u-turn and swam back toward us.  I had my camera in hand and managed to capture a couple of photos of it.  The photos do not do the size of the turtle any justice.  The thing was ginormous!  It was one of the best moments of my life to see that right in front of me and especially to share that moment with Tabitha!  

I don't even think the guy knew there was a turtle below him!
 After a while we knew it was almost time to head back to the boat so we starting swimming back and took some photos along the way.

As you can see it was a long swim back to the boat from where we were on the reef!


When we finally got back to the boat a lot of the others had arrived as well.  We swam closer to the boat and started to take off our fins so we could climb the ladder. It was quite the task treading water while reaching down to remove them.  I really wasn't thinking, but in hindsight I should have blown up my life vest a bit to make it easier on myself.  

Photo op before getting on the boat
Tabitha had her fins off first so she went up the ladder and waited at the top for me.  I put my foot on the first step and started to lift myself up and as soon as I did that I knew I was in trouble.  I said out loud "I have sea legs" because I felt so wobbly.  Tabitha knew something was up so she reached down to grab my hand to lift me up.  I thought that the wobbly legs was the extent of it but when I got on deck I took a step and literally collapsed.  I didn't fall over totally (thank God!)  I basically fell to my knees and Tabitha lunged toward me to help.  Everyone was looking and I was mortified!  The Captain asked if I was okay and I said yes and that I just needed a minute.  I crawled to to get out of the way of the others coming up the ladder - that must have been pretty - and sat on a bench nearby.  After several minutes I felt that I was okay enough to make it back to my seat up front where our stuff was.  When I reached my seat I felt queasy and realized that because I threw up earlier I had nothing in my stomach, especially protein, and my body was probably pissed off.  All I kept thinking was everyone needed to get on the boat fast so we could get back to the park.   

After the boat was loaded and a head count was taken we headed back to shore... then the boat broke down.  Just my luck!  At that point I turned around and rested my head on the rope so I could be closer to the side of the boat if I threw up, which I knew was coming eventually.  The water had not calmed down all day so the boat was rocking back and forth.  I'm not one to get sea sick but the constant motion along with my stomach being so upset was not a good combination.  I leaned over onto Tabitha and just waited and prayed that they get to motor fixed ASAP!  It took about 10 minutes until we were on our way again.  It seemed like an hour!

Feeling crappy.
When the boat started moving again I felt it coming up.  I knew that I was going to throw up and I wanted to be as discreet as possible since everyone on the boat already thought I was a freak for falling.  I leaned over the side (we were at the very front of the boat) and threw up.  Since I had nothing in my stomach it was basically water.  Isn't it amazing how good you feel right after you puke?  I knew I was going to be alright so I turned around and the Captain noticed and asked if I had a good nap.  He thought I was sleeping when my head was resting on the rope.  I told him about not feeling well that morning and that I threw up.  He had no clue which made me feel better - hopefully no one else did either!

We got back to the park and my legs felt much better by then!  We turned in our gear and headed back to the car and decided to go directly from the park to find a place for dinner.  I was starving and really needed something fast!  We decided to go to a place in town called Mrs. Mac's Kitchen which was on the way back to the estate.  It was still soaking wet when we got to the restaurant and was happy that they had vinyl seats so I wouldn't leave a bit wet spot.  The food was really good and we had a super cool server.  It felt so good to get something in my stomach!

We passed Mrs. Mac's several times going up and down US1 previously and saw that they had a sign out front that said World Famous Key Lime Pie so of course we had to  get some and judge for ourselves.  I think Tabitha and I are pretty schooled in the key lime category so we got some to have back at the estate.  My goal was to get in the kayak with my pie and float out in the middle of the water and have dessert.  That sounded like a perfect ending to a beautiful day on the Keys!

I told Tabitha about my pie plan so when we got back to the estate we took our pies and got in the tandem kayak and paddled out of the inlet into the open water.  We learned fast that the current was incredibly strong and we just didn't feel like working that hard to fight it so we paddled back in.  Tabitha wanted to go swimming but I had enough of being in the water for the day so I took my pie and sat and watched the sunset.  Nothing like key lime pie in the Keys while watching the sunset, right?  

So, this pie.  I would have taken a photo of it but I ate it too fast.  It was delicious!!  I can honestly say that this pie was the best key lime pie I have ever tasted.  It was creamy and had the perfect amount of tart mixed with sweet.  Sooooo damn good!   Watching the sunset on the water while eating it made it even better!

Perfect sunset for pie on the Gulf!

After Tabitha had enough of swimming and I was (sadly) finished with my pie we relaxed on the lawn chairs and watched the sunset.  I'm really glad we picked a place to stay that was on the Gulf side of Key Largo.  Such amazing sunsets!

We had a long, fun-filled day and knew we had to get up early the next morning to hit the road.  Unfortunately Tabitha had to be at work by 1pm so we turned in for the night.  We were both so tired and it didn't take long to fall asleep.  That's always the best kind of sleep!

The following morning I woke up much earlier than when the alarm was supposed to go off so I went for a walk around the estate since I hadn't had the opportunity to do so before that.  There are so many crazy, unidentifiable (to me) sounds that early in the morning.  We have the same at our house and I'm always curious as to what they are.  I swear that sometimes I hear monkeys.  I feel like I live in the jungle some mornings!  Since we were on the Gulf side I couldn't see the sunrise but there was still a brilliant golden glow on our side that was gorgeous.

Good morning lizard!

Tabitha was still sleeping when I got back to our room so I packed our stuff up and loaded it into the Jeep.  Soon after she woke up we decided to go to Denny's for breakfast.  I was feeling sick again so I decided to go with something safe to eat and got a turkey club and a bowl of fresh fruit.  I figured the dry sandwich would be better for my stomach than an egg would be.  I finished my fruit and ate less than half my sandwich.  I felt better but not great.

Before heading back home we went to the one gift shop we saw in Key Largo.  I was hoping it was something like those cheesy beach shops you usually see but it was actually kind of expensive with higher end gifts.  Wish I had some extra money!  I ended up getting some postcards and Tabitha bought a chocolate covered key lime ice cream bar on a stick.  I had a taste of it when we got in the car and it was really good but there's no way I could eat one with my stomach the way it was.  

We finally started on our way home and when we got to town we stopped by the dog sitters house to pick up Murray who was really excited to see us!  It was a fast two days but we really needed the break from reality and some salt water therapy.  Key Largo is so close to home but seems like a million miles away.  I love that!

So, back to that key lime muffin from Harriette's... I ate it the day after we got home and holy crap!  It was amazing! I'm still dreaming about it and also that pie from Mrs. Mac's.  Like I said, Key Largo isn't that far away and I'm not above a short road trip just for pie.  Just sayin'!

Key lime muffin from Harriette's in Key Largo!  Go get one!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Key Largo - Day 1

Key Largo is about 30 minutes from us and that is something we need to start taking advantage of.  Both of us were in need of a getaway so I went on Airbnb to look up some places to stay.  My first thought was to go to Universal Studios but the more that I looked into it the more it seemed like it would be a huge pain in the ass and not very relaxing.  Going to Universal Studios was a huge fight that I used to have with my ex, Robin.  Because I weighed so much more than I do now I never felt comfortable going to a place like that because I didn't want to suffer the humiliation of not being able to fit on a ride.  She really understand that so it was never a good conversation when it was brought up.

Over the past couple of years I've tried to maintain a friendship with Robin to no avail.  I've been nothing but friendly with her.  It seems that her girlfriend is very jealous and not very trusting.  Considering Robin's cheating history I can't really blame her but isn't it ironic that it's she who doesn't trust when she is the home-wrecker?  Interesting.  Anyway, she probably found out that Robin came to my office to see me out of the blue (when we were both in relationships!) and then sent me a text later that night asking me if I was interested in having sex with her.  Huh?!?!  No thanks.

In yet another attempt to be civil I sent her a text asking her about Universal Studios.  I was confused about the fact that they had two different parks and wanted to know which one was the best.  Robin is the only person I know that has been there that I can think of so I asked her.  Right off the bat she was nasty.  In the end she said something to the effect of "You live in Florida - go ask a neighbor!" and after realizing that I have lost weight she said something about me being able to fit on rides now.  How nice.  Who says something like that?!  What is she?  12?!  Her girlfriends go-to nasty comment was calling me "Fat" so why am I surprised??  Why do I try with her?  I never really knew this side of her but apparently she's in a hostile, distrusting environment and it's worn on her.  So sad.

Anyway, fuck Robin.  This post isn't about her...

A while back a friend suggested trying AirBnB for travel accommodations so I decided to check it out.  I wanted to go to a place that was the epitome of relaxation so we decided to go the opposite direction of Universal Studios, and not too far from home... Key Largo.  After looking at several places we found this one estate that had several rooms for rent.  The room we chose was off the side of a main house with a large bathroom and French doors leading to the water which was only a few steps away.  It looked like heaven and just what we needed! 

(Above photos from hosts Airbnb site)

Tabitha had Wednesday and Thursday off last week so we booked a two-night stay in the waterfront room at the estate in Key Largo and after dropping Murray off at the Rover sitter we headed South to The Keys.  Check in was at 4pm and we got there about 3pm and contacted the owner to see if we could check in early.  We didn't immediately hear from them so we drove around until receiving a text with the gate access code.  We were told to drive 3mph on the road leading into the estate because of the coral dust being kicked up, go to the end and honk twice to let the owner know we were there.  Before we honked we saw Mrs. Bennett, the owner,  come out of the house to greet us.

After introductions we were brought around to the other side of the house which was on the waterfront to our room.  The room was exactly as described, opening with French doors and decorated in an ocean theme with calming off white and blue shades.  There was a huge photo of a wave above the king size bed.  The room had only a small refrigerator, a Keurig, two side tables, bed, armoire and bathroom.  There was no bathtub, only a shower, which was fine with us.  After showing us around Mrs. Bennett left and we collapsed into bed for a moment.  It was super comfy!!  Hanging out in the room didn't last long because we wanted to take full advantage of what was offered to guests.  We headed outside to check out the kayak situation. We didn't have to go far to get to the waterfront from our room.  I should have counted the steps, not that it was many. 

 We wanted to get in the water before it was too dark and decided to take two individual kayaks instead of the tandem kayak.  We gathered our oars, life vests, bottles of water and camera and headed out into the Gulf.  As we were on our way out we realized how strong the winds was which made the water incredibly choppy.  We headed toward the left because there was a large island in the middle of the bay.  After paddling for a while we realized just how far away that island was.  We knew that even with the wind blowing us it was at least a mile away and there was no way we could get there and back with the current conditions so we just stopped and enjoyed floating and occasionally rowing.

Even though it was getting into the evening hours the visibility in the water was pretty good. There were spots where we were at least 10-15 feet deep and could see down to the bottom.  We saw a few reefs and paddled over to check them out.  It was so nice floating on the water, listening to the waves, feeling the wind, smelling the sea and doing nothing.  Paradise!  I still can't believe we didn't see any dolphins though!  Tabitha wanted to swim so we headed back to shore which was a challenge due to the wind.  We finally arrived, put the kayaks and life vests up, grabbed our snorkels and hit the water.  It wasn't exactly reef-like but there were some interesting things to look at.

The only thing that was really on my mind was that this was when the sharks come to life and I didn't want to be dinner.  The visibility wasn't so great that I could see 10 feet in front of me so I was feeling very uncomfortable.  We did that for a bit then sat on the lounges to watch the sunset.  Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy so it wasn't that great.  

After the sunset we decided to get dressed and get something to eat. By that it was after 9pm and since it's a small town there's not much to choose from at that hour.  We settled on Upper Crust Pizza and had their BBQ chicken pizza.  Sooooo good!  We should have gotten dessert there because we realized that there was nothing open except the gas station.  Nothing like a Hershey bar for dessert on a mini-vacay!  When we got back to the room we went to bed since we had a full day of activities ahead of us when we woke up... snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - yay!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Beginning

About 6 years ago I met this girl named Amy when I was a member of an online dating community. She told me that she was new to the area and wanted to make friends. We friended each other on Facebook and that was about it for a while. Soon after that I met Robin, you know... the one that cheated on me with her ex?  Anyway, Amy and I never actually hung out with each other and the first time we met was at an Indigo Girls concert. Soon after that concert I noticed that she started dating someone named Tabitha. Robin and I ended up breaking up and a few months later I met Robyn. Yes, that's right... back to back Robin/Robyn's. Oy.

The next time I met Amy was when Robyn and I attended the "On The Eve of Equality" rally for gay marriage and the striking down of DOMA at the Customs House in Charleston. That was when she introduced us to Tabitha, her then fiance. At that time Robyn and I were engaged as well.  After that meeting we started hanging out with Amy and Tabitha.  The first time we met was at a Thai restaurant in North Charleston. It's sad to say but neither Robyn or myself were interested in Amy but we both thought Tabitha was funny and pretty cool. From there we went to their house for dinner a few times.

Amy was pretty odd about our friendship. She stated one time that she was only interested in having gay friends which I thought was ludicrous. Who does that?! She then gave me a kids bracelet that said "Best Friends"  I played it off like it was funny but I thought it was a bit strange since we hardly knew each other.  

During that dinner conversation it was realized how much Tabitha and I had in common and Amy jokingly said that we should be together instead of them or me and Robyn.  Later on I looked over at Tabitha and she looked back at me and I had to immediately look away.  I felt something I definitely should not be feeling when I'm engaged to another person.  I felt it down to my toes.  No bueno.

The friendship between us four seemed to slow down from there.  One day Amy called me and was freaking out because her sister-in-law is the director of Spoleto and as we all know I'm the evil letter writer regarding the fiasco at my friends ballet performance. She was crying because if ever she wanted to have a dinner party it would be weird because of my relationship with her SIL.  She said that my letter made her SIL's life a living hell for a few weeks.  I told her that I really didn't care about her sister-in-law, what she thought about me and apparently handling complaints about Spoleto was her job.  I also stated that I couldn't care less about meeting her or engaging in a conversation with her and that if we were ever to meet I'm an adult and can handle myself.  Basically Amy was creating drama for nothing which I soon found out was her favorite thing to do.  Robyn and I referred to her as "crazy Amy" from then on.

A few months later I noticed that my friend Duste, who is like family to me, was friends with Amy on Facebook.  I sent her a message asking how she knew Amy since she was living in Columbia and hadn't lived in Charleston for a few years.   I couldn't imagine how their paths crossed.  Duste said they met through friends.  Amy saw her profile and friended her and Duste said that she was blowing up her FB messenger saying very inappropriate things for an engaged woman.  I felt so bad for Tabitha and knew I had to let her know.

The next day I sent Tabitha a text saying I needed to talk to her and can she meet for a drink?  She knew something was up and asked me to tell her.  Ugh.  I hate telling people important things over text messages!  I told her what I knew and that was the last I heard from her for a while.  They eventually broke up and about 6 months later Robyn and I broke up.  During that 6 months I hardly spoke with Tabitha.  At first Robyn and I were offering her a place to stay but she said she was going to stay at another friends house.  

In August, when Robyn and I were officially over, I sent Tabitha a casual text message telling her that we broke up.  She asked me several times if we were truly broken up which I found amusing.  A bit later she sent me a text message asking me if I wanted to meet her for a drink at DIG in the Park.  I said yes.

I was so nervous as I was heading over to Park Circle.  From that look we shared that night at dinner I knew there was an attraction and it was also a concern that both of us were newly out of relationships.  When I got there I headed in and saw her sitting at the bar.  She was drinking PBR and I immediately thought of my father.  I sat down and ordered a water while wishing I could order a very strong drink.  As we started talking and catching up I immediately felt at ease and it was like we had known each other forever.  I could tell that she had a few drinks before I arrived because she kept smiling and telling me that I'm "super awesome!"  I think she said it about 50 times!

During our conversation she looked at me and said "Can I kiss you?" and I immediately was like "Noooooooooo!!  Not here!!"  I wanted our first kiss to be a little more intimate and private.  She was quite charming and I'm glad I gave in. When it was time to leave we walked out to my Jeep and I could feel small drops of rain falling.  We stood in front of my car to say our goodbye's and kissed again.  It started to get a little intense so I backed away.  She grabbed my hips, pulled me in, kissed me and pushed me away in a frustrated motion.  I felt it too and I knew I was definitely in trouble.

A few days later Tabitha asked me if I was interested in going to a soccer game she won tickets to.  I said yes, even though I had never been to a soccer game.  I definitely wanted to see her.  She told me that a few of her friends were coming.  Ugh.  I parked and sent her a text saying that I was there and she met me outside of the park.  OMG.  Why was I so nervous??   We went and found our seats and I met her friends.  To be honest I don't even remember what most of their names were.  There was one point when Tabitha went to get a beer and I was checking my phone.  One of her friends shouted from the other end of the bench "Are you having fun?" and I said "Yes" and she said "No you aren't!  You wouldn't be on your phone if you were!"  Um, WTF?!?!  Yes, that thing about first impressions was true and it proved to be even more true as time went on.

After the soccer game we decided to go to the beach.  We went to Folly and down to Morris Island where the Morris Island Lighthouse is.  One of my favorite spots on Earth!!  'We spread out a blanket and sat and talked.  We had so much in common.  Our beliefs, our tastes... so much.  My head was reeling.  It's so hard to be level headed in a situation like this.  I was sitting between her legs with my legs over her left leg facing sideways.  At one point she grabbed me, lifting me, and pulled me closer.  If I wasn't sitting and she wasn't holding me I think I would have fallen over.  NO ONE in my life has ever picked me up.  Sure, it's easier now since I've had weight loss surgery but Tabitha is strong.  Like REALLY strong!

After spending time at the beach I drove her home and we sat in the driveway talking for quite a few hours until it was really late.  At one point we looked over and saw a deer in the yard!  We finally said goodnight and I drove home.

That night was perfect.  That night was our beginning.