I made it to my friends’ house and she greeted me with a hug and my own personal flashlight. The outer bands of the hurricane were just reaching the area and we sat outside for a while, catching up, looking at the downed power lines flipping around and listening to limbs crack and fall.
It may be October but it was Florida and it was 98,000 degrees in the shade. Nobody had any ice or water. There was no gas. The stores hadn’t re-opened and we couldn’t get out anyway. The neighbors got out and started clearing the debris from the roads so they would be passable.
The first night I was there, my friend said she wanted to apologize to me. I had no idea what she was talking about.
She asked me if I noticed that our friendship had ended “abruptly.” I told her that I had but I had assumed it was because of our sons. She said “no. Do you remember when we invited you and Loser and his friend and your friends from down the street to our house?” I told her I did. Loser, his friend and our friend down the street all played the guitar. So did her husband.
We came over and she and her daughter went upstairs for something and when they came out of the room, Loser and our friend from down the street had their backs to them. Loser said “I don’t want to sit around listening to this fucking no talent guy who thinks he knows how to play a guitar.”
Our friendship ended because of Loser and she wanted to tell me that she was sorry that she had allowed his behavior to affect the way she felt about me.
I felt horrible about what Loser said. Now that I think about it, that was probably why her husband was so abrupt with Loser the only time he came to our house to pick up his son. Of course, Loser called him an asshole because of the way he acted toward him.
Over the years, I have become painfully aware of how Losers’ actions reflected on me. I lost jobs. I lost friends. I just lost so much.
She said the first time she and her husband met Loser, they both said “that is a high-functioning alcoholic. No wonder their son is one.”
Her son has been clean and sober for eight years and he is now married. My son….well, that’s another story. She used to try to talk to our sons and get them help. She said my son said “my mom is in denial. She won’t even admit that my dad is an alcoholic…do you really think she’s going to admit that I’M one?”
All the apologies were said and heard and we were off to a sleepless night. The next morning, my friend saw something in the newspaper about needing help to send care packages to Haiti. We could finally get out of the neighborhood, so we decided to go volunteer. We packed box after box of soap. It was slimy and we got it all over ourselves. I told my friend that I didn’t think they’d mind what the soap looked like….they were probably just going to be happy to get it.
Our good deed done, we went back to her house, with no power, no water and no air conditioning. Our cell phones were dying and the only way to charge them was in the car. I took them out to eat. I figured that was small payment for them putting me up and we all charged our phones while I was driving.
Eating out? You would have thought we were in the fucking Twilight Zone. The first place we went was Panera Bread. When I was running EMS and actually had time to stop and grab a bite to eat, we went there often. They had an avocado sandwich that was scrumptious! They had one on the menu there, but it was a “chicken” avocado sandwich. I asked them for the sandwich “hold the chicken.” This little gal looked at me like I was speaking Mandarin or something. She said “so, you want turkey?” I said “no, just the avocado.” She said “so do you want bacon?” I said “no, no meat. Hold the meat. Just the sandwich.”
Then she said “so you just want a sandwich, hold the avocado?” I was stupefied.
My friend and her husband had already ordered and told her we were all on the same ticket. She had asked them if it was dine in or take out. They said “dine in.” Now, I had told her we were together and all on the same ticket…they had told her we were all together.
She looked at me and asked me if mine was dine in or take out. I couldn’t help myself. I said “take out. My friends will be dining in but I’ll eat in the parking lot.”
When I got my sandwich, it had ONE slice of avocado on it. I said something to the person who fixed it and she said “oh, okay. Since you didn’t get any meat, I’ll put a few more slices on it.”
Two days later, my friend and I drove out to see the house I owned before I left. We went to Renningers’ which is a famous flea market down there and then she decided she wanted some barbecue. The place was a little hole in the wall that had a reputation for having great food. She walked up to the window and ordered the “special.” The special was a sandwich, with beans and coleslaw. She asked them to hold the bun. Again, was she speaking Russian? The woman said “I can sell you a half a pound of barbecue with two sides.” My friend said “no. I want the special, just hold the bun.” The woman finally said “I can sell you the special and you can scrape the meat off of the bun.”
Finally, late Monday night, the power was restored in her neighborhood. I had only packed for a few days, so I was picking out my cleanest dirty clothes to wear. We washed clothes and I got a call that my dentist appointment was set for Tuesday at 4:00. YAY!
Early Tuesday afternoon, I told my friend I would take her to lunch. We had been to a place the day before and the food was great so we decided to go back. We had a different waitress and when my friend ordered her salad, she asked for the dressing on the side. This little gal said, “so you want an extra side of dressing?” My friend said “no, I just want the dressing on the side.” A few more explanations later, the waitress brought the salad with dressing and an extra cup on the side.
We decided that we must have been transported to an opposite universe….either that, or we should just eat at home.
I was excited about getting to finally come back home. I was a little concerned because I knew they had closed the bridge in Jacksonville for several days and, some bridges in Savannah were impassable. Somebody said some of the bridges in Charleston weren’t even there anymore but I didn’t care. I was leaving on Wednesday morning, come Hell, high water or another hurricane.
Next…the drive home, what I found when I got here and checking my blog to see that my “troll” is alive and well.