I have left South Florida twice since I moved here two-and-a-half months ago. This has caused commenter Joe in Vegas to wonder how come I go on vacation so much. Ha!
No worries Joe: The first break was to take RG Daughter back to school–a literal drive across country, and although I wouldn’t undo one mile or change one stop at Dairy Queen, I wasn’t paid during the time off, and it was part of the “deal” when I took the job in South Florida.
As for a real vacation, the kind when you receive a paycheck while you explore someplace special and eat and drink with abandon–I have not done that in many years. But, a quick getaway-often just an overnight, taken when a last-minute cheap plane fare presents itself–THAT is what I’m all about these days.
And so it was that I landed in Atlanta this past Sunday morning (“my” weekend begins Sunday and ends Monday night, a schedule I actually think is ideal). That I almost missed, but didn’t, the Atlanta-bound plane because I had worked my ass off the night before and had thus only gotten three hours’ sleep before I awoke with a start a full hour later than I had intended, and then driven to the airport (with just me and the Saturday night drunks out there navigating the asphalt), all in some stupid record time that even my GM, the maniac driver, can’t claim to have beat, and then arrived at the gate just as the flight was boarding–was, simply, miraculous.
Which made meeting Jali and Lex at the Airport Marriott for brunch hours later–after missing one supposed hotel shuttle and then discovering it was the wrong one, anyway–absolutely perfect.
I have met only a very few people who read Restaurant Gal. Three, to be exact. I am extremely wary to do so, for obvious reasons–you only have to ready my archives from a year ago through November 2006 to know why. But I knew meeting Jali and fellow DC blogger Lex was an opportunity to embrace, not a risk to fear.
What a gift of energy, reality, and budding friendship this meeting was. Is.
We talked, we hugged, we talked. We sat forever in one server’s section, and she assured us it was okay, because it was the “diva section” that Jali had requested. Oh, such divas were we; such a connection did we make.
I am living a life that is upside down. I am coloring outside every line I have ever known. Yet, these women, whom I had only known by their written voices and never actually known, became so well known to me that I wanted to stay at our table together forever and talk and talk, and talk for just five minutes more, even when Jali finally called a reluctant halt to it. Because we had been talking for four hours, and we all had places we had to be next.
Through the funny and mundane stories we shared, by their warm acceptance of this unknown Restaurant Gal, and with the honest ear each lent to listen to me in my turn, these women offered the beginnings of nourishment and energy to my heart, the kind friends give you because they get you. The hours together allowed me to push aside the nagging feelings of homesickness, loneliness and stark aloneness that, regardless of who I am with or what I am doing in Florida, is a gauzy veil that clouds all else.
I don’t know that they knew this, then. I know I didn’t really allow them to know this, then.
If–when–they read this, I want them to know this:
After I hugged you both goodbye, and I wasn’t sure if or when I would see either of you again, I got on MARTA and chose a seat facing backward, something I rarely did on D.C.’s Metro, because I just didn’t. And as I listened to the music on my Nano and watched the miles of city and suburbs pass by, backward, I knew this was just the right seat from which to wave and blow a kiss to each of you.
Did you catch them?