Night Ride

The beauty of uncertainty –KT Tunstall

Sometimes, nothing–not one thing–plays out as I am so certain it will. Sometimes, I defer to the uncertainty and say, “Hmm. I guess that was the outcome that was supposed to be.” Sometimes, I put a choke hold on the outcome that I want, insist should be, only to be incredibly disappointed when, despite my efforts, it is not.

Having RG Son and Daughter here was supposed to buoy my heart and bring light to dark times. The joy each gave me for several days is immeasurable. The sadness I could not hold back from them on their last night here, however, was nothing short of desperate. And nothing I had ever thought I would allow them to see.

Sometimes, it takes only a moment to tip the fragile scale from holding it together to sobbing Cabernet-laced tears as you admit to your kids at 2 a.m. that life here is so far from the way you’d hoped it would be. That moment came at a going-away gathering after work on Saturday evening, when it became painfully apparent how completely disconnected I am from the only people I really know in town–from my GM to the bartenders to the servers. My son was with me at this going-away party. And because he is an old and sensitive soul, he felt the moment, too. He also saw that it had blind-sided me, and he immediately ushered us out after a hasty goodbye to the departing staffer.

I cried as we walked to the car. I cried as we drove back to my apartment. I sobbed when we woke up RG Daughter and the three of us huddled together on the tiny rug in my living room, and for the first time in my life, as in theirs, they offered the comfort and compelling advice that normally I would give my last breath to make sure I gave to them.

To say that I love these kids….

The next morning, puffy-eyed and exhausted after a six-day workweek that included multiple doubles, I packed up my car with towels and Gatorade and drove us to the beach, where my son frolicked in the churning waves as my daughter read her book, and I reclined in my beach chair and let the sun warm my face and turn my skin to a deeper bronze. A sense of peace, thus, returned.

After I hugged each of them a last time at the airport, I drove away, fully intending to go back to my apartment and watch the Redskins be pummeled by the Patriots. I hadn’t driven two minutes when an acquaintance I rarely see, whom I had met my first week in South Florida, called out of the blue to invite me to watch football at the sports bar at which I’d had such an abysmal experience the Sunday before.

I was tired. I was still a mess from everything. “Come over. It’ll be fun,” she said, the noise of the place making it hard to decipher the rest of what she said. “Just look for us,” was the last I heard. Oh, what the hell.

Turns out, she had invited me to join her on a blind double date of sorts. “After the game, the boys want to take us on the boat and out to dinner,” my acquaintance smiled as I shifted uncomfortably in a booth next to “my” boy.

Oh good God. A boat? I hate boats. No really, I hate boats with a passion because I have a horrible phobia of being out in the ocean on one. I silently panicked as I plotted excuses in my mind to get the hell out of there.

“You ever had stone crab?” asked my boy.

“Um, no, but I really can’t…” I started to answer.

“Then it’s settled, we go to…” and he named a place a few beach towns up the road that only the day before someone at work had mentioned as being even better than Joe’s for this South Florida delicacy.

It was at this very moment, for reasons I don’t try to understand, I decided to give my sadness a break and take on the uncertainty of what would happen next. Because at this very moment, I decided the Bloody Mary that had magically appeared before me would take the edge off my building panic about the boat, that the boys were actually very nice, and that my acquaintance, had, in her way, been sent my way this day to show me that there was, indeed, something next.

The boat was beautiful, even I could tell that. The night, too, was beautiful, and as we cruised slowly down the inland waterway past immense homes and waterfront pools, I glimpsed the lucky families who resided in these waterfront homes. I saw a couple curled up together on a sofa, watching football on a big screen. I watched four teenagers play doubles ping pong. I marveled at the glittering lights of lit-up palm trees, of distant homes, and even more distant high rises. I watched draw bridges lift to let us through, and I said aloud, over and over, “I cannot believe I am on a boat and enjoying it. I cannot believe it!”

The other three quietly smiled every time I said this. Because this was exactly the evening they had planned, the way they were certain it would play out–as a quiet night ride on the water and an incredible dinner, what had been before and what was to happen next to any one of us, of no matter.

It was a magical ending to a long, tough stretch. It was just what I was so certain it could never be, even for one moment.






6 responses to “Night Ride”

  1. joeinvegas Avatar

    That sounds like a good alternative to the night before. Glad that you do have some friends around.

  2. Joe Avatar

    It’s always nice to have a relaxing and enjoyable evening. I am glad you had a good time. Will you go out on that boat again?

  3. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    JoeinVegas–I only met “the boys” that night, and my acquaintance is someone I have had dinner with once before. I still don’t have friends around, but this night made me feel, for a few hours, like I did.

    Joe–Especially nice when it is so unexpected, such a suprise. WIll I go out again on that boat? Maybe. The captain is local and has been instructed by the owners (the boys) to take it out on a regular basis when they are up north. I hope I can tag along for the ride with the captain and his girlfriend. But, I really don’t know.

  4. Julie Avatar

    You have a couple of wonderful kids. I’m sure they know that things aren’t what you had hoped and were glad to be there when you were so upset. RG Son gets high marks for knowing what was happening and getting you away from the party.

    The boat ride sounds heavenly, but, then I really like boats. I’m glad that you enjoyed your night ride. Did you actually get to try some stone crab?

  5. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Julie–My kids are truly special, each in their own way. I can’t wait to go out on the intercoastal again, although our “dates” don’t live here, so that one ride may be that. Still, it was a very cool experience. And the stone crab? I love my Maryland blue crab, and I decided stone crab was as good, in a different way. Now THAT, I know, I will try again.

  6. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Spontaneity – when it works, it realy works 🙂