Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dear Fred,

It’s been a while since I’ve seen your face but hearing your voice is almost as good. At least I have a mental picture when you talk. I’m sure you don’t wanna hear all this crap, but I feel the need to do it and you’re hard to pin down.

I first remember noticing that you made me smile about a year before I fled from that disaster of a marriage. Things could be going to hell in a handbasket at work, and you’d just whistle and throw out some one-liners to defuse the situation. That impish smile and cocky whistle caught my attention every time. But not just me. Everybody else at work thought you were the best too.

After my divorce, I spent about 6 months in a haze…lots of alcohol and plenty of crying. It wasn’t because of the marriage being over, particularly. It was simply because I found myself to be 47 and never having known what it feels like to be truly loved by a man. That was when I turned to you in fear of not having that chance.

You’ve seen me in just about every emotional state there is yet all I know of you is the whistling happy go lucky guy at work. With a daughter you adore. And a wife you don’t talk about. When I start to feel sorry for myself about being lonely, I think about how lonely you can be in a marriage and I feel better….I knew the feeling well.

You’ve been really polite and kind about the whole thing, and I imagine you’re relieved I’m not the kind to lawyer up on sexual harassment. If only you knew how far from the truth that is.

In the beginning, I admit, that it looked mighty attractive to dream about not having to work for once in my life and being somebody’s companion and best friend. That’s what it was though….not anything like greed or opportunism. Just a weary old gal who’d like to rest from one job to do another.

Later on, I had to let go. When you turned me away cold it hurt my soul worse than anything I can remember. I was so scared to come to you like that and the look on your face is burned on my brain forever. Something like “What? I didn’t do a thing!”

You didn’t, and that’s the beautiful part. I fell in love with you for who you are and not what you can do for me. My friend told me to watch out for the “little guy syndrome” You know what that is….Like when you’re extremely cocky because you feel insecure about being a little guy. And ya know what? She’s right. My Daddy’s that way too.

Which brings me to the point. I’m not sure what that is, except to say once again that you bring out the best in me and make me want to be better. And you do it in such a way that I never feel guilty or wrong or stupid. Even when I got snotty nosed honest with ya.

I think that we do what we have to do to survive when times are hard, and if I hadn’t had you to look forward to the past few years, my life would’ve been pretty empty. When I try to feel sorry for myself or hurt, that’s a blessing that I count as major. You have no idea how close I was to going over the edge. Or maybe you did.

The fact remains that three years later, I still love you. It’s a different love now, that’s based on reality of what is …like a wife. And years of shared experiences. Conversation about kids and co-workers and food and pre-nups and religion and drinking. Life stuff. REAL stuff.

I’m crying as I write this, not because you’re dead or gone or mad at me. It’s just because I’ve let go of a dream….one that’s been with me for awhile. At least I’m getting’ quicker….it didn’t take me 20 years this time.

Deb tells me that the ten year rule is always in effect, and she’s pretty smart. According to that rule, you’ve got seven more to realize what a “creature like none other” that I am. In the meantime I’ll still smile when you whistle.

With much smartass love……..^j^

Friday, November 26, 2004

a picture's worth a thousand words sometimes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cool_dog was absolutely crazy about Brandy. They both worked at WalMart, ya see. Every day he would get online and tell Liza about how he had wanted to kiss Brandy and did she love him and yadayada. Liza could only speak for her own heart, which was firmly in Fred’s hands at that time.

“Yes dear….Brandy loves you.” Liza was the eternal optimist and always tried to keep the faith with her cyberfriends, just like the real live ones. Cooldog watched Brandy bend over the counter and wanted to kiss her right then and there. Liza could never understand that kind of letting the moment slip by. Maybe she was just a fool for the timing of all of it…..a bit of a control freak. God knows she’d let a few opportunities slip by her in this lifetime. But she had always gathered the courage to say what she felt and act on it. Usually, she got shot down.

Fred had shot her down like a bird in flight when she was very vulnerable. He had played with her at work and then turned her away when she reached out to his advances. Her friend Sanner had told her long ago that “work guy” as they referred to him was way too cute for her own good. Sanner and her much younger husband lived in a neighboring county with their dog and their attitudes. After the tornado, she and Barry came around to help Liza cut the tree offa the house.

“I thought this was gonna be like a BIG tree” Barry said with chainsaw in hand. “This is not a bit of a challenge for a real man”. Oh boy. Liza was thankful for the chainsaw hands and they cut down every piece of wood in sight that was messing up the environment. Liza and Lacey had ended up away from home for more than a week after the tornado. Lacey bunked at Dad’s and Liza went at first to her friend Katie’s house, home of the “Garden of Eden” as they laughingly referred to her beautifully landscaped pool area. Each day for the following 5 days the area was hit with torrential rains/ tornado warnings while Liza tried desperately to get back home. Her phone was still on, but no electricity. Then on Tuesday the phone went out. Most power to the city was restored by Tuesday, but not Liza’s. She played gypsy once again and moved into the home of a co-worker who was out of town. On Wednesday the hundred year old box culvert under the lane collapsed from the flooding leaving the road impassable. Road crews repaired the culvert on Friday and cut the phone line while working. By Saturday there was electricity, a road and a phone so Liza and Lacey piled all their belongings into their respective cars and headed home to a knee high yard full of limbs and an empty refrigerator.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Liza listened to the drone of the cotton-picker on second pass as she cooked dinner. It’s a distinctly southern thing that one takes for granted, like the sprawling kudzu that takes over every inch that it can claim. She had noticed at the bar that the security light out back was covered up to its’ tip top exactly like the entire left side of the property up to the bridges. Forked Deere river water plus God’s planting had made it a fertile breeding ground.

The hill up in front of the dairy barn on the lane was covered with it and it remained lush green in mid-November. A family of groundhogs resided there in the recesses of the hill camouflaged by the climbing vines. The squirrels were bold this autumn…runnin’ like crazy. She only hoped this didn’t bode a bad winter. Propane was at an all time high due to the war.

Lumpy had taken a notion to burn some shit on his weekend off. Knowing that pyromania is a dominant trait, he gladly stoked the fire for both Lacey and Liza every chance he got. This was the first fire at HIS house. Country living affords one the luxury of unloading and lightin’ a match to it, whether it’s the contents of the attic or the back of a pickup or a years’ worth of leaves and limbs.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked Liza. “I’m watching a movie…just started”. “Is it a really GOOD movie? The fire came back to life this afternoon.” “Be right there” she quipped. Faith hopped in the back seat and they followed the smoke signals down the lane.

Fortunately, the wind was blowin’ the right way today. She and Lacey bonded with Faith while Lumpy piddled with the fire. Many of the trees were bare, but the ones that still had leaves were magnificent. Bright golds and oranges and reds reflected off of the setting sun in the woods over the riverbed. Faith’s auburn coat with blonde highlights was a beautiful contrast to the green of the pasture as she sniffed her way around and fetched treasures from the field.

This was Liza’s element….outdoors enjoying nature. She watched the flames lick the rotten wood and rambled on about the war. Many of Lacey and Lumpy’s friends were serving and these days almost everybody that anybody knew had been affected by it. She had believed from the first day that this war was wrong and the goals blurry. Each and every day served as a reminder that Americans were losing their lives 11,000 miles away to extremists with nothing to lose but their lives. And in their book, that was the prize. Self-sacrifice for Jihad, the Holy War. That guaranteed praise and glory from Allah.

Tending the stove, her mind wandered down her “to do” list for the coming week. She had noticed with much regret that the downtown hardware store was announcing its’ closing, with a big sale preceding. Forked Deere Hardware was the last family owned business on Court Square in her small town. All of one generation of the family had died leaving the quaint little store in the hands of baby boomers that had operated it for the past few years. This was the kind of store where you could find one of ANYTHING, if you could only find it! It was a welcome alternative for Liza to traveling to the super-centers for a nail or a light bulb. The character of the place was defined by the rakes and shovels and red wagons displayed on the sidewalk and by the elderly gentleman who swept there every morning and waved at the passing traffic. The old store looked rather odd next to the modern sandwich restaurant right next door. One by one the stores around the square had been replaced with lawyer’s offices circling the county courthouse. There was an upscale furniture store, a couple of banks and drug stores and a few other businesses, but for the most part the historic downtown district had been remodeled and occupied by the legal profession that did business in its’center. Liza preferred that route to work because there was rarely any traffic.

The main street into town was actually a business route from the US highway that linked the town to the rest of the state. It cut off south of town and ran past the Dairy Queen and the double bridges over the Forked Deere river, across the railroad tracks and straight through to the Methodist Church. A typical southern town.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Liza woke up chilly and early. Way early. She had to be at work at 6am but it was still close to 4 and she was wide awake. Faith flopped around like fish out of water trying to get her nest made since Liza had stirred her from her usual deep puppy slumber. Finally, they both gave it up and stared at each other across the pillow. “Oh MY GOD” Liza thought to herself. “I’m sleeping with a dog!” Faith licked her face and turned over again.

The day was not bad for a first one back off of vacation. Weekends tended to be like that because all the usual weekday activity was at a halt and only the hospital in-patients demanded attention. All departments were short staffed on weekends and holidays, not just the lab.

Liza had enough energy to pack her week’s garbage into the trunk of her Camry and take Faith for a ride to haul it off. She loved looking into the side mirror and watching those brown ears flap in the breeze while Faith hung out the window. As she approached the bar, she spotted Mary Beth’s car and turned in on a dime. Her old home away from home had been a blur as she drove by in recent months and she had missed Mary Beth. She knew several of the other vehicles too, and sure enough…..there came Gerry out the front door on his cell placing a bet on the day’s game. Liza left Faith in the car ( though dogs ARE allowed inside, if well behaved! ) and wandered in. As usual, it took a few minutes for her eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. She headed straight for Mary Beth and they hugged like the year since their last meeting had vanished into thin air.

Nothing had changed, nor would it ever. The length of the bar was seated with men silently enjoying the brotherhood of college football and enjoying their favorite beer. Saturday at this bar was definitely NOT an opportune place or time to strike up friendly conversation with the male species. Liza greeted the ones she knew and headed for Gene on the way out the door. “ Where you been baby?” he crooned. His face showed the hangover from Friday night but she gave him a big smooch anyway. “All I ever do is work and go home….you know the routine”. “I know you’ve missed me though” she said. “Good to see you baby. Come back when you can stay longer”. Faith’s vet was peering across the neon beer sign in the window to where she was checking it all out from the car.

Woofie was pacing on the car seats but enjoying the view. As soon as the motor started up, Liza lowered the window enough for that big brown head to hang out and feel the breeze on the way home. Life is good if you let it be.

Friday, November 12, 2004

eliza_jane9 (6:05:32 PM): hey you!
gulfcoast_pilot (6:05:57 PM): hello. how are ya?
eliza_jane9 (6:06:05 PM): i'm fine
eliza_jane9 (6:06:10 PM): yourself?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:06:19 PM): doing ok. just relaxing
eliza_jane9 (6:06:24 PM): me too
eliza_jane9 (6:06:30 PM): i'm on vacation for a week
gulfcoast_pilot (6:06:43 PM): internet chat is a guilty pleasure of mine. haha. i just read what others type.
eliza_jane9 (6:06:53 PM): yeah well
eliza_jane9 (6:07:01 PM): we all got our guilty pleasures
gulfcoast_pilot (6:08:10 PM): true
gulfcoast_pilot (6:08:11 PM): i should probably be out enjoying the gorgeous weather, but oh well.
gulfcoast_pilot (6:08:11 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:08:24 PM): kinda dark where i am
eliza_jane9 (6:08:31 PM): i sure enjoyed it today!
gulfcoast_pilot (6:08:49 PM): yeah, dark here
eliza_jane9 (6:08:57 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:08:57 PM): but still nice outside
eliza_jane9 (6:09:01 PM): oh yeah
eliza_jane9 (6:09:04 PM): perfect weather
eliza_jane9 (6:09:12 PM): where do ya live?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:09:21 PM): biloxi, ms and cincinnati, oh
eliza_jane9 (6:09:27 PM): lord boy
eliza_jane9 (6:09:35 PM): that's a schizo combination
gulfcoast_pilot (6:09:43 PM): well, i hate the north
gulfcoast_pilot (6:09:45 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:10:04 PM): you fly up north?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:10:27 PM): yeah, fly about everywhere
gulfcoast_pilot (6:10:32 PM): but based with my airline in cincinnati
gulfcoast_pilot (6:11:10 PM): and my reserve squadron is in mississippi
eliza_jane9 (6:11:11 PM): hmm....sup with the gulfcoast thang?
eliza_jane9 (6:11:14 PM): ahhh...
gulfcoast_pilot (6:11:26 PM): i live in both places
eliza_jane9 (6:11:30 PM): i'm a beach freak....that caught my attention
gulfcoast_pilot (6:11:30 PM): from dover, tn though
gulfcoast_pilot (6:11:45 PM): land between the lakes area
eliza_jane9 (6:11:51 PM): hmm
gulfcoast_pilot (6:11:53 PM): well, we have beaches, but no surf down here
gulfcoast_pilot (6:12:03 PM): i'm in biloxi now
eliza_jane9 (6:12:19 PM): doing the military thang?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:12:34 PM): yeah. but even if i'm not, if i have time off, i prefer it down here
gulfcoast_pilot (6:12:36 PM): i'm southern
gulfcoast_pilot (6:12:40 PM): not a fan of the north at all
gulfcoast_pilot (6:12:45 PM): so, i fit in better here than there
eliza_jane9 (6:12:46 PM): i hear ya
eliza_jane9 (6:12:56 PM): i'm in west tennessee
gulfcoast_pilot (6:13:01 PM): folks still have some common courtesy here
eliza_jane9 (6:13:38 PM): yep...they'll wave at ya and say thanks and open the door
gulfcoast_pilot (6:14:01 PM): even an occaisional smile or "hello"
gulfcoast_pilot (6:14:10 PM): for no reason
gulfcoast_pilot (6:14:13 PM): but never up north
gulfcoast_pilot (6:14:29 PM): they'd look at ya like you had three heads if you did that in new york city
eliza_jane9 (6:14:36 PM): hmm
eliza_jane9 (6:14:59 PM): good reason not to live there
eliza_jane9 (6:15:04 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:15:22 PM): i love to visit though
gulfcoast_pilot (6:15:27 PM): new york city that is
gulfcoast_pilot (6:15:30 PM): great nightlife
eliza_jane9 (6:15:43 PM): i'm sure
eliza_jane9 (6:15:53 PM): never been there
eliza_jane9 (6:16:09 PM): went to texas once
eliza_jane9 (6:16:15 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:16:26 PM): i've been everywhere but australia and antarctica
eliza_jane9 (6:16:50 PM): fringe benefit of the job huh?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:17:02 PM): yeah, no time for much else though
eliza_jane9 (6:17:15 PM): hmm..i imagine
eliza_jane9 (6:17:31 PM): my brother's a pilot...small plane and helicopter
gulfcoast_pilot (6:17:52 PM): i've never flown a helicopter
gulfcoast_pilot (6:17:56 PM): looks more challenging
eliza_jane9 (6:18:12 PM): lol...he landed the motha in the vacant lot next to my house one time
gulfcoast_pilot (6:18:25 PM): exciting
gulfcoast_pilot (6:18:29 PM): hehe
eliza_jane9 (6:18:31 PM): took me to my parents house
gulfcoast_pilot (6:18:34 PM): were you expecting it?
eliza_jane9 (6:18:40 PM): nah
eliza_jane9 (6:19:04 PM): scared the crap outta me though
eliza_jane9 (6:19:11 PM): the thing didn't have any doors
gulfcoast_pilot (6:19:22 PM): just strap in
gulfcoast_pilot (6:19:34 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:20:03 PM): um hmm
eliza_jane9 (6:20:13 PM): doors wouldn't make much difference anyway
gulfcoast_pilot (6:20:20 PM): probably not
eliza_jane9 (6:20:23 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:20:48 PM): you lookin' at any iraq time?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:21:00 PM): funny you mention 6 weeks i leave
eliza_jane9 (6:21:10 PM): oh shit
gulfcoast_pilot (6:21:21 PM): i volunteered
eliza_jane9 (6:21:33 PM): tell me why
gulfcoast_pilot (6:21:43 PM): i'm single
gulfcoast_pilot (6:21:45 PM): no kids
gulfcoast_pilot (6:21:53 PM): if i didn't go, someone else would have to
gulfcoast_pilot (6:22:05 PM): and i love adventure
gulfcoast_pilot (6:22:07 PM): soooooooo
eliza_jane9 (6:22:28 PM): good luck dude
gulfcoast_pilot (6:22:49 PM): haha, i'm sure i'll be fine
gulfcoast_pilot (6:22:54 PM): thanks
eliza_jane9 (6:23:47 PM): so you gotta woman at every port?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:24:03 PM): na, nothing like that
gulfcoast_pilot (6:25:11 PM): i wish i was that kind of guy sometimes...but i'm pretty laid back. reserved. respectful.
eliza_jane9 (6:25:29 PM): that's the way to be
gulfcoast_pilot (6:25:45 PM): not out to crush anyone
gulfcoast_pilot (6:25:55 PM): and there is no respectful way to be a player
eliza_jane9 (6:26:04 PM): true
eliza_jane9 (6:26:14 PM): i've met a jillion of em
gulfcoast_pilot (6:26:39 PM): God cursed me with a conscience.....if i didn't have one, i'd be a player
gulfcoast_pilot (6:26:40 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:26:50 PM): ayep...same here
eliza_jane9 (6:26:59 PM): i got this weakness for honesty and truth
eliza_jane9 (6:27:19 PM): gets me in BIG trouble sometimes
gulfcoast_pilot (6:29:07 PM): you're over there by reelfoot lake?
eliza_jane9 (6:29:17 PM): yep
eliza_jane9 (6:29:33 PM): and the mighty mississipi
gulfcoast_pilot (6:29:40 PM): i drive through jackson a bit. but have never been to dyersburg
eliza_jane9 (6:29:58 PM): it's about 40 minutes from jackson
eliza_jane9 (6:30:02 PM): lil bitty town
eliza_jane9 (6:30:41 PM): i work at the hospital the lab
gulfcoast_pilot (6:30:43 PM): i'm from dover
gulfcoast_pilot (6:30:45 PM): heard of dover?
eliza_jane9 (6:30:49 PM): um hmm
gulfcoast_pilot (6:30:54 PM): tiny, tiny town
gulfcoast_pilot (6:30:59 PM): in land between the lakes
eliza_jane9 (6:31:06 PM): beautiful place
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:12 PM): i think so
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:18 PM): i'll retire to there someday
eliza_jane9 (6:31:20 PM): got family there?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:23 PM): yes
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:34 PM): father, his wife, brother and his wife and kids
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:36 PM): kid
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:44 PM): he has only one, but trying for two
gulfcoast_pilot (6:31:45 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:32:00 PM): you ever been married?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:32:05 PM): also have family in clarksville
gulfcoast_pilot (6:32:08 PM): i was married for 8 years
gulfcoast_pilot (6:32:14 PM): divorced 3 years ago
eliza_jane9 (6:32:22 PM): me too
eliza_jane9 (6:32:43 PM): just now catchin' my breath from that
gulfcoast_pilot (6:32:45 PM): 13 sep, '01
gulfcoast_pilot (6:32:49 PM): was a terrible week for me
eliza_jane9 (6:33:05 PM): bad week huh?
eliza_jane9 (6:33:06 PM): lol
gulfcoast_pilot (6:33:15 PM): yup
eliza_jane9 (6:34:09 PM): well...i feel your pain
gulfcoast_pilot (6:34:20 PM): was tough
gulfcoast_pilot (6:34:22 PM): i filed
gulfcoast_pilot (6:34:28 PM): but only because i knew she wanted it
gulfcoast_pilot (6:34:33 PM): and i could no longer live that way
gulfcoast_pilot (6:34:40 PM): had separate bedrooms for two years
eliza_jane9 (6:34:48 PM): yeah me too
eliza_jane9 (6:34:52 PM): and mine was the couch
eliza_jane9 (6:35:19 PM): i was married for 20 shoulda been over in 5
gulfcoast_pilot (6:35:29 PM): i eloped
gulfcoast_pilot (6:35:41 PM): i think she regretted it almost immediately afterwards
gulfcoast_pilot (6:35:46 PM): and let it drag on for so long
eliza_jane9 (6:35:55 PM): guilty!
gulfcoast_pilot (6:35:57 PM): her mother and father loved me
gulfcoast_pilot (6:36:08 PM): and i think she stayed married to me because of them
gulfcoast_pilot (6:36:20 PM): and when her father died, she changed overnight
eliza_jane9 (6:36:36 PM): that happens when the parents die
eliza_jane9 (6:36:45 PM): you look at life differently
gulfcoast_pilot (6:37:06 PM): i suppose
gulfcoast_pilot (6:37:11 PM): i still have both my parents
eliza_jane9 (6:37:18 PM): so do i
eliza_jane9 (6:37:47 PM): ever regret not having kids?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:37:55 PM): might still
gulfcoast_pilot (6:37:56 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:38:03 PM): i wanted kids
eliza_jane9 (6:38:04 PM): true
gulfcoast_pilot (6:38:04 PM): she didn't
eliza_jane9 (6:38:19 PM): i've got one daughter
eliza_jane9 (6:38:25 PM): she's 20
gulfcoast_pilot (6:38:36 PM): you're close?
eliza_jane9 (6:38:43 PM): very
eliza_jane9 (6:39:12 PM): she doesn't have a clue what to do with her life
gulfcoast_pilot (6:39:36 PM): she's 20!
gulfcoast_pilot (6:39:40 PM): time to have a plan
gulfcoast_pilot (6:39:41 PM): haha
eliza_jane9 (6:39:48 PM): yep...i agree
gulfcoast_pilot (6:40:04 PM): she still lives at home?!
eliza_jane9 (6:40:06 PM): and sometimes plans don't ya just wing it
eliza_jane9 (6:40:14 PM): kinda sorta
eliza_jane9 (6:40:20 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:40:33 PM): i couldn't wait to move out when i graduated hs
gulfcoast_pilot (6:40:38 PM): paid for my own college
gulfcoast_pilot (6:41:02 PM): and never looked back
gulfcoast_pilot (6:41:02 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:41:35 PM): i divorced when she was a senior
gulfcoast_pilot (6:41:43 PM): very tough on her i'm sure
eliza_jane9 (6:41:52 PM): i think she felt obliged to look after me for awhile
gulfcoast_pilot (6:41:55 PM): my folks divorced when i was 20
eliza_jane9 (6:42:02 PM): um hmm.....very hard on her
eliza_jane9 (6:42:13 PM): but she knew it was best
gulfcoast_pilot (6:42:46 PM): i gave my wife our divorce papers on out eighth anniversary
gulfcoast_pilot (6:43:01 PM): i'm sure she'd say it was the best anniversary gift she'd ever received.
eliza_jane9 (6:43:25 PM): makes ya wonder about marriage...the whole legal thing
gulfcoast_pilot (6:43:40 PM): oh, i have lost faith in the institution
gulfcoast_pilot (6:43:48 PM): why get married? kills the romance
gulfcoast_pilot (6:43:53 PM): makes ya quit working at it
gulfcoast_pilot (6:44:00 PM): makes you settle into a grind/routine
gulfcoast_pilot (6:44:21 PM): if there is a chance of losing your significant other, you tend to work a little harder
gulfcoast_pilot (6:44:25 PM): and remember the little things
eliza_jane9 (6:44:49 PM): that's true
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:03 PM): i lived in denmark all summer. most don't marry
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:16 PM): they just live and have a family together
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:20 PM): and stay monogomous
eliza_jane9 (6:45:23 PM): and smoke lotsa dope!
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:30 PM): very, very true
eliza_jane9 (6:45:33 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:51 PM): the folks i hung out with respected that i didn't/couldn't
gulfcoast_pilot (6:45:59 PM): so they didn't put it in my face
gulfcoast_pilot (6:46:04 PM): and i respected their choice to do it
gulfcoast_pilot (6:46:08 PM): so everyone was happy
eliza_jane9 (6:46:18 PM): you're pretty damn kewl
gulfcoast_pilot (6:46:51 PM): well thanks. very cool yourself
eliza_jane9 (6:48:02 PM): gonna be with your family for thanksgiving?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:48:19 PM): no, i'll be sitting reserve in cincinnati
eliza_jane9 (6:48:38 PM): i'll think about ya
gulfcoast_pilot (6:48:49 PM): while eating turkey and pumpkin pie?
gulfcoast_pilot (6:48:49 PM): haha
eliza_jane9 (6:48:57 PM): no pumpkin pie
eliza_jane9 (6:49:06 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:49:34 PM): my daddy always prays for service folks at every holiday
gulfcoast_pilot (6:49:40 PM): you don't like it because of the taste or because you know it comes from pumpkins?
eliza_jane9 (6:49:49 PM): i hate the taste
eliza_jane9 (6:49:53 PM): yukkkk
gulfcoast_pilot (6:49:55 PM): hehe, you're crazy
gulfcoast_pilot (6:49:56 PM): haha
gulfcoast_pilot (6:50:02 PM): i could live off of pumpkin pie
eliza_jane9 (6:50:13 PM): well, i'll make ya one
eliza_jane9 (6:50:19 PM): if you ever come around
gulfcoast_pilot (6:50:29 PM): fry a turkey.
eliza_jane9 (6:50:41 PM): oh yeah...that's awesome
gulfcoast_pilot (6:50:46 PM): i love me some fried turkey
eliza_jane9 (6:50:51 PM): me too
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:01 PM): i have relatives from indiana
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:15 PM): and when they visited my father's house last christmas
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:19 PM): dad fried a turkey
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:23 PM): and they thought we were nuts
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:27 PM): then they tried it.......
eliza_jane9 (6:51:46 PM): can't beat it for taste
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:53 PM): tender, moist
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:54 PM): love it
gulfcoast_pilot (6:51:59 PM): mouth is watering thinking about it
eliza_jane9 (6:52:00 PM): umm....yep
gulfcoast_pilot (6:52:12 PM): what do you do in the lab?
eliza_jane9 (6:52:37 PM): run tests on blood and other icky body fluids
eliza_jane9 (6:53:06 PM): sometimes i draw the blood
gulfcoast_pilot (6:53:23 PM): i'd pass out
eliza_jane9 (6:53:29 PM): my main job is the transfusion service
gulfcoast_pilot (6:53:30 PM): i have to get smallpox vaccine next month
eliza_jane9 (6:53:38 PM): giving blood transfusions
gulfcoast_pilot (6:54:01 PM): dreading it
gulfcoast_pilot (6:54:01 PM): had my annual hiv test last month
eliza_jane9 (6:54:28 PM): didn't know they still did the smallpox vaccine
gulfcoast_pilot (6:54:43 PM): doing it for deploying military
gulfcoast_pilot (6:54:58 PM): suspected plots to use smallpox as a biological weapon
eliza_jane9 (6:55:10 PM): hmm...i've heard
gulfcoast_pilot (6:55:22 PM): i've had the anthrax series also
gulfcoast_pilot (6:55:30 PM): rigors of the job
eliza_jane9 (6:55:32 PM): good
gulfcoast_pilot (6:56:20 PM): you've traveled abroad much?
eliza_jane9 (6:56:46 PM): abroad?
eliza_jane9 (6:56:50 PM): no dear
gulfcoast_pilot (6:57:06 PM): been outside the us?
eliza_jane9 (6:57:15 PM): nope
eliza_jane9 (6:57:37 PM): not even to mexico
gulfcoast_pilot (6:57:39 PM): hehe
gulfcoast_pilot (6:57:48 PM): curious because you mentioned dope smoking in denmark
eliza_jane9 (6:57:49 PM):
eliza_jane9 (6:57:55 PM): lol
eliza_jane9 (6:58:19 PM): let's just say i know my THC
gulfcoast_pilot (6:58:21 PM): is all throughout northern europe though
gulfcoast_pilot (6:58:39 PM): particularly the netherlands
eliza_jane9 (6:58:42 PM): and medicinally throughout the western US
gulfcoast_pilot (6:58:46 PM): amsterdam is rampant
eliza_jane9 (6:59:10 PM): it's a joke....for marijuana to be criminalized
gulfcoast_pilot (6:59:18 PM): i think so too
gulfcoast_pilot (6:59:27 PM): alcohol isn't but marijuana is
gulfcoast_pilot (6:59:32 PM): ridiculous
gulfcoast_pilot (6:59:38 PM): i wouldn't use it regardless
gulfcoast_pilot (7:00:04 PM): but it is ridiculous to criminalize it...just produces more crime
gulfcoast_pilot (7:00:14 PM): spawns more and more crime
eliza_jane9 (7:00:20 PM): yep
eliza_jane9 (7:00:29 PM): big ole black market
gulfcoast_pilot (7:01:37 PM): glad the election is over with?
gulfcoast_pilot (7:01:42 PM): was sick of the rhetoric
eliza_jane9 (7:01:47 PM): me too
eliza_jane9 (7:02:07 PM): it was vicious
gulfcoast_pilot (7:02:15 PM): i thought so
gulfcoast_pilot (7:02:32 PM): neither is in touch with the common man. both are wildly rich
gulfcoast_pilot (7:02:41 PM): billionaire and multi-millionaire
eliza_jane9 (7:03:00 PM): yep...but you have to be to get there
eliza_jane9 (7:03:03 PM): ya know?
gulfcoast_pilot (7:03:12 PM): sure
eliza_jane9 (7:03:23 PM): so why would anybody want to do it?
gulfcoast_pilot (7:03:26 PM): the days of 'anybody can grow up to be president' are overwith
gulfcoast_pilot (7:03:33 PM): because they can get wealthier
eliza_jane9 (7:03:38 PM): power trippers
gulfcoast_pilot (7:04:01 PM): yeah, as they say
gulfcoast_pilot (7:04:08 PM): absolute power corrupts absolutely
eliza_jane9 (7:04:44 PM): well, let's just go to denmark and smoke a blunt
eliza_jane9 (7:04:54 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (7:04:56 PM): i'd go back tomorrow if i could
gulfcoast_pilot (7:05:26 PM): i had such a good time
gulfcoast_pilot (7:05:31 PM): and the folks we met were so sincere
gulfcoast_pilot (7:05:34 PM): loved americans
eliza_jane9 (7:05:44 PM): umm
eliza_jane9 (7:05:51 PM): beats the hell out of iraq
gulfcoast_pilot (7:05:58 PM): true
gulfcoast_pilot (7:06:01 PM): but i have my time coming
eliza_jane9 (7:06:09 PM): how long?
gulfcoast_pilot (7:07:04 PM): well, the first one will be 3 months...then i'm expecting to go there for at least six months later in 2005
eliza_jane9 (7:07:37 PM): not scared i guess
gulfcoast_pilot (7:07:53 PM): na, i've flown combat sorties before
eliza_jane9 (7:08:19 PM): my hat's off to ya
gulfcoast_pilot (7:08:25 PM): thanks
gulfcoast_pilot (7:08:28 PM): is my pleasure to do it
eliza_jane9 (7:08:41 PM): sounds like you love it
gulfcoast_pilot (7:09:06 PM): i do
eliza_jane9 (7:09:17 PM): you're a success then
eliza_jane9 (7:09:24 PM): living the life you love
gulfcoast_pilot (7:09:57 PM): sure. but, it is a life to be enjoyed while young. will end up being a fruitless life if i don't make time for a relationship at some point.
eliza_jane9 (7:10:18 PM): that's true also
eliza_jane9 (7:10:26 PM): and relationships take time
eliza_jane9 (7:10:37 PM): and attention
gulfcoast_pilot (7:10:53 PM): yeah, it will mean a sacrafice at some point in my career
gulfcoast_pilot (7:10:58 PM): and i'm not willing to do that just yet
eliza_jane9 (7:11:33 PM): i used to be very career oriented
gulfcoast_pilot (7:12:04 PM): no longer?
eliza_jane9 (7:12:09 PM): nah
eliza_jane9 (7:12:21 PM): careers don't keep you warm at night
gulfcoast_pilot (7:12:30 PM): true
eliza_jane9 (7:12:51 PM): i count on my dog for that
eliza_jane9 (7:12:59 PM):
gulfcoast_pilot (7:13:10 PM): know what you mean
gulfcoast_pilot (7:13:28 PM): my dog didn't forget about me during those two years with a separate bedroom
eliza_jane9 (7:13:38 PM): exactly
eliza_jane9 (7:14:31 PM): i got a divorce because i knew that there was something better than what i had lived with
gulfcoast_pilot (7:14:40 PM): i knew divorce would suck
gulfcoast_pilot (7:14:48 PM): but i also knew that my life was unhappy
eliza_jane9 (7:14:55 PM): ditto
gulfcoast_pilot (7:14:59 PM): and to find my happiness, i was going to have to go through the divorce
eliza_jane9 (7:15:17 PM): sounds like you've found it
gulfcoast_pilot (7:15:26 PM): not past it just yet
gulfcoast_pilot (7:15:29 PM): but improving
eliza_jane9 (7:17:38 PM): well, maybe someday we'll both find happiness
gulfcoast_pilot (7:17:53 PM): i'm confident
eliza_jane9 (7:18:16 PM): i believe ya then
gulfcoast_pilot (7:18:38 PM): we're still amicable. we spoke just thursday
gulfcoast_pilot (7:19:13 PM): she lives in orlando
eliza_jane9 (7:19:17 PM): i haven't talked to my ex in months
gulfcoast_pilot (7:19:20 PM): is where we lived when we divorced
gulfcoast_pilot (7:21:10 PM): well Eliza Jane, I best be going
gulfcoast_pilot (7:21:14 PM): was a pleasure chatting
gulfcoast_pilot (7:21:28 PM): with your permission, i'd like to add you to my friend list
eliza_jane9 (7:21:42 PM): sure
eliza_jane9 (7:21:49 PM): nice to meet you as well
gulfcoast_pilot (7:21:58 PM): was my pleasure
gulfcoast_pilot (7:22:24 PM): g'night
gulfcoast_pilot (7:22:27 PM): i hope to chat again soon
eliza_jane9 (7:22:43 PM):
eliza_jane9 (7:22:50 PM): g'night

If only Nate weren’t gay! Liza chuckled to herself as she watched him magically re-design another room while looking extremely hot on TV. She was cooking dinner for the first time in eons just because she finally knew what she wanted…..a chicken and broccoli dish with a lemon cream sauce…umm UMMM.

Two days of November rain had given way to the slightest hint of a sunset. For once, she and Dr. Bill were equally appalled at “some people’s kids” and the way they can manipulate parents. The spoiled brat du jour was a college student who cried to Daddy that “all her friends” were going to Florence that weekend and she needed credit card privileges. OMG. Afternoon TV had given Liza a whole new look at how other people live and breathe the fairytale life and run their addictions into the ground.

Liza knew that she was an addiction for Mike. His life was so miserably entrenched in duty and obligation and micromanagement that she served as a welcome escape from all that obligatory “good boy” stuff. Enough already. In the words of The Eagles…..”Get OVER it!”

Music had always been Liza’s salvation. Back in the day… was all about an eclectic mix of rock and roll plus some blues and country plus sweet singin’ guys like James Taylor and Elton John. The housecleaning chores were best accomplished with Aretha or Dixie Chicks or Linda Ronstadt on loud and strong. Liza’s LP collection was one that anyone with a turntable would covet. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a functional turntable anymore!

Rvrguy had sent her some CD’s of JT back when they were chatting and she wore them out for awhile. Even now, three years later….”The Water is Wide” could bring her to tears from the first notes.

The water is wide
I can cross over….

And both shall row, my love and I.

Thank God for caller ID. At least Liza could let the phone ring when she knew it was a bill collector and not a friend or family member who might need her in an emergency. It would soon be irrelevant, for she didn’t even have the money to pay her overdue phone bill.

There had always been money problems since the divorce and she had persevered through 2 years of college for Lacey. Now, Lacey had dropped out and was wallowing in apathy and indecision. “This is real life time girlfriend” Liza had said to Lacey when she delivered the news about college. “I know Mom…and I’m ready for a real job and some responsibility.” Lacey had been accepted at the last minute to the nursing program at the local community college, much to everyone’s surprise. She was ecstatic about this turn of luck and eager to work toward a goal. Somewhere during the deadly first eight weeks, Lacey had lost that eager spirit. By October, she was out of the program and unemployed as well. What bothered Liza the most was that Lacey didn’t seem to care that so much had been sacrificed for her.

Liza sat in tears alone remembering the latest blowup. She had gone off on Lacey when she found her under the covers at 5pm with “the cramps”. “Are you EVER gonna get off your ass and do something” Liza screamed. She had had it up to here with Lacey’s procrastination and irresponsibility. “Mom..WHAT??” Lacey glared at her mother, knowing with all of her heart that she was a loser and a disappointment to everyone, herself included. Liza’s tears began to flow hot and angry. “You don’t understand Lacey, how things are”. “Yes I do” she screamed. “But there’s nothing I can do.” Liza counted to 10 and pulled back her anger.

“Lacey, we are going under financially. You need to get a job, and it doesn’t matter what it is. Meanwhile, you can help with the chores around the house and quit worrying about being with Lumpy every day!” The thought of centering her life around a man was so foreign to Liza by now that she couldn’t relate to her daughter at all. But then Lacey was only 20 and thought that marriage was a fairy tale.

Liza dug her hands angrily into the soapy water and got back to the dishwashing at hand. Within a few minutes, she heard keys jangle and Lacey was gone into the fog…..running from her mother’s angry tirade. Her headlights disappeared down the lane toward Lumpy’s house and no hassles. Liza’s frustrations and sense of helplessnes were dissolving into tears and sobs now. She dialed Lacey’s cell number and got voice mail each time. That left her to stew in her own turmoil.

Mike was on his way to see her for the first time in weeks, and she was a mess of swollen face and tension. Liza called him and sobbed “ You might not want to come over here. I’m not in a very good mood!” “What’s wrong?” he asked with concern. “I’m so tired of everything and everybody and tired of struggling and …and….” She couldn’t talk for the sobbing. “Relax” Mike said. “I’ll be there shortly”

Mike’s presence in her life was mostly a blessing, in spite of the complications. He listened intently to every pity party she ever threw and was a constant friend, if only by telephone usually. Faith heard the car door slam and growled a low “Woof”. Mike’s smiling face appeared in glass and she went ballistic in friendly recognition. Liza waved him in and he was greeted with a full body tongue bath by the friendly dog. “Hey there you woofie” Mike purred to Faith. He had a chocolate lab of his own, but his was a male and not as loving and friendly as Faith. He adored this pup!

The two of them settled on the couch with Faith nosing in between them. “What’s wrong now? “ he asked with concern. Liza’s tears had dried, but her face was puffy from crying. “ Oh, it’s just a girl thing” she replied. She knew from experience that when the raging hormones of mother and daughter crossed, it would all be forgotten the next day. Mike smiled in appreciation. “Give her a few days….it will be fine”. They often talked about their kids. His was an almost sixteen year old son who alternately adored and despised his Dad according to the issue at hand. Hunting, fishing and four-wheeling were all acceptable topics. Anything more remotely personal was off limits. Particularly sex.

Mike’s first “girlfriend” had laughingly referred to him as 1/3 Boy Scout, 1/3 All American Boy and 1/3 Choir Boy. He had been a faithful husband and father for close to 25 years when the marriage started unraveling. He and Liza often talked about the possibilities for a future and they looked grim. Mike was self employed and would have no support from friends or family if he left his “perfect” wife. He was afraid of losing his son’s company during his teenage years. He was even more afraid of losing Liza’s friendship, though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

not in kansas anymore

The wind from an approaching cold front grabbed the loose tin on the dairy barn roof and slapped it against the concrete. It was a familiar sound to Liza as she ambled down the lane with Faith at her side. She used to listen to music when she walked…….now, the only sounds were of a small plane coming in for a landing nearby and the tinkle of Faith’s tags around her neck. Faith had found an ear of field corn to play with during the trek and was playfully jerking it back and forth by the husk. At six months, she was a good size dog but still had plenty of pup in her.

Liza’s thoughts of the cooler weather tumbled back to another time when the forces of nature had turned her world upside down. She had never been afraid of storms…..far from it. She reveled in the excitement and electricity charged atmosphere of a good storm. Her brother Harold had been a weatherman as long as she could remember. His wife Anetta was a reporter also and they worked weekends at TV stations in neighboring towns.

On this particular Sunday evening, Liza and Lacey had been listening to music and doing their usual girl thing. About 9:30 PM, the phone rang. “I’m watching the radar and there’s a tornado headed straight for y’all” Annetta said grimly. Liza hadn’t even bothered to notice that the winds were tipping the treetops over and the lightning was ferocious. “Okay” she said. “We’ll hit the basement”.

Lacey grabbed the cat and called for her Mom to hurry. “ Just a minute” she screamed. Liza was attempting to open the back door to peer outside at the weather. She tugged on the door with all of her might, but it wouldn’t open. Then it struck her that the pressure from the passing tornado was keeping it shut.

Immediately, the power went out. In the darkness Liza found Lacey and a candle. They were headed toward the basement door when the phone rang again. It was Annetta. “ The tornado has destroyed the motel across the highway. Casualties are reported” she said. “Are you okay?” “Yes, we’re fine” Liza replied with a growing sense of dread about what lay out in that darkness. In the total blackness she could hear the wind howling and the rain pelting her old farmhouse.

Lacey was pacing back and forth in the darkness. “Mom…I want out of here!” she cried. “OK sugar….let’s get to the car”. They made their way through the pouring rain to Liza’s car and cranked it up. The headlights shone against the dark farmhouse in a ghostly fashion. As the car moved slowly down that lane, she deftly dodged the debris that littered the flooded road. Turning onto the main road from the lane, they spotted power lines hanging low in a V overhead. “Mom! Please don’t go under there…..I’m scared”.

Liza replied calmly to her daughter. “We’ve come this far baby, we’re not turning back”. She prayed as she eased under the dangling wires and kept her eye out for debris. It was like running an obstacle course in a car! Relieved that they were not electrocuted, Lacey calmed down. “Mom….LOOK!” she said. There were limbs across the road every few feet. It seemed that they were totally alone in that eerie world. “I want to go see my Daddy!”. “That’s where I’m headed” Liza said.

Pulling onto the highway, they eased through the rain toward the spot where the motel sat. It was demolished! There was no sign of rescue activity yet, but they kept moving. No traffic anywhere….just two scared gals running from the darkness of the country toward something! Lumpy was at Noler’s house waiting for Lacey to get there.

Liza tried numerous streets to get to her ex-husband’s house. Every route that she chose was blocked with huge downed trees across her path. Navigating in the dark slowly and carefully, they finally made their way through to where Lumpy waited. Liza began the trek homeward in shock at what she had seen.

When she returned to the darkened house, she entered slowly and lit a candle. Then she sat down at the kitchen table and began to write:

Dear Fred, I was so afraid tonight that I would die and never get the chance to tell you how very much I love you……………

The week that followed was a Murphy’s law mixture of bad happenings. That night, after writing the letter to Fred, I laid down in the hot dark quiet and slept fitfully until time to go to work. The town in daylight was worse than I expected and there was very little electricity for the first two days. I was promised that mine would be back on by Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon came and went and found Lacey and me emptying the entire spoiled contents of the refrigerator into garbage bags to haul off. I cried and sweated and ranted, to no avail. After being told that they had “no idea” when the power would be restored, I began looking for a place to stay. Ann graciously offered to share her palace with me…that’s how I referred to her beautiful house with a pool area dubbed The Garden of Eden. The lines of thunderstorms and heavy rain continued to cross the river in wave after wave and more tornados were spotted each and every day. Following Tuesday night’s gully washer the old concrete box culver collapsed under the road and there was no way to get home even if I DID have power. A large portion of the downtown area of the closest large town was demolished by another tornado.

Eileen, my co-worker was leaving town for a week to visit her kids so she offered me the use of her house in the country, with yet another pool. The only time in my life I’d lived, albeit temporarily, in a house with a pool and it was a non-stop week of thunder and lightning! Since the road was caved in, Daddy had to take me through the muddy fields to get my clothes …enough to last for who knew how long. Finally I was settled somewhere. The phone, which had continued to work during and after the storm, went out on Tuesday. Sheesh!

On Wednesday I got the news that the phone was back in service. By Thursday there was power restored and the road repair was promised by Friday. Friday morning my mom called with this little tidbit: “Well..there’s good news and bad news.” “What now?” I asked. “The road is repaired and you can get through to the house. BUT..the road crew cut the phone line while they were working”. I was so ready to get home and settled I could have died, but not until everything was cool. “I’ll wait, I said.”

Saturday brought a funeral to attend, an old friend’s Dad. Since I was not expecting to need anything but scrubs for work, I had to go buy something to wear. The muggy heat and humidity dragged on through that day as well. On Sunday,I was finally able to go home to a cool house, a phone and a tree laying across the roof. I didn’t care, cuz I was home at last! That old redbud tree laid there for a couple of weeks until Brian and Sanner came with a chainsaw to help me out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

She usually knew when Fred was working. Women are good at that watch and wait thing. During the weeks and months since Fred’s “kinda sorta” come on, Liza had questioned herself constantly about her instincts. She always remembered a particular day when she had gone to assist him with a bone marrow.

“Oh Hell” she replied. Fred had called to ask who was doing hematology that day because the lucky gal got to assist with a bone marrow extraction. “Do I know her?” he quipped. Assisting on a bone marrow was like the kiss of death. It was time consuming and tedious and the patient hated it. The procedure itself involves a sterile surgical type field where a large bore needle is inserted into the patient’s bone. It hurts, in spite of the Xylocaine administered locally. The pain is mostly from the pressure of drawing the marrow out of the center of the bone into a syringe.

Liza paged Fred overhead when it was time to do the deed. If it were anyone but him, she would have pawned the task off. “Gimme a few minutes to look professional ” he grumbled. She proceeded to gather the supplies and headed to the Outpatient Surgery floor. When she entered the room, a lovely older lady with an English accent greeted her. “Hello there” Miss Olive grinned. “Hello yourself” Liza replied. Introductions were quickly made and Liza felt right at home with Miss Olive and her husband. They had met when he was stationed in England during World War II. He was a man of few words but obviously quite devoted to his war bride. “Well, some folks say it’s not lady like to be a smat-ass” Miss Olive said with her distinctly British flair. “But, I find that the older I get the more I see that having fun is what life is about!”

Miss Olive proceeded to gossip about what she had heard concerning her internist’s sexual adventures in the office. “ He used to be my FAVORITE doctor. But he’s just rude now.” Mr. Overton took it all in and smiled with a “that’s my gal” look. Liza explained the procedure to them and assured them that they were in good hands with Fred. “He’s wonderful” Liza gushed. “ You’ll love him!”

Fred eased the door opened and entered quietly with grin intact. “Mrs. Overton…..I’m Dr. Gaines. How are you today”. Liza’s heart dropped out of her chest as she surveyed Fred in a damn TIE for the occasion. A red one at that! “Liza has told me how wonderful you are” Ms Olive said. “ I trust that she’s right!”

Fred took his time with the preparations for Mrs. Overton, gently lowering her panties in the back to expose the site for puncture. He donned his gloves and scrubbed the site, then administered the local anesthetic. About that time, the cell-phone on his belt rang out. “ Grab that for me, will you Liza?” There’s nobody I want to talk to right now.”

Liza pulled the phone from his belt and flipped it off, not realizing that she would be calling that same phone in the near future, just to hear his voice say “I’m here”. The procedure went without a hitch and Liza prepared the slides and specimen for further testing.

“He’s my new favorite doctor” Ms Olive raved. Fred had gone back to his office in the basement to get rid of that dang tie. Liza visited with the lovely elderly couple for a few more minutes and said her good-byes.

Five months of flirting later, Liza decided she had skirted the issue long enough. She gathered up her courage and went to Fred’s office in the bowels of the hospital. Rapping gently on the door, he waved her in. “ I have a question for you” she said. In her mind, knowing where she stood was much better than wondering. Fred stood up from the cramped desk to face her. “ Is your very married self interested in a little something on the side”. Instantly, his face dropped. He looked like he was about to cry! “ No” he said slowly. Liza was so nervous and amazed that she had confronted the issue. To save face, she grabbed him by the shoulder and said confidently “ Well….that settles that.” Following her survival instinct, she turned and hurried down the hall out of the building. He was behind her in the hall saying something as she walked away, but she never heard it. The tears were already streaming down her face, and she needed a friend desperately.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Slowly but surely, Liza came to realize that her feelings for Fred had gotten stronger. She looked for him at work now, and his smile and whistle and soothing voice constituted her few moments of joy. Around him, she sprang to life and he seemed to react to her presence in the same way. Their office flirting was obvious and had intensified of late.

Liza arrived late to the restaurant where they were having a “work” dinner. Fred was buying in appreciation of the teamwork that they had all managed on a recent project. She slipped a package to the waitress on her way in with instructions to surprise Big Ron at just the right moment. They had a tradition of trading smart-ass remarks and a certain aged fruitcake that was growing mold by now surely! The game had started with Liza and her Uncle Jim and when he died, she found another jovial player in Big Ron. No occasion was too somber or reserved to escape the revenge of the dreaded fruitcake! Her last pass to HIM had been at his daughter’s wedding with the help of his son. She had found it returned to her on Valentine’s Day, sitting innocently on her front porch when she got home from work. Neither of them ever unwrapped it for fear of what they would find inside!

She slipped into the only available seat that she saw which was miles away from Fred at the other end of the table. He winked at her and she said “Hey” with that girlish grin. “Way down there” he said with a little pout. He was stuck next to the mouth of the South…the biggest complainer and hypochondriac that ever lived. And boy…..was she ever yammering!

“Well, WELL” chuckled Big Ron as she slid into the seat beside he and Sherry. “And how are YOU this evening?” As a high school football coach and principal, Ron had cultivated an air of authority that could stop you dead in your tracks wondering what he was up to. Liza was used to him, and they reveled in their wise cracking friendship. “Hi Liza….never mind him” Sherry said brightly. It tickled her to death to see someone who stood up to Big Ron.

Dinner progressed with lots of laughter and small talk Liza’s supervisor Lynn and her hubby Mack were across the table. With all the talking and laughing, nobody noticed when a waitress silently placed a brightly colored gift bag next to Ron’s plate. Oh boy…It was ON! Red faced, Ron knew at once what was in the bag and realized that again he’d been had by the clever Liza. She could hardly contain her giggles as Fred and some of the others looked curiously toward Ron and his mystery gift. The history was quickly explained to the ones who did not know the story and Ron’s face remained red. ”Payback is rough” he said with an evil smile. And by golly, she knew it would be!

“We’ve got to run now” said Sherry. “The grandkids are waiting for us!” She had asked Liza earlier in the day if she would understand if they had to make an early exit. After they had left, Liza caught Fred’s eye and motioned for him to join her. “I’ll be down there for dessert” he quipped with a twinkle in his sexy blue eyes.

Key lime pie and chocolate delight provided the perfect end to the meal. “Yessir…My grandma always said that a meal’s not complete without dessert!” Fred said. He had moved down next to Liza for dessert and coffee and she could feel the electricity between them as they sat closely. “ How is Molly?” Liza asked. Fred’s only daughter Molly was a couple of years older than Lacey and away at school in the Northeast. “She’s fine….I guess!”. “ I can only hope she’s doing what she’s supposed to do.” Molly was studying Greek and Latin and was her Daddy’s biggest fan. “Lacey is trudging through school with no purpose” Liza lamented. “There’s plenty of time for a plan later” he winked. “ I’ve questioned Molly on her “career goals” with the classics. How will she ever support her Daddy in his old age??”

The crowd slowly dwindled with everyone giving Fred their thanks for the lovely meal. As they left the dining room, he followed Liza. “I’ll see y’all tomorrow” Fred said. Then, under his breath he whispered to Liza “ Unless I get a better offer”. She froze like a deer in the headlights and peeled off toward the restroom. Had she heard what she thought she just heard? Was he really that interested?

When she returned from the restroom everyone was gone. She thought maybe she was mistaken in what she heard, so she called him when she got home. “ And what are YOU doing the rest of the evening” she asked coyly. “Oh……tons and TONS of work” he replied. Liza quickly made a graceful exit from that phone call and vowed never to play his little game again.

As the Eagle Flies

Lone Eagle was one of the first chat buddies that Liza made. Late one night as Babygirl and her friends were outside partying around a bonfire, he had sent a private message to Liza.

Loneagle: hi..i see you’re close to nashville

Eliza_jane: yes I am, about 80 miles north

Loneagle: my name is mike nice to meet you

Eliza_Jane: liza here…and same to you

Loneagle: are you married?

Eliza_Jane: nope…are you?

Loneagle: yes I am, but we can still chat right?

And chat they did, for well over a year and never met in person. Their conversations centered on their children and life histories. Over time they became the best of friends and knew just about everything about the other thanks to lengthy keyboard sessions and phone calls.

One cold wintry evening Liza sat folding clothes and watching TV. Her phone rang and she checked the caller ID….Hmm. Not a familiar number.

“Liza, this is Mike”. Mike? Mike who! “I’m in town and thought I’d come by to meet you in person. Liza was in her flannel pajamas and in for the evening. “Sure…why not” she replied. Directions were given and Mike was at her door within 15 minutes. When she heard the knock, she looked up to see a prematurely gray haired man with glasses peering through the door. “Come in she said!” and hugged him warmly. She was shocked at his appearance because the picture that she had seen was made when his hair was still black and he was 10 years younger. Still, he was attractive. The gray hair was sexy and his eyes were Paul Newman blue behind those wire- rimmed glasses.

It took several minutes for Liza to catch her breath after the shock of meeting her longtime online friend. They knew each others’ souls and histories already after a year and a half of chatting, yet the real person was right in front of her for the first time! They talked for a bit and as her emotions came to the surface she began to cry. “Thank you for listening to all of my problems” she said tearily. “ But you have listened to mine as well” Mike replied. “That’s what friends do”.

It was as if all of the pain of her divorce and disappointment with love came tumbling out in the safety of this old friend’s presence. Mike was disturbed by her tears. “ What’s wrong?” he asked. “It’s just so overwhelming to finally meet you in person”. She continued to fold towels ….nervous energy over the raw emotions she was displaying.
Mike got on his knees beside the clothes hamper and held her hand as she sobbed. “You will be just fine”he said. “ You are a beautiful intelligent woman with a lot to offer someone. I’m surprised you haven’t been snatched up already!” As he rose to prepare to leave, Liza got up from the couch to see him to the door. He hugged her warmly and found, to his surprise, that she wouldn’t let go. She couldn’t! Liza had missed the warmth of human touch more than anything during her alone time…. Especially the feeling of a man’s arms around her.

They stood silently in the embrace and she listened to his breath. His hands were sure and gentle and they found their way under the flannel to warm soft skin. Liza groaned with pleasure. Her lips found his quickly and the passion was ignited like a gas fire. She led him to her bedroom where she promptly shed the flannel and started on his clothes as well. They made love tenderly and with a familiarity that seemed not at all like a first encounter, but as familiar as a roadmap.

“Let’s take a shower together” he said , as they lay wrapped up in the afterglow. Liza was not at all self conscious with him, and she joined him in the warm spray lathering his back and allowing her hair to be gently shampooed. “I’m gonna wash those fleas right outta my hair” he sang giddily as he soaped up his own head. Liza couldn’t help but giggle. His humor was constant and joyful and she needed that in her life desperately.

After he had left to go back to his hometown, she lay in bed and wondered about what she had done. It was a first for her…with a married man. She pondered all of the complications and the morality as her phone rang. “ Are you okay?” Mike asked. He had long since dealt with the guilt and pain that had accompanied his first affair and was now concerned that Liza would be overcome with those same feelings that had almost taken him under months ago. “ I really enjoyed your company tonight” he said. Liza replied “ It was just what I needed”. They talked for a few more miles and then said their goodbyes. Liza slept like a baby!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Keepin' the Faith with the Yup Yup Brotherhood

Liza had called Jerry Lee every day and often multiple times a day during the period prior to the divorce. Noler told her repeatedly that it would NOT happen with the two of them. “It’s an honor system among guys…you don’t mess with your friend’s ex.” For some reason, probably because he knew that she needed to get out, Jerry had listened and talked the entire 6 months that it took for Liza and Noler get their lives separated and the divorce final. Once it was over, all of that changed.

He was still seeing Pammy and being used for all he was worth, mostly because he felt an obligation to be there for her teenage boys. Jerry had grown weary of Liza’s constant whining about the hardships of the divorce that she had “gotten because of him.” He had never asked for any of this, and now he was stuck with a woman who loved him with a passion whom he didn’t love back.

Liza picked up the pieces and tried to move forward with her life. She went out occasionally, when she had a few extra bucks. Mostly she stayed around the house and amused herself with WooHoo chatting.

Mastertheif2000: hey baby…kiss kiss

Eliza_jane: why, hello mr. Bond

Mastertheif2000: and how is my baby today?

Eliza_jane: oh I’m fine now that I’ve heard your sexy voice

Mastertheif had a microphone and much preferred using it for chat rather than typing his words. His “status” was apt to be anything from “My name is Bond…..James Bond” to “Chillin’ like a villain” . He would ramble on and on forever about social problems and new screen names and off the wall topics. Liza often thought he was high as a kite. One day he sent her this “creation” that was just for her:


its you that i think about. the sound of your voice. the way your eyes reflect the beautyyou hold inside. the way you turn your head when you might be embarisedor the way you laugh. how your eyes widen and your smile when you help someone and they give you a hug. the way you smile. how you lie on your bed and talk to me. how you make me feel welcome and important. the way your eyes reach into my soul and see what has been rejected by others.the way you put me on a pedastal and look at me as the winner of your heart. the way your beauty shines through and invites my heart to come in with out with out fear. its true that actions speak louder than words and everything about you tells me that your an angel decending from heaven to take me away. when i talk to you nothing else matters. i used to feel alone and there is no other pain like it. the nagging lonliness filling my heart, but now i dont feel it any more. i feel the warmth,carring,compassion,and beauty both inside and out and most of all i feel al the goodness that is you that is you drawing me in and al li want to do is say yes .but i have to watch out, so i dont get lost in the world around me and all its complications. id rather get lost in you,your eyes and your heart and never come out. that is why i say its you. its you and everything about you that i treasure and cant wait til we meet and finally comenserate what we have and feel with a kiss. and we hold eachother and intertwine our spirits as one.

Liza was so touched that she cried when she read his gift. She questioned herself daily on her decision to abandon the marriage, and as the loneliness became heavier she felt inadequate to deal with the world that she had chosen for herself. She and justanothervoiceonethenet had cyber sex and he later asked why she settled for that when the real thing was available. The honest truth is that she was scared to death. Twenty years of faithfulness to one uninterested man had left her feeling quite undesirable and not at all sure of herself.

Later that year, during college football season Liza decided to join her friends at the bar to watch the big game. They drank beer and hooted and cheered on their team and gossiped about whoever was there. She had not seen or heard from Jerry in months but had heard through the grapevine that he and Pammy were through for good. As the outside light shone into the darkened bar from the opening door, she spotted them. Jerry and Pammy and another couple she’d never seen before. They proceeded through the rowdy crowd over to a pool table on the other side. Pammy was still wearing the clothes she’d had on the night before as a waitress at another local bar.

Liza sat staring at them with her friends Angie and Suzy close by in a booth. Both knew what she had been through because of her feelings for Jerry and both had had just enough beer to feel feisty. “I’m going over to say something to her”,Angie proclaimed. Now Angie is someone you don’t want to mess with. She’s from Gibson County which is a notorious breeding ground for rednecks. She’d love nothing better than to shoot somebody if given a half-ass reason. Liza and Suzy watched as she sauntered over and spoke to Jerry and Pammy at the pool table. Jerry had made a point of ignoring every friend in that bar as he entered, because he knew that they all hated Pammy. He was just that way…..loyal to a fault to a gal who was using him what she could get out of him. Love is blind and all that garbage.

When Angie returned to the girls table, Liza felt brave enough to approach Pammy on her own. She eased over to the area where they were as if to take a potty break. “Hey Pammy…how are you?” Her voice dripped sarcasm. Jerry Lee steadily ignored the women. “Umm…Pammy. What’s this I hear about you and these other two guys…Dickie Miller and Jason?”

The bitch came unglued! “What business is it of yours?” she shouted. Liza glanced toward Jerry for support and saw none. “Oh, just things I’d heard. I thought Jerry might be interested.” With that she ambled back to the booth where her friends were waiting. They whispered and muttered and returned their attention to the rest of the crowd and the game.

Within about 10 minutes, Pammy stalked toward the door of the bar with Jerry Lee sheepishly trailing her. In her loudest voice she screamed across the room at Liza “ Bye Bitch!” and they were gone. Liza didn’t know it, but Pammy left with the other couple, livid with Jerry that she had been mocked by his friend.

Later that evening, Liza called Jerry. “Do you hate me?” she asked. “I’m not too happy right now” he replied. Liza knew in her heart that she had lost the love of her life, even as a friend. Things couldn’t get much worse in the romance department for either of them.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Emptying the Nest

Liza sat pensively on the back steps to cool off from fall yard chores. Her new neighbor Lumpy had fixed the John Deere one more time so she could "git her done" on the leaves. He was almost as handy as her brother Larry. Lumpy worked 3rd shift and Babygirl had been in school so they didn't see much of each other. Still, they were devoted to each other.

Lacey had been visiting Hillary in Kentucky for a couple of days and had called her Mom several times. "Mom....I want to move here. It's gorgeous!" Liza knew from being there that Surrey KY was a beautiful close to the lake spot and a bustling college town. "What's stopping you, said Liza?". "Go for it!".

"You get tore up last night Twinkie?" Liza asked Lumpy's cousin. Twinkie and Lumpy were cousins and soulmates in their dysfunctional rigid fundamentalist family. When she had flagged Lumpy down to fix the mower, they both got on the job, guy style. One workin' and one supervising. "Ayep", Twinkie said. "I got on the Evan and chocolate milk and it was all over but the pukin". He belched loudly and resumed his duties as lawnmower mechanic.

Lacey and Hillary arrived mid-afternoon in Alex's car. They had been friends forever and had been in the trenches together more times than they could count. Hillary came out the back door and hollered " Hey girl ......what are you doing?" Liza shucked her gloves and went running to see her girls. She had a whole week of vacation to do yard work and paint and remodel. Plus clean out the attic and basement.

"I'm having a ball out here" she exclaimed. Lacey beamed at her Mom because she knew how she loved that outdoor stuff and she hadn't seen her do it in forever. "I'm moving to Surrey.....and Lumpy's going too!" Liza was ready for this. It was as if she had been preparing herself slowly for the transition from full time Mom to just plain ole Mom with her own life.

"Go girl!". They visited a bit in the kitchen and then the girls went to Lumpy's house down the lane. Liza resumed her chores as a tear or two slipped out. Shortly after that, her Dad Willy drove up to feed the horses. Liza was sittin' on the potty and hollered out the window "Hey Daddy!" . " Hey Jane" he hollered back. She went on with her cleaning and arranging.

"Liza....OHHHH Liza". She heard him calling but didn't know where the voice was coming from. Willy never came into the house uninvited being very careful to respect her privacy, even though she and Lacey barged into his house whenever they felt like it." Liza followed the voice to the porch and sat on swing.

"I have a proposition for you" said Willy. Liza looked at him blankly, knowing that this moment had been coming with her landlord/Dad. "I will pay your rent the rest of the year so that you don't have THAT to worry about"........It's your Christmas present." She felt the tears well up and was overcome with emotion. "You'll get something else, but this is my gift. " She didn't know what to say and was sobbing too hard to get her voice. She had struggled relentlessly since the divorce to stay current on the bills, and had failed miserably. She felt inadequate, and at the same time very tired.

"Thank you Daddy....I'm so sorry." The tears spilled over her cheeks in a cathartic motion that was all about the hardship she'd endured as a single mom. She was a month behind on everything and even more on the rent.

Now Willy was one who believed in new beginnings and starting over. In his mind, this was a line in the sand for Liza to seize as an opportunity to catch her breath. "Lacey is moving......and Lumpy will go too, I imagine." Willy looked shocked. "And do what?", he asked. "Get a job and take care of herself. She's an adult...or she will be soon." She was crying to her Dad like a little girl. That was something she had always missed......being able to sit on Daddy's lap and lay it all out and get hugs. At least Lacey had gotten that from Noler.

He yapped all the way to back to his truck..uncomfortable with the emotions and being honest. Liza sat in the swing and cried until she felt the pain subside, and then she went into the house.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Beginning of the Beginning

As virtual realities go, YaHell dating is about as close to “relationship” as China is to New York. Early in her single days, Liza had discovered the world of chatting. It was a cheap and cowardly alternative to bar hopping in search of men. It was also very addictive.

During a leave from work for surgery, Liza ventured into the world of chat. Early on, she met Rvrguy late one night.

Rvrguy: I’m a musician in Memphis.

Eliza_jane: what kind of musician

Rvrguy: damn good one

Eliza_Jane: smartass

Rvrguy: yep, I’ve been told that before. I think I’m horny.

Eliza_Jane: hmmmm

He was a divorced father of 3 grown kids. Catholic. Wrote music for “jingles” and for the Air Force band. The friendship developed slowly, as real friendships do. Since his work was mainly on computer, he was always online.

Eliza_Jane: DING! Hey smartass….whatcha doin?

Rvrguy: headstands in bullshit…arggghhh

Eliza_Jane: I’ve been out for a walk with the dogs. Weather’s great!

Rvrguy: so umm…how are you in bed? I’m usually sleepy

Eliza_Jane: I don’t remember. It’s been awhile. Are you married?

Rvrguy: was once….now THAT was scary

Eliza_Jane: I’ve been divorced for 6 months

Rvrguy: hmmm….not long

And so it went for weeks. Mark tired quickly of Liza’s “wordiness”. She pounded him daily with the longings of her soul by email. He rarely responded, though he was enchanted with her na├»vete and honesty.

Liza’s divorce from Noler had been done quickly but not painlessly. When Babygirl approached the home stretch of senior year, Liza realized that the marriage was a sham and its’ reason for being was about to leave the nest. She had always had a thing for Jerry, their mutual friend. Suddenly it dawned on her that it was now or never time for true love. Claiming her love through a handwritten letter to Jerry Lee, she mailed it to him and waited for a response.

Hey Dog…….

I learned in my days in therapy that sometimes the only way to get something out from under your skin is to write a letter if the person you want to talk to isn’t around anymore. Since I can’t find you and know that your e-mail gets checked, I guess this is my only means to let you know what’s on my mind.
I think that until I woke up on New Year’s Day I was a pretty sensible person, like I tend to be. I had convinced myself that it was okay that me and Noler don’t really have a marriage and that some things you just endure. After all, I was the one who hounded him until he came back. But nobody’s been happy since then, and on that day when I laid on the couch and watched you sleep it kind of came home to me what I’d missed. We’ve been through a bunch of shit together through the years and that’s what friendship is about. You are so much like me it ain’t even funny……like the crying jags we both get on and the sentimental stuff and the family stuff. I guess maybe that’s why I first fell for you a long time ago. Not because you’re a “pretty boy” or because you’re generous or all the other stuff……but because I see the best of me in you and recognize my dark side there as well.
I went to Cool Springs cemetary to talk to your Mom about all this the other day looking for answers. I thought I heard her tell me to go after you, but when I got there you were already gone back to Pammy. That’s the story of my life……I sit and listen to guys that I love cry over other women just like a good “buddy”. Been doing it all my life. Guess I’m a slow learner, huh?
Your sis asked me if you knew how I felt about you. Said I should tell you. Only you’re “invisible” again so I guess this will have to do. I hope that things work out for you the way that you want, whatever that is. I love you enough to want you to be happy because life is very short and we spend too much time chasing bullshit when we don’t know if we’ll be alive long enough to enjoy it. I will always be there for you and I hope you will remember that. If being with Pammy is what makes you happy I hope that she’s good to you, because if not I’LL KICK HER ASS! Keep the faith baby……………………Love ya, Liza

A silent week after mailing that letter, she went to find him. It was late January and he came to the door in sweats and with apprehension on his face.

“Did you get my letter?” she asked.
Jerry looked at the floor uncomfortably and back into his friend’s eyes. “Yes” he said. Tears began to fill his own eyes as he fought to maintain control. “I don’t feel the same way about you. I’ve never thought of you as anything but a friend”.

Now Liza began to cry too. She and Jerry had cried together many times……during the illness and death of his mother. When she first met him, it was while she was divorced the first time from Noler and pining away for him to come back. Jerry Lee had listened to her pain and pumped up her spirits during those bad times. She had held his hand during the worst parts of his life.

This kind of raw emotion can’t be tolerated for long. Liza returned home to Noler with a resolve to end it and move forward, wherever that might lead.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Cry From the Dark

“ Miss Liza….Help me!!!” “I’m trapped.” Liza barely recognized the voice crying for help. “I’m trapped under a telephone pole”, he grunted. The computer screen was lit up with private message windows as she did her usual Saturday night thing on WooHoo cruising chat rooms. Even with the slight buzz, it registered. It was Lumpy, Lacey’s boyfriend. And he was in trouble. “I’m at the end of the road”, he said. “Hurry!”

Liza scurried out from behind the PC and into her car and barreled down the lane. It was dark already and she had to slow down and focus her headlights on the ditch to find him. “Where is he? Where is HE?” All was dark. No movement.

Lacey had gone to visit friends while her boyfriend Lumpy went to cut wood for a bonfire. Bless his heart, he was devoted to that gal of his. Devoted enough to go on a wood cutting expedition for that downed telephone pole he’d had his eyes on. Whatever Lacey wanted, he’d try his damndest to deliver.

Liza spotted him under the pole at the bottom of the ditch. She backed the car up carefully to spotlight the scene, jumped out and ran to him. Lumpy was dressed in coveralls and totally trapped under a ton size wooden telephone pole that had been replaced with a metal one. His chainsaw lay chainless in the ditch beside him. As Liza struggled to gain her composure, it struck her that she was in charge of this crisis. “Are you okay?” she asked with great concern. “ I can’t move” was his reply. His upper thighs were totally immobilized by the weight of the pole and he struggled with his hands to keep it off of his pelvis and chest. “Look in the back of my truck” he instructed. Lumpy was an overgrown scout who took the motto “Be Prepared” to heart. Liza fetched the metal spike that was in his truck bed and dug it into earth under the giant pole. She was too weak to have any effect on it, but he grabbed hold of the wedge and hung on for dear life. Precious breathing space was now available.

Liza grabbed her cell phone and dialed in the headlights…..first her Dad and then 911. Willy, her Dad, lived only a mile down the main road. He arrived first with chainsaw in hand and his usual smartass attitude. Willy promptly stuck his chainsaw in the pole exactly as Lumpy had. He began to berate Lumpy for his “stupidity” and Liza jumped in her Dad’s face. “Now is not the time, Daddy”. She cradled Lumpy’s head in her hands and urged him to hang on. “ You’re okay dude….I’ve got you. It’s all good”. “HOLD ON!” In spite of the cold temperatures, his face and hair were drenched with sweat from the effort of holding the weight of that pole at bay.

The crowd trickled slowly onto the country lane. First there was a highway traveler with a police band scanner who pulled himself away from his trek home with his son. In shirt and tie, he came to the rescue. Next came the Sheriff’s department vehicle, complete with search dog. First responders. Ambulance with two paramedics.

Lumpy directed his own rescue from his imprisonment in the ditch. All of the equipment necessary was in his truck. “Straps…to put around the pole.” Fetched immediately from the truck. The group of men began to slip the straps over the ends of the pole as the paramedics tried to slip a stretcher under his body. No good…..the stretcher was too thick. While rummaging through the truck bed, Jack, one of the paramedics found the lid to a barrel. “Just the thing” he gasped. He and his partner slipped the barrel lid under Lumpy’s neck and waited for the lift. “ONE….TWO….THREE!” With all of their combined strength, the cadre of men present lifted that pole by the canvas straps and allowed Jack and Phil to move the barrel lid under Lumpy’s body and grab it out from under the pole. “Whoomph”. The pole hit the dirt again as Lumpy was slid to safety.

Orders had been given for morphine IV en route to the hospital emergency room in anticipation of the severe fractures. Lumpy was able to get up with assistance. He headed toward the ambulance bay.

Liza spotted Lacey in the glare of the strobes and headlights wandering up to the scene. Returning home, she had spotted the activity and abandoned her car, sure that someone in her family was in trouble. Her mom? Oh please no. Maybe her Grandaddy or MeMaw had gotten in trouble. All she knew was that the activity she saw screamed of an emergency and it was right in her path.

Lacey ran to the back of the ambulance. “Baby, are you okay?” Lumpy sat there in shock while the rest of the crowd prepared to move out. “I’m okay, sugar”. She began to cry as the story unfolded and she realized how close she had come to losing him.

Lumpy declined the ambulance ride and the morphine. Miraculously he could walk. Later, around the fire and after a hit on the whiskey, they pieced together the things that had saved him. Recent rains had made the ground soft enough to give some leeway to the weight of the pole. While he normally left his cell in his truck, this time he tucked it away in the pocket of his coveralls. All of the angels were at the right place at the right time to respond to the rescue call. And….By gosh. Being prepared had paid off!

When Liza returned to her online admirers, Rvrguy was freaking out. “Are you OKAY?” “Where did YOU GO?” Liza quickly told the story on the keyboard. “No wonder I can’t get any prayers answered down here in Memphis….you guys are keeping God too busy up there in the northwest!”

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Walk in my Shoes

Liza ambled along the lane listening to the sound of her dog’s paws hitting the pavement. Faith was a six month old chocolate lab and had quickly become princess of their all girl household. Her beautiful brown coat shone in the autumn sun as she zig zagged from one side of the lane to the other taking a dip in each and every puddle.

As she walked, Liza watched the breeze rain down withered yellow leaves like confetti. The lane on which she and her daughter lived was lined with massive wild pecan trees that formed a canopy over the road. Often the weakened limbs dropped during a storm or just for no reason at all. Now, they were draped with hanging cords of scarlet Virginia Creeper as autumn became full blown.

This trek down and then back up the lane had always been her private time…..time to think and to pray and to just BE with nature. She had missed the walks in the month since her hamstring injury had slowed her down to a crawl. “Woof”. Faith had spotted something that caught her attention. It turned out to be nothing more than a caravan of farm equipment awaiting the cotton harvest and winter wheat planting. Squirrels scampered up and down the trees along the road reminding her that winter on the farm would be here before she knew it.

The day that she and Lacey had pushed and pulled their way up to the Carter family cemetery, they were full of adventure. “Mom…..LOOK!” Lacey cried. Liza stared at the aged grave markers imagining who was buried under that name and date from the 1890’s. “I used to love to explore this place as a child” Liza remarked. “When life with two little brothers got to be too much, this place was my escape.” Further down the road at the dead end lay the Forked Deere river where she had fallen into the muck on another childhood adventure. Growing up in the country was a gift that she treasured and was grateful to pass on to her own daughter. “Let’s go see MeMaw” Lacey said. It was “their” day…mom and daughter. Liza and Lacey had done lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant and were enjoying the afternoon.

As they stood at the top of the incline that led to the cemetery they quickly realized that going down would be much trickier than getting up! It was straight up and scattered with sweet gum balls. Lacey scooted down on her butt and Liza crouched to do the same. “OH my God…..OH MY GOD…..OH MY GOD!!!” Before she knew it, Liza’s middle aged self was doing the splits in mid-air and landed with a thud in the ditch below. Lacey ran toward her mother with fear in her eyes. “Mom…are you okay? Can you move?” “Oh my God.” That’s all Liza could say for several minutes. She was fairly strong when it came to handling pain, but this HURT. Her right leg was numb from the hip down and she couldn’t move. “I’ll move the car back to you and help you in” Lacey said, trying to be brave. She was scared to death that the mother whom she saw as the strongest woman on earth had messed up herself up royally.

Liza tentatively shifted her body and felt the stabs of pain that told her that something was hurt….badly. She managed, with Lacey’s help, to get up and into the car but the pain was unbearable when she sat. By the time they arrived home minutes later, the numbness was gone and she felt every muscle cry out in pain as she climbed the steps to the house. Obviously, nothing was broken. Otherwise, she couldn’t have walked, she told herself. She was okay…..just a torn hamstring.

It wasn’t until two days later as she was visiting her Mother that Liza noticed the bruising begin. Eventually her entire right thigh from hip to below the knee was black and purple. It was painful to stand and even more painful to sit. Liza rarely missed work, but in this case she had no choice. Her co-workers at the hospital lab would do just fine without her. She couldn’t move!

In the month that followed, Liza learned patience. Recovery from a torn hamstring is slow and tedious and painful. “Baby steps” she told herself every day. “No rush” was her mantra. It’s odd how perspective shifts when the body is weak. The mountains of unpaid bills and lack of a love life that plagued Liza took a back seat to healing so that she could resume normal activity. Her co-workers were astonished when they saw the bruising. “Oh no!” the Little General cried. “Bless your heart”. Every female in that laboratory was treated to a peep show of the giant purple battle scar.

Now as she walked up the hill to the house, she felt her leg muscles tightening in fatigue. “Use it or lose it” is a universal truth, and a month without exercise had left her feeling depressed and tired. This leisurely walk had given her the luxury of reflection, and her mind had wandered back to a miracle that took place on this same road two years ago.

Orange Alert

“Can we go in the house now”? Booger asked sheepishly. Not that he wasn’t as patriotic as the next fella mind you. He just wasn’t real keen on standing out in front of the bar on Friday night huddled together with candles. The beer was inside. So they moved back into the darkness around the bar with those candles shining brightly on top of it and resumed THE conversation. The very same conversation that was going on all over the damn world that night.

Our president had asked all of us in this fine country of ours to join together in a moment of solidarity in response to the terror we had witnessed and experienced earlier in that week. The mood was still somber and bleak. How could this happen? Why do they hate us so bad? What exactly IS Islam? Where the hell is Afghanistan anyway? How many look-alikes does Saddam actually have? All of these questions and theories floated around the bar among the usual Friday night crowd, minus a few. Liza and Noler were there as usual. Gene and Mary Beth, who know everybody’s beer by heart, were not their usual jolly selves. “How you been Mary Beth”? asked Liza. “Working your tail off as usual” ? Mary Beth is Gene’s seventh and last wife because he’s old enough to know when he's got a keeper. She works 3rd shift at a local factory and then comes to that bar and tends to its’ patrons like all their mamas. She keeps em comin’ back. Gene may be the heart of Sap’s, but Mary Beth is the soul.

Bill and Noler pulled pills. A lively domino game was in action as usual. A schizoid playlist of everything from George Jones to Santana sang from the jukebox which is always powered by community donations taken by Mary Beth, one buck at a time. The information center of the burg……that’s what this place is . If you wanted to know who was doing who and how often, this was the place to find out in between chats about kids and dogs and farming and the latest internet jokes. Golf is sacred as is football season…..particularly Vols and Tide. The 3rd Saturday in October is a national holiday you know. The place has been the cause of a lot of heartache in romance, but all in all it’s a happy place… where everybody knows your name. Kinda like a redneck Cheers.

Liza and Noler were considered a success story in the book of love. They had split when Babygirl was just a little kid but had gotten back together to get her raised up and to repair the financial damage caused by years of living high on the hog and less than a year of single life. Finally past the hardships of bankruptcy, they were beginning to see the light again. Something was missing though still. They were roommates, and they both knew it. Bound by a child they both loved and a host of friends and family that were familiar and comfortable, they stayed the course. Never mind that there was no passion. Passion was for other folks whose lives were filled with excitement and adventure. And of course for Bill when he managed to get home in time to cook lobster and drink wine with Kristy.

Often times on nights that they went to the bar, they would return home after “just one more” to their usual routine. Noler snoring like a freight train……Liza camped out on the couch to avoid the racket watching Howard Stern and dreaming of a different life, one in which she was the central player and not on the periphery. “I always thought you just settled” her Mama told her when they talked about it later. No wonder the passion was confined to a night here and there with a hooter for a prelude. That floaty feeling makes you forget about who you’re with and why you’re there…..leaving you with a single minded purpose… In fact, in the end that was all she had……a hooter and self pleasure with fantasies about whomever caught her eye at that particular time.

The orange alert had begun on Tuesday morning of that week…..September 11, 2001. It was a quiet day at the hospital where Liza worked. She and the Little General had just returned from the smoke shack outside when Ms. Anita delivered the news with fear in her eyes. There was no smile to show off that gold crown in front with the little star cut out. Pure terror. “The World Trade Center has been bombed…..the Pentagon too.” Nah. No way. Couldn’t be true. Liza and Sherry wandered aimlessly to the doctor’s lounge to check out the television coverage. Sherry’s hubby Big Ron affectionately called her the “little general” because she was short in stature but feisty enough to keep his big self in line. That feisty temperment melted as she and Liza watched the drama unfold on that television. As the day wore on more details filtered in via radio into the laboratory where business as usual became muted by fear. It was worse than we ever imagined. Suicide hijackers had winged it right into the World Trade Center and Pentagon and there was nothing America could do but helplessly watch the towers fall, one by one.

In the days and weeks that followed more travesty occurred in the name of benevolence. The Red Cross collected thousands of units of blood that were ultimately destroyed because there were no survivors to receive it. Relief funds were hard to come by for those who needed them most. Christians blamed Muslims and Israelis said “ Now you see how we live every day… fear of terrorism.” Though the allies of this country were many, the detractors were numerous. An internal debate boiled over whether or not we really deserved what we got on that day.

Later that week the chaplain led a prayer service on the front lawn of the hospital. “God Bless America” they sang. They cried and prayed and held hands and felt the sadness and fear spread from limb to limb. And they knew that their lives would somehow never be the same. Liza had positioned herself behind Fred when the procession landed outside around the flagpole. She wasn’t exactly sure why……but she knew that she needed the comfort of his presence then like she had never needed anything else before.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The ONE! (s)

Most of my life has been spent in that blissful state where I imagine one true love coming around to sweep me away, sorta like Richard Gere and Debra Winger or Julia Roberts. Of course, when I was a mucn younger gal there seemed to be plenty of time for perfection to find me. As a teenager gone bad turned good again, I found that men make great friends. They love to talk to a girl if they're not trying to impress her because it helps them feel better about themselves. So they can go after the "cute/blonde?tan/dimpled Princess who knows how to play the GAME. Being the sap that I am, I fell in love with most of them because they paid attention to me and showed me who I was. Only a very few have given back to me in the same spirit with which I gave myself.

Thus appears problem number 1 with my approach to men.

Doormat....doormat.....doormat! Something in my little blonde head believes that If I listen to whining and say "I feel your pain" at just the right millisecond, this man will be mine forever through some kind of magical bondage. If only I'd been paid for all the therapy I've provided for men over the years, I'd be retiring now instead of working my ass off in a hospital at 49.
The drummer who walked 6 miles from town to see my 14 year old THAT was love. My first sex partner was a given, in the love department. I was way too good and way too scared to risk that with somebody i didn't care about or trust. I married a "friend" and stayed that way for a long time before I realized that my devotion to being a doormat had kept me there more than love ever did. He didn't hurt me and is a nice guy. We just didn't love each other.

Problem number 2 is my lack of confidence in myself. The other day my Babygirl stood behind me at the mirror and looked at the two of us for the first time together in ages. She said "Mom, I hope I grow up to be as beautiful as you." For years she's been telling me that I'm beautiful and I never heard her until that moment. Right then and there I believed that if she thought I was beautiful that it would give her hope to always believe in herself. She thinks I'm beautiful when I'm tired or sick or pissed off, though sometimes it gets on her nerves. No man has ever called me beautiful. I've been told I'm pretty or "cute" or sexy.....but never beautiful. In my eyes, if I'm the love of a guy's life I'm beautiful warts and all. In fact the warts can even be "cute".

The myth is the 3rd problem. You know.....the myth that we only love one person truly and forever and ever amen. My experience has been that we fall in love about a jillion times over a lifetime. There's the one you want to marry when you're 3 and you play together all the time. Later, there's "mature" love that speaks of longing and dreams but gets caught in the realities of life. Sometime or another there's "escape" love(s) that help you to find a part of yourself that you could never be without knowing and loving that person. You know it can never work, but you love 'em anyway. There are complications and fences and "no-no-NOs" but your heart jumps in spite of the risks. These have been the most powerful and painful loves to let go of.

The pain begins when you realize that this "ONE" won't be THE one. Not the forever and ever one, anyway. Or......maybe they'll be forever and ever, but it won't be in the way you envisioned. Anyone who has ever lost a family member can tell you what it means to see a long lost love at a funeral or gravesite. Some things you just DO for folks that you love, even if you don't get to listen to 'em snore and wash their socks. Awwwwww...dang it!

My theory is is a series of "fallings in love" over and over again. Sometimes it's painful and occasionally it's for keeps. The marriage cerficate is a legal thing for establishing parentage and property boundaries and to give lawyers a good income. Real love...AKA True LoVe isn't bound by those legal things. It is spiritual and from God. I can love my beautiful Chocolate Lab and never feel a twinge of guilt about not being married or picking out china.
I love my friends in ways that give me the strength to do things I never thought I was brave enough to do. And it's all out of love for them.

The current ONE is a twosome actually. There's this guy I'm so crazy about that it scares me. It was one of those AHA moments when I looked at him and said " All of this time I looked at you and saw a smile and a nice person. And you're HOT too :) And that means love. The other part of that twolove is my dog, Faith. She's a 6 month old with all the spirit of that age and a loving nature. I've had lapdogs and yarddogs and watchdogs, but never one who showed me love like this one. The guy....well, I think he likes me. We'll see.