Archive for the 'June' Category

03
Jun
12

A memorable Memorial Day

Over the past eleven years Memorial Day has become more of a real holiday for me. We have been at war and it has directly touched many of us.  Memorial Day is a holiday to say thank you for the past, present and future sacrifice.

I always feel as though I have two real regrets in my life. One was a fight I was involved in in college which left an outnumbered kid badly beaten, and the other is that I never joined the military.
Unfortunately, I come from a direct line of “close but no cigar soldiers.” My grandfather was a Marine during WWII but was injured before seeing any action and my father was a reservist in Vietnam but he too never saw any war fronts. One of the only things I have of his is his army jacket with the faded black letters of Crowley across the pocket. I’ve always been aware of my family’s lack of duty. An “all bark and no bite” area for the patriarchs of my line. There was Uncle Bick who I always thought was the coolest growing up. He drove a Harley in my youth, and the stories of his two tours in Nam are whispered through the hallways of our heritage. He came back from his first tour, heard his younger brother might be drafted, and signed up again to take his place.  He was the one beacon, the one story I could tell about how my family contributed to the American cause.

My uncle Bick, Vietnam 1969

Now the family I married into is much different. Katherine’s father, one the greatest guys you have ever met, served in the Navy for over twenty years with action in Vietnam. His father was a Commander in the Navy who served in WWII and Korea and his two brothers spent time in Vietnam as a Marine and an Army soldier. My wife was born in Japan and really didn’t get to see her father for the first two years of her life. Over the seven years of my time with Katherine I have become privy to the military family. Not only do I get to hear the stories but I get to see first hand the sacrifices that are made by our soldiers and their families generation after generation. Now the combat is one thing, but the trials of the young families at home are equally impressive and important. Could I have done it? Could I have sacrificed my time, my youth, my life?  It’s easy to say “yes” from the beaches of California but it takes a real hero to board that plane or ship and say goodbye to the soil from which he sprouted.
This Memorial Day, Katherine and I flew to Louisiana and Mississippi to visit her father’s side of the family. Her grandmom, Grandma Dunlap, has become a very important person to me and has helped ease the void of the loss of my grandparents. Grandma Dunlap calls me an old soul. She and I correspond through letters and she makes me feel close to something, at peace with myself. On March 12, she turned 90, so Katherine and I took the long weekend to celebrate her birthday.
We flew into New Orleans at night, the most romantic American city in my opinion, and upon feeling that thick air we knew we were in the South. At the car rental counter, a pretty little Southern belle upgraded us to a 2012 Ford Mustang.

“Will thet be okayyy?” she asked in her Louisiana drawl. Katherine said the change was because they were out of smaller cars but I couldn’t help thinking it was my Yankee smile.

I do love the South: I love fried chicken, I love storytelling, I love history, I love Southern charm and I love vampires. Real ones, not emo ones.

We spent that first night and the following day in the crescent city, walking along the levee to Jackson Square, the French Market along Bourbon Street.
We drove out to the Garden District and Katherine without complaint followed me to the Lafayette Cemetery. This poor girl has followed me through at least 20 cemeteries over our years together. I find them beautiful, quiet, sad. We walked the shaded streets desperate to evade the heat and I led her to Anne Rice’s old house. I had brought “Interview with a Vampire” to read on the trip.

The secret garden at Lafayette cemetery

Lafayette cemetery # 1

My patient wife

Anne Rice’s old house. Yes, I have Interview with a Vampire in hand

We left town in the early evening and drove through the Southern night. I rolled down my window. Fuck, it’s humid. I rolled it back up.

We were on our way to spend the next few days visiting with Grandma Dunlap and Katherine’s uncle and aunt, Charles and Anita.

The first day in Mississippi, we drove Grandma down to the coast for some R & R on Saturday (that’s rest and recreation for all of you that don’t know the military lingo.)
Katherine’s grandmom lost her second house in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 after losing one in Camille in 1969. Katrina took her house that was a block from the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi. She owns the land still and after lunch and a quick swim in the Gulf, we went to see where it once stood. Grandma walked us around the lot, pointing at areas, telling us stories. Her pear tree was one of the few things to outlast the powerful storm and now flourished with 100 pears. Grandma and I picked four for me to take back to California and plant at our new house. These I wrapped securely as if treasure, something we will always have from her old house.

Grandma and the pear tree

Katherine and Grandma, a the space that used to have a house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some neighbors noticed we were there and the next thing I knew we were surrounded by her old friends. “Miss Susan is here.” “We miss you Miss Susan.” The afternoon was spent listening to pre-Katrina stories while a little girl of five, Abigail, followed me around taking pictures of me on her mom’s Iphone.
We said our goodbyes and headed back to Hattiesburg in the Mustang.  Grandma Dunlap insisted we take it for our adventure.

Grandma in the good old American Mustang

As an extra surprise Katherine’s Uncle Dave and cousin Howard drove down from Alabama. I could see the joy gleam in Grandma’s eyes as her family sat around her talking, catching up. We moved down the road to Aunt Anita and Uncle Charles’s house to make room for Dave and Howard which was okay by me because they live in a country mansion. Set on 10+ acres it has two ponds, a barn with stables and tons of space, freedom and wildlife. Uncle Charles took me fishing the next morning and I was like a regular old angler catching 15 fish in an hour. I even got Katherine in on the action (after her morning workout of course.) This chick is going to drop out a baby and hit a 5 mile jog that same day–I just know it.

Free advertising for my trainer

Katherine pulling up her first large mouth bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent the afternoon lazily lounging around reading our books. I kept feeling like I could get used to this Southern gentlemen lifestyle, complete with drinking sweet tea and chewing sugar cain.
A good friend from college, Houser, drove down with his girl from Tuscaloosa where they are both in grad school for writing. Matter of fact he’s probably critiquing this right now and shaking his head. They came for dinner. I had not seen him since he was a groomsman in my wedding. He and I went to walk the grounds and catch up. The twilight had come and the sounds of the insects surrounded us as the air cooled. Two old friends, pals, living different lives on different coasts. The madness of the time we ran together trailing behind us as we walked through the woods.
“Do you want to sit on the dock?” he suggested.
We made our way out onto the old rotted dock. We thought we were smart because we only went about seven feet out as the planks got worse the farther out they were. No one had been on this dock since Reagan had been in office. We sat and drank our beers to a symphony of frogs, talking about old times, new times. Katherine appeared about 50 yards away. “Dinner is ready boys.” We stood up and started walking in. The second my foot was on solid land, I heard cracking. I looked back and there Houser stood, chest deep in the pond, holding his beer above water. We started cracking up as I helped him out. He was soaked, a whole section of five boards had collapsed. I managed to snap a picture after we got him, his phone and his smokes safely to land.

Indiana Greg

The dinner was wonderful, a shrimp boil and beef brisket. We all had a good laugh at Houser’s pre-dinner dip. The evening was spent as you’d expect. Cocktails on the porch, stories of the South, the military, future dreams and plans. The night closing in on us, reminding us that this could not last forever. Grandma told us of her life as a military wife with four young kids. Uncle Dave told us of his nights spent in the jungles of Vietnam where he would sleep almost naked so the lizards and termites couldn’t crawl up his clothes. Aunt Anita told us how much she always worried for her brothers when they were away at war and how important letters were. Jesus man, I hope people stop and consider sacrifice.We ended the night with some laughs and some hugs. It was midnight and everyone was tired except Grandma.

Our final morning was slow, Southern. Pancakes at Grandma’s, soft conversation and promises to return soon. Uncle Dave and I fixed her garage door. She gave me some books and some kisses on my cheek. We said our goodbyes and I hit it towards New Orleans. We had looked for a VA hospital to stop by and leave some cookies. When I was at Penn State on Memorial Day, I would bake cookies and take a hot girl or two to hand those cookies out at the VA hospital. The old vets loved it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any on our route so Katherine promised me we could do it in June, when they weren’t expecting it. Basically I’m going to sneak attack some vets with a pretty girl and some cookies.  Also, I wanted to go to the Oak Alley plantation which was about 45 minutes past the airport towards Baton Rouge. This was the plantation in the film version of “Interview with a Vampire.” Plus, it looked beautiful online. I was flying in the Mustang until all of the sudden I saw the blue and red lights behind me. It wasn’t a Memorial Day parade either.
“License and insurance.”
“It’s a rental,” I said as I handed him my California license. He looked once at my license, once at the car and once at my gorgeous wife and he didn’t say another word. Four minutes later, he handed me a 300.00 ticket. Whatever. I looked at his name and it was Eddie Howie and I couldn’t help thinking of Ricky Bobby. We laughed and continued on.
The plantation was beautiful and, after getting some mint juleps, we walked the grounds. I love history and I love big houses, castles, manors and the like. We took the tour of the inside and the cool of the air condition was a relief. Although I grew up in humid Philly summers, my pretty wife wilts and melts.
Time was running out. Katherine said she would get our steed and pick me up at the top of the Oak Alley. I wanted to walk it once. I made my way down it, turning to take pictures. I crossed the road and climbed the hill that holds the Mississippi River in.  I looked down at the plantation and its beauty. A black guy was there with his young daughter and son. They played and giggled on the hillside.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” He said.
“Absolutely amazing,” I replied.
“I was here with my wife last year and I wanted to bring the kids to show them.”
“I can’t get over the beauty of it,” I said still staring at the plantation house. He and I sat next to each other on the hillside, the great Mississippi river blowing a sweet breeze across the back of our necks.
I thought about him, his children, this house, this country. I remembered all the lives we’ve given for Freedom. I remembered the pain and pride it is to be an American. I was glad to share this sight with this guy as it gave me hope. Hope for our country, our people and our memory of all our soldiers and their families that have lived and died so I could sit here, on this bank, next to this man, free.
Katherine pulled up in the Mustang and I stood to go. He stood quickly too as if I had awakened him from a dream. He held out his hand. “Travel safe,” he said. “You too,” I said, and we shook on it.

Oak alley plantation,

In the Oak Alley, mint juleps in hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In dedication to my father-in-law Lieutenant Commander Phil Dunlap, Uncle Steve Bickell, Patrick Igo and Sgt. Dan Mealing, as well all the men and women and their precious families, thank you.

23
Jun
11

Living on the run, right here in the California sun

Jambo!  Yes, I have just spoken Swahili to you my dear readers.

I would like to apologize to all my friends and acquaintances, though, because I feel like Africa is all I’ve talked about for the past two months.  There is nothing more annoying than someone about to go on vacation while you’re stuck at home or work. I just haven’t been this excited since I used to have multiple girls sleep over in college.

The other night, I was flipping through some of my books, laboring over what I will read while I am on safari.  Carefully browsing my collection for which writer will travel with me,  I came across an old memento, and how funny I had just mentioned this a few posts ago.  I keep a lot from my past, old letters, pictures, ticket stubs, and I cherish the nights when I can sit Indian-style surrounded by my books, finding these old treasures that I once used as bookmarks.  Tucked inside with Rimbaud’s poetry, a note from my then teenage sister waited, yellowed after more than a decade.  I hadn’t seen this piece of paper since sophomore year of college. As if fated, the note emerged just after the memory, although her handwriting and reference to Goldfish crackers made it all the more real.  (Alas, there was never a question of what writer would travel with me, Hemingway has been packed for two months).

Note from my little sis

As each day passes, our upcoming adventure to Africa creeps closer.  I have prepared by not only reading everything I can get my hands on about this new, strange continent and the countries we will be visiting, but also by slowly collecting, piece by piece, the needed gear for our trip into the wild.  Now, of course Africa is not like the days of old when the first Europeans explored or, even later, when Hemingway found such solace in the jungles and the plains of this great land.

"All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already."

But this trip will still be our most exotic and dangerous yet.  As each new trip approaches I begin to experience a prolonged adrenaline rush that grows stronger as the months and weeks whittle down. I start to feel the pulse of the world beat loudly through my body, the need to go, to be new and anonymous, the need to reinvent myself.  I think this comes from my constant movement while growing up.  From my mom’s house, to a neighbor’s, to my grandparents’, and on to the lovely Abraxas for  most of my senior year of high school, my childhood was spent in transit.  Even years before I graduated Penn State, I was preparing for my move to California.  I had nothing out here, no family or job prospects; it just always seemed natural to move away.  Was I running from my past, from old painful memories?  Maybe.  But, I think the main reason was to prove to myself that I could take on the world, I was running towards more than away.  I had become accustomed to, and quite frankly enjoyed, the art of travel and the chance at reformation.  After ten years in the same Redondo Beach apartment (the longest I’ve ever lived in the same place), I anticipate my trips more than ever before.

“Those who race toward death, those who wait, those who worry,” Jim Morrison once said.  These words have stuck with me since I first read them at twelve.  What would I be?  What was I now?  I know being safer was not my way, and I know that sometimes the decisions I made were hard on friends and family, but I don’t want to wait.  And I don’t want to worry.  I decided that I wanted to race.  Not towards death, but towards life and living.  If you let your fear dictate your life, you will be trapped in a box.  I can tell you, it was pretty fucking scary moving out here to California with no money, no job and no way to get home.  The last night I was in Philly before I moved, my mom took my brother, sister and I out for dinner at The Olive Garden where we captured the moment on film.  She still has that picture on her refrigerator — I cringe every time I see  it.  There is fear in my smile, uncertainty, sadness in the back of my eyes, the knowing I was never coming back, leaving everything and heading towards nothing.  I wore a grey shirt and held my brother and sister close to my sides.

Ten years later and still I race.  Into the heart of darkness we run.  Africa.  My girl and I.  I don’t know what to expect, what I’ll find, I just know that the time of year has arrived again. The summer has come and with it, the restlessness within me.  When my soul begins to ache for experience, I know I must move.  Find new towns, new lands, new languages.  Feed my will, my want, to live.  It gets to the point where my soul seems to want to break out of my chest, climb mountains and scream as loud as it can just to feel alive, feel relevant.

Africa is a different trip though.  Filled with excitement and anticipation there is also some anxiety.  Many of the things that are the most beautiful are also the most dangerous.  Shit, the flight alone is 26 hours.  No camouflage, Malraia pills, soft sided luggage. We have been preparing for months and are finally on the precipice.  Colors in clothing are a concern though, and with my usual red, world-famous Philadelphia Phillies hat too bright, as it might distract the animals, I even had to search for a Africa hat.

Deflating soccer balls to take to the children in my new Africa hat

All bullshit aside, we are pretty pumped.  I haven’t been able to sleep all week and I am just dreaming of the road ahead.   I don’t know how I got here, how I’ve given myself the opportunities and led myself to this chance of a lifetime.  I don’t know if it was the old writers who inspired me, the tough times that pushed me or simply some Italian charm mixed with some Irish luck.  Whatever it is I am grateful and am ready to be set free on the shores of Africa.

Here I am on the Brenton shore.  Let the towns light up the evening.  My day is done; I’m quitting Europe.  Sea air will burn my lungs; strange climates will tan my skin.  To swim, to trample the grass, to hunt, and above all to smoke; to drink liquors strong as boiling metal,–like my dear ancestors around their fires.   

I will return with limbs of iron, dark skin and furious eye; people will think to look at me that I am of a strong race.  I will have gold:  I will be idle and brutal.  Women nurse those fierce invalids, home from the hot countries.  I’ll be mixed up in politics.  Saved!

–Rimbaud

16
Jun
11

It’s too bad Cat Stevens is a terrorist

Seriously, it kind of bums me out.  How can the man who sang Wild World and Morning Has Broken now be one of these Islamist assbags?  Unfortunately I like these songs and am forced to make a weird decision every time they come on the radio.  Do I listen to this beautiful song and support this freak or turn it off and sacrifice my own self-enjoyment?  All this killing in the name of religion shit is starting to get on my nerves.  Why can’t everyone just chill out?

Man though, this is some good shit, even if he does stone women to death now. Cause when it comes to being lucky she’s cursed/ when it comes to loving me she’s worse/ But, when it comes to being loved she’s first…that’s how I know.

So I have a few things to talk about today.  People have been killing me this week and I am on the verge of blowing up.  Instead of going out and beating a homeless person tonight, I’ve decided to release my frustration at humanity in this post.  I’m at a coffee shop right now and I went up to order a tea.  I don’t know, I don’t drink coffee and Katherine tells me I have to buy something to sit here.  The girl asks what kind of tea?  Lipton, I say, right, that’s a tea.  This doesn’t go over too well and she hands me a list with about 23 different teas on it.  As I search for a word I understand, I hear a huff from behind me.  I turn around and this little girl of about seven is impatiently looking at me.  Would you like to go? I say, as she is already passing me to the counter.  I’d like a raspberry frappuccino with mountain mist milk and sprinkles of leprechaun organs.  What the fuck did she just say?  Aren’t you like seven? I said to her with my eyes, how do you even know what that is?  Go play Barbies or something, Raspberry Frappuccino, how about a coloring book you little freak?  Anyway, I ordered a “Snow Leopard” tea, then sat to write.

I also have a problem lately with bumper stickers.  Sports teams or schools aside, what makes you think I give a shit about your opinion?  This guy on my block has a few that I really hate.  First, War Is Not The Answer.  Of course, the “answer” is not listed next to this. Next to this sticker, he has the classic, Question Authority.  This coming from a guy who drives a maroon minivan.  Hey bro, before you tell me what to do why don’t you question your wife for making you get that van? But I take these stickers for what they really are: desperate dying grasps at his youth when he once told a cop at a Dave Mathews concert that it was his right to stand whereever he wanted to.  Ah paper rebels, slogans with no heart.

Another thing that is making me moody is, is it just me but are people working at grocery and department stores not that helpful?  When did this all happen?  Is the world around us just a bunch of morons.  I mean Christ.  I’m buying some soccer balls to take to my future African friends and I asked the guy at Target the mind-bending question Where is your sports department?  Now I know I was being lazy as they have the signs hanging from the ceiling, but I was having a busy day and had about 12 minutes to spare.  Plus, this guy was just leaning on a cart talking to two other people in bright red shirts. Literally, it was like I asked him to recite the third Canto of Byron’s Child Harold’s Pilgrimage.  This guy became distraught, walkie-talkies were involved. I left him frothing at the mouth and on the verge of an epileptic seizure.  Now, I’m no business tycoon, but if I were him, I might spend my eight hours a day learning the layout and products of what I’m selling.  Why aren’t people taking a little pride it what they do?  Shit, when I was a busboy, I tried to do my job better everyday.  I would have been the best busboy at the place if it wasn’t for my friend Jose who could practically clear four tables at a time using one limb per table.  He was also my unofficial Mexican doctor and healed many an ailment with either Tequila, jalapeno or lime.  Seriously, that guy was like a medical MacGyver .  I just expect for people to put some effort into their job.  This is a free country, if you hate your job, leave it.  But don’t stay on and make my experience miserable.  I work hard for my money and value my experience when I’m spending it.

Speaking of spending money, what the fuck is up with razors?  Now, we can make a bomb that can kill whole cities at once but we can’t make a BIC that will last longer than a week?  The worst part is, these things are more expensive than diamonds.  What’s my portfolio look like?  It looks like shit due to the fact that I have to spend 60 bucks a month on Mach 13’s super sonics for me and my girl.

One last thing.  Gas stations.  If I run for office I will make it mandatory that if your gas station bathroom is out-of-order, so is your gas station until the bathroom is fixed.  I mean Christ, I’m bleeding out a first born for a tank of unleaded and your bathroom’s closed? It’s not like you have too much going on there.  I mean, your selling Mountain Dew, slinging gas, and having people take a leak.  These people act as if I’m asking them to round me up a few Thoroughbred colts for the weekend.  No, our bathroom is out of order.  Oh, so you mean to tell me that half of this 300 square foot place is non-operational.  I mean, it’s not like they’re in charge of the upkeep on grounds at the Palace of Versailles.

Rowing two very pretty girls on the lake, Versailles in the backround. That's how I roll...or row

Katherine and my favorite German Anja aka Z-German on the lake at Versailles

If I’m paying top dollar for some bullshit gas you’d better have a decent, functional bathroom.  Also, I love when they tell me they don’t have a restroom.  Really? I say, That’s crazy that you have to stand here all day and not use the bathroom.  They usually look uncomfortable, either from my comment or they really have been holding their wiz in for the last five hours.

On a lighter note my working out is going great.  We are doing another Triathlon on July 24th so I really should start training harder.  I’ve been hitting Trent’s hard every week and starting tomorrow I am going to be on an intense diet of protein and vegetables and cut out some of the nasty shit I eat.

(Going along with the nasty theme.  As I sit here and try to pump this out, I have some 65-year-old lady sitting at the table next me talking about how she loves watching porn and using toys with her lovers.  Not even my headphones can block out the nastiness dribbling out of her mouth.  Five more minutes of this and she is going to have a steady stream of Snow Leopard tea leaving my mouth into her face.  Come on lady, there are kids that drink frappuccinos in this place.)

Coming back to Trent, he is sponsoring an event for our wounded soldiers that have come back from the wastelands of the Middle East.  Basically, people are raising money and doing push ups for this great cause.  Now I’ve promised myself that I would never use this blog to try to sell shit, but I think you all know how deeply I feel for our heroes.  The biggest regret of my life thus far has been not signing up for the U.S. Army after college.  Out of fear or selfishness I cannot decide, but I headed to the beach as these boys and girls headed to hell.  It is embarrassing and has left a chink in my armor.  Anyway, Trent’s event is going to be amazing.  He has the local fire and police forces coming down to participate as well as a group from our workouts.  Of course it is the day after we leave for Africa so unless I can get on Skype in time, I will be left only to donate.  Please take a look at it and if you have a 10 spot lying around feel free to donate.  I’m sure those boys and girls, and their families, will appreciate it. Click here to check out and donate if possible to the Wounded Warriors pushups for charity.

 

07
Jun
11

Classic girl

In one of their more obscure tracks, Jane’s Addiction sang “ They may say, those were the days, but in a way, you know for us these are the days, yes for us these are the days and you know your my girl.”  I was always jealous of that song. I wanted to feel what he felt when he wrote it, to experience the rawness in the video. (If you have a minute, click on the lyrics and watch the video, sorry for the ad before it)  I wanted to feel that union with a girl.

Of course, I’ve been in love before.  At a young age, I fell in love with love.  I have very fond memories of many of the girls I invented dreams and shared laughter with, but although I remember these times and experiences with warmth, I never had what Perry Farrell had when writing his song.  That was until I met Katherine.

People ask us how we met. In those days, clarity was not common for me, but this night was.  I was working at HT Grill right here in good old Redondo Beach. I had been there for four years and was spending my life between the beach and booze.  We were opening up the new HT across the street and were going from a wait staff of about ten to one of about 35.  What did this mean? you ask, my dear friends.  More waitresses.

My two best mates and I at the time were living in The Garden of Eden.  We worked in a bar, on a beach in California, and were constantly surrounded by girls.  If that wasn’t enough, we had another bar next to ours that only hired girls, by policy, which was awesome.  It was like shooting fish in a barrel, but I digress.

This evening was a typical week night in late spring and I was the opener for dinner at 4:30pm.  I was already pissed because opening dinner sucked. Not only did I have to leave the beach an hour earlier, but I had to cut the bread, make sure all the ramekins were stacked and all that stupid bullshit.  By this time I had been one of the top sellers at the restaurant for a year or two, so I was a natural pre-Madonna when it came to my schedule.  I strolled in around 4:29 p.m. and my good buddy Blake was closing out from his lunch shift.  He sat at this little table we had in the back of the restaurant near the line.  His tie was loosened, and he was enjoying his after-shift cocktail.

“What’s up dude? Lunch shift? Ouch,” I said with a mischievous grin.

“Yeah, I’m going to the Dodgers game tonight so I switched my shift.”

His father was the team doctor for the Dodgers so he always had some sick seats.  Now that I think of it, he hasn’t taken me to a game since the world-famous Philadelphia Phillies knocked them out of the playoffs two years in a row.

“Your training tonight though,” he said, returning my sarcastic grin.  He and I had been training so much, it was getting tiresome.

“Fuck that,” I said.  “I’m not training shit.  I’ve trained like four nights in a row. That girl on Tuesday had the IQ of a golf ball and threw off my mojo all night.  Shit, man, seriously, they’re giving me an extra gift certificate or something tonight.  This is bullshit,” I said and trailed off as my words followed his finger to the corner of the room.

She stood facing away from me.  The room was dark but I could make out her chestnut hair and her slender body.

“What?” I said.

“That’s her,” Blake replied.

The next thing I knew, I had this little delicious thing walking towards me.  Mental note: Church immediately to thank old JC. She approached with a smile and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Katherine and I think you’re training me tonight.”

Blake almost spit out his drink seeing my attitude do about a 720.

“I am?” I said, spreading my wings for takeoff. “Now why would they have me train you when I do everything wrong?”

She giggled.

I proceeded that night to show her how to do things my way and then the right way.  She was beautiful and her eyes shone under the heat lamps — they sparkled with life.  We were new to each other.  Young and new.  We spent the whole night close together intentionally unintentionally rubbing arms or hands against each other.  She would take the plates of food and I would follow her closely whispering to her how I was staring at her butt.  I know, I know, I can’t believe my shit worked either.  Charm, though, has always been my strongest suit.  I proceeded to tell tables of strangers that she was my future wife, to which they would cheer and she would blush.

The hours were our introduction, the restaurant, our first meadow.  We served a lot of wine at this place and I invited her back to my place that night to “teach” her about the different wines.  She coyly declined the offer for the evening.  She had won the battle, but not the war.  I checked the schedule immediately.  Another girl was supposed to train her the next night.  I quickly called her the following day to switch shifts with her.

“Why Mike? You have the better shift, and I think I have to train?”

“I know, I know, but I’m helping paint my neighbor’s fence and I need the extra hour.”  Seriously, that’s what I told this girl.  For all my gifts of storytelling, I pulled out fucking Tom Sawyer?

The next evening, I arrived, late as usual, and was tying up my apron. Katherine approached me with her big beautiful smile.  “You again?” I said.  I looked over at my co-workers and they were glaring back with disgusted grimaces.

That summer we spent a lot of time together.  She had lived in California for most of her grade school and high school life and new all the secret spots.  We were like two butterflies that summer, laying in the fields, overlooking the ocean, hiking to the tops of the mountains, running down the beach at night.  I had been out here for six years and had not seen anything except bars, beaches and bedrooms.  She was opening my eyes again.  As summer closed, my mistress booze and her started to compete.  She was a teacher and my lifestyle could not co-exist with hers.  She told me it had been a lot of fun, but her life could not consist of that much alcohol.  She said goodbye.  Now this was new for me, a girl telling me to beat it?  If she didn’t have me before that, she had me now.

Been thinking about you, and there's no rest

Katherine and I have grown a lot over the past few years. I mean, let’s face it, she’s a saint.  Can you imagine living with me and my silly ass 24/7?  I am constantly on GO and somehow she deals with it.  One of our strongest bonds from the very beginning was traveling.  When her and I found out we both wanted to see everywhere, be everyone, taste everything, we were immediately hooked on each other.

The Italian Alps and her

She is an English teacher, which was perfect because I want to write yet I can’t spell or use punctuation properly.  She is soft and gentle, an idealist, while I am a little less smooth around the edges.  I said it when I met her, and I think most will agree, she has made me a better man.  Some of my favorite times with her, the times when I can really feel our love, is at night when we are lying down to sleep.  Something will come up, or I’ll say something and her and I will laugh uncontrollably for 15 minutes.  It’s like grade school when you can’t even look at the other person because you’ll just start dying again.  This is what I saw in that song, that video.  A true love of sharing your life with a girl.  I finally found it and the bear inside me sleeps.

I spent this past weekend with her at the Wine and Balloon Festival in Temecula California.  We had a brilliant time walking the festival, drinking wine. Candlebox and Third Eye Blind played.  I know, I know, Faster Pussycat and Candlebox in less than two months.  Can you say awesome?  I held her in front of me that night, her back snuggled against my chest, voices and music surrounding us, the summer pushing in. I held my arms around her tight and I felt alone with her and okay with being alone with just her.  Everything seemed as it should and I just kept thinking “They may say, those were the days, but in a way, you know for us these are the days, yes for us these are the days and you know you’re my girl, such a classic girl.”

My girl awaits for me in tender time

My girl is mine

She is the world

She is my girl

-JDM




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