Beef Sticks

Ok, I know that the last two posts were candy related and so maybe you thought I was writing in some type of theme. Well, I am, but for the sake of this memory lets diverge from that path for a minute.

When I was in 8th grade my Dad got a new job. We picked up and moved from Philadelphia to Denver. Not an easy thing at 14, I assure you. New school, new house, new state=whole new set of complexes. We moved right at the end of the school year so I didn't have much of a chance to make new friends before summer break began. Things were looking grim and I was beginning to imagine a whole summer of reading Harry Potter with my younger sister. (disclaimer: I LOVE my sister but that summer was not the pinnacle of our relationship..as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and as a 14year old I just wanted her to go away...so I could miss her of course, like I do all the time now).

Across the street from me was a house with 4 kids, two much older, one a little younger and one just the right age. We had a bit of a dance going on, neither of us being quite brave enough to cross the huge road of possible embarrassment and introduce ourselves. This went on for a few weeks until one night, as her and her brother sat on the fence out front, my Dad basically told me that if I didn't go out there introduce myself I had to stop pouting. Now as a teenage girl the possible end to my ability to complain was a serious situation. If it went well I would have something to do all summer, if it went badly I would have free range to whine and a whole new story to whine about. Jackpot. I took a quick look in the mirror to make sure I looked fun enough to hang out with but not like I was trying.

And that was that. Insta-friend. It was really easy with her and a close bond formed pretty much right away. We watched Dumb and Dumber almost every weekend and quoted it endlessly as we rode our bikes around the whole neighborhood. The two of us (her blond and me brunette) sat in the sun for hours with lemon juice in our hair trying to make hers invisible and mine slightly less brown. Later we tried dying our hair red with Kool-aid, which didn't work for either of us but smelled delicious. I think at one point our record was 14 sleepovers in a row and I think our parents thought we had mind melded into one person. We made other friends and we made some enemies too but that was easily laughed off if there were two of us. I went to school and she was home schooled and we escaped our day to day drudgery to hang out on the trampoline in her back yard.

We used to stay up absurdly late when we had sleep overs and usually around midnight we would get hungry and beg her older sister to drive us to the grocery store so that we could shop for snacks in our PJ's. Some of our favorite snacks included Nerds and Sweet Maui Onion potato chips, but ALWAYS beef sticks. They were essentially a better, cheaper version of a Slim Jim that came in packages of about 6. I think in one summer we must have eaten our combined weight in beef sticks. (Recently I looked for them and couldn't find them at the grocery store and I truly believe we may have been keeping them in business back then)

As high school progressed we were still close, but perhaps not as close. We both started dating and life got busier. Then her family moved to Virginia and we essentially lost all touch with each other. I would think about our friendship sometimes and wish I hadn't been so careless with it. Her family moved back to Colorado a few years later and we saw each other once. It was fun, but awkward. I wasn't the same person any more and I didn't put the energy into reconnecting that I wanted to.

Then, when I was living in Virginia (go figure) she and her husband and their baby moved in next door to my parents. Life is so random sometimes. I saw her while visiting them and we had a couple hours of catching up. She has a wonderful life, a beautiful son and a loving husband, but commented on how much she missed being my friend. I felt awful and had every intention of calling her once my husband and I completed our move to Arizona. Then I got busy unpacking, and painting the house, and making new friends and a million other inconsequential things and I didn't call.

Her father died two weeks ago.

He passed away in his sleep and her younger brother (20 years old now I think) was the one to find him. Her dad was the same age that my Dad is and I wept when I found out. I cried at the thought of her brother realizing his dad wasn't asleep, I cried because I let our friendship slip away and now I felt too removed to even call her and say sorry, I cried because I was afraid for my own Dad because he doesn't take great care of himself. I just cried.

I have a wonderful life. I have amazing friends, a loving family, the absolute best husband in the universe. I just wish I still had that friendship. And I wish I had a pack of beef sticks to share with her.

R.I.P Mr.T ( 1957-2009)


Atomic Fireballs

I love Atomic Fireballs. I am a huge cinnamon candy fan and I adore how these are too spicy to handle but quickly fade to a delightful treat. When I went to Germany as a teenager I consumed somewhere near 20 packs of Big Red cinnamon chewing gum and I think it forever damaged my taste buds. Sometimes life is like those fireballs, it is so unbearably spicy that I have to hold my breath and hope that something sweet will follow.

This weekend my adventure loving sister and I undertook a day trip to San Diego. The city on the bay is located about 2 1/2 hours from my lil' slice of the desert. So it was with images of white beaches and cool breezes that we set out at 6 am. We arrived with only slight stress as we navigated the unfamiliar highways and one way streets that led us to the Silver Strand State beach on Coronado. We paid our $8 to park and claimed our slice of beach. It was blissful, a few hours of reading, laying on the sand, sticking our toes in freezing water and a brief appearance by some friendly dolphins. Afterward we pulled off the sandy, sticky, change your clothes in the back of a car maneuver and headed off for a delicious lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
We left Coronado well rested and carried on our way to the sound of laughter as we passed the signs for the suicide prevention hot line that dotted the top of a large bridge from Coronado to San Diego.

We knew it would be a day trip so we planned very few activities but our next stop was the Gaslamp district which Google had recommended. After circling a 5 block area for 30 minutes searching for a spot to park we found a spot and felt that our determination had paid off. Normally we would not spend such a vast amount of time trying to park but we had see a Ghirdelli's ice cream shop and nothing keeps us girls from chocolate ice cream...NOTHING.
Full of decadent ice cream we decided that we had seen enough of this fine city for one day and we merrily set off in the direction of home. We were confident and excited that we would make it back in time to hang out with our Mom (who kindly dog sat while we cavorted around town) before she went to bed.When we stopped for gas and the liquid stink shot out of the car and spilled all down the side of my dress prompting laughter from the car behind me I really should have known the atomic part of this fireball day was about to hit. I had driven the whole way to San Diego so my sister kindly volunteered to take the first shift driving home. We cranked the volume on the stereo and prematurely congratulated ourselves on a road trip well done. We should have known better. As my sister glanced in her review mirror to complain about the car tailing her she noticed smoke. A lot of smoke. Smoke coming from our Jeep. Damn.
On the side of the exit ramp from the I-8 to Descanso, California (population 12)we were kindly informed by the park ranger that if we hadn't pulled over in such a timely manner our car would have burst into flames and set the whole surrounding grassy area on fire. We took a moment to imagine the headlines regarding the next California wildfire and thanked God we had pulled over quickly. We then waited, and waited, and took pictures of ourselves and the surrounding area as surely this was part of the trip worth fully documenting! An hour and a half after we saw the smoke we saw the tow truck driver. A ray of sunshine man who kindly regaled us with stories of plane crashes, serial killers and rapists as he drove us the 10 miles to Alpine, California. He left my car at the world's tiniest repair shop and dropped my sister and I at a surprisingly decent hotel. We found food and took long showers because, lets face it, the side of the road is not as clean as we would have liked!
The next morning we walked 30 minutes up hill in the hot sun to the repair shop to leave the keys and pray for the car to be fixed. My mom was driving her rental car from Yuma to Alpine to retrieve our sorry selves. We made it home that afternoon but my Jeep remains in Alpine and God only knows how I am going to get back there to retrieve it. The shop has kindly informed me that both the radiator and the transmission need to be replaced.Ouch. On the up side the dealership has agreed to pay for the transmission after the radiator is fixed.

I guess in this atomic fireball of a situation the only real sweet part is that I was with my sister who entertained me and kept me from imploding under the stress. Also, if there had only been me the tow truck diver would have scared the shit out of me instead of merely making me laugh...


Pop Rocks

When I met the love of my life, 7 years ago, it was like eating pop rocks. It was unexpected, surprising, exciting and sometimes (like the big one's that pop on your tongue too hard) it was painful.

Dating him was like learning something new about myself everyday, he challenged my beliefs and caused me to look at things from a whole new view point.

Even now I remember those early times, the anxious excitement of wanting him to call, the rush of nerves when the phone rang. The way holding hands took over my senses and caused me to miss the plot of several movies. I can picture cuddling on the couch and the uncertainty of where to rest my head or put my hands. I still feel the way my lips tingled and went numb after our first kiss. I recall the comfortable ease of later kisses stolen on the trampoline or in the car and I hear Marc Cohen playing in the background of those moments. I still feel the fierceness of defending my relationship to doubters and the steadfast knowledge that I was right for him and he for me. I hear the rain falling as we took a long walk in it or sat on the porch and discussed college plans. I ache at the memory of uncertainty, the unknowing that comes with separation and the relief that comes with reuniting. I can taste the first meal he made me and linger fondly on memories of the many meals we have eaten together. I can hear the first time he said, "I love you" and see the words of the poems he wrote me. My stomach flips at the thought of the nerves we shared as we moved into one apartment and the fear that consumed me when he joined the Marine Corps. I remember the exhaustion of laughing until we collapsed. I beam with the pride I feel for him when he succeeds and am driven by my want to make him proud. I taste the tears I cried when we fought and smell the flowers he brought me for no reason. I feel the warmth of so many hugs and the love we made. I can hear the words he said to me before he asked me to marry him and the ones we said to each other on our wedding day.

I know that this is the life for me because together we can take on the world and because he still makes me feel like there are pop rocks in my chest.