Friday, September 5, 2014

My Secret History

According to my friend, I look like I spent three days at S & M camp. Truth be told, I do feel a little beat up.

Six bruises, five on my legs and one on my instep where a couch corner unexpectedly landed.

Broken off parts or all of eight fingernails (admittedly, two to crab eating) and sacrificed half of a toenail to a box that dropped on it at just the right wrong angle.

And feet so sore from endless trips up and down steps (yesterday, I stopped counting after the 42nd time up and down that narrow staircase), that even my intrepid feet, the ones used to six and seven-mile daily walks, were aching.

To put it bluntly, my dogs were barking.

But after long days of helping her get moved in and worn out nights inhaling food and drink (not my best efforts), I was ready to head south.

Reveling in sitting down when the cab driver came to pick me up, I wasted no time in stretching out my legs and getting to know my chariot driver who, for a middle-aged man, either had the most unattractive bowl haircut and awful dye job or the worst wig I've ever seen.

Choosing to sit directly behind him, I asked if he was an Annapolis native. Born and raised, he said, still loves it but hates the influx of Yuppies.

Don't we all?

When I asked him what his first concert was (Huey Lewis and the News, 1986, the year he graduated high school), he was quick to tell me unsolicited his most recent concert (Cher and highly jealous that I had seen her in 1978).

We were practically buddies by the time he dropped me off.

Only when I got to the train station did I discover that my train was running half an hour late, but it didn't matter because I'd finally found my live music for the week.

Crush Funk Brass - tuba, trombone, trumpet and drums - was playing just outside the station, barely in the shadows on what was a stupidly sticky, hot late afternoon.

Finding a shady spot to watch them and wile away the half hour delay, it made me happy to see so many people pause to listen and then drop money in their case.

They weren't re-inventing the wheel with songs such as "Blueberry Hill," "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "What a Wonderful World," but they were giving it their all and I was happy to listen.

I only had a dollar with me, but it went straight into their coffers when I finally went inside to catch my train.

Once on, I took a seat next to an older woman who had to move her purse so I could sit down, promising I'd  move once we got to Washington and most of the passengers got off (I did).

But in the meantime, I introduced myself and asked her where she was going.

Well, well, imagine that: Richmond. Said she lived in northern Henrico and asked where I live.

When I said Jackson Ward, her eyes grew big. "Where?" she asked eagerly.

Turns out she grew up at Third and Baker Street in J-Ward, an area I know well from my regular walks to Shockoe Hill Cemetery north of I-95, although blighted now and undoubtedly nothing like the neighborhood where she spent 18 years.

When she mentioned being raised Catholic, I told her I'd been as well without sharing that I'm more of a card-carrying heathen these days.

Telling me her church has always been St. Peter's on Grace Street, she suggested I look for her next time I'm at the 8:30 mass.

I smiled sweetly and told her next time I was at that mass, I would make sure to find her.

Don't laugh, if I actually went, I would most certainly seek her out.

She was just returning from a week up north - in the Poconos, Philly and finishing up in Delaware - and was exhausted from everything she'd been doing, so we compared sore feet and exhaustion states.

I let her win due to her being a septuagenarian.

At Union Station, I took advantage of the mass exodus and scored a row to myself, bidding her farewell and lost no time in stretching out my bruised legs on the seat next to me.

I was bound and determined to finally finish "The Secret History" and very nearly did until I started to get distracted by the varying degrees of sunsets over all the bodies of water we kept crossing.

First, it was the giant orange ball making for a brilliantly colorful river, then as it sunk lower, a golden sparkly streak and eventually just the last light of evening beaming up from behind the tree line.

When we got to the Occoquan River and marina, the water was still full of boats cutting through the water leaving white wakes behind them.

In other words, I didn't fully finish my book, although I made it through the climax.

It's now my intention to take this bruised and battered body and finish those last 43 pages soaking my barking dogs.

One nagging thought still lingers, though.

Do they really have S & M camps?

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