Wednesday, May 31, 2017

For Ace, Wherever You Are

Plans, it seems, are just suggestions and now I reek of a stranger.

Waking up after only seven hours of sleep this morning, I couldn't drift back off. I knew I had exactly three things planned for today, each one progressively more appealing: an interview on the Northern Neck, lobster dinner with my parents at the Inn at Montross and a show with my favorite music lover.

Returning from a walk where I'd investigated the eastern end of Brown's Island (finding it soggy, debris-strewn and still inaccessible to the pipeline walkway), I found a message from Dad: we would meet at the Kilmarnock Inn, not Montross.

This was actually more convenient for me (less driving) so I sign off on the change. The moment I hit the send button, I get an email from my editor asking if I can please cover an event tonight from 6-8.

Well, not if I'm eating dinner on the Northern Neck I can't.

Now I've got to check with Dad and see if we can meet before my interview for lunch instead of dinner. He agrees, but warns me he won't be freshly shaven if we do.

Shaving not required, I tell him.

The drive out is pleasant and only mildly unnerving when I get to the White Stone bridge which is being worked on. This means only one lane is open and a flagman is directing traffic, but it also means stopping at the pinnacle of the bridge for our turn to go and, let me tell you, it's an unsettlingly windy place to stop.

I console myself by looking at the portable toilet perched atop a trailer next to the construction equipment, feeling grateful that while I have to sit in my car at the height of this bridge, at least I don't have to relieve myself on high.

And as along as I was up there, I took a few photos out the window of the shimmering blue Rappahannock surrounding me, my arm hairs glinting in the sun.

The Inn is crowded and the table next to us is discussing impeachment, which would be a good thing except they're discussing Clinton. My parents live deep in conservative territory, so they're often in the minority when it comes to politics.

Dad and I have Crab Louie salads piled high with crabmeat and we all share housemade peach ice cream for dessert while Dad tells me how much relief he's getting from acupuncture and Mom ghoulishly describes watching the needles being inserted.

When I get to where my interview is scheduled, I learn that the interviewee is stuck on the bridge, which is how I wind up in an Adirondack chair on the front porch of a radio station reading the Washington Post waiting for the manager to escape the bridge line.

A woman who'd won a prize on the morning radio show drives up and asks if I work for the station. When I say no, she heads inside to claim her prize. I learn that today is also her birthday and I wish my fellow Gemini a happy one.

Because my subject was a half hour late, I get back to Richmond later than planned and I need to be at this event in half an hour. Fortunately, it's 3 blocks away and I walk quickly.

I have just long enough to glance at my inbox, where I'm surprised to see that a friend from Boston has emailed, but I don't bother opening it now when I have somewhere to be.

Once there, I begin talking to people for my story and all of a sudden a woman approaches, throws her arms around me and hangs on for dear life. I don't know her, but I hug her back so long and hard that she finally mumbles, "You're a really good hugger!" Even so, we hang on to each other even longer.

We move over to a bench to sit down and I get a whiff of her scent on me. It makes me feel very unlike myself since I don't wear perfume, but I unexpectedly enjoy knowing that I smell girly. She tells me I'm beautiful, raves about my dimples and runs her fingers through my hair, saying we should start a band because of our punk hair.

I have no idea what rabbit hole I've gone down.

After the tribute ends, people begin drifting over to Quirk for drinks (a somewhat ironic way to celebrate a man who died of alcoholism) and several ask if I'm coming. Because I have plans in an hour, I really can't, although it would be a beautiful evening to be on the rooftop at Quirk.

Turns out the friend from Boston is in town for the night only and wants to get a drink and chat after not seeing each other in years. I have exactly 58 minutes free before being picked up for music, but I'm game and ask where he is.

Before he responds, I hear from my favorite music lover, who is suffering from too little sleep (join the club, Tiger, I'm operating on a two-hour deficit myself and all because of anticipation about seeing you-know-who) and indigestion, so he's bowing out of music tonight.

As compensation, we spend a pleasurable hour volleying words back and forth as I put away the detritus from today's road trip, take off my going out clothes and settle myself contentedly on the balcony with a bowl of raspberry sherbet.

And, man, do I smell good. Too bad nobody will know.

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