Florida was unrecognizable for June/July. It made me feel guilty, all the lush green surroundings, as I thought about California and Arizona - made me wish I could lend them some rain. There were daily frequent pop-up storms; it felt like we were on a Caribbean Island. And the color of the ocean on the bay was new to me. Ink black ocean turned amber as it was approaching the shore and the crashing waves were the color of honey. My brother and I first noticed it on our arrival evening walk, and I marveled at it all week. The only time it turned sea green and clear were on two sunny mornings. The resulting weather from all the rain was pleasant for excursions and walks and sunning and reading on the third floor roof balcony. Once Cecelia and I had a long walk interrupted by a downpour - it was cold but I'll never forget the sight of the raindrops pelting the ocean while hanging out with one of my favorite people on the planet.
It was fun to get to know their friends - both new fast ones. Noah looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch model (if that store still exists) so it is surprising to look into his dark eyes - they are like a doe's - and see introversion and even insecurity. He, at the young age of sixteen, has sworn off alcohol and drugs and tobacco for the same reason my partner Michelle did - early overexposure. His caretaker of two years, Ms. Candy, is a social worker for crime victims. She works for the state government. When I learned this on the phone a couple of weeks ago - she rightly wanted to talk to me before she sent Noah with me for a week - I told her she was a Saint. My brief background in psychology left me raw and wounded, I told her, and she assured me it took her a bit of time to build her own boundaries.
As Cecelia and I walked in the rain we assessed Noah glowingly. She told me that all his other friends are mean - I mentioned a couple who I knew had a tendency to tear others down. Not pathologically, but probably insecurely. She said all the Episcopal boys trash talked each other. In stark contrast Noah was very kind to Jack. Jack is also a kind, sensitive soul so they meshed well. They were always checking in on each other and making sure if there was a plan, everyone was ok with it. In the middle of the week we were on our way for lunch and shopping and we went in to get the boys a one week gym membership at Port St. Joe - they work out together in Little Rock and were missing that. As we walked back to the car Noah grabbed a door so I walked to the other side of the car and looked up at him confused when I realized I was on his side. "I was holding the door for you," he said, and I was floored. Cecelia called out from the back seat "Gallantry is not dead!" and I told the girls expect nothing less from anyone you date. He worries that he is not as book smart as his older brother and sister; I assured him kindness is more important and he already has that in spades.
And Joelle (Yousef's daughter!) was wonderful to hang out with. She is heading to Hendrix in the fall to major in poli sci and to minor in French. She, like Cecelia and Jack, comes from a blended family - she told me on the plane on the way back she was about the same age as C when the divorce happened. She speaks highly of both her mother and her father - makes me think they did it right like we did. I'm not glamorizing divorce. I know the kids have their frustrations especially having to pack up every week and move to a new house; but the benefits I see are great, especially if the marriage wasn't working. Four adult heads to bounce things off of. Seeing more than one way to do family and picking your favorite parts for your future self. Joelle seemed very wise and grounded. An old soul. I'm glad C has her as a friend. I told C the other night I had friends from Fayetteville come stay at Hendrix for the weekend; I'm sure it won't be hard for them to keep in touch over the next four years.
Being sans a husband - he's saving his much less vacation for Vail next week and already visited my parents last New Year's - I had a lot of time to read. I finished Melody's thriller Mother-in-Law on the plane and resumed one I started a few months ago called Vesper Flights. I had read the author's first NYT bestseller H is for Hawk when it came out - a lovely book about grieving her beloved father's premature death by becoming a falconer. This is a book of essays on animals and political and climate commentary. Turns out I have a saturation point for that, even though they are wonderful think pieces. I took a break and turned to the doc mom book club pick - Amanda Ferrell's turn.
Hollywood Park is one of my favorite memoirs I've ever read. He's my age, we grew up listening to the same music. The book starts with his mother running away from a cult with about 7 year old him and his older brother. I won't ruin it in case you want to read it - I finished it in under 24 hours (was up until 2am reading and woke up at 6am to finish). There was prison and addiction and poverty and love and happiness and family despite all the hardship. It grabbed my by the shoulders and didn't spit me out until I was done. Mikel Jollett was in a band I've never heard of. They must have achieved brief fame during my med school and residency, in other words, The Cultural Dearth. I look forward to looking up and listening to Airborne Toxic Event.
I'm still working my way through an anthology that was recommended by a Native American activist I follow on Instagram. Love After the End. It's a mash up of Native American culture and sci-fi and LGBTQ culture. I never thought I would like it when I saw the sci-fi part in the intro but these stories are blowing me away and a couple have brought me to tears at the end. Looking forward to getting through the second half. Just had ten days off and looking toward a short week before the next adventure. Can't wait to see my work family tomorrow I miss them. Was joking with Rex on group path text that I haven't missed him yet since I've been on vacation but I will start building his shrine on Tuesday. Happy Monday, much love, Elizabeth