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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Royals on Vacation Part 1

Spring is glorious in Virginia. My drive to work is inspiring. Still, I need a beach break. Luckily it was overcast and raining when I left Virginia to fly to Atlanta where I would meet up with Ellen for our drive to Orange Beach, "Sweet Home" Alabama.

Neither of us have been anywhere in Alabama, so this seemed like a trip with promise. I never fear the unknown when it comes to traveling. Especially now. I turn 60 next month. During the last year, I have been distressed about turning 60. There is far less of life to look forward to on this birthday, blah, blah, blah. It has scared me to death. How much more life will I have? What will my state of health be like? Will I be healthy enough in the coming decade to do what I want/to explore the world and life as I always have? I have gone through menapause and did so when I was being treated for Aplastic Anemia. That time of my life was the most challenging. At times, I fully accepted the fact that I might die. I was okay with that. The challenge was facing the way in which my state of health changed my life and how I lived it. But I did live through that time and I did get much of my life back. But it changed my life and how I felt about my body change. Later, I had a back fusion. Another altercation in life that added more changes to my body. Still later, I dealt with colon cancer. Add another layer of body change. In January, I had shoulder surgery and am still recovering from that surgery. Considering all I have been through, I decided that I can meet the challenge of the next decade. I chose to stop worrying about turning 60. I decided to be happy about it because it gives me the right to celebrate these body changes. The scars are the footprint of my life. They are the dots that connect the scars to other things that happened in my life. Attitude is everything. I had to change how I felt about turning 60 because the attitude has everything to do with how I look at me. I discussed this with Ellen and we have decided that we have reached the stage of royalty. Not the kind of royalty that is bestowed at birth, but the stage of royalty that you have earned since birth. I need to celebrate this new stage. I am what I am. So, appropriately, this being the "Royal Wedding Week", Ellen and I begin to celebrate our royalness with a trip to Orange Beach.

Ellen picked me up at the airport on Good Frday in true royal fashion. Her voice mail directed me to meet her at Houlihans where she had a Cosmo waiting for me. Perfect.

Saturday morning we left for our 6 hour drive to Orange Beach. We took our time because royals do not have to rush. And we just did not care how long it took. We are along for our own ride at our own pace. The royals arrived around 6:00 PM. Since it was after 5:00 PM, we poured a glass of wine and sat on the beach to watch the day end.

Duty calls even upon royals to be responsible at times. That meant we had to take our list to the grocery store for essentials. Milk and stuff like that. It was getting late and we wanted to get some take out so we stopped at Wintzells for some seafood. "Take out" seemed to be a foreign notion to the 3 ladies standing at the hostess/checkout. Once it was determined that we could place a take out order, Ellen suggested that it would be necessary for us to look at a take out menu. One lady had a blank look, but another seemed to understand and was able to produce the menu. We again approached the stand to place our order of steamed shrimp and one crab cake to go. That was quite a challenge, too. We later learned the young lade punching the register keys was new. Yep. The lady who had more experience advised that our order would take about 10 minutes. The new-key-puncher-lady told us 20-25 minutes. With that, Ellen made the firm decision that regadless of how long it takes, we will have a drink at the bar. As luck would have it, we sat at the end where they shuck oysters. It looked nasty and smelled unappetizing to this mountain girl. I tasted a couple of undrinkable red wines and decided on a Cosmo, which was quite good. We had a good laugh with the bartender as he agreed their wine selection sucks (my word, not his). He explained that they have a whole staff of new people as they gear up for what promises to be a good season. We ended up having a lot of laughs, even with the manager who came to apologize for our earlier experience. We really were not upset, as we royals simply did not care and appreciated the humor in our situation. The bartender gave us parting gift: the best bread pudding I have ever had. And I have had a few because George and I used to sample that dessert every place we went. It was getting late, so we gathered up our food so we could enjoy a late dinner on our patio.

Back at the condo, we decide to eat inside because it is a little uncomfortable on our patio as the wonderful breeze was not reaching us. Just as we were ready to sit down, Ellen asked if we brought in the groceries...the milk and stuff. I looked at her in dismay as we started laughing hysterically. We could not stop laughing so we went out to get our goods barely able to stand up straight from laughing so hard. Just as we reached the elevator, I asked if Ellen had the car key. Again, the deerin-the-headlights look. No. That fueled the already out of control laughter. We complete our mission and again head for the elevator when we realized I had left the door key inside the condo. Now we are laughing so hard our 60 year old royal bladders are about to loose control. Ellen went down to get the security guard while I hung over the balcony watching her and yelling down for her to get him to help her with the groceries. They did not hear me, but it made me laugh even more. She was laughing as she pointed me out to the security guard telling him I locked them out. He, at first, mistook her out of control laughing for a sign of a domestic quarrel, but soon put the pieces together. As they exited the elevator, I instructed Ellen to go back down for the groceries and I would wait for the security guard to get a key to let me in. Just as he was unlocking our door, we heard a car alarm go off. He was right on when he said, "That's her." I did not think I could laugh any harder or any longer. Until Ellen got off the elevator. She rode up with a couple and was telling them why she was laughing so hard and was shocked when she found herself on the third floor instead of the second floor. Finally reunited with our out of control laughter, some lady exclaimed that she was glad to see women our age could still laugh like that and that she hopes when she is our age she will be able to laugh that way. That was it. We wanted to bitch slap her but knew whe could not stop laughing long enough to do anything but run inside where we would try to better control our bladders and have our dinner. Shrimp was good, Crab cake awful. Bread pudding unbelievably good. We wanted to share our story, but it was too late to call anyone. All that laughter melted away any residual stress and made us feel 5 pounds lighter. It took us a while to settle down, but we eventually got our royal asses to bed. Here's to tomorrow.

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