I made it just before 8 at the shop with my car, walked in, explained who I was and the man I had tried to contact came out of his office and looked at my bumper. I asked ball park figure when would the car be ready. "Wednesday" he said. That stopped me cold. I had called and made an appointment, and even though they did not give me an exact time it would be fixed, they said they could drop me at the mall to wait. That would imply to me that the work could be completed in one day. So innocently enough here I am, no ride home, just the blank stare of someone expecting to spend a day in Tallahassee and then put the top down on my beloved toy and drive home. These people are going to keep her. I trust them. Mr. Moon recommended them to me. Of course I immediately reviewed the steps leading to this moment, and realized how I could have done a better job getting all the information. I could have left a message for the guy fixing the bumper to call me and talk to me, instead of taking the word of the woman answering the phone. Not that a woman answering the phone can not know what you need to know, but in this situation, it did not work.
I said, "OK, here are my keys". I have everyday this week booked now, so it is not like I can say I will come back tomorrow with a ride home. Sunday I leave for the beach. The car has to be fixed because I am going to take my first drive out to St. George Island in my car. To the beach. Driving along Hwy 98 skirting the sparkling gulf waters. Returning to Vicki's and my roots, the beach. Returning to the place that Judy is her happiest, the beach. The place where Mary has memories of a lifetime of visits, some alone, some with her friends, kids and family. Wonderful happy memories, memories of challenges, memories of a lifetime. So I gave them the key to my toy and walked out of the office, almost 30 miles from my home.
I called Bob at work, he is on vacation in Ohio. I am so happy for him. I called Rich and got his voice mail. Judy had already left for her work. Phyllis rides with her husband, so she will not have a car. The rest of my friends are all working, and I hate to impose. Maybe Glen is at the office and he can help me figure out something. No, Glen is home, Ms Moon is under the weather, and he is helping out with Owen until she feels better. But he is coming into town later and will be happy to bring me back home.
A plan is set. I walk back to the restaurant that Christopher and I had biscuits at. I had a good book, I was set. I ordered the wrong thing, and since everything they make has bacon or the memory of bacon touching it. It tasted wrong to me. I don't eat bacon because it upsets my stomach, but this is more the essence of bacon then real bacon, so it can't hurt can it? Oh yes, it greased up and oozed up my digestive system until I felt awful. Time for mind over matter. Focus on something else to ignore my digestive issues. I walked over to the Mary Brogan Museum to see the giant insect exhibition and then Italian painters exhibition. It is a smaller museum, nothing like the State Natural Museum of History. But it is a wonderful opportunity for Tallahassee. I thought the lighting of the paintings could be better. I had to walk back and forth left to right in front of almost every painting to get out of the glare.
My dear friend Kim up in North Carolina had given me a book for my birthday about Mary Magdalene. I had read it on vacation in Europe this summer, a wonderful place to read a book about the old world. This historical based novel brought up some interesting "facts" about paintings like the ones I was standing in front of. One was about the color red and how Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene are often confused, usually on purpose, depending on the beliefs of the artist. The second was those artists that follow John the Baptist would paint a symbol in their paintings identifying themselves or some hint or mystery in the paining. Here were those paintings with someone holding one of their hands in the shape of a "J". It looks like they are pointing at something, but when you read this book you realize that as much as it looks like they are pointing, you realize the thumb is not where you would hold your thumb. So that was interesting and fun looking for these little clues in these religious paintings.
The insect exhibition was clever, too small, but a wonderful thing for young children and entomologist.
But the museum is cold, so I walked outside to sit on a bench in the shade to read my book. Mr Moon called and said he was on his way to pick up plumbing supplies and would be able to pick me up. When he pulled up I was so engrossed in my book that he had to honk to draw my attention. We drove to pick up the plumbing supplies for Ms Moon's bathroom sink. Then Mr. Moon said he needs to get a couple of things done at the office. I said fine, I needed to get a pair of sneakers for my exercise class. So Ms Moon's wonderful husband dropped me at the mall with the promise to pick me up in 2 hours. I smiled and said that I would call him at 2 hours and we would make plans from there. I know Mr. Moon better then that. He has so many irons in the fire, he always says 2 hours, and I am sure that he means it and tries, but it is going to be more like 4 hours. I know this, so I am calm and I enter the foreign world of the mall.
I spent a couple of minutes walking back and forth from where he dropped me and would be picking me up and making sure that I would be able to find my way back. I looked at the directory and map of the mall and was sure I could find my way around. I walked down to Section "O" to the hair place and asked if they could fit me in. Yes, in an hour. Hmmmm, OK, let me check the other place. I walked over to the other place, checked with them, and got a bad vibe, so I excused myself and headed off to look for exercise shoes. The first spot did not go well, and my anxiety level started to shoot towards the roof. I reached for my ativan. And then stopped and said, stop, you can do this with out medication. I mean I just need a haircut, and it is not life and death, and I need a pair of shoes to wear today to exercise in. People do this all the time, I can do this. I went back to the first place and made that appointment. I already felt better, I had taken the first step. I walked past stores that I had nothing in common, people who did not look familiar to me. Not in how they talked or walked or dressed or interacted. I felt so out of place. I am not a big shopper. I am more of a shopper that goes to the store that has what I need and then I leave. Sad as is it, that is why I think Wal-mart is so popular. One store, everything you need, in, out, done, less anxiety.
I set out from the hair place knowing they were not going to give me the hair cut that Paige could, but I had no way to get to Paige today, and time is tight this week, and I would like to have my hair cut before going to the beach next week. I went into another shoe store. I mistakenly said, "tennis shoes" and then "Sneakers". The sales person looked down their nose at this grey haired alien and lectured that they sold "athletic shoes". sigh.
I looked at the walls of athletic shoes. Simple shoes I need that will take me from the tread mill to a yoga class and cover me for any other programs they might throw at me. The wall was covered with shoes as expensive as cars, and colors that don't even belong in a crayon box, saying nothing that these colors do not exist anywhere in nature. I turned disheartened, said "thanks" and walked out.
I entered into the third athletic shoe store. This young sales woman was bored and I was her project. She started at one end of the wall with the grotesque colored shoes. She explained the bottoms of shoes that looked like you could build a home on their base with their flexible sturdiness. Good for the tread mill, not useful for yoga. I finally said out of fear and frustration, "Don't you have any keds? What about redball jets? You know, make you jump higher, run faster???????" The sales clerk, unaffected by this babble she has no reference to walked over and picked up a pair of plain white simple athletic shoes by Nike. They were more expensive then any other sneakers I have ever bought, but here was my chance to get a pair of shoes and get out. I gave her my size and then said, "Should I go up half a size because of this type of shoe?" This young woman was good. She came out with 3 boxes, a pair of black ones 1/2 size bigger then my regular shoe size and then 2 pairs of white ones, one a half size bigger, the other my shoe size. She pulled out the first pair of white one, the half size bigger. They were OK. They looked brand new. They would not look like that for long with 3 dogs that love to dance on my feet. I tried on the black ones. They felt the same. Confined. I am a native Florida girl, growing up next to a river, on the beach the entire summer, in the woods during vacations and long weekends. We wore flip flops. We ran bare foot. We wore red ball jets and keds in the woods. I handed her the black ones, and said, "If I buy these I will be done, I will take them." I think she had hoped with all the attention and time that she had taken with me that I would smile and be happy. A convert to the world of athletic shoe's fashion and how they change the world. She sold her shoes, but she did not make a convert. She let it go, took my money and went back to looking bored. I would have felt guilty, but my anxiety level was still rising. My adrenal glands were dumping adrenalin into my veins, ready for the fight or flight process. And flight was like winged shoes in my brain constantly screaming, "RUN!". I breathed deep and walked back into the crowded mass of the mall. I still had time before I had to face the mirror and let a total stranger try and figure out what to do with my new hair. I walked up the escalator to the Godiva Shop. Sigh, the smell of chocolate, familiar, loving, drawing me in. And it is there End of the Season, so sales galore. I knew that, I am a Godiva Chocolate club member and they send me emails tempting my palate to ignore my budget and buy expensive chocolate. I walked around the store with an eye for the sale and what would be the most useful next week at the beach with the ladies. I chose my treasures, they packaged them like an expensive gift with tissue and I left the serene world of chocolate and once again entered the world of chaos. I walked down to the food court.
I just ate my stomach said, my brain which is suffering from a headache with all the adrenaline racing through my veins, reminds my digestive system, that it has been more then 5 hours. Eat. Comair, Manga. I picked a roll up and a salad. Huh, I don't appear to like roll ups. I ate the salad. Stood up and moved towards the hair place. Back into a world that I feel like a fish out of water. A nice quiet voiced woman took me to my chair. Ran her hands through my thick unruly hair, asked if I wanted it washed. I had just washed it, but I thought she might understand my hair better if she got to touch it wet and dry. Draped in the back nylon cape worn backwards to the chair of torture we moved. Yes, it is torture to lay my neck, on my C6 and C7 vertebrates on the hard uncomfortable edge of the sink. Her strong gentle fingers massaged my head. If it had not been for the pain from my neck, this would have lulled me into a sense of calm and serenity. My brain fought back and forth. We went back to the chair in front of the mirror, knowing that she would not cut my hair so that I could see it in the mirror. Here is where hairdressers and magician's with their slight of hand try to fool us. The magician tries to make us think that he cut the rope in half. The hairdresser tries to convince us that we are gorgeous. I don't fall for either.
We agreed that she would be frugal with her cuts, she would cut it back away from my face and make it flattering. She showed me the first snips showing me that she was not going to take much off. An hour later small snips of hair were flying everywhere. Just small snips, but she keep snipping and snipping. Then I saw her reach for the hair gel. Then reach again and again. I heard her mumble under her breath. I was facing the manager and another hairdresser, they had the blank looks of people trying not to let you see that this is not going well. And to her defense, post chemo hair is tough to cut, and every other square inch of my hair is different then the surrounding square inches of hair. I have a lot of it, but it is straight, curly, wavy, all on one side of my head. She had been cutting for over a half hour before she finally understood that I had not dyed my hair dark and gray and white, and that I had all of my hair fall out from chemo and no, I don't know this hair. These foreign follicles pushing dead cells away from my skin providing protection from the weather. She turned me to face the mirror. She had kept cutting until 90% of the waves and curls were gone, and in the front where I have the screw curl at the middle of my forehead and then the cowlick that stands up as proud as a salute, she had jelled almost into submission. My hair looked like wax. It did not feel like hair, but it also did not move. Hurricane proof hair. sigh. Other then that it is OK. She asked me if I loved it. I said it was OK. She pressed harder isn't it a wonderful cut. No, I said, it is OK. She continued to press until the manager gently inserted himself, gave me 50% off, which was still an expensive haircut for OK, but it is done and next week it will be easier to deal with. But it is not flattering, my head looks like it is tiny, which it is, there is no magic, no flirt, no sass, just hair gel and short hair forced into position. I had asked for sass, but I had been most adiminent that the hair be cut to work with the wave and curl, not to fight with it. She lost the fight, but she did give it her best effort. And it is OK.
So with my bag with the athletic shoes, my Godiva, my gelled hair, I headed back to the entrance where I could sit outside on a bench, out of the freezing air conditioning of the mall and sit and read my book. I passed, Forever 21. A huge store, and they had skirts the length I like. I thought what the heck. This is a great store for high school and college girls. But they also had things that if I matched them in my style they did not look too young. I picked out a long flowered skirt with a deep peach top. Similar to clothes I would have worn as a hippie, but made out of different material. I didn't even try them on. I just paid for them and then scurried looking for my exit. I ran outside and sat down. I had not escaped the insanity of the mall, it continued to pour out, colorful characters confident and happy where they were. So different then my world.
I waited three hours from when I was dropped off before I called Mr. Moon, he said it would be another 30 - 45 minutes. We laughed and hung up. I settled in for another hour to read. Mr. Moon showed up in another vehicle, travelling incognito. We made one more stop before he dropped me safely into my quiet little sanctuary. He picked up some vodka and a couple of cigar boxes for me. Mary said she had plenty for the moment. A couple of treasures to craft with and turn into something from my world.
I settled, tried on my new clothes that fit just fine, and then sat exhausted in my red chair. I talked to My Dad's lady friend and then I talked to my dad. I talked to a couple of other friends and then laid down with my animals and closed my eyes to sleep.
The world shifted today. Not just for me. Jobs were lost, pride of doing the right thing was shot down, people felt sick and lost, dear ones returned to our shores, back to us and our loving arms. I spent the entire day in Tallahassee staying busy with shopping and museums, haircuts and running errands. It was an interesting day, filled with words from a well written book, and adventures for me of other worldly places, that to those coming and going, just another day at the mall.
I am going to put on an old pair of yoga pants I found in the bottom of my drawer last night. A pair that does not fall down when I put them on. I will put on a shirt and my new confinement shoes and head up to HOPE. To start my exercise program. To start getting my body back. To learn how to take care of this body now that gently carries cancer around in my lungs and how to take care of this body. To nurture it and maybe even heal it. To grow muscles again, build stamina and strength, increase flexibility. Maybe I will have more to tell you this evening about all the fun I had today at the YMCA.
Thankful that Monday is over, another step closer to the beach. Another step closer to the new me. Life is so interesting. Looking back this morning to yesterday, I walked all around downtown Tallahassee again, entered worlds as foreign as planets in other galaxies and enjoyed myself more then I would ever imagine. And up and ready for new adventures today! And I am rewarded with a hint, a smidge of cool morning weather, that will taunt us for a week and then disappear back into the heat until the real fall deems its time to slip in and color the world in different shades of the season. My hair will not blow in the toy as I drive today. It will not even flutter. I have scrubbed out the gel, but my hair is still traumatized by the suffocation of yesterday. I will not need the air conditioning as I drive, but I will put on a light long sleeve shirt, and revel in the changing color of the sunlight all around me.