Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Trip, Part I

Thanksgiving is a time of taking trips, isn't it?

We go over the river and through the woods... we fly in big ol' jet airliners...we go riding in a car car... someone goes somewhere in order to spend time with someone on Thanksgiving, even if it's getting on the train to the ferry to the 1 to 42nd to the shuttle to Grand Central (yes, I should have walked over to Bowling Green and taken the 5... we all have 20/20 hindsight) to the Metro North to places north in states we can't spell without FireFox and it's wonderful spellcheck.

There, we spend time with friends or family or with luck... people who are both. We eat chestnut dressing (for the first time) in my case, or, in my New Orleans clan's case, we have the following:

3 turkeys
1 ham
25 lbs of potatoes
rice and gravy
2 kinds of dressing
dirty rice
mac and cheese
4 kinds of casseroles with vegetables in them
stuffed artichokes
stuffed mirlitons
6 different pies
bread pudding (although it wasn't my famous recipe)
4 boxes of pastry
various salads

They do eat quite a bit down there... then, there were the pitchers of sweet tea and the gallons of coffee and hours of gossip.

My meal was smaller, and just as good.

Last year, I went to Texas, and had a great meal... I was weak, recovering from nuclear meds, and managed to consume a fair amount of food to help me in the recovery process.

Then, there was The Trip.

I was living with The Godmother, it was a time of bad clothing, bad hair, and working for the man.

We worked in a large corporation at another large corporation that needed on site support. There we were, five marketing people and nine installers in the middle of a sprawling complex outside of Boulder, Colorado.

The Godmother had a house with an extra room, I needed a place to live... it was perfect for us if I rented from her, and for $100 a month, I did just that.

We clicked from the beginning, The Godmother and I. She can make you laugh like nobodies business, and has a laugh, as all my friends do, that will pull you into her world.

She was a widow, something you didn't find very often... a few years older than I, with her son, JL, who put up with his mother and I and our various strange ways. We both smoked like trains back then, who knew we shouldn't around him? She'd promised me we'd have a great social life on weekends... we spent it in our bathrobes, smoking and drinking diet Pepsi, and this was pre-nutrasweet. She would broil, then peel, then saute huge Anaheim chili peppers... serving them up with sour cream and tortillas...

....for breakfast.

She made (and makes) the best damn green chili ever. Again, we'd have it for breakfast. We'd make runs out to this horrible rickety shack out in the middle of a field at midnight because it had a Pepsi machine. She'd trust JL and I to sit in the car while she climbed the steps and put the quarters in, standing under the bare light bulb.

He and I would quickly jump into the seat, working the clutch and gears, backing the car out, driving as one person, while she ran behind us yelling.

It worked every time.

Before you feel sorry for her... let me tell you, this woman is a master of cruel jokes.

  • I heard a noise in her kitchen, which was at the other end of the house, a falling over of a pan, a crunching of something. "What was that?", I asked. "Go look.", she said, from the comfort of her bed where she was smoking, talking to JL and I. "No, it's your house, you go look." She muttered, getting out of bed, all 5'3" of her, clenching her cigarette in her teeth, buttoning up her robe as she marched down the long, midnight dark hallway. I climbed into bed with JL who was as big a chicken as I was. Deep quiet. Suddenly, moans and cries were heard. Her voice, catching on words, begging an unknown person to let her live, let her be... it... it.... hurt. You could hear her coming down the hallway, her fingernails digging into the drywall... she was crawling, crying in pain, moaning... moaning. JL and I dove to the bottom of the bed, under the heavy quilt, quivering in terror. We flattened out, trying to look like wrinkles in the bedcovers. "No, no, NO...", she wimpered, her voice rising on the last word. "Please, it hurts so..." she fell into the room... we heard her hit the dresser, fall to the floor.... pull herself onto the bed. She whimpered a bit... a little sigh left her, then, a gasp... a wince of pain. "Just... don't hurt my baby, my son", her voice ragged in it's terror, harsh with the screams held back. At this point, up piped the voice of her beloved baby, her son, who said, "Take her, we don't know what you look like." She laughed so hard, she peed on us.
  • We were in Target, it was Christmas. Both of us hate crowds, it was packed, and we both were wheezing in the need to just. get. out. I had gone to the bathroom, we had a full cart, the lines were enormous, and we were walking up front to become part of one of them. "Damn. Damn, DAMN. I forgot I told JL I'd get a frame for his school photo so he can send it to his grandparents.", she said as she stopped and literally stomped her booted foot. "FMD, Godmother", said I, "Then, let's get it done, I want to go home!". We moved towards the frames and I asked the size she needed. "Ummm. 4x6." Then, she stood to one side, watching me as I scanned the fronts of the frames, looking for the size. Remember, this was when they used to have the pretend people in the frames, with the frame size printed on the picture. "Wait.. not metal.. I want wood." I fmd'd again, and shifted my gaze to the wood, leaving her leaning on our cart holding presents, our coats, and purses. Scanning.... scanning.... scanning.... and..wait a minute. (the following is my thought process during a 2 second time period)That frame, it can't be, it is, it looks like Godfather. In that frame. How can it be? It looks just like him, it really does. Did they find some old film and print his photo? I always wondered if that's what they did. No, that's not like him, that... that... that's him. It's Godfather! What I was saying was, as I pointed to said frame was, "Godmother... it's.. it's... Godfather!" I turned at this word, to see her bent over the basket, convulsing in laughter. She'd set up the photo when I was in the bathroom, secure in my OCD'ness that I'd pick it out. She went from laughter into coughing, and then... I left her. I picked up my coat and purse and left her. Never piss off the driver.

So, this is the woman we would leave in the dark, running in her little red robe, holding the cans of Pepsi, cursing us out at least 3 times a week....

This is the woman I turned to and said.... "Hey, my cousin wants to come out for Thanksgiving from Monroe. Let's go see my dad in Grand Junction. It's only a five hour drive!"

This is the woman who said, "Sure, why not!"

It seemed like such a great idea... we'd take my new car, not hers, put her son, my dog, take along road trip food and drinks, pick up the cousin, and hit I-70 all the way to Grand Junction...we'd leave on Wednesday morning, since the big plant was closing down early for the holiday.

Piece o'Cake.

Tuesday, the biggest storm to hit the Front Range in 50 years rolled in, and Boulder alone was slammed with three feet of snow and 60 mile an hour winds at one point.

What the hell? We decided to go anyway.


Bud said...

You all crazy! This is a fun ride, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading your nov 19th post and was deeply moved by your strength, your friendships, your courage. If I were religious, I'd pray for the health of your dear friend; but, I'm not, so will simply hope for her recovery and envy her for having a person like you as a support.
I found my way to your blog (for the second) time from you comment on my 6S (Stella). You've commented before, and I thank you. I hope this next year is filled with good health and enough happy days to feel you're a lucky SOB - that's all I wish for myself.

constant_drama said...

Now I know I should comment on The Godmother and all other then how cool I think her nickname is. The Godmother but...but what I really wanna say is that...

I never had a Thanksgiving Turkey. I had turkey but never in that setting. True we dont celebrate Turkey Day here but people are making it all sounds very delicious.