Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas eve

What, may you ask, am I doing up at 6:30 on Christmas morning after having survived nearly 48 hours being awake, most of which occured over the course of a gueling Columbia-to-Tampa road trip on heavily laden busses? A full-blown panic attack, that's what---just awoke, mouth dry as an ashtray of butts left out in the Arizona desert at high noon, my heart racing as I was ripped from a relatively enjoyable dream. Immediately sprang up and started pacing, got myself a small drink, and discovered that I had not brought any anti-anxiety medicine (which I had not taken for around eight months, but I really want one right now). So I am sitting here in my sister Beth's livingroom, posting a blog and hoping sleep overwhelms me and I can go back and lay down. Two hours (I chatted with my sis about family things until about 3:00) is not going to be enough sleep and I am exhausted as it is.

Beth has a beautiful, comfortable home. I love the plush carpet I have been pacing upon. Displayed around the room is her latest collecting craze, lighted stained-glass scultures of buildings. There is a bevy of cats, one of which just took a liking to me and is purring away. She told me he is a mix domesticated feline and bobcat. A compact fellow he is, with extremely soft fur. The others have all made my acquaintance, but no other has given me as much of a clearance to pet away. Maybe the others can feel my recent cat history and are punishing me for my cat-related sins.

Received some very sad news yesterday. Several days ago one of my old friends, someone I have known for thirty-seven years, died. He was one of the most flambouyant fellows I have ever known, who loved tall, humorous tales and bawdy jokes, and had wholeheartedly been adopted into my family's inner circle despite his unorthodox personal lifestyle. He seemingly always received a pass from most of us, no matter the transgression or stress-filled bit of drama. It was my sister, in fact, who had discovered his body. The sadness was compounded by having to tell my sons that he had gone. They really got to enjoy his company two summers ago, even to the point of adopting some of his colorful vernacular. Hadn't I done the same so many summers ago? Tampa is so much more a past for me. I mourn his passing and truly wish he had hung in there until I had another chance to see him. Billy, rest in peace and let proud mary keep rolling on the river. Hopefully Dorothy and Toto are waiting on the yellow brick road.

Had a nice curry dinner---a family tradition. The boys loved it. Sat up and had a long discussion with Beth, out on the porch into the wee hours---another tradition. We revealed some things neither of the two of us knew. Debated a few things. That undoubtedly will be only the first of many late-nighters.

The trip down was hard on hip, joints, and sleep. Every stage was filled with holiday travelers, representing the full gamut of characters one often meets aboard busses: mentally crazed individuals ranging from inebriated veterans to disturbed bag ladies; angry anti-government types and paranoids; poor, stressed pilgrims eager to see home, lovers, friends or loved ones; chatty busmates seeking conversation; laconic suspicious-looking potential miscreants (hey, this is still Bush's America); know-it-alls; impoverished single parents with active children in tow; and a whole host of diversity. Not to mention one busdriver who apparently was well-known to regular travelers along this route as a martinet Mr. Caine. No matter. I still am not induced to fly, although it confirmed my preference for rail travel. The carriages were stuffed to capacity and the seats tight and uncomfortable for a fellow of my size and stature. But my sons managed it pretty well, even being able to get some sleep, which was a relief. Not me, however; how can you sleep when it is your job to keep an eye out for your young charges.

Ok, I am falling asleep. Maybe I will go give sleep another try. My knee and hip joint ache.

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