If you remember that ad slogan, too, we are too damn old!
Yesterday was the 1st anniversary of the finalization of my divorce. Since then, “Independence Day” has taken on a whole new and wonderful meaning for me. It apparently is becoming a personal tradition to celebrate in a big way by doing a big adventure. Last year, I spent July 4 weekend in the Oklahoma City area, indulging with some shooty goodness with my good friends Michael and Jenni. This year, I took off on the 2nd with my friend from work Leslie, her husband Robert, their friend Kim, my boys and two friends of my youngest to go tubing down the Guadalupe river in Gruene, (pronounced “Green”) Texas. We were later joined by two of Robert’s coworkers, and off we went.
I learned quite a lot on this trip.
1. Six hours floating on a tube, no matter how pleasant, is Too. Damn. Long.
2. Plan ahead with the car keys. The tubing rental keeps your keys as collateral. One, it makes sure they get their tube back. Two, it makes sure you don’t lose your keys in the river or get them wet (which, in the modern era of automobiling, makes them useless). If I had realized it, I’d have given my valet key (which can get wet) to my son, and turned in my high-tech set to the attendant. This would have lessened the impact of #3.
3. Make sure EVERYONE is clear on the game plan. We’d all agreed on the 6-hour float. My youngest and his friends got off at the 3-hour point, which left them stranded at the car (the agreed-upon meeting place) for 4 hours (the 2nd half of the river was so slow that at a couple of times, I was actually going BACKWARDS!) without food, water, or a t-shirt to cover up.
4. I don’t care if you never burn. Use sunscreen. If only I would listen to my own advice.
5. If you don’t heed #4, vinegar does help to alleviate the pain. Thanks, Butch and Dorie! Just remember to keep the vinegar away from the rubber rash. OUCH!
6. When you think you have enough beer in your cooler, add more. You don’t.
7. If you are a female and tubing alone (I’d gotten separated from the rest of the group shortly after the 3-hour point), you will not suffer for company, especially if you have a floating cooler that looks like a giant fishing bobber. I got a couple of nibbles along the way, and could’ve snagged a big, loud, drunk Aggie if I’d wanted to. Yesterday was strictly catch-and-release, though.
I have to admit, though, that my brief encounter with that big, loud, drunk Aggie was what got me to thinking along the remainder of my tubing expedition. In the conversation, he’d mentioned the last time he was on the Guad, exactly two years earlier. It got me to thinking of how different my activity was exactly one year earlier, when I was on very dry land, bruising the daylights out of my arm with my .303 Lee Enfield.
It also got me to thinking about how far I’ve come in my life since the divorce. I’ve bought a house for my parents and me to live in, right on the other side of the Interstate from my son’s school. He walks there sometimes (via the underpass). My daughter and granddaughter moved in briefly, then moved back with my son-in-law and seem very happy now. I’m glad for them, and glad I was in a position to help when times got uncertain.
My eldest is with me now. He is still adrift, and it pains me greatly to see him without direction. In a perfect world, I would send him to stay with a good mutual friend a couple of states away whom I think could set him on a solid path. My friend and his wife just had a baby, though, and I couldn’t make that imposition on them. Not now.
Most of all, though, the encounter with the drunk Aggie got me to thinking about relationships. As I said before, I could’ve snagged him if I’d really wanted to. I’d have had to be stone deaf not to hear and blind not to see the come-on. The thing was, I didn’t want to. Y’see, I have a good man in my life now. A wonderful, giving man. One I haven’t seen much of the last couple of weeks because he is so giving. It was beginning to allow room for the demons of self-doubt to creep in and do their undoing. How many of my readers (both of them) have heard the whispers in your psyche before: “You can’t keep him. You’re not good enough. It won’t last; why do you hang on?”
Then I got to thinking. He IS a good man. He is generous to a fault and sweet. He tells me how much he appreciates what I do. When I met him, he mentioned that the two major relationships in his life–his marriage and a long-term relationship–were both ended by the other party. My response then was “I don’t understand how any woman (much less two) could leave you. Four months later, I still don’t. In fact, I understand that aspect even less. I flat-out refuse to go down that path. It’s not up to me to say what the future holds, but this much I know. If it does end, it won’t be because of me. For that, I will be grateful to the loud, drunk Aggie for making me realize what I want in my life…and whom.