It was definitely strange that I ended up with very little to do at work today. I got to the office, handled a few minor issues for people, did some setup for something that’s going to arrive on Monday, cleaned up a bit, and said my goodbyes. I was done in less than two hours, but today was easily the busiest day. I started by running a few errands.
There were a handful of things I needed at Walgreens, so I did some shopping there. There was a place nearby that was named “The Brooklyn Water Bagel Company”, promising authentic New York Bagels. I had to investigate. I showed the cashier my New York State driver’s license and told her I’d be judging…and sure enough, they weren’t kidding. Maybe it’s the water and maybe it isn’t, but whatever their secret is, I can confidently state that it’s possible to get a real bagel in Florida.
Before I left New York, I’d wanted to get a haircut, but I ran out of time. Incidentally, my company has two clients in Florida, they’re about 30 minutes away from each other, and the second one is a salon. Guess what I did.
Kim is a solid hairdresser, and had me in and out in less than an hour, which is epic for a same-day appointment. I was appreciative of the time she spent, and I think she did a good job. She even had something she wanted me to try to help bring back a bit of hair, because yes, I’m at that point in my life now. We had a good discussion; I gave some idea as to what I was doing down here, and she reciprocated by describing some issues she was having with a contractor. It was nice to see her again, though I was a bit annoyed that she refused to take my money.
Kim’s salon was in the opposite direction of my next destination: my friend Brittany’s house. One of the very few friends from high school with whom I keep in regular contact, Brittany and I made tentative plans to see each other before I left. I appreciated her flexibility with respect to timing, since it changed multiple times over the course of the planning phase. I wasn’t planning on doing any of the work I did to begin with, and then the work came around, and then the “best available day” switched a bit, and we finally ended up with “Friday, after work…whenever that is; I’ll call you before I leave”. Not great plans, but the best I could do…and her family was all the way on board with it.
It was nearly a four hour drive to Brittany’s house. Did you know there are cows in Florida? There are. Like, lots of them. A lot more than I was expecting. I was similarly surprised at how many of the cows had an entourage with them. Herons and other long-necked fowl are common sights, but I was very surprised that they camped out around the cows as they grazed. Trailer parks were a very common sight on the way; there were many trailer/RV areas, most dedicated to senior retirement. The sun was waning while I drove, and while there was rain to be had (as it had done for much of the day before) the sun poked through the clouds as I continued on. I also made my first stop for gas in this car. A conservative $20 regular got me fairly close to full, but not as much as I was expecting. this Camry’s 16-gallon tank would readily explain why the range estimates exceeded my Corolla’s 12, despite getting similar gas mileage. On the way, I caught up with my coworkers, getting my billable time documented and discussing a few issues that they were addressing on their end. My one coworker David is a dyed-in-the-wool Ohio State graduate; while this was no secret, a lengthy discussion regarding his feelings about the car in front of me with the license plate “IA ST8R” was, apparently, worthy of contempt. He’s one of maybe six people who used his turn signal when switching lanes, so for being a persona non grata, he was quite considerate.
At long last, Brittany and I were reunited. It was nearly seven years since her family moved away from New York; I hadn’t seen her since. Probably more happy to see me than Brittany was Brittany’s mom, who has considered me like one of her own children for quite some time. Brittany’s sister Rachel wasn’t going to be around, but I did get to see Brittany’s father as well; he and I find no shortage of topics to discuss, either. We sat in their immaculately designed living room for a little under an hour and caught up; I recounted my hotel-hell story and described some of the work I did; Brittany and her mom caught me up on Florida life and wedding planning.
Shortly after Brittany’s Fiancee arrived, the three of us headed out to grab dinner. It worked out well because I did want a picture at the beach, even if I didn’t get a chance to do actual beach things. Brittany is a street performer at a beach that is a nightlife center in the area. Her hula hooping skills and other acrobatic talents combined with her sparking personality and clown training are all things which make her show incredibly entertaining to watch…however, she wasn’t performing that night. We got to take the beach photo, and Daniel, one of the other performers with whom Brittany is friendly, started his show shortly after.
Daniel’s four month old dog is adorable; I was so glad to be able to pet him and take a photo. Daniel opened the show with some tricks with his dog; this helped build the initial crowd. After the dog tricks were done, he showed off his contortionist talents by using his feet to put on a hat while doing a handstand on some short poles. Some humor was helpful to gain additional attention as he fit himself through a tennis racket in multiple directions. His denouement was his ability to free himself from a straitjacket while riding a seven foot tall unicycle. It was definitely impressive, especially as he continued speaking with the audience as he did so. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear him give a brief call-to-forgiveness at the end of his show, offering Bibles to people if they wanted one, irrespective if they put money in his hat.
After Daniel’s show, Brittany, Skyler (Brittany’s fiancee) and I went to dinner. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood, but avoiding it on the pier was like trying to find a good cheeseburger in Jerusalem. So, butterfly shrimp it was, and I will say that it was quite enjoyable. The two of them discussed how they met, and told stories about their time dating and such, which was very entertaining. Skyler is a Mass Effect fan as well. He doesn’t think Brittany will enjoy trying to play it, but we concurred she’ll romance Garrus if she does.
After dinner, we headed back to Brittany’s house. Mom was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie…not sure which one, but like…does it matter? I mean, I was there for nearly an hour and the movie was on the whole time, but I couldn’t tell you anything about the pretense or context upon which the story was built. I was too busy catching up with Brittany’s dad. We discussed housing construction, state politics, people from churches we’d attended together in the past, and several other topics. It was nice to catch up with him as well.
While it was made known that the guest room was open to me, I needed to get back to my hotel. The rental car had to be back in the morning, my stuff was still in the hotel, and the drive to Orlando was far longer coming from the opposite coast, so the three hour drive back to the hotel had to commence.
This route was far quieter, and involved a lengthy stretch along a highway called Alligator Alley…no kidding, that’s what it’s named on Google Maps. A phone call or two took place as I drove, Daily Audio Bible taking up the rest. I was back at my hotel a bit before 1.