The Big Six-Oh

Monday, September 18, 2017

Because he managed to survive a significant blockage & stent placement last week, my dad lived to see 60 on Saturday. I took him to dinner at the iconic Loveless Cafe in Nashville, after I spent a week lecturing him on diet. We both passed on the fried chicken, but we did try their famous biscuits. And, they are indeed the most delicious biscuits I have ever eaten in my life. I don't even want to know what the nutritional facts label would look like because the butter content is obviously very, very high. Just, don't ruin it for me.

If you aren't from around here, a little history on the cafe: Lon & Annie Loveless started their restaurant outside Nashville on Hwy 100 back in 1951. After awhile, they built a surrounding 14 room motel which is now an assortment of gift shops. You can buy food stuffs like preserves, country ham, etc. You can buy touristy stuffs like tshirts, keychains, and a variety of merch emblazoned with 'Got Biscuits?' You can even have a wedding reception in a fancy barn they've added out back.

 The Loveless is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Nashville. It is located along a winding country road that takes you into the hills and offers only a peek of the Nashville skyline between the trees. Judging by the signed pictures on the walls, just about every musician from Nashville plus those American Pickers guys have been there. The decor is cute & kitschy. We really enjoyed it.

 Under doctor's orders, Bill couldn't really party like it was 1979 but we did drive down Broadway to see what the crowd was up to. It was the typical Nashville scene...various revelers, lots of honky tonking, an overly intoxicated bachelorette party being loaded into a waiting cab by a Nashville police officer, and somebody robbed the Subway nearby.

 I did run into Elvis again. For some reason, it's a thing that happens to me.

My dad is the stuff legends are made of. I desperately want to sit down with a recorder and write a book about him & his four brothers. They did the 70s & 80s BIG. I have memories of seeing them roll up my aunt's driveway in an assortment of muscle cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles. I do not know how I share DNA with this group because I have never had the intestinal fortitude to brave even half of what they did.

Dad has so many good stories, mostly incriminating and would no doubt turn my Aunt Enola's hair white from the shock. I don't know how he survived it all, but I'm thankful that he did! He's a character, that Bill. I'm lucky to know him.

This Little Light of Mine

Monday, September 11, 2017

...has recently stopped saying 'hashbrows' for eyebrows. But, she still says 'Kamp you' for 'Thank you' and there's no sign of that slowing down. She loves to play dress-up and has recently discovered the joy of clip-on earrings. She asks to get into my jewelry box and goes right for the same ring of my grandmother's that I always asked to play with. She is both a girly girl and 'I am woman; hear me roar!'. 

Oh, how I love her.

My Darlin Clementine

Saturday, September 09, 2017

In the fall of 2006, I drove to Paris, Tennessee to rescue a Chinese Crested female puppy. I named her Clementine and she was the quirkiest, funniest little creature I had ever known. I am her human, and I'm not sure anyone has ever loved me the way that Clem does. She wound up being half-Chinese Crested & half-Chihuahua so she is smaller than a pure CC. She has a sweet mullet on her head and little cuffs of fur around her feet, but she is gray & white skin everywhere else. So, we always pack a sweater in the winter or keep her in the shade during summer. 

We've been on many adventures together, but the times I've enjoyed the most have been just lounging around together. Her cuddled up by my side.

Clem has zero patience for our other dog, Bella, as they had a falling out in 2012.
But, she's cool with the cat.

Clementine lost her vision in a short period of time a couple of years ago. So, we try to keep her on a routine she feels safe with. I will be wearing her in a doggy sling when she shows me she can no longer figure out where she is. She'd do the same for me...

In the Beginning; A Letter to My Husband

Monday, September 04, 2017
We first met at a bookstore, which is ironic since you don't like to read. You've read one book you weren't assigned, Dante's Inferno. I believe you tell me this because you think the complex nature of the book gives you some kind of street cred or literary pass. What I remember from that first encounter are your eyes and how unbelievably kind you seemed. You don't remember me at all. I was just some hugely pregnant chick who wandered into your store. How funny fate can be, no? You were close enough to reach out and touch us both, your future wife and the boy who would call you Dad...but, that scene wasn't even a blip on the great cosmic radar yet.

'Can I help you find something?' you asked. Possibly, I thought...but, can you give me a few years? I've got some pretty heavy stuff I'm going through at the moment. So, I went home, put 90s grunge music in my Discman, and daydreamed about the guy with the eyes. I'm almost positive this is why I think of you instantly when that genre comes on the radio. Like Pavlov's dog and his bells...except it's Stone Temple Pilots and your face.

You had long since faded from my memory when you clocked into work at Hop's the second time we met, so I didn't even recognize you. I was getting a drink for a table and you came around the partition. By the time you walked away, the counter was covered and it was spilling onto the floor. "He's cute, isn't he?" a coworker asked. "I'm going to marry that boy." I said. Every day, I would throw ice at you and you would smile. I'd talk to you on my loop through the dish pit. And, I always found spare dishes to have a reason to loop through the dish pit. "Here, sir, let me get you another fork as I see that one touched two different vegetables on your plate."

I really, really liked you. One day I decided to show you a picture of Dylan. I wasn't ready for you to meet him, as I preferred to keep him out of my dating life, but I also didn't want to keep his existence from you. If it was a dealbreaker, I'd rather just face that sooner than later. You laughed nervously and asked if he was my nephew. I laughed. The child with a tiny version of my face on his face? Umm, no. But, it didn't change anything between us. One night, I offered to give you a ride home in my janky Firebird, which you actually liked. You asked me out, sorta. We made plans to meet at the bar, which I now know meant you and your best friend and maybe even your sister were supposed to meet me at the bar whenever you felt like showing up. After I sat there for hours, I left feeling super ticked at you. The next time I saw you, you acted like nothing had happened at all, and asked why I didn't show up. So, you hadn't stood me up! I kept my crazy in check and said it must've just been a misunderstanding. This was uncharted territory.

And, then I showed up to work one day and you were...gone. I didn't blame you. Our boss was a complete jerk and I didn't last two weeks without you. I had given you my number, but I didn't have yours. I wasn't going to just show up at your place, though, I definitely wanted to. I couldn't believe that those few months of working together was the entirety of our story. I missed you. Weeks passed, and then I started casually dating a childhood friend I had no business dating. We had been the best of friends, even sharing a locker during junior high. But, he was a solider who had come in on leave, and I was bored. One night he said we should get serious about each other. By 'serious', I knew him well enough to know that he'd still date whoever he wanted to, so I told him it sounded good to me, but I was still a little hung up on a guy and if he ever called, I'd be gone. 

I think it was about a month later when you finally called.

"Is Cameron there?" a voice asked.
"Bergen LaBelle, where have you been?" I answered.

You said you had just moved into a house on campus and was wondering if I could come by soon. No shame in my game, baby, I told you I'd see you sometime the next day. Looking back, I don't remember actually pulling into your driveway, or very many details of that old house on Regents Ave, but I hope I never forget the sight of you leaning your 6'6" frame against the doorway as you looked down at me. My playful fussing about you disappearing and making me miss you was instantly met with a softer, apologetic tone as you pulled me closer to you. I must have lost my bearings because I fully intended to play hard to get to teach you a lesson. Cameron Thomas would wait for no man and you would do well to remember that, buddy. Oh, but you seemed genuinely sorry about that. There wasn't enough air in the tiny space between us for me to be sure. 

Then, you put your lips on mine and every other man in this world blended into a conglomerate of Not You.
Your room back then. This one was in a series of pictures we took with the timer.
 You blushed & laughed when I pounced on you before the timer went off. 

Every few years or so, we like to skim through the letters we wrote to each other back then. They are full of the typical new lovers verbiage. Oh, we couldn't wait to see each other, we felt like there was never enough time together, flirty talk, and signing off as 'the future Mrs. LaBelle', or 'your future husband'. So cute, so innocent, so embarrassing.

Almost a year after we met, we were engaged. We got an apartment and planned a small wedding at a bed & breakfast. For the ceremony, we told the pastor that we'd like to say our own vows. But, he forgot that part...which is good because neither one of us had anything prepared. We are opposites in almost every manner, except for when it really blowing off our vows. Mine would probably have amounted to 'I never thought I'd have children or a husband, but here we are.'...awkward jokes, disappointed parents. There's no telling what you would have said, but it probably would have left everyone slightly confused after the ceremony ended. You always list pros & cons in every speech and none of us ever really know which side you're on about anything.

'Wasn't his pledge of eternal love so touching?'
'Wait, what? I thought he backed out, but, like, she was just super cool with it?'

After that, we were a family and our beginning transitioned into our middle...which almost crashed and burned into our end, but we circled back around to the beginning somehow, and here we are now. Now is my favorite time ever. We live in a modest house which would easily be a million dollar property in Los Angeles...the kids are both still under our roof, you come home for lunch every day, and life just feels so damn good. We are good. If there ever was a time I wish I could stretch into eternity, it would be now. I mean, just for us, obviously, the world is an actual dumpster fire.

My favorite nickname for you is Jerry because of the movie The Mexican. Art imitates life when it comes to the personalities of the main characters, Jerry & Sam. When my mama saw the movie even she said, 'Well, that is just you and Bergen made over.' And, it is are probably not the luckiest fella in the room and I can be...well, uhh, opinionated, passionate, loud...but we love each other enough for this lifetime and maybe even the next. It has never been boring, babe...and that is why I'm still here.

I love you, Jerry.