Sunday, June 17, 2007

To the Timeshare and Beyond!

June 17, 2007 - Happy Father's Day!

You'll notice I don't blog much anymore. Since I left NYC nearly 17 months ago, there just isn't much to blog about here in Dullsville, USA. It's hot here in Maryland. About 90 degrees and very sticky today. Summer hasn't officially started yet, but it's here with a vengeance.

Last weekend I took an impromptu trip to New Bern, NC. My oldest and dearest friend from high school, Chris, emailed me out of the blue and said she had a week at a timeshare down there and was going to be alone for the first three and a half days of it. So I shifted my hours around at my soon-to-be-kaput job, got in the car at 0630 on Saturday and drove six hours to meet up with her.

I hadn't seen Chris since Christmas of 2000, when I traveled across country from Seattle to visit her in Charlotte, and we hadn't spoken on the phone since our birthdays last year. Chris is the most special kind of friend there is - the kind who loves and accepts you for exactly who you are. And when we see each other, whether it's been six years or six days, we pick up right where we left off. So, seeing her last week was medicine for my soul, despite our weekend turning into a comedy of errors. . . .

Although the folks in the town of New Bern were the epitome of Southern hospitality, folks were a bit chillier back at the so-called "resort." Service was rotten in the on-site restaurant (curiously named "BB Hurricane") that only catered to the locals--it was so bad that it warranted a 2-cent tip Sunday night; Chris got stuck on the interstate in a construction zone near Raleigh for like an hour on her way east; we were denied access to the 'real' pool near the golf course because "Oh you're a timeshare, you can't use this pool" and got stuck using what we euphemistically deemed the 'kiddie pool' (a policy that only started up this year); the timeshare itself was more like an enlarged hotel room with furniture dating back to the 80's-- it was nothing like the Web site photos that showed contemporary furnishings, cathedral ceilings, skylights, outdoor grills, Jacuzzi tubs, and well, you get the picture.

(For an accurate review, see Besides all that, the clouds didn't cooperate much. We didn't exactly improve our tans.

We didn't let that crap bother us. We were just glad to see each other again.

Back in 1980, when I was a mere smear 16 years old, Chris and I were close friends with another girl from our neighborhood in Virginia Beach named Missy. We all went to Kempsville High. Sadly, Chris was to move to North Carolina with her family at the end of the year. We wanted to give her something special to remember us by. So Missy and I bought one of those blank books and spent the entire summer filling it in. I don't know how we managed to keep The Chris Book a secret, but we did. We finally gave it to Chris just before she moved to Charlotte.

To this day, I re-read the whole thing every time I see Chris, and it's like reliving 1980 all over again.

In The Chris Book, Missy and I had cut and pasted photos and drawings and silly things that we conjured up and cut out of construction paper or what-have-you. We wrote about every trip to the beach on the Sunshine Special (it only cost a quarter to ride!) and other places that we went with Chris and a couple of our other friends - Ginger and Heather. We pretty much recorded the entire summer's activities in that book. And when I read it again last weekend, with Chris by my side in the timeshare, I was astounded at the number of "illegal" activities that those three young girls got into!

No, we didn't drink. No, we didn't do drugs. Nope, no sex either. It was things like toilet-papering the house down the street where some cute guys lived (at 3am). And breaking and entering (through Chris' bedroom window)--it seems Missy and I did that on more than one occasion. Oh, and trying (in vain) to steal the Astor Lane street sign for Chris to take with her to NC--with a rake, no less. A rake wrapped in a towel. When a cop drove by, we acted like we were dusting the street sign.

It was all pretty harmless. We were good kids. But we thought we were so daring. Ha! We used to stay up all night long, crimping each other's hair into dozens of tiny braids. It seems like we ate a lot of pizza and pan cookies. One night, the three of us managed to consume an entire 13x9" dish of pan cookies that contained chocolate chips, Reese's pieces, and M&M's. Gag! But we weren't concerned with calories back then - what with all that running around we did. (Ah, youth!)

So, Chris and Missy and I were pretty close. Chris left us and moved to Charlotte at the end of 1980. I recall at least one visit to her blue house in Charlotte the following year. In 1982 I went off to school at Va. Tech, Missy went to JMU, and Chris went to college in Dayton. Later, in 1985, I moved to Charlotte myself; so Chris and I stayed in touch. It was 1994 when I left that area and started moving all over the country, exploring different places and jobs from North Carolina to Seattle and back. Somehow we lost track of Missy after she went off to JMU in 1982. But Chris and I have stayed in touch.

Her unexpected call to meet in New Bern last week was just what the doctor ordered, especially since it'd been only a number of days since my entire team at work found out we were all going to be laid off at the end of June. It's been kind of a crappy month.

The trip back to Maryland for me on Monday sucked. (If I hadn't been laid off, I could've stayed through Tuesday, but I couldn't afford to miss the hours at work.) To avoid the usual horrendous D.C. traffic, I bypassed the Capitol beltway completely, going up highway 301 instead, which seemed to average one stop light every quarter-mile after I hit the MD border. Every light was red and traffic just got heavier the further north I drove. Ugh. It was the worst. I thought I'd never get home that day--not that I was looking forward to coming back to my suburban ghetto.

Of course, Martin was so happy to see me that he sat on my head and purred as soon as I relaxed in my easy chair.

That I don't mind coming home to!

Here are some very old photos that I scanned in. These were all taken in the 1980-1982 timeframe. Chrius, these are for you - from Nu-Sun.