STAGE 2

For the last week I’ve had the unbelieveable pleasure of spending time with my friend, Peggy Coen in Denver. In all my moving around,only two places have felt like “home;” Denver and Berkeley. Though I’ve enjoyed other places, there’s something about these two that soothes my soul.

Peggy and I met during a time when I knew my marriage was circling the drain and took part-time jobs at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center while attending college at night. She was my supervisor at a new assignment.

When she arrived that morning, I went to her door, knocked, was invited in, and sat down. The first words out of my mouth were, “What I need is a good affair.”  Before we even exchanged names. Don’t have a clue where the words came from, but we became instant friends. She nursed me through my divorce, learning to be a single mother with no emotional support from family or financial support from my AF officer ex-husband.  She was going through an interesting time, too, and we had daughters who were about 5 & 6.  When life was getting us down we’d head to McDonalds, order the most disguesting thing on the menu and talk about locking our kids in a closet — drawing turned heads from every direction. Of course, we never actually locked Abbi & Ashley in closets, but gross food had to be punctuated by ridiculous conversation. Talking about circumsizing our husbands up to their elbows wasn’t an option back then.

The last time we spent time together was about 1999.  Yet, every time we pick up the phone, it’s like we’ve never been apart. We’re so different yet so much alike, and I treasure her friendship more than she’ll ever know.

We took a road trip a couple of days ago to Estes Park (one of my favorite places on earth), through Rocky Mountain National Park, then to a wonderfully-hidden Hot Springs with 24 different pools, all with different mineral sources. We spent the night in a room with aqua metal furniture I’m pretty sure hadn’t been changed since 1920, and I got to go to sleep to the sound of a train rumbling close by along with hearing its mournful whistle — comforting sounds for someone who spent summers in Tioga, WV and heard them all day and every night…..disconcerting to those who didn’t. I slept through all but one. Peggy, not so much.

We got back last night and her precious daughter, Ashley — who had been Abbi’s friend when we lived in Denver until ’88 — along with her adorable fiance, Brett, joined Peggy, myself, and Peg’s younger daughter, Brooke (who is fondly called “Junior”) for a great steak dinner and rousing game of ladderball. I was the scorekeeper.

Tomorrow morning I head to Oklahoma City for Stage 2 of my adventure.  First stop will be to visit my friends Mary & Lina at MiniHaHa Ranch. Hopefully, her mare will wait until I get there so I can experience my first horsie birth.  Their ranch and Mary’s mother’s house (how I wish Cookie was still here) will be my home base.  Plans are in the works to spend time with my sorority “nieces” and their “family” of bigs and littles, special time with Kenneth & Lori along with their precious baby Tripp, who somehow got to be an 11-month old without asking permission. With any luck at all, that visit will include more of my University of Central Oklahoma “kids.”  I’ll see Abbi’s friends who used to spend weekends sleeping wall to wall on every available inch of bed and floor space.  I may even get to spend time with some people over 32. You never know.  There may be time to move in with Jenni and Jason Hawkins, their 3 kids and assorted pets — all with names starting with “J”.  Jenni & Jason are both coaches; their kids are all jocks. It’s hard to figure out when they spend time together.

Raising Abbi alone was tough. I made more mistakes than I’ll ever know.  In so many ways, I’m glad her dad wasn’t involved. As a recovering Catholic (with other issues we won’t ever duscyss), he was judgmental and extremely critical and Abbi could not have become Abbi if he had been in her life on a constant basis.

Oh, my social life took a hit. It was hard for a single guy with no kids to deal with picking me up to find 30 or so kids waiting to check him out, or show up expecting to spend a quiet afternoon with me and discover an impromptu BBQ/swim party complete with guys jumping off the roof into the pool.

But because of those times, I’ve been blessed to have Chris, Kelly, Danielle, Angela, ChiChi (my little Enchilada), Kenneth, Lori, Raymond, Lori (Lori’s little sis), Jenni and Jason (who took Abbi to her first frat party at 13), Kristin, JRobb, Brittany, Crystal, another Lor, Dayna…….way too many to name, and they spent their lives training me to begin my life living with even more college kids in ’06.

I’m still hoping to get a call from a sorority at USC about a fall job, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m sure it will be an interesting, exciting, fun-filled year with me learning to be spontaneous again.

I recently learned that Santa Monica allows people to sleep on the beach. The lifeguard called them “vagrants,” which I think is a pretty strong word for someone who just wants to sleep on the beach, but I think I want to do just that for at least one night. I’ve discovered a spot north of Santa Monica and Will Rogers beaches that is pretty secluded and difficult to access. But I’m far from the left coast right now, so that won’t be happening soon. Maybe someone in Oklahoma will let me sleep on their boat for a night. We’ll see.

So, until tomorrow, sing along with me…..”On the road again…….”