SO I MADE THESE PLANS……

Abbi’s Aussie is coming back to town on the 3rd, and I need to disappear for a month (hopefully, for good).

So…..my first thought was to head back to my beloved Bay area, the land of my people.

I made a few phone calls, and my friend Sondra James from good old CHS offered to put up with me for a week. One of my first pledge class members offered me her loft, and another week was handled. This was going to be fun.

I’m planning to do research for a couple of projects that involve the Berkeley campus, and spend time in Book Passage’s coffee shop,  just like the good old days. I could even stick around and attend a Monday night Left Coast Writers meeting.  Have Izzy’s perfect skirt steak, Izzy potatoes, and creamed spinich along with their most excellent mojito. Spend time with my writer friends. Get my sorority girls together for an evening. And there are so many harbors from Oakland to Marin or even up into the Delta that I could check out for slip fees and boats for sale. I was so excited.

Then, my friend Peggy called. It only took the sound of her voice to make me long to see her, and the term “Road Trip” came to mind. It had been so long since I’d packed up everything and hit the road. Ours is one of those beautiful friendships where no matter how long we’re apart, we’re never apart. We pick up right where we left off every time. I miss her so much. The added benefit would be to see if my body could take the necessary hours on the road. I still have problems sitting for long periods of time, and my right leg has issues with anything but cruise control, but maybe long-distance driving could work out the kinks. Plus, I have these great Lidoderm patches. Either way, we could sip wine on her back porch, talk about the absurd twists our lives have taken since we first met in ’85, play in her garden, and get that close-friend experience I miss so much. The last time I spent time with her, her baby girl Brooke was ten and I was making her repeat, “Life’s too short to drive a hard top,” enough times that she’d remember it when she turned 16. She graduated from college in May. We’re way overdue.

After spending time with Peggy in Denver, I could make the one-day drive back to Oklahoma City. I know — Oklahoma in July — not the best time of year for a visit. The locals are already complaining about the heat, and after six years in California, I’ve become a local wimp who complains when the temp hits 80 degrees. 72 degrees is perfect beach weather. I started sweating just thinking about it, but also started getting excited yet again.

It’s been years since I’ve been back. Babies have been born. “Kids” have started new businesses and returned from their Middle East military tours. I need to pick up real Thunder gear. There are so many friends I want to see…..and I miss my four sorority nieces like nothing else.  I want to see my J Robb dance and go listen to Brittney’s husband sing in a club. Meet Crystal’s husband and hug her little boy. And Lori is getting married in October. Just an afternoon with those four would warm my heart more than the Oklahoma sun. I’d love to go to Early Bird Acres to see my beautiful little Alpha Xi, Samantha Joelle Honey Lamb, who somehow evolved from the girl we deemed most likely to become a trophy wife into a self-sustaining farmer/rancher, artist, and successful photographer in remote Hobart,  and does it all in a sundress and boots. We could bake pies and catch up.  Of course, there’s always my local alumnae association, so a trip to Sarah’s back yard for margaritas, food, and laughter as well as getting to hug her menagerie of cats would be in order.  There’s Mary and Lina and their farm complete with horsies…….so many more reasons to want to go back to the place Abbi and I lived for 18 years.   I could also find out why she never received her piece of paper from Central Oklahoma stating she finally, at last graduated.

My Alpha Xi’s moved into a big sorority house from the 7-person residence they had when I left. I’d love to see that house — maybe meet some of the girls who call me “Auntie Ann” even though I’ve never met them.

And I could do research on my manuscript that already has an agent. He wants me to add more terror. I haven’t been able to rewrite it because it’s set in the Oklahoma City area that has changed considerably in the six years I’ve been gone. I need to scope out sites in the book, take pictures, get one of my nursing graduates to take me through their hospital so I could see the physical relationship between different departments and find out where high-school kids party now that “Grass Fire” is covered by a housing development.

Oh — and go to Eishen’s for their amazing fried (skinless) chicken — and Stillwater for the Hideaway’s BBQ chicken. And Eskimo Joe’s. I love the Oklahoma State campus.

I immediately started sending facebook messages and e-mails to my peeps in OKC to see who wanted custody of me. Those plans were coming together swimmingly, until……

Abbi came home last night and asked if I wanted to puppy sit for one of her friends from the 3rd to the 8th, and it sounded like she’d already kinda told them I could.

Now, I’m back to the drawing board. Rescheduling, reworking plans, and waiting to see what happens next.

I’m loving this life of unpredictibility. More than I’d ever imagined.

I still wish I could rescue Kenny G, but it doesn’t seem that’s going to happen for awhile. I’m sure none of the friends I’d be visiting would mind having his big, furry body show up with me, but returning (assuming I return at all) to Abbi’s, Nyla and Mox would be really pissed off, which would in turn get me a lecture from Abbi. My, how times have changed.

So, I’ll take a day off, go to the beach since it looks like I won’t be seeing ocean for awhile, and start refining plans tomorrow.  If the stupid settlement didn’t have a penciled-in projected final date for sometime in August, I’d hit Denver, then OK, head for Dallas, maybe take a side trip to New Mexico or Arizona to see friends,then Houston.  After spending a day or so with a couple of our University of Central Oklahoma ids in Houston and submerging my body in the balmy waters of the Gulf, I’d take a left, head to see Kristy Sullen (who was in gymnastics with Abbi at the age of 6) in New Orleans. She runs an animal rescue called “Save an Angel,” and I’d love to help her out for awhile…..and from there? I’ve got kids and friends all up the east coast and most spots in between. I’d love to spend a couple of days in Charleston, WV. It’s my hometown, and I literally escaped in ’69. Now, a different person, I’d like to return and catch up with people I didn’t even realize were my friends at the time.

Of course, there would be stops in North and South Carolina. I still am dying to go mining for gems with Lynn Crislip, want to catch up with Sherry Doss, Lynn Tincher, Margi Moses, Vicki Smith…..so many…..and spend a couple of days seeing friends in Myrtle beach; tanning myself on a chair at the surf line or parasailing by day and dancing the shag into the wee hours of the morning. The shag is so wonderfully smooth that it puts no strain on my knees or back.

A year on the road would be so much fun. The good thing about writing now is that I can do it from anywhere. Then, next fall I could take one of the Alpha Gam jobs at USC or UCLA if they still want me, and be back in Los Angeles. Strangely, I’ve grown to love this city — and being close enough to Abbi that we’re able to get together when we want, but far enough away that we’re not in each other’s space (unlike now when I’m RIGHT in her face).

Serendipity seems to suit me. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Until tomorrow, be careful out there. I’m sure there will be more changes by tomorrow.