I just spent 4 days away from home without a computer. It was enlightening. There was a time when that would not have effected me in the least. This trip, however, revealed that I have changed . . . evolved. I have become more dependent on my computer and the contacts it allows me than I realized. I now have pages on social networking sites, this blog, and a Twitter address. I have old friends that I am now in contact with on a far more regular basis and new friends who keep me entertained and informed.
This is new for both me and my husband. He doesn’t participate in all these things. Sometimes, it actually bothers him that I do. I told him he has only himself to blame for that, which puzzled him greatly. I explained that I have always been a rather gregarious person, but that in middle age the fibromyalgia had begun to wear me down. I was too tired to have contact with friends. After I married him, my health improved enough that I do enjoy these things again. Now he wonders if I’ve changed and I have to explain. It’s a bit frustrating. I think he resents the time I spend engaged with other folks — sort of “time jealousy.”
This past weekend we took a short trip to Tampa, FL. We left on Thursday afternoon. Our seats on the right side of the plane gave us an astounding view of rainbows in the clouds. It brought to mind a John Denver song which has the line, “Chasing rainbows in the setting sun.” I understood it now.
My stepdad, who had been battling esophageal cancer, was not doing well. I told my husband that, if we did go on this trip that was already paid for, I would have a message waiting for me when we got off the plane to tell us he had passed away. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. And based on the time of the call, he passed just as the plane landed. Fortunately, the calling hours were not planned until Tuesday of the following week. We would be home Sunday night, so other than making the minimal plans necessary for someone who did not want a funeral, we wouldn’t miss anything.
It was lovely weather when we landed in Tampa and we decided to go to an extra Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. They played the NY Islanders. The first period was awful, especially for the Lightning, which is my favorite team. I was tempted to start feeling depressed. But the next two periods were far better. My favorite player, Martin St Louis, had a goal and an assist. They played with energy and won the game. We went to check in to the Homewood Suites in Clearwater, just outside Tampa, after the game.
The next day dawned sunny and fairly warm, but the meteorologists had predicted a downhill trend. We decided to head up to Tarpon Springs for some Greek food for lunch. The drive was nice. It has just started to rain lightly as we ducked into the restaurant. By the time we finished our tasty and filling meal, the light rain had turned to a tropical deluge. We got out the umbrella and continued to walk through some of the shops. By the time we got back to the car, our pant legs and shoes were soaked. It was a relief that the car heater worked well. We dried off as we continued to drive around.
One of the things we were looking for was a place we’d like to stay when my husband retires. Yes, we have decided to become “snowbirds.” I said it would never happen but I was wrong. I woke up one day this winter and knew I could not take these cold winters any longer than I have to. When I told my husband, he surprisingly agreed! I had not expected that. Since my husband is only 52, we still have a bit of a wait for his retirement. I hope I make it!! We finally got so tired of the rain, we went back to the hotel and worked out in their exercise room. I checked my email on the computer in the hotel’s business center, then went upstairs to read.
Saturday dawned sunny but cool and breezy. No problem! It was still warmer at 59 degrees than it was in Massachusetts. However, there was a slight issue with the day. Apparently the transformers for electricity to the hotel needed to be replaced and the power company had chosen that Saturday as the best time to do it. The hotel would have no power between 11 am and 3 pm. No problem, we thought! We decided to take a drive down the Gulf Coast on the barrier islands. There is one park we are particularly fond of and we headed to Sand Key first. We walked the beach and collected a few shells. My husband practiced with his new camera. I even let him take a picture of me. When the wind picked up and it got chillier, we headed back to the car. We drove south as far as St Petersburg and checked the map for something to do. We discovered an incredible park – Veteran’s Memorial Park. Aside from the tank we found in its midst, it was just a beautiful place to spend time out of doors. Again my husband went to see what he could photograph. I, however, decided to read in the car. The sun was warm and relaxing.
We located a place that I could send a book to a friend. This did not make my husband happy (he is worried that the friend is going to hurt me – my husband is very protective!) but I insisted. You may have read about my friend if you’ve read my recent posts. He’s an active alcoholic and has been very mean lately. I try not to take it personally though in all honesty, it does hurt. Still, he is my friend and I will do what I can. I really thought he would enjoy the book. My husband had refused to drive me the hour to his house (probably wisely), so I wanted to mail the book. It really got him off my mind once I did.
We stopped at a local eatery, the Crab Shack on Gandy Blvd, on our way back to the hotel to change. Wonderful food, diner-like efficiency and creative local ambience. Great meal! When we got back to the hotel about 3:15 pm, there was still no power. Okay, no shower now. No treadmill. No email check. 4 hours til the game. What to do?
We decided to park on the causeway that we would take over to the game. It has a beach along one side. Again I watched the bay and read. My husband walked the beach with his camera. He found some fascinating birds, great waves and sky and best of all, seven eggs on the shore. They must have been sea turtle eggs. We finally left for the game.
The plaza outside the St Pete Times-Forum, where the Lightning play their games, is the most rocking place in the NHL. Since we’ve been to 19 different arenas, we do have some basis for comparison. There is always great music, food and an energy that is difficult to leave when it is game time! Tonight the Lightning were playing the Calgary Flames, a rematch of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals (which the Lightning won due to the incredible play of Martin St Louis!). The game really started out badly again. However, the Lightning pulled out a win in the end. Two wins in two games. I think that was a record for us. By the time we got back to the hotel, the power was on.
The flight home was uneventful aeronautical. The events centered on my husband, who became very sad as we flew home. At first I thought it was because he wanted more time in Florida and wished he could retire immediately. But when I asked, I found out that it was due to the fact that I am changing and evolving — and he feels like he isn’t. He feels bad that I have other friends and my life doesn’t center around him all the time anymore. We talked — or more correctly I talked as a result of God’s grace pouring through me. I knew all the words weren’t coming from my consciousness. By the time we landed in Hartford, he was in a much better place. And so was I.
We will get to Florida for the winter eventually. Until then, we’ll enjoy wherever we are.