This is my last full day in Merritt Island; Susie and I will be airborne tomorrow morning and in Columbus by noon. All of us had an excellent Christmas Day, with plenty of food, good presents, and everyone zombified in front of laptop screens by mid-afternoon.
Susie’s “big” gift from me this year was a pair of Converse High-Top Justice League of America sneakers. My major coup was a signed copy of her favorite teen/young adult novel Annie on My Mind. Its author, Nancy Garden, died last summer, so I was glad to be able to find a signed copy on Abebooks.com. Susie has read the book many times, and knows some of its passages by heart, but she was thrilled nonetheless. To make sure she remains somewhat rooted in Central Ohio, I also got her a Nite Owl Theater T-shirt.
My gift to the household was a dog bed for Rex, the Jack Russell terrier. The dog repaid my generosity by biting me on the foot (fortunately, I was wearing a shoe) when I came into the house from an errand at Cumberland Farms (the Florida equivalent of 7-Eleven). On Christmas Eve, Susie baked an excellent four-cheese lasagna, but we rolled back to the house stuffed from lunch at a Chinese buffet in Viera, so none of us felt like eating afterward.
Susie was able to combine both my love of books and my comparatively recent habit of record
hoarding collecting into one gift, a trade paperback by Brett Milano called Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting. I haven’t started to read it yet, but I belong to several vinyl enthusiasts’ groups on Facebook, and I must admit some envy whenever I hear that someone found a first pressing of Elvis Presley (RCA Victor LPM 1254) from 1956 at a yard sale or Salvation Army, and paid $.50 for it. I go to Goodwill or Volunteers of America and I am inundated with the 101 Strings, Jerry Vale, Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, and Lawrence Welk records.
Susie also has ensured that my diary will continue for at least 800 pages. She bought me four 200-page composition books (and left the price stickers on the covers–they were $.24 apiece!). Unfortunately, I will not be christening the first of them on New Year’s Day next Thursday. I have 53 pages left to fill in my current journal (which, ironically, I bought at Barnes and Noble here last Christmas!), and then I’ll continue in the ones Susie bought me.
We decided to postpone Susie’s blood work (her physician wants to check her thyroid and blood sugar levels) either until she comes to Ohio with me, or until she returns to Florida on the fourth of January. The lab near the Barnes and Noble which is Susie’s HQ here is out of my insurance network, and the co-pay would have been unnecessarily expensive.
What we could not postpone was finishing her AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Family Scholarship. It had to be postmarked by New Year’s Eve, so Susie worked like mad to finish her essay and to obtain letters of recommendation from two people. Before Christmas break began at school, her guidance counselor gave her a sealed envelope with her transcript (there was even a sticker across the flap, saying Invalid if seal is broken). If I had been the guidance counselor, I would have had more flair for the dramatic, and used a signet ring and hot wax for the seal.
We had some major technical difficulties with printing her essay and one letter of recommendation (sent as a .pdf file). The printer jammed, ran out of paper, and was incorrectly plugged into Susie’s laptop. In addition, Susie has to relearn the laptop she is currently using. Her present one is (temporarily, I hope) out of business because she tipped over almost a full cup of tea on its keyboard when we were at Barnes and Noble. (It’s odd–everything lights up except the keyboard.)
Once everything was printed and organized, Susie and I rode Space Coast Area Transit (what an unfortunate acronym it has!) to Office Depot, copied everything, and put it in the mail. I was so relieved–as was Susie, I am sure–to see that our job in this application has ended, and we can now pass the baton to the USPS.
So… Susie and I have earned this time at Starbucks. We’re across from each other with laptops in front of us. I have abstained from carbonated beverages since May, but I’ve more than made up for it with sweet tea. I’m on my third or fourth cup of shaken sweet tea (I give it a four-star rating, by the way). I also wanted to celebrate passing this hurdle by spending some money at the A+ Thrift Shop for Education around the corner, but it’s closed. This shop benefits Merritt Island High School, so I could rationalize buying crap I don’t need by reassuring myself I was helping Susie’s high school.
Tomorrow morning, Susie and I will be on a Southwest Airlines flight back to Columbus. Susie is in telephone and email contact with friends of hers to plan get-togethers, and I am sure she will be a frequent guest at Kafé Kerouac and other places in the Olde North neighborhood.
And I can’t call myself a snowbird, even a temporary one, because there has been very little sun during my brief visit, and because the temperatures in Columbus have not been below freezing the entire time I’ve been here.