I caught a glimpse of the blushing horizon through my window this morning... a soft orange-pink glow just above the tree line, so similar to the sunrises that greeted me the past three mornings, except they reflected on the shimmery surface of of the Gulf of Mexico and led into days of sun and fun with friends.
With this morning's sunrise I stepped into a new week, fresh from a long weekend on the coast. I've been soaking up the sun and relishing days spent with an extended sisterhood of new and long-time friends, a blending of the corners of my life.
There were cool early mornings spent shooting photographs of the morning light on everything around me and jogging beside the waves and the seagulls... hours and hours lying on the sun, walking on the beach, playing in the waves, talking and listening... evenings eating, drinking, dancing, and more talking... with lots of laughter sprinkled throughout (most of that thanks to Gina - voted Wittiest once again!)
It would be tough to top the excitement of last year's trip...the surprise visit from Laura Bush, chit-chats with Secret Service men, and the Stoney LaRue concert... but this weekend took on its own special touch because of so many new faces... mostly friends of mine from high school but also some I had never met before. Leading up to the trip, I was a bit worried about being stretched between "groups", but that worry flew away with the seagulls sometime Thursday night when everyone first met.
And the weather... absolutely perfect!
The only "down" sides to the weekend were the maniacal mosquitoes (not on the beach, thank goodness!) and the lack of sleep. I rolled in last night totally exhausted and have to admit I was grumpy to Tom, even though he had thrown out his back (again!) I know it's because I tried to pack as much into the four days as I could, but next time I'll make sleep more of a priority. Tom deserves better than that from me, poor guy.
This morning I felt nervous, like a kid on the first day of school: I had jury duty for the very first time in my life. I've only been called once before, but since I was a stay-at-home mom I was excused and I've been waiting and hoping to be called again for a long, long time! It irritates me when people complain about it and try to get out of it - it's part of what makes our country unique and strong, I believe, and it's also our civic duty to serve on a jury if we're chosen.
But I was called to serve downtown. I wasn't sure where to park, what to wear... so many unknowns! Per Tom's suggestion, I parked at Daniel's apartment and rode the bus to the courthouse. Riding the Metro - another first! And I was so nervous about it!
Now, back in 1976 I mastered London's Tube and the Metro of Paris. I rode buses all over both cities, as well as several other major metropolitan areas. I rode trains across Europe. Back then I had no problem figuring out routes and schedules - why was I so nervous now?
Thank goodness Daniel took my advice and learned to ride the buses to and from campus so that I could now benefit from what he had learned. His roommate directed me to the right stop; a tattooed young man on a bike (I'll call him Stan) who was also waiting on the bus assured me any of them would get me downtown and then we discussed the American jury system while we waited.
I hopped on, slipped my dollar bill into the fare slot and plopped into an empty seat next to Greg (he introduced himself.) I peppered him with questions (how will I know when it's my stop?) and he said he'd keep an eye out for 11th for me and let me know. He even told me he had been nervous the first time he rode the bus but I think that was just to make me feel better.
I chatted his ear off until it was my stop. He pointed out the courthouse and pulled the cord for me. Stan, a few seats ahead, caught my eye and gestured that it was my stop - two guardian angels!
In the courthouse, I had to strip off my belt and send my purse through an x-ray tube, then step through a metal detector. BEEP! Step over here, please... I passed the wanding, but then Do you have a pair of fold-up scissors in your purse? After discussion (It's your call, Bill.)the guards decided to let me keep them and I finally headed up the elevator to the 8th floor.
Chairs lined the walls of a large room, occupied by dozens of silent people. I looked around then asked no one in particular, This is my first time here- are we supposed to check in anywhere or just sit down?
One nice man told me we just had to sit and wait, so I sat beside him and he showed me and the women on his other side photos of his granddaughter on his iPad until the double doors open, we were assigned numbers and filed into the courtroom.
Hours later, I was rejected. I have a feeling it had something to do with my brother Buster being shot - it was an aggravated assault case and they asked if we knew anyone who had been a victim of aggravated assault. Um, yes. I didn't even mention the time my sister was attacked by two women while she was sitting in her car at a red light. I didn't want to ruin all my chances of being picked!
I headed out of the courthouse and found the bus stop Daniel had directed me to for the return trip, jumped on and off the right one like a pro and walked to Daniel's apartment, grateful I was called during sunshine weather, not rain. (No angels on this bus, but it was a prime spot for people-watching. Austin's motto isn't "Keep Austin Weird" for nothing!)
After regaling Daniel and his roommate with my bus and courtroom stories, and giving Daniel a hug, I headed home... with a quick stop at Ace Hardware to buy a back brace for Tom. Gotta make up for yesterday's grumpies (and I know he doesn't want flowers!)
It was a beautiful weekend and an adventurous Monday, but it's back to "normal" tomorrow. I think I'm ready. Maybe even relieved...
A beautiful blend of ages and corners of my life, plus a few new ones to tuck away in there (but missing Cheryl - couldn't get her into the picture!)... photo by Bill (thanks, Gina!)
More photos to come here and on Confessions... later. Time for bed! My wish is for all of you to be blessed with such wonderful friends and weekends of memories as I have been with these...