“I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”
— Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
I’ve been thinking about writing a book about my life journey…my memoirs, so to speak. I’ve also thought, Who in the world would be interested in reading about me? But at this age, I think there might be some things I’ve encountered, some struggles I’ve wrestled with, some wisdom I’ve gained that I could write about. Mostly it would be a chronicle of how one woman compelled by an inner “free bird,” coupled with astonishing naiveté bumbled through life and somehow lived to tell about it.
My best friend from high school, Jane suggested I could title the book, What Was I Thinking? and it could have some spicy chapters like “Places I’ve Been Asked to Leave” and “The People Most Likely to Come Visit Me in Prison.” I’ve certainly had my share of drama, like sitting in jail for four days after receiving a DUI during the height of my battle with alcohol addiction, and waking up soaked in sweat, nauseated and trembling in detox more times than I can remember.
There was the time I was guided by an angel wearing a backpack through the streets of Hong Kong on my way to the passport office, preparing to smuggle Bibles into China through the underground church there. I could write about sitting stranded in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles at a deserted gas station in the middle of the night after being left at a party with no ride home. That’s where some of the Charles Manson mishaps had recently occurred. It’s a place you don’t want to be alone. There was the time Steven Tyler from Aerosmith sat in my lap. And the time I took PCP and went on a three-day trip that nearly killed me. See? A title like “What Was I Thinking?” would be entirely appropriate.
On a kinder note, there’s the story of Garrett, his blindness, autism and gifts. But that’s a whole ‘nother book.
Anyway, back to real life here in Naples, Florida. I was mentioning in an earlier blog about how, as a single woman, I rely on God’s help to get the impossible done.
Case in point: My shipment of earthly belongings was due to arrive on Tuesday. I had scheduled them to be delivered to my mini-storage address as there were many heavy boxes that I knew I would not need here in my cousin’s condo. I was told by the shipping company that they would deliver the pallet to the mini-storage exterior but it was up to me to cut it open, unpack all the boxes and carry them inside to my rented locker. Then, it was my responsibility to dispose of the pallet. I knew the boxes were heavy because I had nearly broken my back getting them out of my house in Minneapolis, into the car and over to the shippers. I had no idea how I would unload them all in 93-degree heat with 74% humidity, much less try to jam a big pallet into my Jetta and haul that away. I mean, to where? I don’t know this town. The shipper suggested over the phone that I cut it apart there in the parking lot. “I’m sorry, but I left my ax in Minneapolis,” I snorted. “Should I have planned for a bonfire then?”
Determined not to worry, I prayed on Tuesday morning, “God, you’re my husband. Would you send some strong guys to help me get my boxes into my storage locker?”
Arriving at the mini-storage, a pleasant woman named Valerie helped me with all the paperwork needed for the locker rental. I noticed a brochure rack in her office with Christian pamphlets in it. “Are you Christians?” I asked.
“We sure are,” was her reply.
“Well, of all the mini-storage places in southern Florida, I picked you,” I said.
“They always find us,” she quipped, probably referring to the many other Christians who rented units there. I felt safer somehow.
Just then the truck driver arrived looking for a “Meez Char-r-o Tor-rena-berg.” He was a broad-shouldered, energetic, young Latino man with a square jaw and an easy grin. He greeted me enthusiastically and explained that my pallet was in the back of his semi-tractor trailer truck which was evidently too big to back into the mini-storage parking lot so he would cut open the pallet in his truck for me and if I could find some rolling carts, he would unload my boxes and deliver them inside to my locker for me. What? Really?
And that is just what he did. The mini-storage had all kinds of rolling carts and hand trucks and Mr. Cheerful Latino Delivery Guy unloaded every single box in that 93-degree heat, rolling them all into my locker space and stacking them neatly along the edges, taking great care to handle my computer box separately. He smiled the whole time, flashing extraordinarily white teeth, and effused about liking to take care of his customers. I was pretty sure he was an angel and felt so relieved and grateful for his help. He even carried my computer and printer boxes over to my car and loaded those in the front and back seats for me. “You’re gonna need a cart for that printer box when you get home, ma’am. That one’s heav-VEE!”
I gave him $20 as a small token of my appreciation which at first he declined but I insisted. On such a hot day, he might want a cold Coke or something. I asked him his name so I could give a glowing report to the shipping company about how much he helped me. “JesJuan Diaz,” he offered, “but if you do talk to my boss, don’t tell them what I deed because I’m-a not supposed to do all this for the customer.” He shrugged, “I saw you needed the help so I just deed eet.” Then he took the pallet and all the wrappings back with him in his truck and drove off into the sunset.
Yep, God sent an angel in a brown shirt and shorts with a big easy grin to save the day. Thank you, Husband. You did it again.
At last, I am pretty much all set up and running with my computers and getting caught up on design work. It’s nice to stay inside in the air conditioning and work during the heat of the day. When I first arrived here, I was all excited about finding the beach and the pool and all the nearest shopping places. It wasn’t long before I got sick from the heat and had to modify my schedule to stay indoors more, at least for now—at least for August.
I’m also learning to drive the roadways down here, observing how the Floridians drive and following their cues. Keenly aware that I have Minnesota plates on my car and wanting to be a good ambassador for my home state, I try to keep up with the speed of traffic and use good road manners. I don’t want anyone thinking, “Get outta the way! Go back to your land of ice and snow, you dumb lumberjack!” We Scandinavians have a tough enough time with our self-esteem.
Poring through issues of Naples, Gulfshore, and Coastal Living magazines, I’m exploring where the good food is, live music, and other interesting items to keep in the back of my mind as I learn about this new neighborhood. If you’re a Professional Guest, you can’t just tromp onto new turf and behave like it all belongs to you. You’re the newbie, YOU have to fit in, YOU have to learn the language and customs, and you better be a quick study or you might get pegged for something you’re not.
Today is Saturday and I am going to go to the beach. I’ll go earlier in the day this time. Last time, I went at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, lasted one hour and promptly got sick for the rest of the day. Apparently, there is still too much ice and snow in my veins for this kind of heat and humidity. My sluggish blood heated up to boiling and ran screaming through my body causing all kinds of disruptions. Best to avoid that scenario a second time if I can. Besides, it’s nice to go to the beach early. Only a few contemplative local folks there enjoying their morning routines. I will lie on the sand and contemplate the miracles that God has done for me, giving thanks especially for the angel in brown shirt and shorts who helped my life that day.