Our FTTW Vacation
by Turtle Jones
Sometimes even the most jaded souls can find each other and realize that they were never jaded, well maybe they were, maybe they would never stop being being jaded, but when they meet, it was always like they were. The whole time. Just in different situations asking why they wanted to keep going on with this this life while someone on the other side of the world was wondering the same thing. Let's face it, life fucking sucks sometimes and sometimes you have to go thru living hell to hell to find what you knew was there the entire time but things held you back.
But they were there the whole time.
Turtle's vacation story:
Plane flights and promises. She wanted something for her birthday and I am the kind of guy who doesn't ask what someone needs, I get what they really want, but are afraid to ask. Little words shot back and forth gave me a clue. She wanted me there. In New York. Not only in New York, but Long Island.
Fuck. I've been to New York a lot, but Long Island? No mien readers, never been there. Something about some cannibal killer or the Amityville house was all I knew of it. But other then that all I could assume was that it was an island.
See, I'm quick like that.
I used to fly almost every week, just settling in and popping valiums, but since I don't do that stuff anymore, I was kinda dreading it. This high security shit was way out of hand as I was pulled aside because of all the metal I had on me. Converse high tops. BUZZ. Metal belt. BUZZ. Lighters. BUZZ.
Christ, I know I didn't look like a terrorist, so just let me thru. Anyways, 6 or so hours later I ended up in JFK or whateverthefuck they are calling it now. I won't lie. The first thing I did was light a cigar and take a few huge drags to get the "Required Turtle Nicotine Dose" in me before I called Michele.
We hugged and held and she, as usual, cried as we kissed like teenagers behind the classrooms in high school. For ten minutes we held as I set down my cigar. I don't set my cigar down cept for something special. So she must have been something special. This girl must have been special. We kissed and stroked each others hair and gazed into each others eyes. Walking hand in hand to find her car.
And we were off.
Basically I can adapt to anything, but this town was weird. This wasn't the New York I was used to. It was too...nice. I'm not saying that in a bad way. It was kind of pleasant. Middle class houses and nice streets. She took me to her house. Showed me her toys; she has a lot, and slowly prepared me to meet her family. Could I handle it?
Like I could care. One look in her eyes and not another soul on the earth lived. It was just she and I and the George Foreman grilling machine, which is pretty cool if you didn’t know it. But, it was just us that mattered right then and there.
The way she walked and talked and laughed and smiled and put up with my cigars and helped me out when I needed help told me we would be a great team. The best. Waking up to see someone crying cause she loves you so much is a powerful feeling. Makes you want to borrow her car and drive to Vegas.
One thing I will tell you about her that always bugged me is that she goes out of her way to cook meals for her kids every night tired or not. That wasn't going to happen with me. I was cooking for her. Hamburger Helper and the grilling machine were in heavy use. She never goes out to dinner? Bullshit. She will with me. Get in the car and let's go. No one buys her flowers? Bullshit. I used to be a florist. Go ahead. Make fun of me. A colorblind florist.
Actually, that is pretty funny.
I wasn't going out of my way to make her smile. This is just what I do. I get bored and like to cheer people up. Well, not everyone. Just Michele. Don't ask me for one of my cigars unless you’re named Michele. Cause these cost a buck a pop and my Cubanrollars skipped town after "la migra" raided my cigar plant.
One day we woke up to a, well the only thing I can call it, was a monsoon. She was terrified of it and I saw it in her eyes. I held her and tried to make the best of the situation. Some tape, a pencil and a little flag and the USS Turtle was born! The streets were flooded and the rain was pouring down. She was smiling as I built my little ship. So I did it. I walked outside and floated it down the mighty river to find its booty of gold. It didn't stay up too long but even Blackbeard had some ship issues every once in awhile.
I walked back inside soaking wet and looked her in the eyes and kissed her. Michele was happy. So Turtle was happy.
Her birthday was coming up and I already gave her my most prized possession, the talking Tick, so my gift was done, but her dad was having a Michele party at his house. Great. Meet the fam. All I can say is Italians are fucking loud. Her dad is a distinguished Ex Fire Chief who has an office on his back deck with a TV and a fridge with some chairs. And a pool. Cool office.
I know how to get in good with the pops, I've done this before, so I bought him a few cigars and a BBQing book. See, greasing the wheels. We spent the whole night talking with Michele asking me if everything was ok as I held my own. Italians talk too fast. I'm deaf. I talk slow. I say dude alot. They have funny accents. I talk perfect English (yes I do Michele). Culture clash. And jesus they eat alot. Like seven courses. I was raised that you eat anything, that if someone took the time to make the food for you, you eat it. So I was eating all kinds of sea things. Actually, it was pretty good. Her dad is a kick ass cook.
As the night ended, we realized this was the last night to be together on our vacation. We both fell asleep sad and happy. Sad cause it was over. Happy cause it was just the start.
At the airport, we hugged for about 20 minutes before I had to go. Tears streaming down her face.
I kissed her one last time and whispered in her ear.
"I'll be back around."
Turned my feet and walked away. Not looking back at her because I wanted the last memory in my mind to be me her kissing her lips.
And her saying "I know," in my ear. - T
For 21 days - since the flight to New York was booked - the clock ticked at an excruciatingly slow rate. Looking at the date. The time. Tick. Tick. It never seemed to move. The closer the date got, the slower time seemed to go. And then. Standing outside the Jet Blue terminal. Passenger Pickup 2. Walking toward him, both of us on the phone, him looking for me, me telling him I was coming up behind him. He turns around. We close our phones. We meet. We kiss. We wrap our arms around each other and I hold my breath trying not to let the moment go. Time finally stops. The ticking stops. The world drops from under us and for a brief moment, there is nothing but us. No terminal, no people, no other sounds, nothing. Just two people who made time stop when they kissed. And then everything shifts back into place and the world comes into focus again, the sights and sounds pick up and we walk hand in hand to the car, talking and laughing as if we had done this a million times before, as if we had always been together. The clock was still ticking, but I no longer cared.
The next four days are a blurry mixture of things. Showing him the Island. Thinking he could tame the Atlantic Ocean. Grape sodas and New York bagels and lox. His fascination with the George Foreman grill. Stopping him from throwing water balloons at my cat. Smoking cigars on the side of my house and meeting my brother in law out there at 1am. Making me dinner - hey, Hamburger Helper rocks - and buying me flowers (which he arranged himself). Finally seeing all those tattoos up close. Playing Gauntlet on the GameCube, breaking down those walls and shooting the enemies together as a team and thinking we make a pretty good pair and then him kicking my ass at NHL 2001 about twenty times. Watching the Big Lebowski and Revenge of the Sith and Return of the King and thinking, jesus we are nerds. Having so much fun together. Just enjoying each other’s company and being comfortable and not self-conscious at all the way I thought I would be. Just turning at odd times and smiling at each other, each of us thinking, we made it. We did it. Waking up in the middle of the night and seeing him there next to me and thinking, I could get used to this. Watching a monsoon come through town, the office room flooding and him sailing the USS Turtle down my street. Spending my birthday playing video games and watching movies together which, in my world, is kind of like heaven. Then a family birthday dinner where he got to meet everyone and charmed the hell out of them. Committing to memory all the little things. The way he smiles at certain times. How soft his skin is. How clear his eyes are. The feel of his arm around my waist. The smile lines on his face when he laughs. Always asking me if I needed anything, if he could do anything for me. Always smiling. The way his voice trails off as he's falling asleep and the way he goes from awake to deep coma in about three seconds flat. And knowing that even though he spent four nights with me and got a taste of my family and put up with my crying jags and my fear of thunder and my stupid cat meowing all night long, he still wants to marry me.
And then it was over. Saturday, the ticking of the clock was back and I swear it was moving too fast. Six hours. Five hours. One hour? And then we were at the airport standing in front of the Jet Blue terminal while he smoked a cigar and I tried not to cry. Up to the gate and again time stopped, just for a few brief seconds, while we kissed and held each other and he promised me he would be back real soon, for good this time and I reminded him that we have a wedding to plan. I told him that when he came back we would get him his very own George Foreman grill and I laughed while I tried not to cry, but trying and doing are two different things. He whispered to me "I'll be back around" and I whispered back "I know." And the last I saw of him he was smiling at me and I walked away quick so as not to see him turn around and walk through the gate. I cried walking back to the parking garage and as I waited for the elevator in the garage a man asked if I was ok and when I nodded his wife turned to him and said “There’s always tears at the airport.” I guess. You always get tears with me no matter what, just ask Turtle. And then I was on the Belt Parkway, making my way back home, my car smelling like cigars and that was fine with me.
I got home and the first thing I noticed was that he left one of his shirts. I held on to it. Smelled it. Smells like turtle. But why this shirt? He could have left any other shirt here and I would just take it and keep it and sleep in it every night til he came back, but no. He had to leave his lucky golf shirt. “I love you,” he said to me later, “but dude. That’s my lucky golf shirt. I need it back.” Damn it all. I crawled into bed and my pillow smelled like his hair and I smiled and thought, I just had the greatest week of my life. The greatest birthday ever. Spending time alone with the person you love, just doing things that make you both laugh and make you both happy and stopping every once in a while to smile at each other or kiss and just appreciate the moment. That's awesome. And it’s just the beginning. That was just a taste of what the rest of my life is going to feel like.
In the morning I found a 1/4 full can of grape soda on the kitchen counter. I left it there. It stands there still. Waiting for him to come back for it. I’m not touching it (at least til the flies start gathering). So much here to remind me of his presence. The flowers. The Tick. His shirt (ok, you’ll get it back). The smell of cigars in my car. The little maze of notes he left on my computer. The whispered words - “I’ll be back around” - that play in my head over and over. The last smile at the airport. Knowing that the airport goodbye wasn't an end. It's just the beginning.
He'll be back around. - M