It probably doesn’t help that I just finished reading Stephen King’s novel “11-22-63” about traveling around in time. When I am here in Florida, I somehow feel as though I have stepped into a time-warp of sorts. Bel isn’t working, and her days seem to run together in a flow of cat food plates, letting kitties in and out of the door, a break for a cigarette, more cat play, and short store runs.
The first day I was here we delivered prescriptions to Wal-Mart. The second day I stood in line to pick them up, almost an hour for that process. Today we ambled mid-day down to Staples so I could buy a computer mouse for the laptop I sent her last month.
Tonight I think we are going to go downtown to see the First Friday Art Walk at the Downtown Square in Ocala. Those of you who know me, or even those who have read my stories for a bit of time, know that I usually am kind of attached to “getting stuff done”.
My job when here with Bel is to slow myself down and listen. To sit and knit, and wait until the time is right to do whatever I can manage to do to try to be a good friend to Bel. Yeah, it wears me out. I am not the least bit in control of anything at all. Bel’s conversation wanders, and I learn to wander along with her and learn not to tell her what she needs to do or when or how. Any idea how very hard that is for a type A person like me??!!
A good part of this morning was taken up with bathing. Bel doesn’t use her hot water heater, instead she heated up pans of water and provided me with several gallon jugs of perfectly warmed bath water to use in the shower. After 5 jugs I had a truly fabulous shower, clean hair including conditioner, and it felt just great. Reminded me of camping.
Yesterday after picking up the prescriptions I just couldn’t quite make myself go back to the house and instead I said, “How bout a trip to Micanopy”. Bel complied, as long as I stop for smoke breaks and make sure she has plenty of Mountain Dew, she is fine with a couple of hours or so in the car.
The sun was brilliant and warm coming through the car windows, and within minutes of Wal-Mart we were driving north on 336 toward Anthony and then on to MacIntosh and Micanopy, the “other” Florida. On the way, we passed through Citra, stopping for huge sweet oranges fresh from the trees.
When I was traveling the Alaska Highway, my favorite parts were the stretches without any other cars on the road and somehow in this part of Florida I get those same moments, minus the mountain grandeur of course, but still. Open road…no cars…either direction. The live oaks stretch across the road, dripping with gray Spanish moss, with vines meandering through the branches, catching all the light and reflecting it back like stained glass.
Micanopy is very nearly silent, quiet in the way it seems that only a southern town can be. Big old houses, old brick buildings now selling antiques, a bed and breakfast here and there, an ice cream shop. We park in the shade and walk the streets before being told by a storekeeper about the Thursday chicken and dumpling special across the street at the café. The bowl is styrofoam, but the chairs are “real” naugahyde and the chicken and dumplings are true south.
On the way back home, we stop at Lowe’s for something or other and are sidetracked by the garden shop, filled with blooming plants and flowers on this winter day in Florida. Bel, with her wacky sense of humor, finds a pink plastic flamingo and takes it for a ride in her cart until she finds a proper resting place for the poor guy. Time has stopped again. My real life seems far away and unreachable, in spite of the daily phone calls home. I feel a bit loose, a bit disoriented. My friendship with Bel is from another life, one I barely remember, yet still meaningful and important to honor. So here I am, in Florida, in the time warp.