I took a business trip today. Well, the kind of business trip that you get to take when you’re a writer. I drove up into the Ocala National Forest with two terrific companions (Zelda and R) and took a nice hike along a wilderness trail that is located at just about exactly my imagined site for the town of Tassamara. It was a search for inspiration.
Sadly, I cannot say that I was inspired. But I did have a really nice time.
Afterward, we drove up to Gainesville and met Maguire at Depot Park. I used Trip Advisor to find a nearby restaurant with gluten-free options & we called and ordered to go, then walked a little more than half a mile up the road, through downtown Gainesville, and picked it up, then walked back to Depot Park where we ate at a picnic table in the sunshine. Well, technically in the shade, but figuratively in the sunshine, because it was a typical sunny Florida 70-degree, beautiful blue sky day. Gotta love Florida in January.
Gainesville was terrific, too. It’s not a city where I’ve spent any time and if you’d asked me what I thought it would be like, based on what little I knew about it, I would not have expected brick-lined streets, cute restaurants, a fantastic playground, and plenty of small children and random dogs.
My own personal dog did a fantastic job on our walks — we paused often, and did discuss whether carrying her was an option, but she persevered. (The discussion was between R and me, not Z and me — Z’s opinion of being carried is always pretty low.) At the restaurant, I asked for a bowl of water for her and the waitress very enthusiastically brought her some water in a take-out container. But I was still inside paying, and Z declined to drink until I came out. Then she was happy to have it. On Z’s scale of priorities, though, my presence ranks above water, even when she’s thirsty. It makes me think of that t-shirt, the one that says, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” I’m not sure I’m capable of being the center of the universe for anyone other than her, though (which is probably a really good thing, actually.)
Yesterday R and I went out to lunch at what used to be our favorite sushi restaurant in Winter Park. It was fantastic. I think I’d almost forgotten how good really good sushi can be. On the way home, we drove by our old house, just to look at it. The new owner (not really new anymore) has painted it a much more sedate color — a gray blue, with a red door — and changed some of the landscaping. I was glad because the pang of loss was a lot less intense than the last time I saw it. I didn’t love it anymore. As we drove away, I realized that even though I’ve missed my house many times in the past years, I wouldn’t go back, even if I could. It was a good house for what I needed at the time, but it’s not what I need anymore, or even what I want. I’m always going to remember my back porch and my kitchen with nostalgic pleasure, though.
I feel like I started this blog post with a lot more to say, but it was a long day with a lot of driving, and I’m feeling very ready to read a book instead. Maybe I’ll remember everything else I wanted to write about tomorrow!