Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My AH-mazing Trip to FL: Part 4 (the part where I explain driving 635 miles away from Mardi Gras to attend Mardi Gras and oh, yeah...the goodbye's)

"I love that your idea of morning and my idea of morning are the EXACT same thing."

It was nice to finally have a morning, and I use that term very loosely, where we didn't have to be up early and Kara didn't have to go to work.  We had made it home the night before at a resonable, which is defined by prior to sunrise, hour by our standards.  After leaving the bar we went and had Perkins.  There is just something magical about breakfast after a night of drinking.  Maybe it's the alcohol, maybe it is just how damn good that omelet was or maybe it was Kara's comfy ass bed, but I slept like a baby.  We woke up at the splendiferous (in my mind it is a word so go with it)  hour of noon and it was ah-mazing.

Kara had asked me if there was anything that I had wanted to do while I was in town visiting and I had mentioned that I would like to eat at a restaurant called Sweet Tomato's. I've got low expectations people.  It reduces the rate of disappointment.  You should try it sometime.

Needless to say, we didn't go.  It was my call though, so save the hate mail against my friend for craping on the food dream.  We ended up at Chili's which is a way better start to drinking for a Mardi Gras parade than a place that only serves soup and salad.  So now that I really think about it, I know I made the right sacrifice choice.

"I just had to go in one store to buy cranberry juice and then into a separate place called a Liquor Store to buy the alcohol....where I live we call that aisle 10 AND we can buy it 24/7."

Learning my lesson from the night of Crown and knowing that I still had to drive home the next morning I decided that I would stick with the alcohol that leaves me the most lucid after ingesting it and that would be my dear friends Abosolut and Grey Goose.  Because Mardi Gras was in full swing back in Louisiana since...oooh, January (and was pulling double duty because I don't know if you know this but the Saints won the Superbowl so we had Mardi/Lombardi Gras goin on)....I came stocked with plastic flasks that I had just caught at a parade.  I didn't think they would be as well received as they were but A) my friends are alcoholics and B) novelty items are just fun...when we got back to the house to get ready to head out to Dunedin I found that this catch was one of my favorites in all the years that I had been attending parades.

Pretty easy to fill.  If you have a funnel.  And super light to carry.

We got ready and then Kara's friends Jenn and Kate showed up it was time to bead up and hit the streets for the parade.  Ari was going to brave the cold and meet us out there so I would get a few more hours hanging with my friend.

"It's kind of sad what people will do for a $2 strand of shiney plastic beads.  I'm so happy I brought some with me."

My girl Kara on our way to the Mardi Gras parade!

 Kara's friends...and after tonight, hopefully mine ~  Kate & Jenn! 

Ari ~ ya gotta love a man that will brave the freezin cold to be out with a friend from high school and who has to get up early the next day for work!

Doug (aka "you can be my Doug)
Kara's friend and another person I'm hoping to add to my wolf pack.

Kara & Me ~ I would like to thank Air Canada for making this pairing possible!

Since Kara has amazing connections we had wonderful parking when we made it down to where the parade was at.  It was so damn cold and if it weren't for the drinks, mittens, jackets and scarves I think I would have froze to death.  When I talked to text my friends back home and told them I was going to a parade they were like "ummmm jackass, wasn't one of the whole reasons for this trip to escape the insanity that is Mardi Gras".  But what they didn't understand is I was going somewhere to see a parade where there would be no piss, vomit or gunshots.  It was like Disney's version of Mardi Gras but with alcohol.  It was all good.  

To prove how different this was from a Louisiana parade I only need to say one phrase.  Clean, accessible port-o-potties.  Yep.  And they all had toilet paper.  You didn't have to bring your own.  I may have to come back next year just to see if this was a fluke occurrence.

The port-o-potties were so clean in fact that Ari and I couldn't help ourselves from shaking them when Kara stepped in to do her business.  Yes we are childish.  Yes this made the people in the LONG line waiting to pee laugh.  Yes Kara was a little agitated.  Yes I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I don't remember the parade rolling because I was slightly intoxicated and a whole lot tired.  Ari was kind enough to shuttle me back to the house so that I could pack up and sleep before my drive back home and I left Kara, Kate and Jenn with my vehicle to celebrate without me.

"Coming home makes you remember some of the best things in life aren't as far away as you originally thought."

When my alarm sounded to let me know that it was time to get out of bed and make one more visit with an old friend I could feel a twinge in my heart.  I got ready and tried hard to not tear up.  I met up with my friend Carlos for breakfast and spent one last time face to face with a high school sweetie just trying to do a quick catch up on life.  It's really hard to cram 15 years into one breakfast but we managed, with promises to do it again the next time I'm in town and with me giving him a rash of shit for blowing me off in the days prior.  
That's the thing I love about my friends both new, old and old ones that are being rediscovered is that they all have this ball busting sense of humor that I just can't seem to get enough of.  

As I drove away I could feel that tinge again.  I rolled down the windows and turned up the radio to drive away any thought of tears.  I pulled back into the parking lot of Kara's condo for the last time, went in to grab up my luggage and loaded up my vehicle.  I told my dear friend goodbye and I was thankful that she was sleepily receiving the words I was saying.  I think a more lucid goodbye on her end would have brought the water works immediately.

I made my way out to the car and did a mental recap of all the great things that had taken place during my trip.  I knew that even if it had all gone the way I had originally planned it NEVER would have turned out as completely ah-mazing as it had.  I was thankful for every minute of lost sleep, every laugh that made my cheeks hurt and most of all the memories that are seared upon my mind and my heart.

As I pulled out and headed towards the interstate all I could think was....I don't know how, but I will be back very, very soon.  No more 2 year stretches.  I felt something change in me as I drove away from Clearwater and back towards Slidell.  By the time I was an hour or more into the drive I realized I was crying.  Not necessarily sad tears because the only thing to be sad about was the not knowing when I'd get to do it all again....


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