So after our lovely time in South Carolina, we were due in Jacksonville for Eric’s mother’s birthday. We got off to a late start from Point South, and I was typing keys in a frenzy while Eric and Petey broke camp for us.
The RV door slammed. Eric jumped into his seat.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Ready!” I said.
And off we went, for about one minute. Something didn’t seem right to me. Something small and black and white and hairy all over with only one good eye.
“Eric, where’s Petey?”
“OH SHIT!” Eric said.
(Is it just me, or does Eric say this a lot, y’all????)
He slammed on the brakes, almost putting my laptop through the front window. But that was fine with me. Eric had left Petey in South Carolina, and I had to go back and find him.
Note: We had not technically exited the RV park yet, but, if we had, and, if we had driven another 30 miles, we would have been out of South Carolina and potentially sans Petey. And Eric had left Petey. And we were in South Carolina.
I hit the muddy ground running. “PETEY!” I yelled, then stopped to whistle. I totally can’t whistle while I’m running. If any of you can, be sure to mention it in the comments. I think that is scientifically impossible.
Anyway, I whistled and called, but no Petey. Petey could be in Georgia by now. I wasn’t in a full panic yet, but it was coming fast. Eric had joined me.
“Y’all looking for that little black and white dog that barked at me this morning?” a man’s voice asked, the drawl thick, and the corn poned.
“Maybe!” Eric said.
“Yes!” I said.
“He’s right over,” the man leaned out of the snazzy golf cart he was driving and pointed into the trees past the Bookmobile’s old spot, “there. See ‘im?”
We squinted and peered into the woods. Nothing. Nothing. NOTHING. And then, like a Tasmanian devil, Petey barreled toward us, tongue lolling through an ear to ear grin, back feet overtaking front as he ran.
I turned with my eyebrows raised to Eric.
He grinned. “There he is,” he said.
I managed a quick eyeroll and then put my hands out for Petey to bulldoze into, and I led him safely back into the Bookmobile. Eric followed us.
“You haven’t seen my sunglasses, have you?” he asked.
“I think you left them in South Carolina with the dog,” I sniffed.
“Pamela, we’re still in South Carolina.”
I let him look for a few minutes, then reached into the bottom cubby of the console and handed them to him.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Hrmph,” I replied.
We made it to Jacksonville with no further mishap. Soon it was time to celebrate with his mother at a nearby restaurant.
“I need my glasses,” Eric whispered to me, when we got there. “Have you seen them?”
“Maybe you left them in South Carolina too,” I whispered back. Hey, I was just trying to be helpful. But I dug into my purse and handed him the case.
He smiled. All was right in his world. We dined with family from Sweden, Miami, Houston, and Jacksonville, and a great time was had by all. We even capped it with a fabulously fun book signing at Barnes and Noble in Jax, where I had the honor of finding a reader waiting for me when I got there, a lovely woman and an animal lover extraordinaire, like me. As with most places I go, we had Cruzans show up, too. And family, friends, and new readers/friends. Pics below.
We got up to leave Jax early on Saturday, because we had planned my whole summer route around the birthday in Jax and a wedding in Houston, the wedding of a close Cruzan friend and his lovely fiancee.
I carried my last load of our things out to the Bookmobile in the dark. Eric was close behind me. He shut the door behind him. He set down his bags and started rooting around in the Bookmobile, looking for something, as per usual.
“What?” I asked him.
He kept digging through cup holders and stacks of paper. He muttered under his breath.
“What?” I asked again.
He threw up his hands. “I can’t find the keys. But don’t say anything about South Carolina.”
I smiled sweetly. As if. “And if I find them, what do I get?”
“A ride to the airport.”
I reached in the bottom cubby of the console. “You should probably check here first next time. You seem to like to put things here.” I scooped the keys up and tossed them to him.
“Thanks for the advice,” Eric said.
We dropped a very sad Petey off at a posh pet palace and parked the Bookmobile in a coupla three spaces. Then off we jetted to Nashville, where we had a short layover. We were due to arrive in Houston around 3:00, which meant we would have to hustle home by taxi to grab our car and boogie out to the wedding and reception which was about 45 minutes away. We had 30 minutes of flexibility in the schedule, maybe as much as an hour.
Except our flight was delayed due to the mechanical problems of our plane, which as of yet was still in Chicago or Dallas or Atlanta or somewhere.
No sweat. We’d still make it. We worked the laptops. I bought some socks to keep my feet warm.
Except our flight got delayed again. More mechanical problems. This time it looked like we’d be late for the ceremony.
We checked alternate flights. None were to arrive earlier. Well, no sweat. Cruzans are never on time anyway, and I had certainly married one. We checked off the last few critically late items from our to-do lists and felt virtuous. I bought a new outfit.
Except our flight got delayed again. The mechanical problems had been fixed, and then when the plane got to the runway, yep, more mechanical problems. Now we would be late for the reception.
We bought dinner, overtipped the country artist who’d been playing for six straight hours, worked ahead into next week, and started worrying.
A nasaly voice came over the gate’s loudspeakers. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve received word that we are getting a new plane and it is en route. We’ll update you shortly.”
“That’s good news, right?” I asked Eric.
“Absolutely,” he said, glass always half full.
Nasal tones interrupted us. “Ladies and gentleman, a correction. Your plane is not en route here, it is en route to its final destination before it is released to come pick you up. We’ll be experiencing a slight additional delay. But you can come collect your $200 travel vouchers now.”
“OK, maybe not that,” Eric said.
“But we’re still together, out of the RV, with no book events today,” I said. “And we’ve gotten a lot done.”
“And we get $400 in vouchers, and you have really great socks that match your outfit.” That was a lie. My socks wouldn’t match any outfit. Check out the pic below if you don’t believe me.
We finally arrived at our house in Houston that night at 10:15 p.m., exhausted, smelly, and forlorn about the party we were missing 35 miles north of us.
“We missed it,” I said. “By the time we could get there, it would be over.”
“I really wanted to be there,” he said.
“I know, and I’m sorry.”
He pulled me into a hug in the kitchen of our house. Tall young people buzzed around us, dog tails thumping against legs, voices talking over each other’s laughter. “Can I tell you a secret?” he asked me.
“Oh God, what did you do?” I asked, already smiling.
“I left my phone in the seat of the plane from Jacksonville to Nashville. I had to run back to get it while you were in the bathroom, after we first deplaned. I wasn’t going to tell you, but.” He swayed me back and forth, bumping us into Cowboy on one side and Layla on the other.
“At least you didn’t leave it in Sou . . .” I started to say, then thought better of it.
Note: Beaumont was lovely, and I got to meet my FB friend Debbie IRL, and our friend Dougie Fresh’s wonderful(ly patient) girlfriend. And I managed to rebound from Eric spilling a cup of coffee on the one and only blouse I had with me, and the all-too-frequent group brain freeze which resulted in no pictures being taken.
From there we sprinted back to Houston and on to Nowheresville, because we’d had three calls that our baby goats kept getting out. The contractor had finally finished our 10-acre pen just days before, and while we were in South Carolina. We walked the fence, repaired the problem, built a quick gate, disassembled the section holding the goats out and in the smaller pen, and let them through to paradise. I even pulled an Eric and got blood all over my shirt from my own wound. OK, maybe I got a tiny bit of blood on it that you can barely see. But I still felt like a bad ass.
That’s all I got.