Texting

Long before texting there was a meet-up plan.

“I’ll pick you up in front of the gray building on the corner at 7:00 p.m.”

“After the baseball game, find me on the other side of the park.”

“If I’m late, stand by the market on the Northeast corner.”

Life became simpler with texting. At least that was the idea. Yet, between auto-correct and thumbs—or in my case an index finger—messages crossed flying back and forth like the ball in a ping pong tournament.

Still, over a three-day period at last year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest group texting with my family was our way of coordinating meeting up in a crowd of 65,000+ people. Whether it was a simple rendezvous, logistical plan or basic information the text was often prefaced by asking:

“Where are you?”

“Near green flag 10 yards in front of the flag Don’t Tread on Me.”

Google Earth couldn’t have provided a better detail.

or

“Headed to Blues tent.”

“Robert Cray?”

“Don’t see you.”

“Far right near aisle facing RH screen. See guy in Hawaiian shirt on aisle?”

”No.”

“Turn around.”

Somehow we managed to connect each time.

”Where are you?”

“Jazz tent. Dad’s still at Acura stage then back to Gentilly and Congo. Check out BBQ turkey leg.”

“Who are you seeing?”

“Leah Chase.”

“I’m at entrance to Blues tent.”

“I’m at Jazz tent. Main entrance on side in back.”

“Headed there.”

“Now Irvin Mayfield. Meet you there. Getting something to eat first.”

“Need a drink first.”

Texting not only provided instant logistics and music options but also culinary enlightenment.

“Where are you?”

  “Eating boiled crayfish in front of food now.”

“Pronounced crawfish.”

“Where again?”

“In front of alligator pie.”

“On way post turkey leg.”

“Meet you?”

“Look for us.”

“Next to the path.”

“Opposite red and yellow flag.”

Occasionally, a crisis can arise.

“My phone’s going to die.”

And, when in doubt:

“Meet you in front of bathrooms to right of Gentilly St exit.”

Now, there’s a meet-up plan.

Lunch Marin-style

“I’ll have the 1/2 turkey sandwich with avocado and small salad for here,” the tall, brunette woman in front of me said at a local café.

From the back of her head, I noticed her collarbone-length, blow-dried hair which was styled into soft, gentle waves. She wore a blue-and-white-fitted ruched long-sleeved top, black yoga-ish pants and black patent sandals.

The young woman with the gray eyes behind the counter wrote down the order.

“How large is the salad? Blow-dried asked.

“It’s a side salad,” Gray eyes said. “What kind of dressing would you like?”

“What do you have?”

“Balsamic vinaigrette, vinaigrette that goes on the Greek salad, and blue cheese.”

“What does the Greek salad vinaigrette taste like?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it.”

“Well, I’ll have that on the side.” Blow-dried paused. “Is there an extra charge for the avocado?”

“No, that’s part of that sandwich order.”

“I’ll also have a 1/2 Cap, 1/2 Espresso with soy milk,” she said. “Is the soy milk sweetened?”

I exchanged glances with a tanned, balding man reading the Wall Street Journal at a nearby table. I hoped he was having the same internal eye-roll reaction as me.

“No, it’s regular soy milk,” Gray eyes answered. “What size would you like—small or medium?”

Blow-dried peered over the counter and pointed. “The size in the middle”

“Those cups are only for the To-Go orders.”

“Then, I’ll take a small.”

“What kind of bread would you like on the sandwich?” Gray eyes asked.

I could have answered that question.

“Do you have gluten-free bread?”

Gray eyes nodded in the affirmative.

What a relief.

 

Road Trip

“That’s the first road kill we’ve seen,” I said, spotting a flattened raccoon as my husband and I drove through Pleasant View, Colorado.

“No, it’s not,” he said. “I saw a dried-up squished skunk back in Monticello, Utah.”

I obviously hadn’t noticed.

We were on the road from Moab to Mesa Verde where the view ranged from cows, horse farms, bales of hay stacked like adobe bricks and skeletons of abandoned shacks. Highrise-sized red rock mountains nesting under cotton candy clouds cast alternating glares of light and shadows over the pavement. Music from the Outlaw Country channel on SiriusXM with DJ Mojo Nixon, the Loon in the Afternoon, hurdled through the radio like a freight train as we rolled down the highway. Our fingers drummed on the steering wheel and/or dashboard to songs like Party in My Pants. We sang along when we knew the words, and made them up when we didn’t.

As we passed through a town the length of an eyelash, Jim asked “I wonder where people buy groceries?”

“I’d look it up,” I said. “But I have no service.”

We cruised by an empty gas station next to a hollowed-out former café outside of Yellow Jacket. I pulled some turkey jerky out of my pack while watching a parade of Holsteins heading across their pasture. Highway meditation.

Moab

Moab

Lessons

“I’m done,” I said to Mrs. Oldfield, my second grade art teacher at The Hamlin School.

I waved my watercolor picture of a fruit bowl in the air like a member of the winning team at Capture the Flag.

Mrs. Oldfield, had short cropped silver hair, cheeks lined like meandering country roads, eyes the color of blue agates and always wore a gray smock. She sauntered over to my table.

“Never say done,” she glowered, as I shrunk to the size of a grape in my painting. “You’re not a roast beef.”

After that I was finished.

Letter Writing

Long before email there was letter writing which highlighted news, made requests or showed insight. Plus, there were opportunities to be creative with stationery.

“I’m going to try out for cheerleading,” I wrote my parents on a canary yellow card from my first year at Santa Catalina, a Catholic all girls boarding school.

While I thought I had much more rhythm than Janie or Alice, and I could perform a real— not half-assed—cartwheel, I didn’t get picked. Perhaps my bow legs disqualified me. On the other hand, it would have seemed only fair to allow an equal opportunity spot to the only Jewish boarder.

I took my rejection out by leaving a fake dog turd that I had gotten for Christmas—my family didn’t celebrate Hanukah—for Sister Humbert.

I omitted any mention of my cheerleading tryout in my next letter to my parents Instead, the multi- colored leftover stapled construction paper note focused on a more pressing issue.

“Please send my stuffed skunk,” I wrote. “It’s either under one of the beds in my room, or between them. Please also renew my subscription to Seventeen.”

I was always polite.

During the summer, I kept in touch with some of my new classmates on personal stationery that my mother had made for me as a tenth-birthday present so I could write thank you notes to grandparents. I had a lot of leftovers.

“How do you spell Sacramento?” I once asked my father.

“Look it up in the encyclopedia,” he said.

That was his answer to a lot of questions.

“How can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?” I asked. I ended up guessing.

As a junior counselor at Forest Farm Camps, I wrote letters to my best friend about lusting after boys who only saw me as ping pong game competition. “I really like Matt, but he likes Amy,” I wrote. Or, “I slept next to Jon on the overnight, but he only touched my elbow.” If those boys had known that I wrote letters on blue and white McGovern for President letterhead they might have been more interested.