Thursday, February 24, 2011

Frolicking in Florida

It's always nice to get away in February, especially to somewhere warm. I used to live in Gainesville, Florida in the mid-70's and went back to visit friends last week. My girlfriend, Sunshine Plants (yep, that's her real name!) still lives there, right across the street from her daughter, Aowyn. Aowyn is nearly through growing her baby daughter, Satori, so I went down there for the shower.

Getting there was a bit of a problem as I got bumped from my flight. The ticket agent said I was so nice about it (I didn't feel very nice but I didn't yell and scream and carry on like I saw others do...what's the point?) that she gave me not one, but 2 round trip tickets and a meal voucher. Booyah! Instead of having a direct flight, arriving at 12:30, I arrived at 6:00 via Philadelphia. Oh well. But when I went to get the car I had reserved, they wouldn't let me have it because my credit card has a different name than my driver's license. (yea, I'm going to legally change my name now!) I had a little breakdown at the counter, tears, weeping, sobbing, then back on the shuttle to take me to the airport to try to lease a car from the big names like Alamo. Because it was Daytona 500 weekend (whoopdedoo), a car was going to cost me $200 a day. Yea, right. So after more tears and feeling really sorry for myself, I discovered there's a shuttle that will take me right to Gainesville, picking me up just out the doors of the airport. Smile! I even saved $120! Not too bad... 2 free flights, a free burrito and dollars saved. It was just me and the bus driver for 2 hours. Just a little scare when he got lost down a very dark road and had to pull over. I thought, well, this day is going from bad to worse and now they'll find me in a bag alongside the road. But he just needed to look at the map, turn around, and all was good again.

I moved to Florida in 1975 with 3 friends, 3 very large dogs, 10 very cute three-week old puppies, 3 cats and a whole lotta stuff (including 200 deer antlers, explanation to follow) packed into a VW bus (Sunshine's) and a 1964 International Harvester pickup truck (mine). We left Colorado in a blizzard in November, going over a 14,000-foot pass, losing my tire chains as we came down the pass. We went south to Texas and took a left. It was the first time I'd been to the south and my eyes were like saucers and my mouth was agape. I loved the big live oaks with Spanish moss dripping from them, the small 'cracker' houses in the country and rural blacks walking to church along the road in their Sunday hats. I'm not making it up, it was just like a movie. I was young and impressionable and I loved every minute.
We had just $900 between us and we were about to set up a business making deer antler jewelry, sawing the antler into sections and inlaying it with coral, turquoise and shells. At first we settled into a friend's field then found a house to rent (with electricity!). We went to craft festivals and made a go of it for awhile. But I soon found out I was pregnant and we needed just a bit more money for food and gas so my boyfriend and I got a job at a printing place. I started out sort of a faux hippie, but soon blossomed into a full blown hippie. I even had my baby at home, which was a rambling turn-of-the-century Victorian home with 5 porches, 6 bedrooms and vines growing in into the bathroom. I had no midwife as they were illegal at the time. I read books, gave the books to Sunshine and she was right there to catch my boy, Aramin. There were 12 people at the birth, the boys spent the afternoon playing cards and the girls helped a baby come into the world. Someone even made a butterfly 'birth-day' cake.

This is my sweet boy, Aramin who went everywhere with me. After he was born, I soon discovered that I didn't need two babies to take care of, and said sayonara to the father and became a single mom with lots of help from wonderful friends. Sunshine opened a natural foods breakfast restaurant, where I worked as a waitress, making pretty fair money and taking the occasional seashell and love note as tips.

A year later, Sunshine had her baby girl, Aowyn (I attended the birth along with a midwife) and Sunny was also a single mom. Remember, this was Florida and the 70's and we just walked around with bare bellies, full of baby or not. So now I'm celebrating Awoyn's baby, who is due in the next couple weeks. Her name is Satori Kai (Satori means 'enlightenment' and Kai means 'ocean').

Aowyn is just one big smile.

On Friday night some girlfriends hosted a 'Blessingway', a Native American ritual to give a blessing to the new mother to be. We had all brought beads that will be strung on a cord and worn at the birth. We gave a personal blessing/wish as we handed the bead to Aowyn. I had felted an aqua wool bead and embellished it with tiny green and turquoise beads, to symbolise the ocean.

Saturday was the shower/party with about 40 people (men and kids included) attending.

With the 40 people, came about 40 gifts. It took over 2 hours to open them all! She got so many cute clothes, including these little pink crocs. When one of the men would wonder in, I told them that when a gift is opened, the key words were "cute, adorable, darling, ahhhhhhh!" All in all, it was a fine time and even the kids had fun on the moon bounce in the back yard.

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