Wednesday, July 23, 2008

...Where the Wind Comes Sweepin'...

It really started on Thursday night, when I left work early to pick up Mom and head to David's Bridal for a dress fitting. The staff was shocked by my 6-1/2" heels, and because of them I didn't even need any hemming. We grabbed some dinner at Suburban Diner, then she dropped me off at home.

Knowing that I had to be at the airport by 5AM, I figured it would be easier to just stay up all night, so Dave and I met up with everybody at McD's. After a bit, Dave got tired and went home, so Krister drove me home at around 1:30AM. I finished up my packing, then collapsed on the couch for a half hour. I woke Dave up at 3:45AM, then I drove to the airport while he tried to wake up in the passenger seat. We arrived at Newark Airport around 4:45AM, gave each other hugs and kisses, and off I went. I breezed through security and caught a right-on-time 6:10AM flight to Dallas. I was in a window seat, and the large couple seated next to me slept the entire way, so I had to wait to pee until we landed. The Dallas Airport is huge, but I was lucky enough to have my connecting gate only three away from where we came in. The flight to Tulsa was less than an hour long, and I got there by 10:45AM.

Rich was waiting for me at the airport, so we hopped in his truck and headed to his Mom's house. where Darla (his mom) and Charles (his stepfather) were waiting for us, I was starving, so we just dropped off my bags, piled into Charles' Jeep, and went over to Ron's for some burgers. I ordered the smallest burger on the menu, and still barely finished it; they were that big. We all chatted and joked through lunch, playing catch-up. Rich had lost over seventy pounds since I last saw him. He was diagnosed with Type I diabetes a few months ago, and once he started insulin the weight just fell off. He looks great, but it's weird looking at him and seeing a whole different person. I kept telling him that he should come back to New York with me because he could take his pick of all the girls. Once they saw his eyes - dark blue with gold around the pupils - they would fall all over him.

After lunch, Charles wanted me to se
e some of the sights, so he drove us up to look at a dam and a lake. Then we stopped for Italian ice, and it was really syrupy and sweet. When we got back to the house, Rich checked his blood sugar and it was too high for the meter to read; it just said "HI." He shot up some fast acting insulin and we all laughed it off, but he wasn't feeling well most of the rest of the day.

Needing to get away and have some catch-up time to ourselves, Rich and I hopped in his
truck and drove all over Tulsa. He said that his mom really wanted me to see the mall for some reason, so we drove by. When we stopped at a gas station for drinks, I pointed out the nutrition facts on something that he wanted, and he was very surprised by what it said. He hasn't really gotten into the habit of reading labels yet, which is understandable, I guess. We had a great time just driving around, chatting and smoking cigarettes. After a while, Rich got a call from a coworker who wanted to buy his computer, so we drove over to meet him and picked up some money.

With money in his pocket now, Rich wanted to do some shopping. Since losing all of the weight, he hasn't been able to buy clothes, so nothing fits properly. We went back to the mall
and checked out PacSun, but they had nothing in his size. I found some jeans in my size on the clearance rack, and picked up two pairs and a t-shirt for $27. We went over to Buckle (a store that they have everywhere in the US, except for the Northeast), and he picked up a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Rich's mom had asked us to pick up a couple of things for dinner, but didn't tell us what kinds or how much of anything. We stopped at the grocery store and decided to buy the bigges
t we could find of what she'd asked for. Darla made us tacos, and we all sat around and chatted. Then we got changed and went over to this little redneck bar that Rich had scoped out for us. They only served beer, had quarters pool tables, and there was even country karaoke going on. Charles, Rich and I started drinking Bud drafts, with Darla ordering us pitcher after pitcher, while she partied with bottles of water. We played a bunch of pool, made fun of the karaoke singers, and drank a whole lot of beer. It was so weird to watch Rich play; he looked like a stranger. It had been a year and a half since I'd last seen him, and with all the weight loss, from a distance, looking all serious, he just wasn't familiar.

Some drunk challenged Charles to a game, so when he lost, Rich challenged the drunk to play for a beer. He won, but he layed back a bit, so the drunk's friend put his quarters down. Anothe
r kid laid his down too, wanting to beat Rich, but Rich got cocky and lost to the old guy. The kid went up against him, and I told Rich about how he was clearly wanting to play him, so he called next game. The kid ran the table, and seemed really pissed off doing it, so Rich was getting nervous. He played a decent game, and the kid played really badly, so Rich ended up winning. On the next game, Rich scratched on the eight ball and lost the game. He threw up some more quarters, but a bunch of other guys had shown up to get in on the table, so he was a few games back. Darla and Charles had taken over another pool table, so Rich and I sat down and chatted for a long time. Especially after that unfamiliar feeling during the pool games, I couldn't believe how comfortable we were together. I hadn't realized until that moment that this weekend was only the fourth time we had ever hung out together. How can two people become such good friends when so far apart?

We ended up talking for so long that Rich missed his gam
e. By then, Charles was pretty hammered and we thought it was time to get going. So when he and Darla went up to dance, Rich gave away his pitcher of beer. When they came back, some drunk guy told Charles that some kids had stolen his pitcher and he got really mad. Rich and I swore that we drank it, and the drunk got mad at us and started arguing. We calmed the situation down as best we could, but Charles stalked out to the car and pouted like a little kid all the way home.

Back at the
house, Rich and I decided to sit by the pool and chat for a bit. Charles perked up, grabbed us all another beer, and settled in on the deck with us. Eventually, Darla convinced him to go to bed, and Rich and I got to sit and talk a bit more. By then, I had been up for 42 hours straight, and I really needed to get some sleep.

Rich and I had set up an airbed for me in the spare room and it was really comfortable, until it deflated in the middle of the night. Rich crashed on the couch, and I got up a while before he did, so I sat and chatted with his mom and grandmother. When he finally woke up, we all had some real New York bagels that I had brought down with me, with cream cheese and bacon. The only thing we had to do all day was go to his niece's birthday party, but at noon we got a call from his sister to say that it had been cancelled. We decided to go over and visit anyway, so that I could meet everyone.

Rich's half-sister Jennifer lives in a trailer outside of Tulsa with her husband Robert and their three kids. Their son wasn't home, but we hung out with Jennifer, Meghan, and Ashley until Robert got home. The girls love Rich, and they had fun showing off on the quads for me. They invited us to the water park with them that evening, but Rich said we couldn't go and blamed me for not having my bathing suit. Meghan spent a half hour trying to convince us to go, even offering me $10 from her mother's wallet so that I could go out and buy a bathing suit.

When we left there, Rich decided he wanted to look into getting another tattoo: his son's name. We checked out some tattoo shops, but he needed to think about it some more. We stopped at a bar because it was just really hot and we wanted a beer, then stopped at the liquor store for a case of Newcastle Brown Ale to take to midnights with us. Darla started texting us to come home for dinner, so we went back and ate with Darla, Charles, Grandma, and Gary. Then we sat around the table and talked for a couple of hours. Eventually, Grandma got upset with Gary, and Rich and I decided it was time to go.

Rich packed up our cooler, complete with beer and some bottles of water that his mom made us take, and we headed out. We were really early, but we just couldn't stay in the house any
more. We stopped at a gas station to hit an ATM, and started chatting with a guy driving a first gen DSM. It turned out that he worked at a local performance shop, and that the man who now owns Rich's car had been in there the week before. It seems that the shop noticed parts on the car that were different from when Rich sold it to the previous owner, which had not been long before. It wasn't making a whole lot of sense, as Rich and this guy tried to work out what parts were actually on the car now. Finally, the guy's girlfriend started getting pissed off that he was talking to us for so long, and we parted ways.

The track opened up an hour early, so we rolled in and found some parking, then each took a beer and wandered around the pits. I was uncomfortable carrying the glass bottles, so Rich convinced a food vendor to give us some Styrofoam cups. We walked the length of the pit area and back, which was the perfect amount of time to finish a beer and get another from the truck. We did this about five more times, and both got pretty
sloshed. Finally, the event got started, and we headed up into the bleachers to watch for a while. We were having a great time, relaxing and talking while watching some fun races including street cars, drag cars, motorcycles, rails, and quads. We made a couple of trips to the truck for more beer, and then settled in for a while. All of the sudden, Rich got a phone call from the kid he had sold the car to. Clearly, this guy had been watching us for a while, as he talked about what Rich was wearing and that they were new clothes, where we were sitting, and that I was with him. They got into a very heated argument about some money that Rich was still owed, and about what parts were on the car when it was sold. Within seconds, Rich was irate, screaming at the kid to meet up with us so that he could beat the crap out of him. The spectators around us were uncomfortable, and I tried to calm him down so that he wouldn't disrupt the others. Finally, the kid realized that Rich was serious about hurting him, and began to apologize. Rich calmed down, and they agreed to talk again at a later date to get all of their issues worked out.

After all of the excitement, we both needed another drink, so we made our way out of the bleachers and into the pits. I had a feeling that the kid Rich had argued with would be somewhere near his truck, and it turned out that I was right. He was standing there with a huge friend of his, and came right over to us when we walked up. He started out by apologizing, so Rich kept cool and agreed to talk with him. The friend and I left them alone for a minute, and we chatted about cars and how he had just moved up from Texas. The guy was really nice, probably only about 17 years old. Finally, Rich and the kid came back, and everything was worked out. We weren't really i
n the mood for any more racing, so after after a quick walk to the bathroom and back for me, we hopped in the truck and went in search of some late-night munchies. We found three different Sonics and two McDonald's that were all closed. One final McD's was our last resort, and it was open. He got a full meal, while I just picked up some french fries, and we headed back to the house to eat. We spread the food out on the dining room table and chowed down, then moved out to the pool deck again. We were exhausted by this point, and could only sit and chat for a little while before we were both falling asleep. I walked past the bathroom on my way to the guest room and heard Charles in the shower, so it must have been around 5:30am.

Sunday morning, we lazed around the house for a few hours. Then we headed over to Rich's house, picked up his dog, and drove her out to his dad's to live until Rich gets settled somewhere else. We picked up Sonic on the way back to his mom's, just to make everyone back home jealous, then collapsed on the couch for a couple of hours. Rich dropped me off at the airport, and my Tulsa to Dallas flight was right on time. Once I arrived in Dallas, however, I found out that my flight home was already delayed by an hour. I ended up sitting in the airport for four hours, before finally getting on a flight back to Newark. Coincidentally, my brother Brian was stuck in the Philadelphia airport at the same time, trying to get home to Tennessee. The flight was smooth, but we did fly past three different
thunderstorms. I could see the stacked clouds and lightning strikes right next to us. Since I'm already terrified of flying, it was pretty scary, but also one of the more amazing sights I've ever seen.

Dave picked me up at the Newark airport around 3:30, and we made it home by five AM; two hours sleep, and at work by eight. The following day, I calculated that I had slept for a total of twelve hours from Wednesday through Monday. Ugh, it was like Ireland all over again! Haha.

Coming back from Oklahoma was a pretty big let-down. After having three full days of zero stress, with no schedule and nothing to really think about, it was difficult to get back into work and wedding planning. Plus, I don't remember ever having such a connection with any friend like I have with Rich. It's hard to be so far away from him, knowing that if we lived near each other, we would probably hang out everyday. I can say with relative certainty that he would never: be mean to me (other than in the spirit of fun), stand me up when we have plans, allow people to bad-mouth me without saying anything in my defense, or any of the other things that I feel the people around me do without even thinking about it. In other words, he's a lot like Matt, who is my best friend, that I do hang out with everyday.