When we face a new year we usually hope for the chance to make it a better year than before. Some people may see it as a ‘do-over’ after learning from last year’s mistakes, or some hope to move past pain and head toward promising changes, while others had a great year and are challenged to make it even better.
In focusing on a new year, the saying, “out with the old and in with the new” doesn’t necessarily fit with me this year. After re-tracing my roots and finding comfort in the things of old… places of yester-year, I find this year’s theme for my life to be “everything old is new again.” My old Kentucky home where I was born, my old friends, my childhood that seemed so distant came rushing back with vague memories comforting me as if they were warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven!
Speaking of caloric delights… it seems that I haven’t been able to get over the hurdle of those extra pounds I had put on the past couple of years. One year isn’t that big of a deal, but when it goes into two or three – you realize you have become a “resolutioner.” I would not admit that I was ‘one of those’ who make the resolution to get off unwanted weight only to fail at my attempts. I was gung-ho for the past two years, knowing that it wouldn’t take me long to get my boot-camp body back. But sometimes, what we end up making ‘back burner’ in our lives is needed. I had other things that I had to focus on and I couldn’t keep a commitment for my health. I can only hope that 2013 was the last year that I put other things before my health.
When I think of getting back into the clothes I wore just a few years ago, it goes with the theme of ‘everything old is new again’. I don’t usually think that looking back is a good idea. I have always been an optimist and change is exciting to me. But as I look back at my 2010 jean size and look back at the places I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and the way I socialized before the Internet and gadgets became a way of life - I WANT to look back. I want to blow off the dust and get out the polish! I like the old things and old ways. I have enjoyed embracing my past of when things were solid and unspoiled. But I also enjoy embracing new things.
Last Sunday, I met Jason in Nashville for my first Titans’ game. His friends Denny and Leslie had extra tickets with very good seats. I couldn’t watch the game as well as I do on television because when you are surrounded by people at the stadium you observe everything around you. Leslie kept talking to me because we are new friends getting to know each other. I knew this would not be a game to follow closely, but to just let my hair down and have fun. It was fun to be in the stadium and experience watching a pro ball game in person. The Titans won – I was so glad. My new friends teased saying that if the Titans had lost, then I wouldn’t have been able to come back the next time. It was a good game and so much fun.
After the game, Jason followed me to Chattanooga. I had my GPS and we had no problems until we got in five-mile-an-hour traffic near Nickajack. I got off the 155 exit and Jason followed. We used the restroom and talked of our plan to avoid I-24. He set my GPS to avoid the interstate and we started on another route. The lady in my GPS had no idea that the bridge was out on that highway. As I was driving with Jason following behind me, I passed a sign that said “Bridge Out – Detour”. I knew Jason had seen me tap my brakes and slow down when I saw that. I could hear Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice in my head screaming a line from the movie ‘True Lies’ saying, “Da breege is o-o-w-wt!”
I almost panicked while replaying the scene but did not see an immediate drop off like the movie so I kept driving thinking that maybe that sign was just never taken down and it was already fixed (ever the hopeful Pollyanna). With Jason following behind me, we drove quite a ways down a dark, country highway. Even though I had my glasses on, it was hard to see and I was still a little nervous. Finally after half a mile up the highway I saw the barricade. I turned my Jeep around shaking my head to Jason and feeling like Eve who suggested eating a bite of an apple.
I headed back to the nearest rest stop and pulled over to ask Jason what we should do. The interstate looked clearer so we got back on it and made it to Big River to grab a bite and then headed to Mama’s. Listening to them talk about old times and the people of Murray, Ky., blessed my heart. It was as if Jason and Mama were old friends because Jason knew a lot of people that were Mama’s age she remembered. When Mama asked if he knew Jimmy Ford and he said yes, she got a little excited. Jimmy Ford was Mama’s boyfriend before she met my daddy. She asked about him and I saw Jason’s wheels turning in his head. It was fun to talk about.
The next day, we went to the Walnut Street Bridge to see my plaque that was recently placed on it. Jason let me drive his truck since I knew Chattanooga. I parked near Coolidge Park… well, I tried to park. Apparently, his truck is wider than my Jeep Liberty and squeezing in between two parked cars was a challenge – a challenge I failed. The mirror on his truck slid across the car next to me and the person was inside.
I wondered if John Quinones of the show “What Would You Do?” was anywhere nearby, though I knew what I was going to do. It didn’t dent it, but it did make a mark on the other car. I told Jason that I would take care of it and he assured me his insurance could take care of it. Fortunately the gentleman inside told us it wasn’t that big of a deal and not to worry about it.
We found my plaque and Jason took my picture by it. Then we walked on the glass bridge and right when we got in the middle I said something about it being glass and Jason hadn’t realized it. All of a sudden he looked down and freaked out when he saw the highway below. I pretended to jump on the bridge, but I used ‘shocks’ in my jump. He didn’t like me teasing. Jason is pretty brave himself, but when it comes to someone he cares about – stuff like that makes him nervous.
We drove up Lookout Mountain to Point Park and took a few pictures. Then Jason pointed to a rock saying that he wondered if anyone ever got out on that. It sounded like a challenge to me so I had to do it! He got nervous again and even turned his back and would not look at me climb out on the rock that was on the edge and I was in my casual dress shoes. When I was perched on the rock all safe and sound, Jason took my picture.
He begged me to come back up to the safe part but I didn’t think about that when I got out there. How would I get back up that steep rock? Luckily my flats had non-skid soles and I was able to reach the tip of the slanted rock and I prayed as I got a hoist up from my guardian angel and heard God’s voice warn, “You are running out of your passes” but it really wasn’t that dangerous. My caving experience last year was much more dangerous and I was even injured then – this was nothing.
After our day around town we went to Mama’s and I was supposed to cook. My twins and grandkids were coming and it was hard after being gone all day to come in and fix dinner for seven people. I didn’t think. It was okay, but it didn’t turn out the way it would have, if I had planned better.
My seven-yearold grandson Landon tugged at my shirt and asked, “Gramama, when we get through eating, can we talk in private?” It was cute that he asked that, but also that he uses such wonderful manners. After the mediocre dinner I cooked, I began doing dishes and Landon came up once again asking, “Gramama are you busy?” I dropped everything and told him the dishes could wait. We went outside on the porch and I admit that I was a little afraid of this small seven-year-old who is wise beyond his years.
What was he about to tell me? While I was fixing dinner, I did not hear the conversations going on between Jason and my kids and grandkids. Apparently, Landon had found out something from Jason that was fixed in his mind.
“Okay… are you doing with Jason like you did the other one?” Gulp! Was my little Sport going to tell me it was too soon to date again? I said confidently, “Landon, when you like someone you don’t marry them right away - you have to get to know them. And you when you know that one person isn’t right for you to marry, you just date people until you know… what I am doing is called dating, but …I really like Jason. I have known him a long time and his parents and my parents were best friends a long time ago. So far… I really, really like him…”
I hoped that my answer passed the grandson test. I thought I would have questions from my kids but not my little Sport! But after Landon’s question was answered as he wondered if I would just ‘throw this guy away’ he then hit me with the real reason this was so important to him. Before he would commit the hope he had in his mind, he had to find out if Jason may stick around first.
“Well, then…” he stumbled, “do you think he could really introduce me to Turtle Man?” His eyes so serious, I could not let out my laugh and my sigh of relief! “Oh yes, baby… he just might be able to!” I had no idea what Jason had told them, but at dinner, Landon had mentioned Turtle Man and the show he liked. Apparently, before dinner, Jason had told Landon that he knew someone that was on the show with Turtle Man and could possibly let him meet him.
It blessed my heart that Landon was so polite to ask for a private talk and that he was so patient until we could. It blessed my heart to know how cautious he was to find out where my relationship was before he committed to hoping for something. It RELIEVED my heart when it was basically about Turtle Man. I will never, ever forget that moment with my grandson and I hope it is a story I can tell him when he is older and forgets this.
My kids seemed to like Jason, the grandkids did and, of course, Mama remembers him when he was little and she just loves him! He wasn’t going to get to meet my youngest son Andrew on this trip, but the other person he would get to meet whose opinion I value, was … Smokey.
It was cold the next day when we went out to the ranch. Smokey was in his stall so I didn’t have to find him in the pasture. What a welcome sight! His winter coat was furry black! He is so beautiful when his coat is full and like velvet! He had on a blanket-coat so I didn’t groom him, but I did massage him a little. I sang to him a little and Jason and I gave him treats. He is a gentle horse and would pretty much like anyone, but when he dropped his head and closed his eyes when Jason petted him, I knew he was comfortable with Jason. Smokey and I got a lot of nuzzling time in and he was just so precious! He was almost relaxed enough to go to sleep.
We didn’t really make plans for a New Year’s celebration, so we just went back to the hotel where he was staying and went to the Foundry. They were having a band and a party at eight. We finished eating and I had a couple of glasses of wine and Jason had a craft beer. We really weren’t interested in a party.
We watched the Texas AM and Duke game and it kept us both riveted the rest of the night. I got my New Year’s kiss and that was the end of Jason’s visit. The next day we would have New Year’s dinner at my sister Angie’s and then he had to leave.
With Jason, everything old is new again… but I am also getting to experience a lot of firsts - my first Titans’ game and then next week, I will get to see my first hockey game when we meet up again. It’s a good thing I like sports, but Jason also is good to do things I am passionate about too.
Happy New Year Chattanoogan.com readers! Just remember, it isn’t always bad to look back.