Jen Jeffrey: Life Is But A Beach

Monday, April 7, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Weekend in Destin
Weekend in Destin

Time seemed to pass quickly after my trip to Kentucky and, a few days later, Jason traveled to Chattanooga. He came early Wednesday morning and we spent the day together. I took Jason to the Bluegrass Grill for breakfast and then we went shopping. As much as I hate shopping, I did need a few things for our beach weekend-get-away and I was glad we did that.

That evening Jason offered to sleep on the couch, but I knew he would be driving the whole way to Destin and I wanted him to get a good night’s sleep. The couch at Mama’s is made more for sitting than sleeping. I gave Jason my bed and he thought I would sleep with Mama, but I took the couch. It was a horrible night’s sleep for me, but excitement always rules out sleep anyway. The next morning we packed the truck up and headed for Florida.

On the Road

Right away, Jason nonchalantly mentioned a ‘funny movie he saw’ where a guy and a girl go on a trip together and the girl sings annoyingly to every song on the radio. Jason knows I like to sing and I felt he was ‘heading me off at the pass’. I think Jason is adorable and this made me laugh… but it did NOT stop me from singing. He claims that he did not tell me that for that reason and even said that I have a good singing voice, but I still tried not to sing along on EVERY song… just every other one.

The six-hour trip down did not seem that long and we found that we travel well together. Even though Jason likes the a/c going the whole way, I came prepared and dressed in layers to stay warm. Jason likes 70s/80s music and it was fun to sing to. We like the same places to stop and eat so the drive was enjoyable for us both. When we arrived at Sandestin Golf Resort, Jason checked in and received instruction from a girl at the desk about parking.

The Boyfriend Meltdown

Jason was to key in a code to enter into the parking garage, but once inside he thought he was supposed to go through the garage and park out in the open on the other side. There was no other side and Jason was having a hard time maneuvering his massive truck in the crowded garage. He became frustrated and he let out a few whispered expletives. He kept apologizing between them, but I could tell he was frustrated. When he did not find the opening that he thought he was supposed to find, he drove back to the lobby to ask again and came out with a man who got in our truck to show us where to park IN the garage.

Men and women both have their moments of ‘just not getting it’ and this was Jason’s moment. He could not figure out why he was told one thing and he perceived the instructions where he could not make heads or tails out of it. I kept quiet the whole time because regardless of the instruction he was given (which I did not hear), it was logical to me that we were to park in the garage and go up to our room from there. But even if a woman understands something that a man does not, I have learned it is best to just let the man figure it out. Lord knows there are plenty of things I don’t understand and thankfully Jason is patient with me too.

When our ‘parking guide’ showed us how to park in the garage, Jason was no longer frustrated, but he felt bad for letting it get to him. He said, “My girlfriend saw me have a meltdown,” but if he only knew the meltdowns that I was used to from my former marriage, he would realize that what I had just witnessed was not a meltdown – just simple frustration. He was confused and tired from driving, but even so – he didn’t target anyone and he was actually rather quiet as he mumbled and I could definitely handle that.

The World is Our Oyster

We found our suite and unpacked and then went walking outside the resort on the first cloudy evening. I wanted oysters. I hadn’t had any since my trip to Mobile years ago. I ordered a dozen and I ate every one of them except the one I let Jason try. He wanted to know what was so special about my concoction. I had a good rhythm going as I ate the raw oysters. Cracker, cocktail sauce, raw oyster, lemon juice, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco sauce. Just like my Daddy taught me. But I had forgotten that I was supposed to just pop the whole thing in my mouth. Instead I tried to daintily take a bite, and a slimy piece of the oyster got stuck between my two front teeth!

Jason enjoyed making fun of me and I had a tongue war trying to get it out from between my teeth. Jason tried to take my picture, but I hid behind my hands until I was slime-free. My stomach let me know that I was older than the last time I ate my Daddy’s invention and, I am not sure I will ever do that again. My stomach was not happy. Let’s just say that it made Jason and I more comfortable with each other.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The next day it rained (which means nothing in Florida because it can start off cloudy and rainy and end up being a beautiful day) but this day it poured all day and all night. When we went to eat we had to fight the rain and we didn’t have an umbrella. Of course, the store we went to for a few supplies had umbrellas for sale at the door – but they were $18! There was no way I would pay that for a tiny, generic  umbrella, so we just got wet.

We met up with Jason’s buddy Lance Allison who used to be the Murray Chamber’s president and was now the president of Panama’s Chamber just a few minutes from Destin. I had made friends with Lance on Facebook, so it was nice to see him. As we walked in the Chamber, we were greeted by a beautiful woman named Bertie who had been a Florida resident since she was two years old. She had white hair and wore a beautiful cool blue outfit. Her radiant smile was what attracted me and I just came right out and told her she was beautiful.

Everyone likes to hear a compliment and too many times we think things, but never tell someone. I am all for uplifting people and being genuine as well. Bertie had been with the Chamber since 1982 and Lance considered her a very important part of the Chamber. He gave us a tour of the place and he and Jason talked about the city and also about Murray and how things were being run at the Chamber there.

We went to lunch at Liza’s Kitchen and it was a cool place. It was a local business and, as soon as we walked in, I smelled basil. I knew I wanted to order something with basil, so I got a chicken pesto Panini. It was amazing. Jason and I went back to our suite and, while I worked a little, he was busy on his laptop checking out his greyhounds.

Spring Break Drama

Just then, I saw something large and white drop from the sky outside by the deck. I thought it was a seagull or something so I got up to check it out and then I saw a small, round, metal table that was not there before. Another table came shooting down onto the grass by our deck and I told Jason I thought somebody above us was getting a little wild. He came to check it out and as we were on the patio we saw a chair come barreling down and hit into one of the tables breaking the glass top.

Jason called the front desk and reported it and we went inside. Then I saw two young guys come around the patio with a beer can in their hand. It was spring break. This was a nice place so it was unusual to have spring-breakers causing trouble. They tossed the outdoor furniture way out over the higher grass to dispose of the property damage and then one of the guys saw me watching through the glass door. Shortly, two security guards knocked on our door and we gave them a description of the guys and showed them where they threw the furniture. They assured us the boys would be removed and also that what they did was not just fun and games – it was a felony.

I never understood that sort of thing. I understand being young and doing something stupid – we all have, but what I cannot understand is destruction of property and not thinking of the consequences. What is so fun about tearing up property? Was this a fun game to them? Even if they were not caught, wouldn’t they be billed on their credit card? If it were “Daddy’s credit card” – then wouldn’t “Daddy” find out and let them have it? I have done stupid things without thinking through the consequences in my youth, but destroying things was never my idea of fun.

After that little bit of drama, Jason and I went to an insurance reception at the hotel given by Allstate. I watched Jason hob-knob with other insurance agents and he was friendly, genuine and never missed a beat in having something to talk about. He was good with people and I was so proud watching him communicate with them and I could tell they like Jason.

B-Ball and Beer

We left the reception and met up with Lance and a few of his friends to watch the Louisville game. I was learning that attaching myself to “Murray people” meant one very important thing – basketball. Kentucky is all about basketball – but especially Murray. The Murray Racers are first and foremost, but, of course, UK basketball is also a must with them. I was just learning to really watch basketball, but whenever I have watched it – it was only the Kentucky Wildcats.

Chattanooga is primarily ‘football country’ with the Mocs, the Vols and the Titans and I have done well to keep up with that, but being from Kentucky, I should have already had a grasp on B-ball before I moved to Chatty. Because my two tomboy sisters liked it, I chose to keep up with girlie things. Now, I see that I have to learn basketball. I am quite proud of UK and their basketball team and I have also been keeping an eye on the Racers. I didn’t pay much attention to the Louisville game, but enjoyed being out with everyone.

The Beach and Friends

Even though it rained the whole day and evening on Friday, Jason and I still enjoyed it and were just glad to be together. The next day called for rain but surprisingly we had a sunny day and enjoyed lying out on the beach. The sun was warm, but with the ocean breeze it felt so good. When I took a sip of my water, I could taste a hint of salt on the rim of my glass from the ocean air. I loved the beach - the sand, the breeze, the ocean… and I loved watching random kids play. Jason and I passed some kids building sand castles and one little girl had made a little aquarium of jelly fish.

As Jason and I walked on the beach, I saw a jelly fish in the sand and he said, “Don’t touch it because I am not peeing on you!” This was a reference from a FRIENDS episode which Jason and I are both fans of. Apparently, if you are stung by a jelly fish, ‘urine’ takes the sting out.

Just as I have shared how my boys and I make it a game where we recite lines from movies or from FRIENDS episodes, Jason and I do the same thing. Whenever we weren’t talking or listening to music in the truck, we would give each other FRIENDS trivia questions and we barely ever stumped each other.

That evening after a sandy beach day, we showered and got dressed for a nice dinner at Marlins. It was the perfect end to the perfect weekend. I was able to do a little work, be with Jason and enjoy the beach.

On Sunday as we were leaving, we met with another one of Jason’s friends, John Gorham, for breakfast at the Broken Egg. When Jason was younger, he had worked for John and they both had respect for each other and have built a nice friendship. John was fun and he told stories of his and Jason’s times together.

I was ready to leave Florida… but not leave Jason. On the way back home we sang and played our trivia game but the last hour, I got fidgety and couldn’t wait to get back to Chattanooga.  I was looking forward to an upcoming hike with the Lookout Hiking Club and hoped to spend some time with my boys before it is time to take a much longer road trip to Kansas. Aside from when I lived in New York, I have barely been out of the South. This is starting to get fun…

Jason Billington, Lance Allison, Jen Jeffrey and lovely Bertie at the Panama Chamber of Commerce
Jason Billington, Lance Allison, Jen Jeffrey and lovely Bertie at the Panama Chamber of Commerce

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