Sunday, July 22, 2012
My Sunday Feeling
Caroline McCormick and I didn't get off to the greatest start in the world. I had gone to visit Don and Karin at the old house in Birmingham. I slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room. I had just awakened when I heard the sound of tiny feet coming down the staircase. Little Caroline saw me as I sat up in the bed.
She ran away screaming.
We got past it.
Caroline and her husband Reese Ornellas were in town Friday and Saturday. They left San Francisco en route to our Nation's Capitol where Caroline will start medical school at Georgetown in a couple of weeks. Reese, whom I met for the first time is an earnest sort who will teach literacy to 3rd graders at a charter school there. He clearly dotes on Caroline. I approve.
Caroline texted me last week and told me that they were coming through town and said they wanted to see me. She calls me Arthur Paul. Mr. Erxleben used to address me thusly as well as some of the guys at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings. Caroline's old man called me and said that they had been camping their way across the country from San Francisco and could they crash over here. Absolutely.
I guess I hadn't seen Caroline in 10 years. Neither one of us could really remember. But as you can see, she's all grown up now, boy.
I remember her parent's wedding in Birmingham. I drove the Impala that I had bought for 300 bucks from Uncle Howard to Jackson to pick up Hugh. We stopped for lunch at a pizza joint in Meridian. I bought the Pizza and Hugh popped for the pitcher of beer. Neither one of us had a net worth of more than 50 bucks back in those days.
That was a long time ago. Hugh's dead. I'm semi-retired.
And Caroline is going to med school.
Caroline wanted to see Hillcrest because Don had said how much he liked it here. We would have walked but it was 108. People from San Francisco aren't wired for 108. Hell, I'm not sure that I am. Anyway, we went down Kavanaugh, through Stift Station on Downtown. We drove past the Federal Building. Caroline asked me to point out my window to her. Nobody has ever asked me to do that before.
We went to the Clinton Library, through the River Market, and into Argenta. Little Rock seemed "cool" to them. I told Caroline that when her Dad first visited me around 1986 or so there wasn't a damn thing to do in this town. Other than to go out and get into trouble. Which we did. You can still get into trouble around here. But it is no longer your best option. Unless you are a knucklehead.
I showed them the Miracle League field. They were impressed by the swing for the wheelchair kids and the special slide with rollers. Never seen anything like that. And that was the grand tour.
Caroline is a vegan. So I scouted ahead for sustenance before they got here. Turns out that the Brazilian place down the road has a good selection of vegan entrees as well as sensible fare for people like Reese and myself. She was pleasantly surprised and grateful that she didn't have to "mix and match" as she put it. My friend Carrey from Catholic High came over and introduced herself. Buzz, one of my little lawyer friends, did likewise.
"That's the guy you were telling us about?" Caroline asked. "The guy down the street from you who practices law out of his house?"
I found vegan cupcakes of all damn things on my scouting trip earlier in the week. They make the icing out of tofu. Son of a bitch. I love the girl but eating this kinda crap just ain't right. Be that as it may, off to Rosalia's bakery we went for breakfast on Saturday.
"Is this your daughter?" the girl behind the counter asked.
"Might as well be," I replied.
They met my friend Susie who introduced them to the dog she found at a truck stop and named "Good Buddy." She told Caroline his birthday is "10-4." At the Farmer's Market they met my Baptist preacher golfing buddy Randy, associate minister Carolyn and the Mayor of Little Rock.
"Guys, meet the Mayor of Little Rock," I said for the first time in my life. It sounded funny coming out of my mouth. I guess I never thought that a guy like me would be personally acquainted with the mayor of any place bigger than Bixby, Oklahoma.
All of the folks at the Farmers Market spoke highly of me. Or as honestly of me as they could in the shadow of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church.
I was surprised to feel something like sadness as Reese packed up the Prius as they prepared to get back on the road. I'm not around young people much anymore and I enjoyed their energy and perspective. I enjoyed paying for everything. I enjoyed seeing my buddy Don in his daughter's face. I enjoyed talking about baseball with Reese. I enjoyed showing them around and introducing them to my friends. It was weird. I didn't want them to go.
"You have water?"
"Thanks, but we have plenty of bottled water in the car," Reese said. We shook hands.
Caroline hugged me.
"Now you call me if y'all run into a jam out there. I mean it."
"We will," she said.
"Text me when you get to your mom's."
"I will. I promise."
"I love you, Honey"
"I love you too," she said as I kissed her scalp.
"You take of yourself, Arthur Paul."
"I will. I promise."
They hung a right on Van Buren and soon California tags were receding South in search of the interstate.
I'll take care of myself, Honey. I will. I promise.