Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bullseye. (It's a long one.)

Wow, it’s actually now, now! It really is July 15, 2007.

Monday, Tom and I evaded the extreme heat in NYC by going to his parents’ house on Staten Island. Tom, his brothers and I went to see the Transformers movie. It was Armageddontastic, and I’m told it has many references that are satisfying for fans of the original cartoon. After the movie we swam in his parents’ pool. It was so nice. Also, Tom’s brother Paul lent us his SUV to move my stuff to Virginia.

The next day, we went shopping, got my mail from Rick and had dinner. Wednesday morning we hit the road, and eight hours later we had moved my belongings into a storage facility and checked in to our hotel rooms. We had nice seafood (it’s usually great that close to the ocean) and went to bed really early.

Thursday was a rough day. I was scrambling for housing, and afraid I wouldn’t find it. Mom and Dad had delivered the bad news that they couldn’t spare a car for me, so I had to eliminate any possibility beyond walking distance of campus. (Mom, here's one of the big ships you wanted me to go see!) Technically Norfolk has public transportation, but the whole time I was there, I only saw one city bus, and I never saw a bus stop.

After checking internet listings and bulletin boards, as well as newspaper listings, I was frustrated. I decided to take a different strategy. I decided to walk around campus, look for interesting properties with “For Rent” signs and get a place that way. The minute we parked, I saw one and called the owner, John Warner. He only had four-bedroom apartments, but knew tenants in need of roomies so I signed up for a tour. I spent the time until then calling landlords and possible roomies.

Everything seemed fruitless. (No, I do not want to live with a guy who has a pirate flag on his wall and a collection of beer bottle caps. No, I do not want to live with a sickly, elderly smoker and her mentally challenged daughter. No, I do not want to live with three hard-partying 19-year-old boys.)

Then it was time to meet up with John for the tour. By the time it was over, I had an idea. Hundred, maybe more, of us were all looking for apartments, begging “Pick me, pick me.” I decided to turn the tables and be the picker for once. I filled out an application and gave an application fee for a four bedroom, two bath apartment (complete with a washer and dryer!) in a duplex five blocks from campus.

It was a giant load of my shoulders. Also, the campus looks pretty nice. They’re renovating the building what my office is in, and doing lots of other construction… including a MONORAIL! The school is much bigger than BV was, but I really don’t think the campus is big enough to justify a monorail...especially since I doubt the winters are even frigid. On the other hand, as Tom put it, “If I were you, I’d come here just for the monorail.” So there’s the cool factor.

With my extreme housing anxiety out of the way, I was free to relax and we went to Virginia Beach for yet another amazing seafood dinner. We sat on the upstairs deck of a restaurant and gazed out at the beautiful water as we ate our meal. I took the gorgeous picture below. It was over too soon.

The next day we got back in the car and drove back to New York. It was a bittersweet moment. It seems now like it’s really going to happen. On the one hand, I’m happy because I’ll really be learning poetry and teaching a college class. On the other hand, it means leaving New York, my friends and Tom.

Yesterday was Bocce again -- sadly, they lost for the first time. The group had been claiming they wanted to find a team that took the game as seriously as they do. Well, be careful what you wish for. “Actually,” Tom said, “that’s what’s so annoying! They don’t take it as seriously as we do! We just sucked today.” Well, this loss has certainly fired them up for next week. After the match, I decided to give Bocce a try. I rolled three balls and got them all close to the paulino!

Then I got ready for my Going Away Dinner. My friends decided to throw it early because 1-everyone was free that night and 2-it would be less sad that if the party was actually the last time they would see me. Brilliant!

We met at El Paso for some decent paella. It was just nice to have my closet friends together. It occurs to me that I’ve now given a rundown of Tom’s friends, but not my own. Here goes. The photo (taken at Madrid's party) shows Jenny, Laura, Madrid, Carolina and me.

Madrid and I met at IS 318 where I taught English and she taught Social Studies. She astounded me by telling me her old middle school was worse. She is ten years older than me, but this is only apparent if we’re discussing how old we were when major events happened (the Challenger explosion, etc.). She’s from Mississippi and a Vassar grad. She is married to Chris, a sweet guy working on his PhD is something computerish from NYU.

Madrid introduced me to Laura, her colleague from the worse middle school. Laura makes gorgeous jewelry loves to organize gatherings. She is excellent at getting people to stay out much later than they intended and at getting people to dance. She is pretty much engaged to Ryan, a funny and outgoing former restaurant manager/new Teaching Fellow who was in the band Who By Fire but is currently forming a new band.

Laura introduced us to Carolina. Carolina is a fabulous Latina who teaches high school bilingual earth science and performs stunning acts of geology on the weekends. She drives like a New York City cabby and is a shopper extraordinaire.

Madrid introduced us to Jenny (of Jenny’s Closet fame). They went to Vassar together. Jenny has been teaching for, what, ten years? She is one of those people who seem born to it. She also has impeccable taste in clothing and shoes, and when she cleans her closets, all her friends reap the benefits.

Laura introduced us to Riza, an adorable girl who, prior to meeting her boyfriend Pete, was a boy magnet. And she was never trying. (Sorry, this mysterious pic is the best I can find right now). When she was sad, the boys liked her best of all. She is dainty, and the boys wanted to protect her, I think. She is quick to laugh and eats like a champ. How does she remain so tiny? Its like a scientific impossibility. (Riza couldn’t make the party. She and Pete are in California.)

That’s the main group. Sometimes we hang out with Irene, too. She works with Jenny. She has shiny hair and a sharp, dry sense of humor. So much fun.

Back to the story, if anyone is still reading. Madrid, Chris, Laura, Ryan, Jenny, Carolina, Tom and I all met up for dinner. After dinner, we went to Kettle of Fish to play darts. I had never played before. It was actually fun, and I didn’t do any more badly that my team mates. Why did we play boy-vs.-girls when the boys had a lot more experience than we did? I have no idea.

In the first game, we weren’t far behind. Game 2 we played for points and bet a drink. It was quickly apparent the boys would beat us. Eventually, the guys needed two bullseyes to win and we needed 15. Well, we got that down to thirteen before they won, so that’s something. It dragged on and on. “Seriously,” the boys said, “Don’t you want to quit?” “No way,” we replied. “Look, we know we’re buying you those drinks, but you have to earn them.” About a month later they did.

While everyone else was chatting, I threw the darts over and over until…BULLSEYE! I set my goal, made a few wild stabs and wanted to quit.

Then I focused. I breathed. I tried and tried and tried, finally found a little luck, and hit the bullseye. Isn’t that always the way with me? Sometimes, the want, the need, the effort and the luck all come together. Somtimes it all works out. Maybe my life will be the same way.

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