At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.
So come with me. Lets be brave and journey westside. Together.
Prepare for some cuddles California...
Ask me anythingSubmit
I’m not a morning person. 4am is something of an enigma to me. If I do see it, it’s likely due to a rather over zealous wine “tasting”. Hence I was a little grumpy when the boss called to check I was in a suitable state of readiness for collection (I wasn’t). No sir…
So, what lured me out of my duvet before sunrise? Well, those who know me will hazard an educated guess. Those who are new to me, will soon understand. I have a complicated love affair. Called wine.
And so, a trip to Adelaide – to spend time with our wine maker extraordinaire and friend Karl Gumpl. With harvest in full swing we needed to check on our grapes’ health and happiness, discuss the vintage outlook (it has been hot in here) and, crucially begin to sip, swirl and sample wines for our expanding portfolio (hmmmmm…my smile resumes…).
A skip and a jump from base camp, we land in Adelaide and to our first date Amphora Wines. These bad boys (NB, teenage usage of the term ‘bad’ to explain something truly blooming wonderful) are supporting our brand “Natural Bridge” through its early developmental years. Through strategy support and, most crucially: cohesively, collectively blending our juice to our highly specified needs, wants and musts.
As a notorious fuss-pot and information acquirer/stockpiler (in wine and in life per se) I have a list of circa 500 carefully structured questions that I must impart on our hosts over the course of the next 8 hours. In the time it takes me to sup a latte, the Amphora boys (and girl) have delighted us with their demeanour, downright expertise and deliverance. Smiles circle the table as we are filled with satisfaction and resplendent good fortune at finding such amiable and admirable partners in wine. And so, to explore…
This time at Shaw & Smith. Have you heard of them? If your answer isn’t immediate and “yes”, I urge you to google them and stock up. With haste. Better still, pay them a visit. A cynic might hope the scenically divine tasting area is a guise to draw your spirit into the yonder lush, that the cheese accompliment is to fiddle with you taste buds, that the slickly skilled boys imparting their considerable knowledge are merely wind up Abercrombie models. You’re wrong. All of the above over excel and the winery itself is lickably clean. And did I mention the wine itself? Well, I can’t without salivating. Sometimes words just don’t suffice. An operation to admire and aspire to. Hasta la vista…
Heading back through the hills of Adelaide I come over all Von-Trapp-esque and Nigel and I lament at the new range we are almost, nearly, really, ready to launch. One final tasting (tomorrow) with the Canungra Cellars posse and we shall be. Stay tuned. Excitement looms. And you know what happens when I am excited…
I shall spit manana to ensure my updates are pertinent and comprehensible. Then again, it is Friday…
So, because we haven’t already had enough drama in our day and because I’m not already late enough for my girls night out, I agree that it is yes, absolutely, a great idea for us to go check out her new, erm ‘village’. She has, herself, been several times previously so I assume (yes foolishly) that she shall guide me with aptitude and ease.
I must not bore you with further Brit versus Brooklyn directional difficulties, surface to say it takes a (long) while, involves a trip to a hospital (car park) and an overly attentive police car. But we do get there. And we are still friends.
I was fully prepared to show visual disdain at her new choice of residence. I have indeed, spent the last couple of weeks planning my verbal assault of this ‘paradise”. I was supposed to frown at the aged decor, the stench of cabbage, the pee stained carpets, the dreary staff - I was being selfish. I just like having her near me. I can see her window from my window. I like the reassurance of her being “just there”. I shall miss her.
Disappointingly, my master plan is instantaneously thwarted. I like the place. Rather a lot.
I take a moment to nudge her as a nod to our tight schedule. I visualise my words escaping directly from her other ear. It takes a good 20 minutes to perform that crucial introduction of me to the receptionists. Then a quick (relative term) tour of the gym and I find out she’s hungry. She has 25 meal vouchers to use up, and we must use them or lose them. She orders her dinner And then a further 7 other main courses and 2 desserts. She interrupts my frown by assuring me they are to take out. I rock a little as she occasionally nibbles a morsel of chicken whilst providing running commentary of the pros and cons of her (very many) admirers.
After swinging around the dining room, leisurely learning of each of the residents families, interests, preferred pet costumes and bowel movements, I nudge my bundle of brilliance out of the building.
It takes no time at all to drive us both (very safely, thank you very much) back home. As I help her disembark from my car, she thanks her husband for watching over us, then me for the escort. On scuttering away, she turns, and with a knowing look on her face, tells me that my services in this arena are no longer required…
So. We are finally en route to somewhere she thinks may be nearby somewhere she may have been to before. And besides, her deceased husband is our guide. Excellent. We get onto the bridge. She starts breathing a little too loud, assisting my driving by vocalising that there is “a car beside me”; “an odd looking driver”; “a jeep 100 yards away that might be thinking about putting on his breaks”. Apparently, on this sweltering day I must also close the sun roof as it creates a whistling noise that makes it difficult for her to think. As far as I can tell, her concentration is focused solely on her next plentyoffish.com date, not me, and thus I leave it open and lower the windows.
This, she believes, is also the perfect opportunity to shout at me that she is an organ donor and if “anything goes wrong”(??) I should make sure the relevant persons are aware. But she also wishes she had married mister XXX (an online random) to ensure he had her social security. I frown. And I continue to drive perfectly well. Assuming she shall direct me as promised.
Half an hour later, in which time I have learned of her 7 potential male “hook ups”, varying from 50 (“too young Lucy, but maybe I can fix him up”) and 80 (“I’m not going to spend my remaining life changing some old guys nappies”), and I interrupt her rampancy to question when we should possibly get off the freeway. Turns out she forgot to direct me and we have driven a third of the way to LA.
I know I am frowning. She’s giggling. And so then do I. We pull off the big (wrong) road and pull over at the next place to reasonably stop to reconfigure. And then, from nowhere, she finds the address. It’s approximately 10 minutes, and an easy drive from where we live. I want to scowl, but she’s laughing so much, I give in to my own bodies need to chuckle. I try and pull a cross face, but she’s got me…
40 minutes later we arrive at her desired destination. I spend ages circling the car waiting for her to pick up (legal), and I am assuming, happy pills, female Viagra? - I just know she’s chatting up and providing “life assuring” advice to randoms. I go to fill up the car with petrol and too many minutes later, she’s ready. For home. Or so I thought. Apparently we absolutely must go and visit the new retirement home (I’m not allowed to call it such; it’s “Paradise Village”). I want to know where she’s moving to and apparently it’s close by. I breathe deeply. Put the ‘Drive’ soundtrack on the stereo, text my friends to tell them I may (almost definitely) be late for drinks, and prepare for the next nunism…
She readies herself to launch into my SUV. Oopsy daisy. Several minutes later I am performing an unsightly push you, pull me non strategy, acknowledging that my respect and immense love of my adopted ‘god mummy’ makes the boot an unreasonable option for her travels. We persevere.
I drag her in; wig mostly intact. I am exhausted, perspiring a little and in need of a drink. As a law abiding citizen I slurp my evian and take a (very deep) breath.
"Where to?" I chirp on re composure, my finger flirting enthusiastically over the sat nav. She names a generic hospital (there must be hundreds of thousands in America) and urges me to drive.
Breathe Lulo, breathe.
15 minutes later we have a generic hospital name AND a region. Nun is pleased with herself. Sat Nav lady (who notoriously goes out of her way to play with my mind and generally piss me off) is doing just that.
We try another tact. I ask the ex-nun to sssshhhhhh whilst I explain destination requirements to the sat nav woman with issues. I hone my best American accent as she won’t even contemplate ‘servicing my needs’ if I dare say “destination” with a British sounding ‘e’. I begin to talk, providing firm details and, just as we are moving nicely forward, the nun chirps up with (in a loud New York drawl) “alright, I need to pick up meds, from a hospital, near a gas station, probably, oh, I don’t know, 20, minutes away, I’ve been before, find it and take us there, ok?”.
Now, if I confuse the sat nav lady, you can imagine her breakdown on hearing this ear shattering ramble. She decides she’ll take us to a Costco instead, whilst the nun tells tells me it will be ok. She has, after all, been before and is very capable of directing me. And, for further reassurance, her dead husband will guide us. I think I may have looked up to the sky…
I have a friend. She is 79. She was a nun for decades. She fell in love with a priest. I guess this happens. She left the nunnery. He left the priesthood (appreciate my terminology may be a little ignorant). She married the priest. He became a sex therapist. They had to test out the ‘tools’. Sadly he died. 5 years ago. I never met him. I should have liked to. She will always love him. I met her. We chatted. We quickly became friends. She is a good friend. She makes me giggle. A lot. She tells rude jokes. She has recently developed a thing for talking to (via dating websites) random male strangers. I have met a few. 80 is too old; 50 too young, but she will set up a date regardless. And I chuckle at her judicial description of her woes. And I am drawn into her “I just googled him and he’s a congressman” highs. He’s not. She must write a book. I would buy it. Even though I have heard it.
In response to, and because of, the smiles she has brought to my life, I try and help her. And, as she has only every driven me 150 metres around a car-park and I still worried for our lives (I have seen the indentions in her bonnet: worse than mine); I figured a good way to help was to offer to drive her.
Let me summarise my last week of splendififity (this much fun deserves a new word) in a shortish paragraph. And in true Lulo style, bad grammar and no particular order;
Cuddles, kisses, crying with laughter, hurting post giggles, yooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, makeshift nails, horrendous mexican food, jet ski-ing, chewy malbec, spanking the floor with happiness, press ups, fake sand dollars, little tubs of goodness, more wine than is countable/acceptable, those midday “ohh, maybe a mimosa would help” moments, those “must have” tree pictures, yooooooouuuuuuuuu, seeking the rudest words on menus, asking inappropriate questions to waiting staff, shitface, articulate amongst mind-readers, “a little bit of rain”, staying up till sunrise, being surprised when you don’t, planning things and doing nothing, falling off kerbs, screaming “bohemian rhapsody” in the car with all the windows down, the monk only postposing his open smile to lick his lips, swallow and let mores smiles in, torture museum (no words required), “running just as fast as i can”, palm reading nun stylee, crushed grapes in wine (brings out the grapiness), hot tub chatting, planning futures, “what does a 2 do?”, kippers and turnips, “what, you’re still up??!”, clapping post decent/any parking, immature burlap sack monkey hilarity, “are you sure it wouldn’t benefit from a carrot?” good advice, curried peanut butter sorbet, random photo pointing/screeching, yooooouuuuuuuuuuuu, endless nun photography, “can i quickly point a few things out?”, old ladies 20 minute parking; never finalised, “every part of me” dance move (new), “just the little things” morning book flips, getting dance cues from my drumming coach, randomly spectacular harmonising, not being able to stand up through laughter. Being so happy with the sun shining and so many smiles I am sure I have 1 million flies in my tummy. Aching with happiness…
Yooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu ladies make our life better. Thank you for being so brilliant, loving, funny, adorable and really, extremely, tolerant. We love you.
…but there is another story from this day (Sunday). Post flight, pumped up, delirious, sleep deprived ‘flyer’ ( have a certificate uh-huh), bedraggled, not a pretty sight, but we need food. And Bloody Mary’s. So we drive to Pacific Beach with me screeching “rising up straight to the top, had the guts got the glory”…whilst the boy smiles and encourages me to help with directions. Not a chance. I am so far gone to be helpful.
Eventually we rock up at the Fig Tree cafe and are assigned to a queue. Sunday. Lunchtime. Spring Break. But it’s alright, drinks can be delivered to us outside on the waiting bench. I’m still ranting incohesively about my inner brilliance when a (rather lovely looking) guy comes over on crutches and asks to sit and wait with us. And I can’t help myself but fill him in on my flying courageousness, and he applauds enthusiastically. I ask the boy if I should go get my certificate. He frowns. That means no.
Anyway, once the lovely looking stranger gets a chance to talk (shame on me), he asks where we are from. He says he was also in London last year for the Paralympics. I talk about how much we wish we had been there and he tells us how brilliantly delivered the whole event was. I grin, patriotically.
And then. The reveal. He won a bronze and a gold, A GOLD MEDAL. And also the very same medals he fought for (and deserved) in Beijing. Ex-military involved in a motorcycle accident subsequently losing the use of his legs, one (many/most/me?) might crash and burn. But no, this great being chose to make the very bestest of an awful tragedy. And I never want our table to be called as I am so brilliantly inspired by this incredible man. He’s going to retire after Rio, but I so definitely know that he will continue to make random strangers lives happier. In the 15 minutes I spent with this incredible guy, I changed a bit. In a really, really good way. I didn’t get his name, but I will never forget those precious 15 minutes…
I know you know, but let me remind you (again and maybe once more, next week) that yesterday I was pushed out of a plane. I did it…
Lets get some perspective. I am a despiser of all things high. I have vertigo (never before useful, but perhaps, for one day only, that insane “urge to jump” came in handy…). I’ll be honest, lots of things terrify me. Bananas, men with long nails, facials (bad experience), the ocean (and all things beginning with S that lie beneath)…But the boy loves mental stuff. He thinks its like “awesome” (his words) to jump off a cliff relying solely on a piece of elastic and a big wad of good fortune. Opposites attract I guess. Suffice to say, he was excited. As for me, well weeks of bad sleep and numerous “I WANT A REFUND AS I WILL MOST LIKELY DIE” phone calls to the skydive centre. But, I remind myself, the boy does immense things for me everyday so lets go Lucy Long. Or, at the very least try…
And then it was Sunday. 8am. Cloudy. I smile a sleep deprived selfish grin to say thank you for those who provided said precipitation (I’ve read in my hours of useless research, no jumps in such weather). But we head out regardless. 30 minute car journey with random me interludes of “at least I’m trying” and “perhaps we should postpone until I feel better” (which; in relation to upcoming event, will never ever happen).
As we pull into a busy car park, I note a very small airplane and plenty of unknowns psyching themselves up for the unknown. They’re smiling. I am in the wrong place. A very wrong place.
A zillion disclaimers signed later and a disturbing video-on-repeat lawyer giving examples of folks who have experienced accidents and are totally not ever, no way in the world, able to sue (cue LL “who gets what ifs…” to the boy, nothing he hasn’t heard before).
And then we wait, and wait some more. The clouds must clear, a lady who I KNOW has never jumped from a plane before tells us, shes too happy. I will them fluffy white beauties to hang on, protect me. But the buggers disapate and the alarms go. Take off (bite another nail). In some twist of evil fate, we are not on the 1st flight, nor the 2nd - too much time to think. And I am forced to watch a rickety plane fly so high I can’t see it anymore thrusting happy (odd) people into the sky. They all seem ecstatic. I question their sanity. Their luck. I grind my teeth and rock a bit (lot).
Flight 3. That’s us. We get harnessed up and taught how to not die (well how to do our best not to). And I get paired with a tubby Canadian (Johnny) who walks me to the plane. I say “I’m scared”. He says “me too”. I say “I don’t like heights”. He says “me neither”. I say “is everything going to be OK?” He says “let’s hope so”.
We get squished into the plane. And I don’t like seeing masking tape on such devices. The instructors sense my very apparent fears. And respond sweetly so; “hey Lucy, where’s your parachute? He’s got one, he’s got one, he’s got one, are you crazy, you NEED a parachute” and “so the bottom of the plane drops down and you fall, simples” and “Johnny’s new and, well, he’s a bit sporadic”. And I sweat, tears well up and they shut up and hold my hand.
Next bit. I’ve to shuffle tight between Johnny’s legs and he pulls on strings and I squeeze his hands tightly and he asks me to please leave that for later and hold onto the harness. The boy is at the back of the plane (far from me) squeezing his buttocks into another mans lap. A brief LL smile ensues until the door is whooshed open and I see my boy being thrust out at 13000 feet. Gasp. Panic. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaby! No time to ponder more about the boys life status as I am now waddling down the not-really-a-proper-plane strapped to Johnny and he says “it’s ok Lucy, head back, annnnnd NOW”.
And there it is. We are flying. Chubby cheeks a blubbering, BAD words exhaled and 60 seconds of, oh, I can’t explain it cohesively…Mental, crazy, messed up scariness and almighty brilliance and then, and POW. Parachute unleashed and we float. And Johnny lets me fly (just for a little bit as I was rotating rather too wildly; think me dancing). But I flew. I, Lulo who has been know to cry hysterically on commercial big and proper planes that you never have to jump out of, flew. And it was brilliant and beautiful and also the most insanely weird and wonderful thing I think I’ve ever done. I think. I remain undecided as to my true feelings about the whole event. All I know is that I don’t ever want to forget that I flew. Yesterday I flew.
And so it begins. Not like its a biggy or anything. No. Scrap that. YES IT IS. I am about to (attempt to) change my life. Do you feel the positive Californian energy? Ohmmmmmm, COME ONhmmmmmmmmmmm. Let me feel it. Please? Something? Anything?
Ohhhh, OK, thanks. That feels good. But I am so far from Zen right now. Am-dram Lulo (LAMDA to grade 8 all with distinction, oh yes!) goes a little nuts about everything. I am trying to arm myself against those naughty, devious, MS blips, make them feel less, erm, crazy/debilitating/ frustratingly wrong…
But, weird stuff scares me. Okra, bananas, those texty smiley/winkey faces, being so far from you, currants in chocolate/anything but chocolate in chocolate, and I feel like I am about to self combust with fear. But, as The Boy reminds me; I should/must focus on the real. The now. The real and actual fears (NB irrespective of actual subject I despise all the previous, bananas in particular). And missing you is painful. With a capital P.
And so, here I am. With a new, super neurologist. Small, like me. But brilliant (and therein ends the association). And I am to start my daily anti-MS (terrible, wrongful explanation - I shall bore you further someday) injection on Sunday. I am hoping to share this journey with you. I am not asking for money. Not today. And not even for my ‘jump out of a plane tied onto a complete stranger fiasco’ - just send me luck for that - and earplugs for the whole State of California. Right now, I just want to talk. And, if you’re listening, that’s great, I appreciate you.