It's 3:15 AM and I have not had any coffee.
I managed to stumble out of bed to find a cup of ambition in my kitchen. For some reason, I insisted that I accompany my husband, Kyle, and his friend Matt to Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Matt, who is the owner and operator of Off the Map Expeditions, an ecotour business out of Wewa, Florida had informed my husband that the mullet were "running." My husband was very excited about this and made plans to go. I thought this would be the perfect time to try out my camera that my husband had procured for me the previous year for Christmas. I had been toying with the idea of getting some good shots of the sunrise at the beach for some time and this was the perfect opportunity.
My husband, who has been witness to my many finer traits, looked at my the night before this trip and with a serious tone said, "I just want you to know that we need to be in Wewa at 4:45."
"Oh, that will not be a problem. We can be there. I just will take a quick shower in the morning," I replied.
"Let me just tell you that when my feet hit the floor and I am walking out the door ready to go," he said.
"No, let me tell you that if you are not ready and I walk out the door I will leave you here. So if you plan on getting a 'quick shower' then you need to be up at 3:00 in the morning." He was beginning to annoy me.
"Let me tell you...I will be ready before you even roll out of bed and let your feet hit the floor," I said smiling smugly.
The the next morning I was cussing myself for insisting on going. For some reason, Mother Nature decided to drop about 20 degrees and I was not prepared for the shock of 56 degrees outside at 3:55 AM.
"Holy smokes...it's cold!" I cried.
My husband, ever supportive said, "You will be fine."
I curled up in the passenger seat and prayed he would turn on the heater.
He did not.
The drive down to the cape was long. It was close to 6:00 AM by the time we reached the Cape with Matt. Scanning the water, Kyle and Matt searched the water for signs of life. I really was not sure what to look for. But, then again I was still half asleep. Suddenly, I was jarred to my senses with the truck coming to a halt. The guys scrambled out of the truck rushing for their cast nets. In the sliver of dawn, I watched as they gracefully tossed out the nets into the calm of the early morning gulf. I quickly grabbed my camera to document this event. The nets looked like pancakes.
That reminded me that I was still hungry.
Pulling the nets in they smiled as the mullet tried to wriggle free. I smiled as well. Illuminated by the rising sun, I got to witness something you do not get to see every day... joy at its purest.
It was a good day.
Side Note: Should you be interested in booking a tour with Matt please visit his page at www.offthemapexpeditions.com. I don't think you will be disappointed.
"To be a true Southern lady, you do not necessarily have to be successful, but carry your misfortune with style and grace. However, I am riding the fast track to Hell in a hand basket. Mint Julep, anyone? " ~Confessions of the Not So Rich and Famous
I once dreamed of having a home that graced the covers of Southern Living, a large sprawling estate with a driveway lined with stately oaks that lead up to a majestic plantation style home with towering columns that reached for the sky. The lazy river would flow beside my home, beckoning all to it's waters. Being a Southern lady, I would sweep across my porch in my chiffon dress adjusting my wide floppy hat to keep the mid-day sun's blinding rays from my delicate porcelain skin and sit down with my closest confidants for a game of Bridge sipping on Mint Juleps. Each night, I would have an amazing feast on the dinner table for my husband and children that I made from scratch.
Clearly, growing up I was either just delusional or I was on drugs.
Being that Nancy Reagan's War on Drugs in the 80's consisted of Mr. T "pitying the fool," I managed to keep my nose clean.
I did not want to be clubbed by Clubber Lang.
Despite the fact that I did not grow up to become the quintessental "Southern Woman" and I live in a house that looks more like a war zone versus Tara, I think I would have made Scarlett O'Hara proud. I snagged a few crowns and titles and along the way of becoming a lady I got married and had two amazing boys. I managed to successfully complete my Bachelor's and my Master's in Educations from Florida State without owing a dime to student loans. Dinner is not made from scratch, but it is made with love straight from Hungry Howie's. I am fiercely loyal to my family and would lay down my life for them...and the dog. I am not afraid to get dirty and and I will grab the bull by the horns to get a job done. I don't take any crap off anyone and could careless about what people think of me. At the end of the day, it is all about how I feel about myself.
Sure I may have a pile of laundry waiting.
And my refrigerator looks sketchy.
But, it can wait.
Meet me in the tiki bar for a Mint Julep. I will have on my floppy hat.
I have always tried to foster creativity with my boys. If they show an interest in something I encourage it. Last summer, my youngest offspring announced as we were driving down the road that he wanted to be a drummer. At the tender age of nine, he had decided that was his calling in life. In his mind, the Rock and Roll lifestyle was the only choice for him, even though he could not distinguish Tom Petty from Tom and Jerry.
“Son,” I said looking back at him in the rear view mirror, “Beating the Hell out of the back seat with an empty Coke bottle does not make you a drummer. I requires practice, dedication, and most importantly a set of drums.”
“But, I really want to play the drums,” he said looking at me pleadingly.
“If you wish to play the drums, then you must commit to practicing everyday. Not just a little bit. But everyday.” I did not want to tell him no. But I did not want to tell him yes, either.
My son leaned in closer to my seat from the back stretching as far as his seat belt would allow. “But, Ruben. What if? What if God just made it so I could play without practicing? What if I just could play?”
“Okay, Tommy Lee. Knock your self out with that Coke bottle. While you are at it, ask God if he can exchange that gift,” I said shaking my head.
“Who is Tommy Lee?” he said questioningly.
The months rocked on and he continued to casually mention getting drums. Around Christmas, the opportunity presented itself to get a set of beginner drums from my cousin who had bought them previously for her son that was destined to be a rock star as well. After much discussion with my husband, we decided to get the drums for my son. After all, they were free. Loading them up in the truck, I expressed my gratitude to my cousin for giving the drums to son. She laughed and said, “Don’t bring them back. You can find the next victim.”
To my son’s delight Christmas morning he found the drums in the living room. He excitedly sat behind the drum set and quickly demonstrated his gift from God to the world. With drum sticks in hand, he quickly doled out a perfect drum roll.
“Wow! That is pretty good, son.”
“I know, Ruben.” Confidence was something that he was not lacking.
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas Day, his time spent behind the drum set was limited. For the next few day, the drum set sat untouched as we carried on with Christmas gatherings. It was not until December 27th that we learned we had just signed a deal with the devil and acquired the “Drums of the Damned.”
BAM! BOOM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BANG! TING! TING! CHING! BOOM! BA-DA BOOM!”
Waking up to that sound was quite jarring at 6:45 AM. I stumbled out of bed and made my way into our living room and found my precious rock star in the making beating the Hell out of the drums.
“Listen. We need to establish some ground rules with this. You can’t be playing the drums early in the morning or late at night. In fact, you don’t need to play them when your dad is home from work. Afternoons are sketchy as well.”
“But when am I supposed to play, Ruben.”
“When I am not in the house, son.”
“And when I am not at the house, too,” my eldest son chimed in. Apparently, his beauty sleep was disturbed by little Tommy Lee as well.
Christmas vacation came to an end and the second semester rolled from balmy January to beautiful June. The drums were occasionally played by my son during this time as we stayed very busy with school. Even then it was more torture than Mick Fleetwood or Phil Collins echoing from the set sitting in my living room. I knew it was going to be a long summer, much to my chagrin. Nearly every day during the summer he would sit behind the drum set and just beat.
BOOM! BANG! BANG! BOOM! CHING! TING! BANG! BA-DA BOOM!
I thought I was in Hell.
I managed to tune out the sounds of the “Drums of the Damned” by occupying my time outside. Eventually, I was able to tune out the madness that was Rock and Roll in the making. A few days, before I went back to work, my son was sitting behind the drums and asked me to listen to what he was doing. What would five minutes hurt? Not my ear drums, because they had ruptured weeks before.
Slowly, with a look of determination he pick up the drum sticks and played.
BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BANG…BANG…BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BANG…BANG…
I looked at him incredulous, “My, God! That actually sounded like something! Good job! You really could be the next Tommy Lee! I am amazed! With real practice and lessons you could be great! I am so proud of you!”
He put the drum sticks down and stood up, “Yep. I could. But I am going to be an engineer and just build cool crap. I am done. I am going to play with my Legos now.”
Just like that, my dreams of being a rock stars mom went down the drain. At least I have the “Drums of the Damned” to remind me of what could have been.
“I have experienced the ninth circle of Hell. It sounded nothing like Phil Collins on the drums,” ∼Confessions of the Not So Rich and Famous
Waking my two boys up for school is much like an episode of “The Walking Dead.” It is a painful process in which slow-moving creatures grunt and groan their way out of bed and though the house completely oblivious to the havoc that they are wreaking on the world around them. Between the grunts and groans, they make more excuses than a crooked politician as to why they cannot go to school. Often, a fight will ensue between the said pre-teen creatures. Usually, it is about who will be the first in the bathroom. Typically, the referee is their very frazzled mother, who has to get ready for school, as well. Before all is said and done, neither has brushed their teeth and my hair and make-up is not done. I look like Medusa and their breath smells like something died. This all before 6:15 AM.
Each morning we go through this same episode. Grunts, groans, fights, and refereeing. Eventually, they are “ready” for school. Basically, this is dressed, teeth brushed, and sometimes hair combed. My youngest son, who much to my chagrin, is the most difficult to deal with in the morning, because he lives by the motto, “Clothes do not have to match. They just keep you from being naked.” While I see the logic in this thought process, blue Nike shorts do not go with a long-sleeved Florida State shirt in August. If he had his choice, he would look like a transient, complete with camo Crocs and long socks. After a long battle with his choice of attire, we manage to come to a compromise. He keeps the Crocs and socks if his clothes match.
Every minute in the morning is precious, as I am a teacher and must be at work by 7:45 AM. By the time I manage to get myself ready for the day, the second battle of getting in the truck begins.
“Get your shoes on.”
“Get your backpack.”
“What do you mean you left your lunch upstairs?”
“Leave the dog alone!”
“Get the dog inside!”
“GET. IN. THE. TRUCK.”
This process can be further complicated during flood season, as we live by the Chipola River. Each spring, our yard will flood and we will have to walk through, some times kayak through, Mother Nature’s mood-swing just to get to my truck. Often, as we drive to school I continue to play the role of WWE ref and threaten to “leave them on the side of the road” if they do not behave. By the time we get to school, they have calmed themselves to the point that they look like “perfect angels.” I now look and feel like “The Walking Dead.” Exhausted, I make my way into the school. As we part ways, my youngest says, “Have a good day, Ruben.” My oldest hugs me and says, “I love you, Mom.” I watch them leave for class and think, “Rick and Daryl? They ain’t got nothing on Moms.” I would not trade my life with those boys for the world.
“I trudged through 3 feet of ice-cold flood water, dodging man-eating alligators and snakes, with a head cold, just to get to my truck and go to school…dragging y’all behind me. So unless the earth opens up and fire-breathing dragons destroy your home and Jesus himself descends from the sky for the second coming, then there is no reason why you can’t go to school. Your excuse is not valid. Get out of bed,”~Confessions of the Not So Rich and Famous
God had a great plan. In his design he looked upon the world and noticed it was incomplete. The world needed bonds and unconditional love that stretched beyond the realm of the Heavens. So he created families. It was a masterful creation. But yet, it still was missing an amazing piece. So he created our family. The Parrish family. He knew that when the world looked at our family they would KNOW what love was. The world would KNOW what an unbreakable bond was. The world would KNOW that despite the miles and years apart and differences that we would still call upon each other when needed. The world would KNOW the real meaning of family. When our time on Earth came to an end God KNEW we would leave behind a legacy that would stretch across generations and our names would roll of the tongues of descendants. Our purpose is not just to exist, but to leave an imprint on generations to come how we lived and loved. That is is the Parrish way.
Here’s to all that came before us, that taught us, that raised us. Here’s to those that have left us behind, young and old, that left an imprint on our hearts. Here’s to the summer nights that turned into mornings with friends that became family, making us much stronger than before. Here’s to more times with our loved ones. Here’s to being Parrish!
“There are two types of people in this world. Parrish…and those that wish they were Parrish,” ∼Confessions of the Not So Rich and Famous
Dear 15 Year Old Self,
Let me tell you what I have learned in 20 years about bad hair days:
1. Despite what you may think a bad hair day is not the end of the world. Trust me on this. Just put it in a pony tail and move on. No one will judge you because your hair does not cooperate.
2. The most important day in your life is not getting a car when you turn sixteen. Every day is a gift and you must treat it thus so. You never know what each day brings. Treat each day as if it is the most important day. Even if you have a bad hair day.
3. That guy? Well, he was not the one. The one was someone you least expected it and instead of giving you a jacket with his name on in it…he gave you his name and the world. He loves you even when you have a bad hair day.
4. Those girls you silently judged and sometimes not so silently judged. Well, y’all actually have more in common than you think. You will learn to respect each other for your accomplishments as adults and praise each other when needed. Especially on a bad hair day.
5. Drama is a class. Not a way of life. It’s is unnecessary and only makes your life miserable and is worse than a bad hair day.
6. Love is not fleeting, but solid and unconditional. This is evident when you move mountains and stars for your children despite the fact they may be the root of your bad hair day.
7. Your parents were right and you are the reason for their bad hair days and they still love you.
8. Success is not measured by a good hair day but a lifetime of bad hair days you learn from. Sometimes it takes learning from mistakes and tragedy to mold you into a better person.
I promise this…you will stumble. You will fall. Sometimes you will judge. Sometimes you will be judged. You will learn from this. But in the end it is what makes you who you are. Even on a bad hair day.
35 Year Old Self