Saturday, July 3, 2010
Well, I’ve had him for two weeks, now. My Aussie. Larry.
My first task involving his visit was to pick him up at Bangor International Airport. In spite of the fact that I can get lost trying to find my own birthmark, I amazed myself by driving straight to BIA--in the middle of a torrential downpour, no less! I arrived early. His plane arrived earlier. Naturally. Of course it did! And so… even though I was ahead of schedule, I was late. And soaked to the skin. Since I’d hoped to make a good first impression, what else could I expect?
I learned the plane had touched down a few minutes before I arrived, and since there was no one hanging about the lobby looking like they were lost or waiting to be picked up, I had the airline employee page him for me. I looked around the airport and within seconds, I spotted him. Big, burly, blond-white curly hair and beard, with a big duffel bag thrown over one shoulder, he came walking across the floor, straight at me.
I’ve got to tell you-- that man gives the best hugs you can imagine! Big, all enveloping, arms-wrapped-around squeezes. Larry actually picked me up off the floor.
I thought I’d killed him. Before a single word passed between us, I was convinced I’d done him in. Laid him low. I was already trying to figure out how to ship him home in the most economical fashion; in a casket, or an urn?
Most of you know me, right? I’m no stranger to these parts… you’ve seen me around the neighborhood since 1967; in the store, the post office, the bank, the restaurant. You can attest to the fact that I’m no string bean. I’m more like one of those zucchinis which was overlooked in the garden until it was of ample size to feed a starving village. The kind of zucchini you have to transport in the back of your pickup when you smuggle it under cover of darkness to your neighbor’s porch, knowing they’d never accept such horrendous bounty by light of day. That’s right… I’m an over-grown, over ripe zucchini.
I wondered briefly if the man was blind. Seriously… who would take one look at me and say “There’s a gal I’d like to heft!”? But he’s not blind, and he’s extremely intelligent, too. I just can’t figure it out.
Good Lord, I thought I’d killed him.
We picked up a rental car for him and I made my first confession. I didn’t know how to get from the airport to my parents’ camp in Elliotsville, which is where Larry’s been staying since he arrived on June 20th. But he took the worry away by making a simple offer. He’d lead the way. You can’t see my embarrassed grin, but it’s a big one. He drove straight to Guilford, a town which is familiar territory to me, and then he followed me from there to the Hill Place. Larry didn’t make one wrong turn, nor hesitate at a stop light. He even used his blinkers well in advance of each turn so that I’d have time to quell my panic and move into the proper lane.
Yeah, I’m still grinning. And let's not forget: The man drives on the wrong side of the road and sits in the wrong side of the car when he's Down Under!
The man is as laid back as they come. Nothing seems to rile him, or worry him, or make him tense. We even got lost once--up by the airport in Greenville--but my mate stayed calm and unruffled. He didn’t get irritated as I laughed at him in a “welcome to MY life” kind of way when he stopped the car to ask for directions. He uttered not a single "Bloody hell".
“No worries,” he said.
You see, I DID worry--and you know I did, for I shared those fears with you, my friends and followers. I was sure Larry would take one look at me and want nothing more to do with me. I was afraid that my actual presence wouldn’t measure up to my long-distance persona. Perhaps it doesn’t, but I’ll never hear that from my friend Larry. He is the perfect guest, and a wonderful pal. Calm, unhurried, slow to excite; he exudes a peace that is contagious. When he hugged me and lifted me in the airport, I could very well have given the man a myocardial infarction. But he wouldn’t have blamed me, I don’t think. As his heart stuttered to a stop, Larry would have said, “No worries.”
(You heard me, right? The man stopped to ask for directions. Heh… I’ll take an Aussie off your hands, any day!)