When I first wrote the title of this post, my intention was to briefly cover the past two weeks of flying trapeze training in Florida following my epic 3,000-mile week of vehicle purchases, friend visits, truck stops, and Walmarts. But after typing “up to date,” an image popped into my mind, which would be unfair for me not to share.
Imagine a baboon-looking man: sun-baked skin; swollen, round belly and man-boobies; long, wavy hair and sideburns. He’s almost 60. You’re just pulling past 35. He passes his entire life by sitting in a lawn chair on the beach, except for the two nights he sings at an empty bar and the solo after-party he spends kicking back beers nobody is around to share. You enjoy the beach but as a whole, prefer doing something meaningful with your day. He’s been married five times. You’re technically still married to the first one. “If I get divorced again,” he says, “it might be me.” He lives in a garage on main street, and drives a limo to pull off the ruse.
Now, imagine him texting you daily: “Are you up to a date with me? Huh? Huh? Are you?”(What he’s been texting has been much more pathetic, actually, but this is the gist of it.) I had given him my number because he said he knew a good real estate agent and that he’d text me her information (I’ve been considering buying a duplex for a rental property in Venice), but he’s been using my phone number much more liberally now. When he first asked me to have dinner with him while we were chatting on the beach, I declined and told him I thought we would just be “beach buddies,” but apparently I wasn’t firm enough. He’s been texting me past midnight asking me to come have dinner ever since. This morning, he will receive a more direct text: “No means no, man. Now back off!”
And, while I’ve been enjoying the dog-friendly beach, this guy is not the only loon I’ve met in Venice. I’ve met a few normal people, but the crazies seem to outnumber normal, everyday people two-to-one. I am also being stalked by an elderly Canadian who lives in a Honda Oddessy and a haggard, nutty, self-absorbed alcoholic who owns a bar. On the upside, I did meet a nice couple whose daughter lives in Boulder (of all places!) and another couple whose son studied Japanese.
In other news…
I’ve been planning the future with several friends. We’ve dreamed of something akin to retiring to our own little subdivision where the sun always shines, the pool has a boy, and the dogs run freely. We’ve looked at land in various parts of California and also considered other states, but the idea is in its infancy, and we’re really not set on anywhere yet. Heck, we don’t even know if land is what we want, as it sure would be convenient to live in a condo complex where the HOA takes care of the pool and the pool boy!
Being out in Myakka for a week has given me some perspective on living out in the country. In a few words, I don’t like it. Here’s why:
Gas money: We’re at least 20 miles from everything, even the grocery store. Buying a carton of eggs or taking Bill to the dog park costs me at least $10 every day. People think they’re saving money by living out this way because land is cheap, but I’m spending an average of $300 a month just to be here! Let’s not even talk about the environmental impact of all that driving.
Dirt roads: The roads here are paved in what seems like beach sand. They have to be graded every few weeks because each time it rains, they become like washboards. When it’s not raining, it’s incredibly dusty. Washing a car out here is futile, and being passed by a car while walking the dog will send you home looking like a ghost.
Roaming dogs: We are constantly harassed by dogs on our morning walks, many big dogs and one Chihuahua (guess which one I fear most?). The one neighbor has three great Danes that run the fence line and bark at us. Another neighbor has two pits. Several have large mutts. On four separate occasions, we’ve had dogs come out to “greet” us as we’ve walked by. Once, I turned around to find a giant Boxer directly behind me. This dog, whom I’ve named “Lou,” took a two-mile walk with us. He just wouldn’t go home. When we went back past his house, his owner was in her truck. She called him and then drove away! Didn’t even say anything like, “Oh, sorry if my dog scared you,” or “Thanks for bringing my dog home.” Luckily he was friendly!
Jehovah’s Wittnesses: As they proved by knocking on Alex’s trailer earily in the morning two days ago, even all the way out here, you’re not safe from solicitors!
Drunk driving: There are a lot of drunk drivers out here, and even for me, this is a long way to drive after two glasses of wine, so I generally just opt to stay home instead of going out with friend. Too dangerous!
Redneck neighbors shooting things: Bill hates the sound of gun shots, probably from his puppy mill past, where they surely shot the dogs who could no longer produce profitable puppies. When the redneck neighbors shoot things here, I can’t even get Bill out of the house to pee.
Mosquitoes: Just as there are two crazies for every one normal person in Venice, there are two mosquitoes in Myakka for every one in Venice. The mosquitoes out here in the country are awful! If I leave my trailer at dusk, I come back dotted with bug bites like a strawberry’s skin with seeds.
I like the neighboring horses and cattle, and the countryside is beautiful, but it’s not worth the hassle and expense of being tucked so far away from society. This experience has been very helpful in narrowing down where I’d like to live in the future. One of the things I most liked about Japan was the easy public transportation and being able to ride my bike everywhere. I’d like to be bike-riding distance from a grocery store, a coffee shop, and a park or a beach. And I definitely don’t want to live on a dirt road!
As for training…
We’ve been flying here and there. Robinson hasn’t been out much because he’s got family obligations in Sarasota, and he’s training with the Wallendas for the high-wire act he’ll be helping them perform when we’re in Germany. I think we’ve had about three real days of catching, and they haven’t been stellar for me. First, we were figuring out the timing for my double pike. Now, we seem to be having trouble getting my break just right, and of course, as the day goes on, and I get tired, everything gets wonkier. On the upside, I did throw full-ins yesterday for the first time in more than a year, and nobody died. That’s a good thing! Maybe I’ll throw a few more today (this trick, a full-twisting-double-tuck, is my nemesis).
Soon, we’ll be heading for Indiana.
On Thursday or Friday of this week, we’ll be leaving Florida and heading for Evansville, Indiana to perform in one of the biggest Shrine shows of the year with the Jordan World Circus. I’m excited to get up there to see my friend Tess, the ringmaster, and my friend Larry, with whom I’ve worked on other Shrine shows. I’m also extremely excited to see my bestie from grade school, Kelly, who will be meeting me right after the show in St. Louis to drive with me to Colorado, where my trailer will reside during my Germany excursion (I’ll be working at Flic Flac in Germany for a month over the holidays).
Kelly and her awesome pup, Hunter, will become permanent fixtures in my trailer when I get home, and we’re planning some great adventures. You’ve gotta hear her story, as she’s a person who is taking the plunge to pursue her passion, even though it has required her to walk away from a lucrative job. I’ll tell you more, soon. You’ll be inspired!