We were silent for a second and then I threw my arms around her and hugged her long and hard right there in the parking lot. I couldn't believe it! I hadn't heard a peep from her since the day I left Offutt Air Force Base on December 17, 1987. We were both giddy and excited, asking each other where our lives were and catching up on 14 years. It was so nice! After that Lynn and I emailed and went to lunch together. It was fantastic! Lynn was the woman I took on my very first date way back on September 19, 1986 and here she was sitting in a Taco Bell in 2001 staring at me with her big beautiful black eyes. So nice.
So on July 21, I phoned my mother in Evansville, Indiana, 770 miles away. My brother, Darrel, and his wife were planning to come see me in September, along with Mom, but I started the conversation by giving Mom an emotional account of running into Paralyn, and how great it was to see her again. It picks up from there:
Mike: It was really nice to talk to Lynn. I feel so comfortable talking to her.
Mom: I have tomatoes (silent pause) Do you still eat tomatoes?
Mike: (uncomfortable pause)Uhhh...sometimes
Mom: You can have some fresh tomatoes from the garden when you come home. Do you still like to eat tomatoes?
Mike: I don't buy them but I like them on my sandwiches.
Mom: If you come home you can have tomatoes!
Mike: They grow tomatoes in Virginia
Mom: I have a few rotten ones but there are still some really nice ones in the bunch. So you don't keep tomatoes?
Mom: If you come home you can have some of my fresh tomatoes!
Mike: Oh...that's a big incentive...
Mom: When you lived at home you used to LOVE my tomatoes. You remember how you used to love my tomatoes so much?
Mike: I didn't have to drive as far to get them back then.
(and now....a later conversation)
Mom: Darrel still hasn't found a place in Virginia Beach for Wendi and him. Did you say there are other places with beaches?
Mike: This whole area is surrounded by water Mom, it's a peninsula. Everything has water around it.
Mom: Where was the place you said was good?
Mike: There are beaches and water everywhere. He needs to get a map and just start checking for lodging.
Mom: You said there was a place that had a beach.
Mike: Let's see...Portsmouth, Hampton, Yorktown, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk, Newport News, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach--they are all near water. Does he want an ocean beach, a river beach, or just to be near the water?
Mom: You said Hampton before, but is that next to the water?
Mike: Yes, I told you it's on the water. They have a place there called Buckroe Beach.
Mom: Oh, I see, but Hampton doesn't have a beach
Mike: Buckroe Beach is a beach in Hampton--yes, Hampton is on the water.
Mom: What about Williamsburg? Is that near the water?
Mike: It's next to the York River, but he has to decide if he wants to be on the ocean or not.
Mom: But Williamsburg is too far
Mike: No, it's closer than any other place. I ride my bicycle there and back quite often. I can reach it by bicycle in under an hour
Mom: But Williamsburg is too far for him.
Mike: It's closer than Virginia Beach and probably an easier drive than Hampton
Mom: But it's over 100 miles?
Mike: No! I told you it's very close! I can reach it by bicycle in under an hour! You need to get a map so you can see where these places are situated. Do you have a map Mom? Can you get your road atlas?
Mom: Yeah, just a second...(pause for a minute to get road atlas) let's see...Virginia, Vermont, Washington
Mom: Oh...I went too far, I'm in Vermont...
Mike: Go back
Mom: Let's see...page 17...here we are...Roanoke...Lynchburg...there's Lynchburg
Mike: Go east...I'm on the southeast coast
Mom: Lynchburg just kind of stands out a lot on this page.
Mike: Go east
Mom: My friend's boyfriend used to be stationed in Roanoke. Isn't there an army base in Roanoke?
Mike: I don't know...
Mom: Didn't you say there was a military base in Roanoke?
Mike: There's one near Blacksburg which is near Roanoke, I think. Not sure.
Mom: But that's army? Oh well, that was during World War II.
Mike: Things have changed a little. I'm on the east coast.
Mom: Charlottesville...there's Charlottesville Mike (she was referring to the fact that my ex-girlfriend lived in Charlottesville)...Richmond...
Mike: East....go east
Mike: Go back east...you were there...