Sunday, November 7, 2010

How to make a random day Amazing!

The elder statesmen are dropping their loose change on the table, gloves are tightening, faces smiling, pens dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's". The rules are given a once over by the emcee just prior to the bell ringing to signify the start of the tournament. The happy, retired golfers joke around as they gather their belongings and race off to hole one in their state of the art golf carts. Mike and I are sitting in close proximity near the clubhouse enjoying the amenities which include free wifi, a really great hot tub, a heated pool, a fantastic patio with shuffle board and horse shoes.... and SUN! Oh, did I mention there is a sweet 9 hole course in the community as well? These old folks know how to live! We are clacking away on our computers, lining up places to stay in the Caribbean through We have had the conversation about how ironic it is that both of us, near 30 years of age, have a semi-retired lifestyle. I make my bread and butter with my online business and Mike works seasonal jobs managing night clubs and selling Christmas trees. Mike is super "consolidated", as he likes to call it, carrying what he would need to live for years on his back. I have a home in Buffalo that my brother is watching and living in as I bounce back and forth around the planet, but have purged most of my unnecessary possessions and expenses, making almost everyday a great adventure.

Yesterday we got the tour of Leesburg with cousin Tom. Mike also convinced him to clean up his hair cut, which lead to a near riot in the salon at the local mall. We had the hair dressers laughing practically to tears as we joked about turning the old hippie into an oil tycoon. My haircut made me look like Uncle Kracker....which was later confirmed by the cover band we saw at a local bar when the lead singer came up and asked... "Dude... are you Uncle Kracker?" I smiled and politely let him down.

The afternoon hours were spent learning how to golf with Tom walking us through the basics so we could get a swing down. I whacked a few balls into the gator pond before finally keeping my head down and putting it on the green. Michael explained his lack of golf skills in a way the hit home with me, "Golf is a game of mental patience... and I don't have any." After playing the same two holes 3 or four times we called it quits and got ready to head out into town for the Annual Chili Cookoff!

It turns out Mike has friends that live in Leesburg and are practically one of the oldest and most politically connected families in town. Enter "T"... T is a big ole Florida boy with a rampant penchant for "bromance". This son of a real estate magnate was strutting his drunken stuff with a 10 gallon cowboy hat and rosy red cheeks that screamed of light beer consumption. The minute he saw Mike he was screaming "Bicycle! Mr. Bicycle!! I love you man!!" and hugging him like he was a war hero. I'm very fond of Mike, so I figured maybe this guy really is too, but as the night progressed I watched him over-hug nearly everyone he ran into. This is how T rolls when he's drunk. This dude was the life of the party and definitely the right hook up for the night. We got free food and beer, a tour of his parents Opera House that the family bought and renovated in the center of town. While in this amazing 120 year old mammoth of a building we were escorted to a lavish back apartment where his parents and their friends were partying. Ernest Hemingway? Nope. T's dad. T's dad has won so many Hemingway look alike contests that the government of Spain set him up on a totally expense free trip to tour their country to honor him during one of their festivals. The whole family centered around this calm, cool patriarch who was clearly a man of intelligence and means. The party moved to the local bar, which was packed with 400 or so happy locals all swinging, laughing and drinking to the funniest cover band ever. At first, I kept thinking I was in a bad filming sequel of Spinal Tap, but they.... like Tap (in character at least) were serious about the music. They shredded through the worst Nickelback Top 40 crap and were on the verge of making me pull my hair out. But then a shift... a total phase shift happened. Perhaps I was just getting buzzed enough from the alcohol. Perhaps the cover band owned their tunes so much that they roped me in. Maybe the bleach blonde, fake boob, 40yr old plus crowd of Florida Cougars dancing on the floor in front of me enticed enough of my young male spirit.... that... a smile cracked my face and I began finding myself sliding ever closer to the middle of the floor. Eventually Tom and Mike joined me...noticing the lack of males in the slithering crowd of over eager female dancers. We owned that floor, and eventually the band. I typed in the numbers 867 5309 into my phone and kept flashing the members while they sang "Jenny I got your number...." They were laughing so hard they could barely finish the tune. It was so much fun. Cousin Tom remarked, "Isn't it amazing that no matter where we go, we always have a good time and end up owning the room?!" I couldn't agree more. The adventurous spirit of this trio is infectious!

We are going to hit some laps in the pool now and enjoy the rest of the day. Hope you are enjoying your day!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Spontaneous Adventure Begins!

"Dude! How the hell are ya'll!" Mike said in his southern accent as he swung open the door to his town house in an upscale neighborhood in Atlanta and wrapped his bare, burly upper body around Tom and myself in a happy greeting. He was shaved bald and smiling from ear to ear. He had packed all he needed for a tropical adventure, but had somehow not yet put on a t-shirt. I mention that he was shaved bald, because the last time I had seen him he was on his epic bicycle adventure across the lower 48 states and he had a long, blonde, curly mane that made him look like Jesus. While he isn't the "Lord and Saviour" re-incarnate, he certainly has a big strong free spirit and a lust for life and adventure that makes everyone around him love him instantly. Mike and I became fast friends...nay brothers last year when a short stay turned into a 10 day fun fest that spanned a couple Northeast states. We had way too much in common to not form a life long bond, and yesterday morning was a sort of re-joining of the forces. Tom and I had just spent the whole night driving the deserted I 75 South to reach our formidable friend early in the morning and continue on the Leesburg Florida, where Tom is now living.

This adventure had spontaneity written all over it from the start. About a week ago, Tom, who had been working in Buffalo for the past few months, came home and said, "Hey man, we ought to go to Puerto Rico with Mary and Colleen on the 10th of November." "I'm in!" I said without hesitation, knowing that Mary was going on the trip on account of all of my recommendations of the island. She also wants to meet Lucy and the children. She has been very sick for the past year, so I knew this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us to really enjoy a vacation together while she is feeling good. Mary owns a fabulous restaurant downtown and has been a dear friend for a few years. I met her like I meet everyone I spend any time was an instant, serendipitous connection. She came over to my table and started rubbing my shoulders and telling me that I must have a "charmed life" and "an old soul" and that I was soooo cute, like a sweet son... to her. Needless to say I became a great customer and a dear friend over time... Mary has tons of friends and customers who love her for this very charm. Not to mention the food at her restaurant is to die for!

This put the wheels in motion. I checked my schedule for November, made some adjustments to free up time, and picked up the phone to call Lucy in Puerto Rico and make sure we could come stay with her. "Of course! We can't wait to see you again!" was her reply. "We will get your house ready!" I hang up the phone and it rings again.... Mike.... "Dude, I need something to do... I am stagnant down here in Atlanta and I just quit my job a month ago. I"m gonna go into hibernation mode of I don't get the heck outta here" "Wanna go to Florida and then Puerto Rico?" I asked. "When do we leave?" "We'll pick you up in a few days... I'm ordering your plane ticket now." "Awesome! I'm so excited!" It was that easy, Mike was going on this adventure. He requested that we just buy one-way tickets in case one or all of us decided to just stay in the Caribbean for a while. Now the goosebumps were building up my arm. I told Tom the good news and he shared my excitement!

We got into Leesburg last night and the fun began. Hot tub, pool, golf carts. The luxury life in Tom's new "retired" community has been super sweet so far! Plus you can't beat the weather. It has been a bit seasonably cool at 67 F with a light breeze and plenty of sunshine. We made steaks on the grill last night. I cooked a salmon and eggs breakfast. Mike and I talked about tons of awesome adventure ideas while swimming in the pool, including one that would involve us leaving and living for one year just walking around the continental US, following the seasons. Today we helped Tom clean up the house and get things organized. Everything is just flowing so sweetly.... the way it should be. There's sure to be some great stories from the three of us.... keep your eyes peeled!!!