I am going to apologize in advance for the length of this entry. It’s been a while since my last posting and a lot has happened since then. Some bad, mostly good, and it all begins with probably the best New Year’s Eve celebration I have enjoyed in quite some time. For the first time in what seems like forever, I celebrated NYE where I wanted to be. Let me clarify. It’s not that previous celebrations were forced or anything like that, but there was always a sense of obligation or family requirement or something else that made it feel just a little less than perfect. Not this year.
The weekend started with a wonderful birthday dinner for my friend, Lee. And if you’re an oysters fan and you find yourself in North Pinellas, stop into Guppy’s and have the Angels on Horseback. They are to die for! The only low point of the evening was my Hurricanes getting absolutely SPANKED by LSU in the Peach Bowl. But it was such a terrific night, the football didn’t matter. Yes, you heard me right! I actually admitted to UM football not mattering.
And if Friday was a 10, then Saturday was absolutely off the charts. After sleeping in until about ….. 2:00PM , Lee and I went out, did some shopping and started gearing up to usher in the New Year. We checked into our hotel in St. Pete and had a private pre-party that consisted of hors d’oeuvres, champagne and LOTS of laughter. We then got all dressed up and walked over to Janus Landing to catch Sister Hazel for the 4th time in 2005. It was a magical night, and the all-you-can-drink wristbands definitely contributed to the greatness of the evening.
What was really cool is that we hung out dancing and drinking some more after the concert. One of the catch phrases of the night was, “Two more Beam and Cokes. This time a lot less ice and a lot more Beam.” We danced, drank and laughed some more, and it was definitely the best way to usher in the New Year. Nothing but smiles and creating new moments with someone special.
The kicker is that by the time it was time for us to go, the band members were wrapping up their festivities and were heading out, too. It started with me running into Mark Trojanowski, the drummer for Sister Hazel. I called out his name and told him he did a phenomenal job once again. He proceeded to look at me like I had two heads. Then I heard someone call up to a blonde on the balcony. “Are you Susan?” I asked. “Yeah!” she replied. “Wow! I know you from the DVD. I love you! You’re awesome!” “Thanks. Now tell it to that guy next to you.” So I turn to the guy in the black t-shirt loading the truck with equipment. “Man, that Susan is just awesome!” He looked at me with a very tired yet aggressive look, and in classic dead-pan delivery said, “Get to know her…”
I was like a little kid, fascinated that I was mingling with the band. Then, I looked up and saw Ken Block. He was walking, carrying his kid in a baby carrier, his face just tired as all get out. I came up to him and thanked him for another great show. He is so remarkably cool, it’s hard to put into words. We chit-chatted for a couple of minutes, and he told me he remembered me from our meeting in February at the Lyrics for Life event.
I ran to get Lee, whom I had left to the care of my good friend Steve from Canada, as a result of her issues with something as simple as walking. Keep in mind that Steve and I had just met 8 minutes earlier. I asked her if she wanted to meet Ken. After taking some time to actually process what I said, she got up and ran/staggered to where he was. He, too, remembered her from when they met after a show in August. I had forgotten she got to go backstage and meet the band while I got stuck settling the bar tab, but that’s another story. After the polite but required good-byes, we started back to the hotel. The tales from the rest of the evening will be available soon on the Director’s cut blog entry .
The weekend wrapped up with me spending some quality time with my kids on the 1st and then taking Lee to the Outback Bowl on the 2nd. Contrary to our athletic upbringing, we were both Gator fans for a day, and thanks to spectacular weather and a somewhat controversial UF win, the day was just great, again! It is wonderful to know that I contributed to a very special weekend for her. To quote her, it was the best New Year’s ever! And it was also very special for me.
Dinners, concerts and bowl games aside, this New Year’s gave me an opportunity to reflect on a lot. To think about letting go of weights that hold us down and accepting with open arms the road ahead. Where I once saw a dark, desolate one-lane road to who knows where, I now see a 10-lane highway where I can choose any direction I want. The future and its uncertainties are no longer crippling. In fact, it’s liberating and exciting and everything else that comes with something new. The emotional equivalent to new car smell.
I once thought that happiness is made or found through determination and hard work. Through fighting for what you believe and being absolutely resolved in what you do. I think there is still some truth to that. But I have found by living this weekend that happiness is what you make it. More so, happiness is accepting God’s will.
Here is wishing you a very happy and fulfilling 2006. I know mine is off to a GREAT start!
Lee, what more can I say that I haven’t already? Thanks for sharing these last several days with me and for being such an important part of my life. Like we discussed, we have proven that together we can get through just about anything. Your friendship is like no other.