Rita Reflections, Part II: Making The Most Of It

continued from here
I got into Sulphur Springs Wednesday night, and through the day Thursday in between watching CNN, the Weather Channel and whatever else we could find on the TV, I talked with a few friends back in the old hometown, making plans to go see ’em. I figured that while I was up in those parts I’d make the most of it. I talked with Kim at some point either Thursday or Friday, and if I remember right she had to work Thursday but was off Friday.
“How about we go out for a bite to eat Friday night?”
“Yeah, I think that’ll work out the best for us.”
I headed back to the old hometown about 3:30 or so Friday afternoon, as Rita was bearing down ever closer on the Texas-Louisiana coast. As it worked out, she had taken a last-minute turn and was weakening, and she was then projected to come ashore somewhere in the vicinity of Sabine Pass. This place was still going to be a hell of a mess when I came back, but nowhere near as bad as it would have been had we been on the dirty side of the Category 5 monster she was about the time I was riding into Smith County that Wednesday night. But for a little bit Friday night, I was going to spend some time with my best friends in the world and forget about what was happening back home — or at least not worry about it as much. I got into town a little before 5, met up with my brother from another mother — aka my best friend from high school — and ran around with him a little bit. I told him I was gonna split there in a little bit and meet up with the aforementioned female friend for a little bit before I came out to where we were all staying for the night.
“Oh, no you’re not. Bring her out here.”
Somehow I didn’t think she’d go for that, and truth be told I was looking for a different environment to talk with her anyway, so I more or less begged off on that point. Not so much because of any kind of romantic interest but because it would have been more than a bit uncomfortable considering certain things that had happened some time before. And I never wanted to take the chance on losing her friendship anyway. I knew that once that line was crossed there’d be no going back. And I was still smarting because of the three years of my life I had thrown away on my last so-called “relationship.” Back to the story, Kim called as we were riding down the road and I let it go to the voice mail and called her back a bit later. I was almost afraid I wouldn’t be able to get out, as brother from another mother was a bit insistent.
“I’ll be back in a little bit!”
“Well, all right…”
We met at her parents’ house, stayed and chatted for a little bit as I was introduced to them, and then it was off to Red Lobster. We got in her little Ford Escape and I left my car there, as she put in a mix cd she had made a while back…
“Since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time…I’m so movin’ on, yeah, yeah…”
More memories from that time a year before. At that point I hadn’t gotten to the point that I didn’t care anymore, hadn’t gotten to the point that I’d be feeling what Kelly Clarkson was singing in that song, and had you told me I’d get to feeling that way I’d have told you that you were crazy. We were both singing along, and for a few sweet moments it was like none of the previous year’s events had ever happened.
We got to Red Lobster about 6:30 or 7 that night, and as I was sitting there, I told Kim with a grin, “You know what? I’m gonna see if I can get the hurricane refugee discount. Let’s see what the waitress says.”
So the waitress came back to the table, and I did just that — asked her, with a grin on my face, “Can I get the hurricane refugee discount?” Kim, bless her heart, just busted out laughing. I wasn’t serious, but the waitress thought I was there for a minute. I told her I was from the area where Rita was coming in, but my driver’s license still had a Sulphur Springs address on it and I don’t think I had anything that was proof I was living in the Golden Triangle, so I don’t think I could have gotten said discount if I had kept pushing it. I was just having fun, though. 😉
I bid Kim goodbye about 9:30 or 10 that night and got back out to my other friend’s house, where they were all playing poker and, of course, drinking beer. And of course I brought some too…I was in the mood for Shiner Bock and bought a 6-pack on the way back to the house. Lucky for me the buy-in for the Texas Hold ‘Em game was low, because I am absolutely no good at poker…
I awoke the next morning, not quite feeling like death, but I did have quite the splitting headache…I stumbled out to the car and went to the Walmart in town to get some aspirin and didn’t even notice, until after it was pointed out to me, the big ole dent in the back side of the car right behind the driver-side rear tire. Friend’s mother was backing out to go to work earlier that morning and had backed right into it. We exchanged insurance information and I told her I’d take care of it when things got calmed down. I went back to Sulphur Springs later that morning…my grandmother told me to come back early, because at that point it looked like the remnants of Rita were going to come right up through that part of Texas, with heavy rain and tropical-storm-force winds (between 39 and 74 mph). Lucky for me, though, it came in further east and we missed the brunt of it, and all that was left to do when I got back to Sulphur Springs, was play the waiting game…

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