I’ve finally found a few minutes to stretch back, relax and attempt a proper Florida Adventure blog post. I’ve barely slowed down since getting back from Tampa Thursday night; work, sleep, gym, movies, Bailey time, work- it all adds up. But here we are at 4am with me unable to really wind down, Bailey curled protectively close to me and nothing but time, so.. here goes.
I went down to Florida with the intention of severing ties. To somehow say goodbye to my former life down there; the house I grew up in, etc, like it would somehow be therapeutic to have no more connection to it. Working in therapy has made me realize that I’m not quite through processing my Mother’s death, so I thought that a ‘shock to the system’ would be the motivator I needed to tidy things up, emotionally. I’m always trying to find a logical way to process things.
Instead, what I found in Florida was a shell of a house; not the home I grew up in. There was a bed, some random towels in a hamper, two couches, and a kitchen table my Dad built out of two sawhorses and a piece of drywall. It’s ‘what’s left’- not some imposing reliquary of the life I had. As soon as I got my stuff settled a calm crept in; I knew I was going to have a fun vacation.
My first step- even before getting to P5, was to go to Jimbo’s. I’ve been eating at Jimbo’s since 1974 and every visit to Florida includes as many trips there as possible. My tomato allergy doesn’t really include eating BBQ sauce. My dietary limitations (self imposed) don’t really include eating BBQ; hush puppies, ribs, french fries. So as you can imagine… I tore it up. Caution to the wind (and tons of Benedryl) and no calories counted I ate at Jimbo’s a total of five times in four days. I didn’t end up having any reaction to the tomato, which is strange. Usually, even with the antihistamines, I have some sort of reaction. This time, despite eating a risky amount of sauce… nothing. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m ‘growing out’ of the allergy, if my immune system just handles my allergies better now that I’m a much healthier fella or what. All I know is that I managed to enjoy my favorite BBQ on the planet all week, buy a few bottles of sauce and do it all guilt free. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Next step was to visit some friends. Catching up with Ari (who I haven’t seen in a few years) and Skip and Bobby (who I haven’t seen in even more) the first night, getting tattooed by David the following day, finally meeting Teresa, seeing Casper and Dee…. Now that I’m back I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to say goodbye to Florida. I spent almost all my free time with my friends, goofing around, talking about the old days, telling stories to the folks who weren’t around for the chaos that used to be Ybor. The names that Skip and I were throwing around (Bad Penny!) were people I hadn’t thought about in years. Coming right off the heels of seeing Chad Chesko last week, talking to Skip and Dee and Caspar was amazing. So many rad memories.
Of course, the point of being in Tampa, aside from my emotional baggage, was to get tattooed. My good friend David had started working on my ribs back in 2008 and we’d taken a little break in finishing the tattoo. He had some free time in his schedule and devoted a day to knocking out as much of it as we could- which turned out to be the whole tattoo plus some added work. We still have to add a background, but that’s for another day. I managed to sit for around six hours on one of the most painful spots to get tattooed, thanks to David’s advice about tattoo nutrition- when to eat what and all of that. We also stole a little time to add a little best friend tattoo to my arm; Bethany got my portrait on her arm last May and I’ve been trying to get a little something to match since then. I had planned on a little Bee, since she’s my big Bee, and I’ll probably still do that, but for now… the little BTxSP hardcore logo sums it all up. She’s always there for me, and I do my best to always be there for her. So a little permanent reminder seemed like a great idea.
Despite the pain, it was amazing to be able to spend a little time with David. We used to see each other a lot more often, but real life has a tendency to get the best of us so being able to just shoot the breeze with him was perfect. We had a Jimbo’s visit, talked about our fitness and health routines, about the ‘post breakup’ trauma that plagued me for a few months, his move to Tampa, how his family is adjusting to it, and of course down and dirty tattoo bullshitting. The kind of nerdy talk that makes me the happiest. Such a good time.
The rest of my trip was spent being social; my friends really busted their asses to make sure that I had a good time; Skip and Caspar kept the Sprites and Club Sodas coming, Teresa walked me around Saint Petersburg- which contained more dead opossums than expected- and before I knew it my time was up. I grabbed one more meal at Jimbo’s, pointed my rented Crown Victoria at the airport and said my goodbyes to the place that I thought I was done with. As I sat in the airport, exhausted and sore, I knew, with a hundred percent certainty, that I’d be visiting again. Maybe to get tattooed. Maybe not. But the memories I made down there are worth revisiting; the friends worth seeing and while Philadelphia is now my home, Florida will always be a part of me.
Off to the gym!
Photos: Dead End? Maybe not. Our driveway in Plant City. Jimbos and Tattoos (inset)