I talk CQ into “checking out” an item I saw on craigslist. When I tell him it is just a little north of Ocala, I fail to mention it is three counties away. I wait until we reach Alachua County before entering the address into the GPS, figuring it gives the machine fewer miles to calculate directions and thus lessen our chances of ending up at a fishing camp at the end of a dirt road. Wrong! That’s exactly where we end up. It seems there are two Twin Lakes roads in Alachua County, and, of course, the GPS has directed us to the one we are not looking for.
Not all is lost. We wind up at a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since I moved to this part of the state: the home of Majorie Rawlings, author of The Yearling. (We don’t stop, but at least I know where it is for future reference.) Unfortunately, my “urban cowboy” husband is not enjoying either the fact that we are on the wrong road or the beauty of the sparsely populated area once inhabited by Seminoles.
Well, I love it. This is old Florida with webs of Spanish moss draping huge oak trees, scrub palms lining the dusty trails and acres of swampland on either side of our red F150. Such an idyllic environment for a writer–provided one ignores the rusty travel trailers and make-shift mobile homes randomly decorating the landscape.
Thank God for cell phones. Calling the guy with the craigslist listing, I’m informed of something I already know: I am “in the wrong spot.” Thirteen more miles up the road, off to the right, past the Good News church camp, and about a mile down a sandy path posted with a “Dead End” sign, I arrive at my destination.
By this time, I’m fully aware that CQ is not happy. Looking at the item we have come to “check out,” he says we need to keep looking. Okay, I get the message. I know perfectly well that “checking out” something on craigslist is akin to “shopping” and I should have known better than to think he would “enjoy” an “adventure” such as this outing on a beautiful autumn morning in the Sunshine State.
Quietly we make our way back to a paved road with a yellow line down the middle. CQ is happy to have reached civilization again. I’m wishing I could stop at a thrift store, but don’t dare mention it. I think I’d better suggest lunch. He loves the idea.
“Do you want a place where we have to serve ourselves, or a place where we can be served?”
He’s in the mood to be served so we end up at The Olive Garden in Ocala where we order the same thing we always order: Eggplant Parmesan for him and Mushroom Ravioli for me.
Most restaurants keep the temperature too cool to suit me, and this one is no exception. I tell CQ I’ll wait outside while he takes care of the tab. It’s taking him longer than usual, but just about the time I think I’ll go back inside and get him, he emerges with a big smile and a fistful of toothpicks and chocolate mints.
“I was looking for toothpicks when the lady at the desk asked if she could help me,” he said.
“Looks like you helped yourself,” I observe.
She had noticed him looking around for something and had asked, “Are you looking for toothpicks or chocolates?”
To which he replied, “Both!”
There’s more than one reason why I exit restaurants ahead of my husband.
It’s past 2 p.m. and we’re finally on our way back home, quietly. I feel a nap coming on. Then it’s CQ who breaks the comfortable silence that we have become accustomed to after all these years.
“Are you enjoying spending your day with me?”