Cafe Hitch-hike


Some firsts

I finished a somewhat impromptu visit of my family. It was a big, BIG first because we had people from 3 different states come to Florida for a visit. They never organized such travel; they usually tagged along with others who set things up, or never traveled more than 3 hours away with an occasional overnight stay.

My mom and I met my youngest sis Rosepetal and a friend in Orlando. One of them didn't have an ID and another didn't have a credit card, and neither of them had more than $200 to spend for meals, lodging, and events; they ended up staying with us and hitching rides, free of charge, while they were in the area for 2 days. We then joined my sis Beads (the mother of Arielle) who was with 3 girlfriends, one of our cousins, and 2 of their young adult sons. We also met bro Deebo and cousin Drew who popped in since they had to work.

The trip had very choppy plans because some people were feuding and went their own ways for its planning. My mother was invited but didn't get any details beyond where she'd say, who she'd stay with, or what she'd have to pay. I was invited but had to wrangle for details. About 5 days before the trip, I got on the horn with the feuding people and got my own information on where they hell they would be and on which dates so I could figure out what to do. Also, our mother was in my charge for the week; she was flying into the state near me and I agreed to transport her. Once I figured out what was going on, I proceeded.

We visited the building in Orlando where my niece was killed last year. It's boarded up. I made a white cross with her name on it with 2 holy cards, and tacked on some flowers. We viewed the site, and I led a couple of prayers. A little dog found his way to the back of the house and barked at us. I explored the side yard with its unmowed grass and saw a charred piece from the side of the house. The back of the house got the most damage with its back wall being completely charred; my niece Arielle died in a bedroom at the rear of the house, and her mother was notified of it 1 year ago today though it happened on the 25th (they couldn't identify the body right away).

Everyone eventually converged in Clearwater Beach where we stayed on a beachfront resort. Everyone was a little startled at the sticker shock and Beads thought she was staying at an all-inclusive resort. It was not, and included a lot of restrictions, but it was a very nice facility and we made the best of it.

My family has a bit of a drinking issue, but I made it clear I wasn't there to judge and wanted to relax, too. We all actually spent a lot of time together, and I enjoyed myself! I taught my nephew how to snorkel and use a paddleboard, and we walked around the approachable and welcoming little beach town. We found a vacant beach next to the resort where we were able to chill, have space and privacy, and be obnoxious as we wanted. When I was tired, I simply said, 'I'm tired, I'll catch up with y'all later!' and we always did. We managed to have a good time and lots of laughs.

I wasn't expecting superb planning, but I was so glad it came together. I also had to enforce some very firm boundaries concerning my time and money. I was turning on a dime to accommodate others on the trip and I shared my food, drink, and transport with others (and the young adults stole my rum, got wasted, and were belligerent with their mothers). When people needed a credit card, I looked away. I didn't plan their trip, and I certainly wasn't going to pay. It was tough because Mom was giving others the shirt off her back all week. It was definitely my ego, but it made me look (and feel) like Scrooge in comparison. **Insert rant here about relatives and family, its dynamic, etc., etc., etc., and how my initial insights about them are actually accurate.** I once told someone that if some of my relatives had their way, they'd drain me dry (money, time, emotions, possessions) and not think twice about it. I later thought I was exaggerating and felt bad for saying it, but now I know I wasn't.

We had a friend of the family completely crash the trip. She tried to get me and her son to stay in our room, and I told my Mom, "she's a friend, but she's not family!" I also heard she was a moocher, and I did not want to be her host after I involuntarily hosted my youngest sis and her friend. I was so glad I made that clear or else my mother would had allowed the friend to stay all week for free. This friend didn't consult with anyone about visiting and saw what we were doing on social media. She didn't offer to pay for anything or chip in, except for some jello shots she made and cannabis she got from a medical dispensary. I almost wanted to stay near my mother so make sure she didn't offer in a drunken moment of one-love generosity, but I decided if she did that, I'd be ready for an argument and seem like a complete bitch to everyone.

I got to catch up with everyone. I even got to learn a few new things about my family. **Insert statement of surprise here at some new confessions (and refer to just about all of my 'Insert rant' statements).**

It was a nice visit and I would do it again. I was glad I got to do it, but **Insert rant here where I think a spaceship must had accidentally dropped me at my family's doorstep.**

Family is still family. We at least had a time where there were more laughs, experiences, and good conversations than not.

Water is wet, rocks are hard, and that's the way it is. I think I'm going to invest in what is called a God or Universe Jar, and put the things I can't control in there to leave it up to them. I can't save or rescue my family. I can't take care of my mother (and I don't want to). I can't change the dynamic that has been in place for a very long time, or change what people know, don't know, or choose not to. All I know is I made certain choices because I wanted certain things in my life. If others don't want to or can't, that's on them.

It just made me squirm that a couple of people admitted to doing the minimum they could to get by or weaseled their way, and those same people looked at me to give them things. At some point, I mentioned the side jobs I had since I was teenager to get what I needed. I had what I had because I worked for it. Hell, Uncle Joe left me a little change, but he never allowed me to take him or what he offered for granted and I told my mother this (she wasn't aware of the last part). I wasn't being stingy, I was simply drawing a line. I just didn't realize the poor boundaries in my family were on multiple levels, and how much some of them took from each other without regard.

'Til we meet again, yes. This was a family first and I was glad it went relatively smoothly with minimal, major blowouts (and despite my annoyances).

I'll probably still be processing or figuring all of this out for a while, but whoa... this week had a lot of firsts.

downwind | upstream