Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Twenty-one years ago I met a boy — well, two boys to be specific. They were best friends and I was with my best friends and after a very strange first night we all ended up becoming friends for a short time and one of them became my boyfriend for an even shorter time — so short that my own mother doesn’t even remember him. I’ve seen him exactly once since then, and that was nearly two decades ago, too.

And yet to this day, he has left an indelible mark upon my life. You see, I grew up in a place and time where country music was verboten. You just didn’t listen to it if you wanted to be thought of as some version of “cool.” I think we still said that back then. But this boy and his friend — with whom I spent a great deal of time — loved it. I don’t think they listened to anything else. I was in the boy’s bedroom the first time I heard John Anderson’s Straight Tequila Night, which is still one of my favorite songs. (Fast-forward another dozen years to the first months of dating my fiance and we went to see Anderson play at a little bar called The Barn in Sanford, Florida. I guess old Johnny is a pretty big musical deal in my life.)

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

So the country thing stuck. It isn’t the only music I listen to, but it grew on me. I find it fun but also it can be pretty poignant. After all these years, it finally came full-circle when a friend mentioned one night that the legendary Garth Brooks was going to be in Jacksonville, Florida, for one of his new world tour stops.

I have a couple of his CDs, and like most of America, I love his iconic Friends in Low Places. Even so, I never really thought myself a particularly huge Garth fan. Regardless, he’s Garth Brooks. He’s a legend. I had to see him. And I did — last Saturday night with my best friend of way-too-many-years (who was there when I met the boy and there when I met my fiance and has just always been there for just about everything that has ever mattered whenever possible) and my fiance. I couldn’t wish for two better companions for that night.

Despite my belief that Garth was no more to me than a casual interest, sitting in that arena listening to him play 26 years worth of his music, I realized just how much he had been a part of my life’s soundtrack. Every song held a memory — most good. I was nearly in tears by the end. I barely sat down at all through the entire concert. I have never enjoyed myself that much at another concert ever. Had Garth played every song he ever recorded, we would have been there all night and it still would have been too short.

Others had mentioned that this man puts on a great show, but I had no idea what that meant until I actually experienced it. Every person walked out of that concert with a smile. I don’t think anyone left disappointed.

Garth isn’t young. I’m not sure his exact age, but he’s been recording music since 1988 or 1989 — I was in middle school then and I’m pushing 40 now. Yet he spent hours on that stage, playing guitar, singing, running around, climbing props like he was 5 years old.

I hope I get another chance to see him one day and if you do, go. Just go. Even if you hate country music, even if you have to spend your last penny. Go.

An addendum: I have been listening to Brooks’ music for the last couple days on CDs and MP3 and I had to add that you haven’t experienced him if you haven’t heard him live. He’s 100 times better in person.


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I posted this yesterday in response to a challenge on a fitness site I frequent, but I thought it was a good post for here. I know, I know … I have been quite absent from this place for a long time. But I’m posting today, so you all may rejoice.

Anywho, here is my list of 50 things that make me happy: 

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones (even when the show deviates from the books and annoys me)Image
  2. Mad Men
  3. Getting lost in a good book (noticing a theme …)
  4. Rolling green fields
  5. Large bodies of water
  6. Swimming
  7. Finding clothes that look super cute on me
  8. That awesome pair (or 50) of shoes
  9. Cuddling
  10. Finding long-lost friends online
  11. Pinterest
  12. Writing
  13. Listening to music I love at full volume and singing along
  14. Dancing

    Center Stage screen shot.

  15. Long walks and talks with good friends
  16. Alone time
  17. Yoga
  18. Animals
  19. Mike Rowe (hee hee hee)
  20. Introducing people to things I love and seeing them love those things, too (i.e. yesterday I told my daughter’s boyfriend all about Top Secret! and insisted he watch it or he isn’t allowed to date her anymore — I know he’ll love it. Who doesn’t? But anyway, I’ve turned many people on to that movie and also Real Genius and none have been sorry.)
  21. Natalie Merchant live
  22. Sarah McLachlan live
  23. Editing
  24. A cheese plate and chocolate mousse from France at EPCOT
  25. The county fair

    2013 North Florida Fair. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  26. Cherry candy-dipped soft serve chocolate ice cream
  27. Shirley Temples (the drink)
  28. Waterfalls

    Ithaca, NY. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  29. Sitting outside reading a book
  30. Discussions with intelligent people
  31. Pretty language
  32. British sitcoms
  33. A dark, clear night looking at the stars
  34. Beautiful art
  35. Getting so lost in a movie that you wish it wouldn’t end
  36. Monty Python 
  37. Anything John Cleese
  38. Visiting old friends I haven’t seen in years and feeling like I just saw them yesterdayImage
  39. Halloween
  40. Baseball (live!)
  41. Boston
  42. A northeast autumn
  43. Snow during the winter holidays
  44. Throwing parties
  45. Realizing I have a wonderful group of friends where I live, even though I moved here as an adult and it’s difficut to meet people and make close friends once you’re out of school, especially if you move away from home
  46. Flowers
  47. A drama-free life
  48. Bookstores
  49. Caramel hot apple cider
  50. English breakfast tea with honey and cream

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Carrie and me at The Boardwalk resort at Disneyworld


 I kind of went into a blogging frenzy and except for rare occasions where I just have to share something immediately, I try not to post more than once a day. Because of that, by the Friday before Memorial Day, I had blogs scheduled all the way until … well, today! In fact, it’s the Friday before Memorial Day as I’m writing this.  

I’ve mentioned before that I love Facebook because it’s put me back in touch with people I thought I’d never hear from again, just because we lost touch and it was not going to be easy finding them. One such friend is my best friend from fifth and sixth grades, Carrie. I don’t remember why our friendship fizzled after that, but we’ve always remained on good terms and caught up here and there through high school and for several years after.  

The last time I saw or heard from her was in 2000. She got married shortly after and disappeared. I didn’t even know her new last name! Last year, I decided to try to find her. A friend had an old phone book from “back home” and got me her parents’ names and information. With some googling, I found an obituary for Carrie’s — either her grandmother or grandfather. I can’t remember which. Anyway, it listed her and her husband’s names and I found an address and phone number.  

But I procrastinated and didn’t write a letter or call.  

And then, months later, Carrie friend requested me on Facebook. It was almost like fate or something! So we’ve been back in touch for a little while, keeping up on Facebook.  

An online friend, Cindy, who I’ve been “talking” to for years was coming to Clearwater two weekends ago and I had planned to go visit her. But because of my car transmission issues, I wasn’t sure about spending the money. I missed meeting her last year because I was just too worn out to make the drive and I was about to miss her again this year.  

But then Carrie sent me an e-mail that she would be at Disneyworld that same weekend with her parents and wanted my address so she could send me a post card. A postcard??? Carrie, darling, I live a three and a half hour drive away. I’m coming to see you!   

Bikini-clad on Clearwater Beach with Cindy


The only day she had available was Saturday. My mind made up, I made hotel reservations in Tampa for Friday night and Kissimmee for Saturday night and headed out after work on Friday.  

What a great weekend I had. Saturday morning was breakfast with Cindy and her family (cutest kids ever!), some beach time and then over to Carrie’s hotel for pool time before a wonderful dinner out with her parents.  

This story is probably not all that interesting to those who don’t know me, since you probably just don’t care that much. But I had to write about it because, as an only child, friends are one of the most important parts of my life and reconnecting with those who have known me for so many years always gives me that warm glow.  

Carrie and Cindy, it was great seeing you both and I hope we see each other again sooner rather than later.

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There we sat, tweens on the verge of entering high school, enjoying summer vacation at an away camp, eating in the cafeteria.

This has nothing to do with this post, except that when I Googled "feminine man," this picture came up and I thought that was kind of funny.

Colin, one of our counselors, was dating another counselor and getting ready to join the Marine Corps soon after camp ended. And the conversation turned to Colin’s demeanor. Or something like that.

Some of the boys, apparently, found Colin to be a bit on the feminine side. It’s been nearly 20 years now, but I don’t remember Colin having any effeminate traits. But what do I know? I think I’m reaching the age of brain atrophy.

Anyway, in the middle of the meal, Colin stood up, placed his hands commandingly on his hips, strained his neck and lifted his chin skyward, declaring, “I am … Feminine Man!”

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