i came to florida with my usual mission: meet facebook friends face to face. learn from them. enjoy their avocations, their joys, their fears, and their lives. and take friendship out from behind the laptop or the cellphone updates and into reality.
but i got a little sidetracked.
my father justin is receiving provenge treatment for cancer. experimental? yes. expensive? try ninety thousand a pop. weird? yeah, they take all your blood out and ship your white blood cells to a lab to be enhanced and reconfigured and then they put those white blood cells back in your body and say “cancer begone!”
i arrived in tallahassee and was a bit surprised. my father’s wife was heading out on a business trip and asked me to take him to his first appointment the next day. this required a cancellation of friendship appointments for monday and tuesday but i still figured i could do wednesday.
white blood cells (leukocytes) are the ruthless knights of our bloodstream. they fight diseases–cancer, strep throat, ebola. without them, we are without defense. tomorrow (friday) my father’s white blood cells–with new shields and swords–will be reintroduced to his body.
my father was feeling poorly and i cancelled the rest of the week’s travels through orlando, spring hill, tampa–but two facebook friends stopped by tallahassee to take me to lunch. bill taylor, who lives in the city, and ron winegar who drove in from panama city. the distraction was a great gift!
tomorrow i will take justin to his appointment to get back those white blood cells back into his system and then. . . alas, i’ll try to make it out of the state of florida!
it’s nearly the end of this resolution, i’m getting so close and yet so many friends i’ll probably never meet. and that makes me wonder about whether i’m really friends with them. my last major flight was yesterday morning and f2fb friend #278 rob woolson was so kind as to call me and take me to the airport. i was a bit cranky but he was determined.
in vancouver, my father justin (f2fb friend #30) was waiting. he had spent the previous day with bruce byfield (f2fb friend #279). justin’s wife barbara had been quite concerned that justin not be required to sleep in a hovel so instead of the vancouver ymca we went to the fairmont hotel where i ran into the biggest celebrity in the entire world!!!
f2fb friend #279 bruce byfield wrote his dissertation on fritz leiber, my grandfather, who was a science fiction writer. bruce writes mostly about open source software, that is to say, software that is free to users and exists somewhat outside of the range of copyright law. he is a great fan of the northwest’s “first nations” peoples and he wears an enormous copper bracelet which is engraved with a description of the famous story of raven.
it was delightful to put a face to a friendship! and this morning justin and i have to dash for the bus stop where we pick up the three hour amtrak cascade to seattle!
this morning woke up with the plan that i would pack and slip out of the guest room. unfortunately, barbara has left for work. justin is drinking a beer to calm himself down and he has been talking for the last hour and a half. i’m waiting for his research assistant to pick him up. justin really liked the computer camera and talked for forty five minutes but i don’t think you want to see the whole thing and i can’t figure out how to download a one minute clip that is really quite poignant.
i am so close to escape. . . . and i’m not scared of airplanes. they get you the hell out of situations.
p.s. i was making my escape because he was getting a bit hostile, and in fact, the sweetest thing then happened: the building manager ursula said “hey, just let me drive you to the airport” when i asked her how to get a cab. she went to get her car. justin came down to the lobby, in full fury. he declared that he had finally figured out what i am–a superconman and that he has become a superconman detector. he then started trying to shove me against the wall. ursula showed up in her car and we went outside. he tried to get her to agree to help him against this superconman. she was completely baffled but hustled me into the car. we left him shaking his fist at us. it was very very sweet for her to drive me to the airport. sometimes the kindness of strangers is very very very important. thank you ursula!!! now i just have four hours of reading the national enquirer, ok, life and style, people and the globe before i can get on a plane. . . . . .
i came down to tallahassee all self-congratulatory. i got through tsa, i got on the plane, i didn’t squeal during take off, i sprinted across charlotte airport to make my connecting flight, i said “i’m a world traveler” and then i swaggered into tallahassee.
justin picked me up in his white volkswagon beetle. he got lost on the way back to his condo. several times the sort of lost where he wandered into the left turn lane without a signal and then sort of stopped and announced “no, i want to turn right”. . . . i wanted to call either of the pilots of the day and say “excuse me, could you drive?”
and then i listened. and listened. i timed last night a forty minute monologue which was only terminated with me saying “yes” in response to a question. i started the stop watch again. twenty three minutes. but then i had to go to the bathroom. today, we took a tour of the campus. we went to his office. he told me again and again that the pictures a man keeps in his office explain the man: and he walked me through almost every photograph before i excused myself to cry in the bathroom. then i returned. and he told me that he wanted to tell me about other photographs. i returned to the bathroom.
chomsky. linguistics. scuba diving. particulars of french civilization. things he had discovered about sex when he was sixteen years old. medical advances. his teaching assistants. television shows he had watched. dreams he had had. if i interrupted with a question or an aside, he would either tell me that it was his turn to talk or that he would get to my question later. i finally gave up. we got lost on the campus of the college where he teaches. we returned to the condo. i went to cry in the guest bedroom. he’s lost his wallet and he’s got some physical problems that are troubling. i asked him if he talks nonstop with barbara, his wife who is now in orlando, or with his daughter casey and he said no, but that he trusts me with vital information about himself. all in all, he clocked nine and a half hours before i did something so cruel i am quite astonished with myself. i interrupted him with an announcement that i had stage four cancer and that both joseph and eastman had been dead for three weeks. i pray that i have not tempted fates. i confessed my lie. he simply took up where i had interrupted him. he lasted eleven hours before i announced i had to go to bed. i locked the bedroom door. he stood outside and talked for a while longer. i put in ear plugs and went to sleep.