1955-2009

The Copelands are a prominent family in the church community in these parts, as are the Atkinses. The Jenkins family are also well-known, as are the Newtons. Anyone who has been a member for any length of time in any of the Jacksonville stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past 50 years has heard of these families. These families know each other. They grew up together; their kids went to the same school and church activities. They intersect with other families and strengthen their lines. Posterity continue to branch out over the region and across state or country boundaries.  They’re legends. They’re saints. Our respect for them runs deep.

Today, we acknowledge one gone. A Newton. She left us on Thursday, suddenly.

I walked into a nearly packed chapel this morning. The building itself seemed to heave a sigh. We all were trying to understand how before Thursday she was with us, and now, she is without us for a season.

It was jarring to hear the obituary and wonder what it is like to be survived by your parents; to wonder if the parents at all question the fairness of this circumstance.

The front of the printed program indicates she’s only 10 days older than my mother.

My brother and I grew up with her kids. My mom taught her son in Primary. I’ve always admired her family, her temperament, her countenance and outlook on life. She has definitely helped keep the Newton legend alive.

We strive to rejoice constantly in God’s plan for us. We’ll see our loved ones again; we can be with our families forever. It truly is comforting to have that knowledge.

But, it certainly is okay to mourn her absence.

We miss you, Vicki.

Wreck, Draft

She widened her eyes, then squinted.

A single point appeared from deep within the tunnel.

She stood near the middle of the platform, northbound side. Not too many people waited around her, just a few latenight commuters, a few awkward couples on midweek dates.  She held her arms slightly away from her body. Her jeans clung to her legs and her back felt sticky underneath her lightweight t-shirt. Sweat pasted her hair to her forehead. The summer heat had seeped through the streets down into the tunnels, turning the underground maze into a giant steamroom. No one talked; no one held hands. Everything perspired.

Her heart raced.

The approaching train pushed hot air through the station. Its nearing, thunderous momentum shook the platform. The train’s lights grew larger and soon she saw its whole face. She saw the front windows; she saw the door you can’t open from the inside. She saw the driver. She took a deep breath.

She timed it.

She closed her eyes.

For a split second, her body stayed mid-air.

Silence surrounded her as the train slammed into her, punched that last breath from her lungs,  bumping her forward a few feet before she fell onto the tracks.

She figured not to jump over the space between the rails, on the chance of the train passing over her and maybe even allowing her to survive. She tumbled and bounced between the rail nearest the platform and the far rail.

And, the third, high-voltage rail.

The brakes screeched. The train lurched. But she did not hear or feel this. She did not hear witness screams. She did not hear voices of loved ones in her mind or see flashes of friends’ faces. She did not smell her skin burn.  She did not feel ribs crack or organs crush or limbs sever or her own breathing arrest; her own corpse, a tattered lump.

Her eyes fell open.

What the What…

The other blog’s been active for all of two days and it’s getting heavier daily traffic than this one. You like the focus, eh? You like the character? Well, I guess I kind of like her, too. Sometimes I wish I could be her.

I registered for classes yesterday, and my beloved school wasted no time to tell me when tuition is due. Classes are going to be fun. I’m going to be reading and writing a lot.

The cold weather worries me a little bit. We’ve had a very mild winter, and I’m about to go where it freezes and snows and a fair amount of the student population don’t know how to drive in those conditions. I felt a lot safer in a walking culture.

Somebody just asked me if I missed New York City yet. I didn’t tell her that I’ve already wailed and rent my clothes. I have friends who will be there for the New Year. This is the first time in five years I won’t be there.

But, I will be in Provo. Bring out the noisemakers and confetti. Or, just take me skiing.

***

Happy Birthday, Sarah. Your age is double a prime number. And having seen you lately, I’d definitely say you’re doubly in your prime. Hope you had an amazing birthday.

This Might Get Obnoxious

Well, kids. I don’t quite know how to say this.

But, I’m saying it: I don’t want to have to spell out that this is a character I’m playing, but I know some of you won’t get it otherwise. (No offense.) It’s another chance not to take myself too seriously.

It’s also in the blogroll. And on the Twitter feed. In case you enjoy bombardment.

This little old blog right here will remain active. Don’t worry.

Expectation Expectoration

So, maybe sometimes I have these hopes, but they’re not all that specific, and all I really want is to have fun. General, living-it-up fun. And maybe I’ve resolved that I’m past the point in my life to waste time on drama. Stop playing games; cut to the chase. The chase not actually being a game, but a pursuit. A quest. It starts with a nervous email and it gets a sincere response. That’s fun. Then it goes to texting, easy enough, which is also fun. Then to phone calls, which I don’t initiate. They’re nice when they come; reassuring, and in the moment, they too are fun. The voices are nice, the laughter; the next best thing to facetime. Nothing happens quickly or in a confusing way, not that I would hope for that. Not that I wouldn’t hope for that. But what about phonetime makes me want facetime, and will that make me want even more? When will it come? Will it come? All of a sudden it’s gotten specific, and disappointment has ambushed me, and my precautions are futile. If I’m having fun, if my hopes are coming true, then why isn’t that enough? What is the fun in the wanting?

In Which I Could Have Gotten Into All Sorts of Trouble

Was it only two months ago when I declared this?

I really have no excuse, other than my blasted cowardice.

The intent was to go skinny dipping. I’ve always wanted to go, and I already packed my swimsuit and sent it to Utah. It was 80 degrees in St. Augustine this afternoon. I dug around and found some black bottoms I could swim in, and I also put on a sports bra and a t-shirt and jeans.

The non-interstate way to the beach is so much more scenic. The first stretch of FL-16 heading east features cattle grazing pasture on the north side and banana trees along the fenceline on the south side. A1A toward the beach suggests a safe and lazy 30mph, which is slow enough to notice all the attractions and fast enough to escape the tourists’ pull.

Anastasia Beach is a state park. It’s clean, and on this December weekday afternoon, it was relatively quiet.

I planned on jumping in the ocean, getting neck-deep, and removing the sports bra and bottoms. I looked at the ocean. I took off my t-shirt and jeans. This is all you’ll get:

At the park entrance they posted high tide sometime around 6:40pm, so when I got to the beach I noticed  the waves:

I walked out to the water in what basically looked like a (relatively modest) bikini. The waves rolled in, and I felt their particularly strong outward pull. This was why I didn’t go out very far. As some of you may know, I’m not a strong swimmer, and while in theory I know how to get out of a rip current, I didn’t want to test it.

Also, the cold water made me shy. I stood knee-deep for 15 minutes, trying not to freeze.

Then, I just dove in.

Then, as usual, the water was bracing for only a few minutes, and it helped that the air above the water was still warm. Still, the waves were high and I stayed pretty close to the shoreline. No one else swam. A few strollers passed, but I ignored them and dismissed my self-consciousness of my near nakedness. Because I look great. According to me.

I splashed around a bit and body-surfed for another half-hour, then I decided to dry off and warm up. And, get dressed.

Don’t ask how I got dressed in the middle of a not-quite deserted beach during a Florida winter.

As I left the beach, I noticed the flags indicating beach conditions:

Needless to say, I would not have gone in the water had I seen the warning flags first.

So, to recap:
1. I could have been arrested for indecent exposure (though I was very, very, very careful).
2. I could have DIED, either by drowning in a vicious riptide or by a shark during snacktime.

My flimsy little excuse came in handy.

Kids, do NOT try this at home.

More photos at flickr.