A Field Trip With Phillip….

It was a bit like, “Take Your Husband on Your Routine Day.” And I loved every second of it.

I made my usual request last night when we were having dinner. “I’m headed to Publix tomorrow morning. If there’s anything you want, let me know now.”

He paused in mid-chew, raised his head and squinted through his head for something to get. I know that look. It is the look of, “which cookies or ice cream am I craving?”

I sat for a spell, mowing down spaghetti and meatballs, red sauce splattering my beard with every long bite, waiting with big eyes to hear what he wanted.

Imagine my amazement when he said, “You know, I think I’d rather go with you.”

I was shocked. My mouth left hanging wide with bewilderment so I had no choice but to utter after a pause, “You do realize I’m going on the 8am bus?”

“Sure,” he said with some sexy, ridiculous arrogance. “I can get up early.” And back to dinner we went, this leering eagle eye of mine peering at him with uncertainty.

Just before bed, I reminded him that I was going to wake him at 6 so that he had plenty of time to shower, have coffee, greet the world and be ready. “I want to be out that door by 7:40,” I boldly kept telling him with a schoolmarm’s scold.

I’m up at 5am the next morning. Coffee. Emails. Headlines. The world still hasn’t blown up. Fine. At 6am I sneak shyly into the bedroom with Phillip slumbering loudly with a snore. “Sweetheart?”

“Oh, my God, are you kidding me?” The dreary limp of his lips were trying hard to move, but all that came out was a slur, one hand smothering his mouth as he tried to talk.

“The coffee is waiting on you, man. Let’s go.”

“15 minutes….”

“I’ll give you 10.” I then start turning every light in the house on. You could hear him grumble.

As I suspected, after some coffee and time to scream at the TV about what was happening on the news, my husband was ready to proceed, and thankfully with a joy about him. We grabbed our shopping cart, Rolly, and were off to the bus stop.

]My husband was about to see for the very first time a day in my life. Not every day, just this one day I go shopping. I wanted him to see what it was like, was anxious for it, which is why I couldn’t wait to have my own little field trip with Phillip.

We bought our groceries and headed back home, which is about a mile and a half. Phillip is 6’3″ and 270 pounds and so strong he has a tendency to break Pyrex just by grabbing it. He decides he’s going to be the tough hero and pull the grocery cart home. Keep in mind, this cart is filled with a weeks worth of groceries. It’s heavy. You feel like a slug pulling it behind you, it’s so heavy. But, I do it. Every week. Loving every minute of my walk back home on East Washington.

Oh, and he huffs, and he puffs….He complains about his knees, a little more nonsense comes out of his mouth about his back. His head is aching because of his stomach, and his feet can’t seem to outstep the shopping cart. “Why aren’t we taking the bus back?”

I was walking with a lilt, no part of me focused on where I was going, but more focused on what I passed. I never document these walks of mine with pictures and things. I don’t think everything in life should be viewed through a lens….Sometimes you have to put the camera down, and view moments with your soul.

Now, if you were to ask me, East Washington Street is one of the most beautiful streets in Orlando. It is a stroll that lets you immerse yourself in the true beauty of this town. As you walk, you tour old, little bungalow homes cutting out their own acreage with uniqueness, each tucked under giant oaks, ferns that grow as big as antlers, and moss that grows as rich as velvet; houses that quietly surprise you with simple gardens. Dwarf grapefruit trees speckle one yard, while another pays homage to the colorful cosmos.

An interjection from Phillip, “It’s hot! Man, how do you do this every week?”

I have lived on this street, or near this street, for the the better part of 25 years, with some of those years spent straying to Savannah. But, I’ve never felt Savannah was home. Washington Street is home. Because as grand as those famous southern squares are, I don’t think they compare to the cozier, more natural feel than those slow steps you take from the clean and respectable fountain in Thornton Park to my little Honeychurch just past Bumby.

I’ve always loved East Washington. Year after year, I’ve watched these homes be rescued, be saved, given life to after years of neglect. And with each passing home owner, you watch the house grow more and more alive, as if each person that buys the home respects its true beauty as is, rather than trying to modernize, homogenize, or monetize it. These homes look exactly as they did when I was 19 years old…..but, better because of the people who wanted to buy them,  protect them, and keep them as they are.

Now, I get to make that trek once a week to Publix, then walk back again with my little shopping cart bouncing back and forth on the bricks. It takes longer than it should, for I tend to slow when going home so that I can enjoy those quiet little things that make a simple street a memorable neighborhood.

I love passing the one house that is so adorably accommodating to strangers. They have dog bowls with food and water out (always fresh! anytime I walk by!), a free stack of books to either contribute to or take from, a massive front deck with multiple tables and chairs, and this general comfort when walking by that everyone is welcome.

Phillip asks, “Why are you stopping?”

“Just wondering if there is anything I want to read….Ha! I can’t wait to put my book in there!”

Phillip takes a look. “Some of these books are pretty ok….”

I notice Phillip’s grouse turn to more of a grin, the more he slows down and sees that this weekly trip isn’t a chore. Not at all.

And then we hit the Washington Street Bridge….He keeps walking, but I pause to peek at the park that winds as a pathway beneath. It’s not quite 9am, the light is hitting us from the east as we head home, the sun blasting us with a bright shot of beaming ascension. I hear our shopping cart bouncing along as Phillip keeps walking, speaking clearly, assuming I’m still following behind him, “Oh, I like that tree,” he says. “Look at that! I want that tree. I need to come back and get a cutting. Dammit, why didn’t I bring my knife? Oh, well. I can always come back. It’s not that far. Really pretty houses, too….”

Yes, some moments are burned into the soul, others need to be captured on camera. So I pulled out my phone and caught him speaking to himself, totally understanding my trip to Publix, my walk down Washington Street, just as he was crossing the bridge home…

Just after I took this shot, he stopped, realized I wasn’t behind him. He sees me from a distance, this 6 foot, 103 pound sad bag of bright eyed bones staring back at him, burdened with hauling 50 pounds of food like a pack mule home every week.

Then I see him understand that he was walking in my shoes for a minute, as difficult as that might be. He complained at first, but began to slowly agree that the the trip home is something of a reward.

For, how in the world could I ever feel burdened when I’m blessed with being able to provide for my family, and being able to deliver it with such a beautiful walk? What more perfect path could you need towards home?

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