We took the drive in two days. We slept for a couple hours in Texas, and drove another 20 hours the next day. It was awful. I will never look at another Nutrigrain bar without feeling a bit nauseous.
We stayed almost a week with Laura in her SoCal house with her SoCal friends and her SoCal beach. It was pretty great. The last full day we spent with Laura, we went to Balboa Park.
Lets start at the beginning of that day, though. Laura worked early that morning, so Dana had to prepare the picnic. I probably should have helped, but I didn’t wake up early enough to go to the store with her. Then, when I got out of the shower, Val and I started talking about the trip. Dana was making sandwiches and salads.
I went into the kitchen and said good morning. I gave her a kiss and asked if the coffee was ready.
No, actually, the coffee is not ready because there is no coffee to get ready. And then I saw a side of Dana that I had not yet met. The side of her that probably instigated the nickname Dana-saur. The side that shouldn’t be asked if the coffee is ready when there is no more coffee left.
We walked to the tram silently. Val is a morning person. He loves to chat and tease and enjoy the morning. I was trying to keep up with his chatter, but I also was feeling the effects of operating heavy machinery without coffee. Dana was scowling. I shouldn’t have left her to get Val and me ready like little boys needing to be sent off to school, but I didn’t want to chop the peppers! I wanted to play outside with my friend!
We met Laura at Balboa Park. We were a little late, despite Dana’s efforts to get us out the door on time. Laura had just finished her shift at the coffee shop and was feeling just as chipper as her dad.
Dana and I tried to enjoy the park. It was built when the World Fair was hosted by San Diego, so there were a lot of interesting nooks to it. People were allowed to set up little shops inside to sell food, artwork or whatever other craft to which they set their hands. It was pretty cool.
Yet Dana couldn’t smile. She was interested, but she didn’t join in the conversation or pictures. She just looked royally pissed.
Val asked, “Dana, can I buy you a cup of coffee?”
“Oh, it’s ok. I don’t need coffee, I’ll be fine. I can buy my own, too, you don’t need to…”
“Here. And one for you, too, Benj,” Val said as he handed us our paper cups.
It was still too hot for Dana to take a sip, but she took the lid off and smelled the brew.
Then it happened. Something sparked. I was watching her very closely, because I thought I saw something flash in her eyes. Yes! There it goes again! Something was definitely taking place. Her brow was less furrowed. Her chin seemed a bit more relaxed. And wait… Dear Lord! I think it is!
She smiled! She laughed! She started bantering with Val and talking with Laura! She held my hand! It truly looked like she had come out of Lazarus’ tomb to join the land of the living once again. It was like watching the pilot light come on again after a cold winter night; the hum of the furnace of wakefulness roaring to life.
The rest of the day was amazing. Arguably the best day we spent with Laura that week. Never underestimate the power of a cuppa.