... and it was warm. I was crossing the Gandy to meet up with an old friend for dinner at a place that, well, was different when I left Tampa for Columbia, South Carolina just over three years ago. It was just over five years ago that I was last on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, Florida. Then, I was saying goodbye.
Tonight, I was having dinner. What was Stormans evolved into this place called Venue, and while the decor has had a multi-million dollar facelift, the place was familiar. And the people were familiar. I guess it should be since I spent almost every Friday night there for the better part of three years or so. It was great to see Donnie Z... and even more surprising to see Steve Bain - who - in Ybor, at a place that doesn't exist anymore, turned me on to some of the most amazing drink concoctions I've ever had. Just as he had for some of the people at my old station before me. Namely Jeff Thomas, Jeff Thomas, and Kane during his first trip through the 813.
Anyway, with the windows in this rental PT Cruiser down, and with 98 Rock on, I remembered Christmas 2001...
... the boss was away, I think. I had been in Tampa for three weeks. I was working the holiday and some of our part timers, Structure, Jaime and Chubb I believe -- and I want to think ET was there at the time as well, were in Ybor a Hedo.
We were, ahem, celebrating Christmas Mixmas.
We were getting drunk. LOL. But we had a designated driver. And a bottle of Golschlager.
Anyway, later that night, we made a trip across the Gandy. We were looking for, ahem, food. Yeah. Food. Right. We happened to find some on 4th Street. In St. Pete. I forget what it was we were eating but it was tasty. I think we may have each thrown up on the St. Pete side, but I forget.
After all, it was over eight years ago.
Eight years. How amazing is it that time flies.
I miss that night. Tonight, while doing some shopping for Kyla at International Plaza, I missed some more nights. And some more days. And some more Sundays. Times have changed, memories live on...
... and, well, as fate may have it, I might not have to miss some things too much more when it comes to Tampa.
I've said before that this is a special town. When I was leaving, on my last day, Kane said to me on my final crossover on 93 that "This place has a way of pulling you back in... you'll be back."
Funny. He's right again. My brother usually is.
But... I wonder if he even knew the twist that life might bring when it comes to being "back" this next time.
BTW - can I just tell you - flying down to get Kyla, I ran - totally unplanned - into Kane's wife and his precious and beautiful little girl. We flew down together... we've known each other for - well - almost a decade now. That's a lot of time... it's just amazing to me how this life is.
It's time for me to go wrap some presents and enjoy some libations here at what is becoming my Tampa residence. You know you're spending too much time in a place when the Guest Service Manager, Dee Dee, at the Tampa Southeast HGI recognizes you and calls you by name when you walk through the door.
I guess I should have some mail forwarded here. LOL.
Santa Claus is on his way. I hope he brings you everything you wish for. I'm here in Tampa because back in 2004, at Tampa General at 1:23 am, he brought me my everything. My someone. And she changed my life. And she's why I'm here tonight...
... and why I'll see her at 10am after she has her time with her mom and whomever. LOL.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. If you don't rock out the Jesus, well, sorry that all the restaurants and shops are closed. Chinese places are open, though!
Ho Ho Ho...