Sunday, March 8 2020

skateboarding, new friends, and taco bell

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody! I hope you are having less trouble than I was waking up this morning. I sat up in bed, seeing it was 10:00, and after a few minutes wondering why it felt like 9:00, things started to make sense. "I hate the time change," said Marissa, rolling over next to me. "This is the unfun one."

"Ah, it's the time change today, that's why I'm so tired," I griped, rolling over to my feet. Rodney was already busily shuffling around his room and ready to join everyone downstairs for Breakfast.

Today is day two of Ziggy's agility trial. Not long ago, Marissa left with Ziggy for Rockford, and just the Recker family men are holding it down back at the house today. I sat Rodney down at the table with a plate of three Dutch Apple fruit bars, and by the time I poured a cup of coffee and returned to the table, he had already added a dozen more to his plate. "That's way too many, dude," I said, joining him at the table. I reached for one of his many fruit bars. Rodney protested by swatting his hand at mine. "NO…" he said. "Not Dada's. Rodney's."

The three of us - Ollie, Rodney, and I - had a real adventure yesterday. Yesterday after Marissa left with Ziggy, we suited up and departed for the Goodman skatepark like a slow caravan. I had Ollie's leash in hand kicking my skateboard along the sidewalk, and Rodney dragged his green scooter behind him. Of course, Rodney had his swords with him sheathed in the neck hole of his sweater.

Rodney began buzzing with excitement as the Goodman park came into view, running ahead of us to stake his claim. I scooted a rusty hand rail over to a sunny spot on the pavement and tied up Ollie, who contentedly took his place, laying with his chest puffed out like a watchful lion. Rodney and I skated around for an hour, going up and down ramps, racing across the vacant basketball court, and even making snowballs out of the thawing snow on the shady side of the park. I took a break, letting Rodney climb around on the jungle gym while I sat with Ollie.

Before long, a father and his younger sun wandered over to the playground. The four year old kid was carrying a skateboard. "EXCUSE ME," the boy yelled articulately. "DO YOU WANT TO RIDE SKATEBOARDS WITH ME?" Rodney leapt off the rope ladder and ran over. BLISHH BLSH BUGH SKATEBOARD SWORDS?, he replied. The two boys stood there for a moment twenty feet from each other shouting over the empty playground. Taking the initiative to start an impromptu play date, I wandered over and grabbed Rodney's board. "Let's do it, dudes."

Rodney ran ahead with Elliot, dragging his green scooter behind him. The two boys ran around the park, fought with swords, and tried each others skate boards. Elliot showed Rodney how to ride on his board from his belly, using his hands to propel forward. I skated around the two.

Taking a break, I got to chatting with Elliot's dad. He had moved to Madison from Rockford. "I'm from Illinois too, I actually used to live in Rockford," I said. I could tell Tim relieved to let his guard down and share more descriptively. "I'm still a real Illinois slob," he said. "The people here drive way too slow."

"And the water doesn't taste very good," I added. Tim's eyes widened. "YES", he resonated. "It's so hard! We'll leave our cats water bowl out for a few days, and this white ring of calcium will form, it's terrible! I really miss the spring water we had in Rockford."

It felt good to commiserate with, as he referred to himself, another proud flatlander. "Nobody around here wants to hear someone from Illinois complain about things in Wisconsin," I later shared with Marissa. "So I usually just keep all these complaints to myself. It was nice to hear it from somebody else for a change."

As we chatted, Elliot became fixated on Rodney's foam swords while Rodney blissfully played with his skate board. Tim looked on, visibly worried. "We… had to take away all Elliot's swords recently," he shared. "They just get him too excited."

"Five minute warning, dude," I yelled to Rodney. "We gotta go pick up groceries." Rodney looked up and nodded. Meanwhile, sensing that his time with the swords were coming to an end, Elliot started to get nervous. Tim walked over to Elliot to try to coax the foam swords away. Out of frustration, Elliot ran to the top of the skateboard ramp and flung them over the edge defiantly. Rodney looked on in amusement.

As Tim consoled Elliot, we bid farewell to our new friends. "We come here a lot," I said. "I'm sure we'll see you around." Rodney and I skated away.

We dropped Ollie off at the house, then made our way up East Wash to the Taco Bell. Rodney and I ordered lunch and found a quiet sunny table in the dining room. The employees were very friendly with us. One worker emerged from behind the counter and surprised us with a pair of gooey cinnamon donuts. Unsurprisingly, he turned to me, segueing into professional, but insistent plea to fill out the customer survey and call him out by name. The employees get some kind of kick back. "Yeah, ha - I know the drill," I nodded, getting out my phone to oblige him. Whatever they're doing, it's working. That Taco Bell is one of the few fast food restaurants on that street that doesn't disgust me. EVERYTHING WAS AMAZING, I typed. ESPECIALLY GORDON. I SPECIFICALLY WANT TO CALL OUT GORDON, HE WAS THE BEST.

We left Taco bell and made the walk to Jenny Street. Fueled by taco energy, Rodney left his hoodie in the wagon and ran ahead of me, pumping his tiny arms and periodically glancing down to watch his new light up shoes pound the pavement.

As we shopped, Rodney started to crash. We returned home, and I put him down for a much needed, well-earned nap. We made the most out of the first nice day of the year.

By the looks of it, it's shaping up to be an even nicer day today. As it's Ollie's birthday today, we're going to take him to the gourmet dog treat store in Atwood, and we might hit the skate park on the way. Hope you have a wonderful day today. Thanks for stopping by.