Gulfport, FL – February 15, 2013
Silver dragons perched on rooftops and ten foot tall metal horses. Breakfast with Nancy and Ann Marie, town watchdogs and yard sale experts, who buy corduroy hats for two dollars and yell at politicians to keep ads off the town benches. A drive down to look at the bridge over the bay and the miles of open water ahead of me. Half-off Valentine’s Day chocolate and resupplying for the next leg. Bay News 9 shooting the boat. Paddling circles to get the right angles. A presentation about the trip at the library. Lots of nerves. Lots of friendly faces. Watching glass blowers at the Industrial Arts Center. Then getting a chance to blow something. Picking blue for the water, yellow for the boat, and white for the sky. Adding a dash of pink and green for Frank and Ali. Knowing I will cherish that glass until it breaks and maybe beyond. Knowing it would have been a heaping mess without Owen there to fix my mistakes and pretend like I did most of it myself. Dinner at Jo’s Cuban Restaurant. Eating lechon and maduros until my stomach hurt. Eating more. Meeting a Cuban baseball player and breaking out rusty Spanish to wish him luck. Laughing because he first thought I came all the way from Minnesota in a Cadillac. Eating more. Talking with Doug and learning a bit about life and what’s important (hint: love yourself). Saying goodnight to my grandmother’s sister’s husband’s cousin Margarete who I had never met before yesterday, but who has to be the best tour-guide Gulfport has ever seen. Breathing. Sleeping.
Not bad for a day off.
The Industrial Arts Center in Gulfport is an amazing place. I had never seen glass blowing before and they are set up so you can watch masters at work or take a quick course and give it a shot yourself. It’s an amazing art form and a lot of fun to try and an absolute gem of a community effort to support the arts. Check it out if you’re in the area and take a course if your brave! Be brave.