Before the collapse

In the mirror, February 17, 2019

In the mirror, February 17, 2019

Most of my photographs of our recent trip to Florida are portraits in hotels. Hotels are where I spent most of my time. The other photographs are taken from the truck, which is the other place I spent alot of time. I also spent time visiting family. I took very few photographs of them. That’s how it is.

Upon checking into our first hotel, Beren began to sneeze. Allergic to the room, I hoped. Not likely. His nose began to run. About four days later, I noticed that my hips were aching. I came down with the flu.

Beren and Jared took turns checking on me. “Momma, I hope you feel better soon,” Beren said gravely and repeatedly as he patted my hand nervously.

As I improved, Beren declined. He woke one morning complaining of a headache. Only stupid YouTube videos and reading a year’s worth of Prince Valiant comics quelled his misery.

During the week he and I were hotel-bound, Jared explored the dreary town of Vero Beach, which is where we landed before I collapsed. Vero Beach is not exciting, I discovered, when I was finally able to get out of bed.

I spent several days and nights just sleeping. One day I drank several cups of Bigelow’s Plantation Mint. As I lay down on our room’s foldout couch. I noticed I was not sleepy. In hindsight, I noticed that Plantation Mint tastes a little like mint and alot like green or black tea. I did not sleep that night.

The takeout in Vero Beach is awful. I had hardly an appetite. Once I woke to see Jared pour a viscous peach-colored Thai curry onto one of camping plates. I closed my eyes again.

Jared claimed he was having a fine time taking excursions by day with Beren until he got he flu and then alone once Beren collapsed. And by night, he was working on his book and playing guitar in the hotel. After twenty years with this man, I knew that would fall apart shortly and completely. It did. I’d feel the same.

Throughout the two and a half weeks, we contemplated turning back north. We checked the weather in New Jersey. We imagined that after another good night’s sleep the following day would be better. It - the trip, the personnel, and the food - never really improved.