It’s been 2 weeks and I’ve not been able to stop singing the lyrics from ‘I’m a Believer’ by the Monkees. I might have an issue. And it started long before meeting my brand new great granddaughter Jovi, about the same time. When I laid eyes on her, I immediately thought of the words to this song’s chorus. But this ordeal started 50 years ago when I fell in love with Neil Diamond. Sorry Hubs. The Monkees hit was # 1 for several weeks in 1966. But the song was originally written and sung by Neil.
Which reminded me of the best quotes from one of my favorite movies, What About Bob? Bob (Bill Murray) is a psychiatric patient of Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss). Doc is getting some history on his new whack job patient, and inquires about Bob’s marital status. This is Bob’s response: “there are 2 types of people in this world. Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.” Pretty much sumsup my life for me. I’d be Bob’s ex-wife.
|What about Bob? starring Cubs fan, Bill Murray…|
I’m a Believer (written by my main squeeze, Neil Diamond)
I thought love was only true in fairy tales,
meant for someone else but not for me.
Love was out to get, that’s the way it seemed,
Disappointment haunted all my dreams.
|Josh & Erica at an MSU football game, 2013…|
This fairy tale started in 2011. Joshua called and said he was bringing someone home to meet us for Christmas. This wasn’t earth shattering news. He was 35 and dated seriously enough over the years to bring home some gals. But this one seemed different even before we met her. He wanted everything to be perfect. Yeah, good luck with that Josh. We’re a normal, messy family. Well, mostly normal besides this freaky Neil Diamond obsession.
|Neil, words not necessary here…|
Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind.
I’m in love, umm, I’m a believer,
I couldn’t leave her if I tried!
|Josh & Erica, a night on the town in Detroit, 2015…|
Her name is Erica, and she was close to Josh’s age. Both in their mid-30’s, neither had been married or had children. Odd in this day and age. She was articulate, pretty, funny and smart. Hailing from Pennsylvania and graduating from MSU with a degree in manufacturing engineering. She was a senior engineer at Nissan Corp. in Detroit. Josh had already been a business owner for more than a decade in Detroit. I could see this was serious and special.
|They wear happiness well…|
Sure enough, a couple months later they were engaged. They knew it and weren’t messing around. They decided on a destination wedding. I never heard of such a thing. Clueless. They originally looked at Cabo, Mexico as their destination, but after checking resorts and flights, started having second thoughts. Not about getting married, no they were hung-ho, but both felt Cabo was kinda pricey. They decided Cancun was less expensive, thus more friends and family could share their day.
|Big Spartan fans. Sigh…|
The big date was set for November 16, 2012, giving friends and family plenty of time to ‘save the date.’ John and I were really excited about the wedding. We thought Josh was a confirmed bachelor and were happy because he was so happy!
|November 16, 2012, Cancun…|
Josh and Erica chose an all-inclusive resort called Dreams. Inclusive meaning once you get there, there’s is no reason to ever leave. (So how come I’m no longer there I wonder?) The resort sported several restaurants, 5 rings a bell, ranging from a buffet the size of my house to smaller venues, specializing in seafood or Italian. Plus tiny pub like or tiki bars at 10 foot intervals. A couple of pools, and this amazing body of brilliant blue water called the Caribbean. Wow. Dreams also included a pool where folks could swim with the dolphins. Literally. Landon and Peyton did this. The resort itself was big and included a humongous amount of beach front. End to end, between a quarter to half a mile of sidewalks.
|I got this…|
The biggest excitement of our fabulous trip happened before we boarded our direct flight to Cancun, which was at 9 am on a Saturday from Detroit Metro. About 200 miles from North Muskegon. Makes for a very early morning, so we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport on Friday night. We were maybe a mile from the airport, the address was Romulus. It’s about 1 am, we’re both sound asleep (I can’t hear squat laying on my good ear and without my hearing aid). John pokes me hard in the ribs and says, “did you just hear gunshots?” Filled with fog I muttered, “ah, no I can’t hear anything. You sure it’s not fireworks?” “No way, I can tell the difference between firecrackers and a 9 millimeter!” He jumps out of bed, strides to the room’s large window (in his undies) and pulls back the drapes. Several thugs are standing by our pickup about 10 feet away, arguing heatedly. He closes the drapes, races over, and starts pulling on clothes. (Hold on there little doggie). The voice of reason (me) convinces him to dial 911 before charging out the door. The 911 dispatcher says cops are already on their way. After breaking up the fight (over girls) most of the group are arrested and hauled away. Somehow sleep would elude us for the rest of the night however. We could have just as well slept in our own bed until 3 and drove to Detroit. Great start for vacation. Next stop, Cancun.
|Happy couple in paradise, 11-16-12…|
I admit my first morning I was taken aback. I woke at the crack of dawn, waited for light to come and put on my walking duds, headphones and headed outdoors. A big share of the resort was out of doors. Many of the long hallways were not enclosed. Once on the sidewalk but still inside the resort area, I walked until I ran into the last bar. There stood an armed guard in a casual business uniform, hat, walkie-talkie and a gun. He watched me and gave a small nod as I turned around. I saw him say something in the walkie-talkie. As I got closer to the other edge of Dreams, there was another guard with matching paraphernalia. He smiled, nodded and said something into his microphone. Both guards did this every morning, for every lap I walked. Talked back and forth every time I went past. Probably drove them crazy, but made me feel better they were there. I guess there are drug cartels somewhat close, and if you’re gonna pay big bucks to stay at a resort, a nice amenity is to remain safe. And alive.
|My favorite shot of Erica in the buffet line, 11-16-12…|
Let me share a couple of oddities about this lovely resort. Almost everything that wasn’t sand was covered in beautiful patterns of tile. The long hallways leading to and from different restaurants, pools and bars were not enclosed. They are swept constantly but became slippery when 3 raindrops fell. Pretty sure I can say with certainty, Mexico has no OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) as part of their government. On these stunning tiled walkways were steps. Randomly placed. You might walk for 30 feet, then encounter 3 small steps going up or down. I cannot remember seeing or using one railing anywhere in the resort. Walk 40 feet and another 2 odd sized steps. To reach the elevator there was about 10 steps before the doors. No railing, but there was a ramp (could have been used for dirt bike trails, it was that steep, causing your rolling suitcase to move at warp speed). None of the steps had any markings whatsoever, which John discovered. By accident. We were on our way for breakfast at the house sized buffet (amazing and delicious, tons of fresh fruit, plus anything else you might want). A couple walking towards us smiled and said hi as they got close. John looked to greet them and missed 2 small steps. Down he went. I believe it was our second day. Sure he cracked a rib, but it could have been worse. But it did hamper some of the things we had planned.
|So happy together…|
In the huge buffet restaurant there were several beautiful live palm trees. Planted just below the gorgeous tile floor, but without any kind of guard, edge or border. Just went from tile floor to dirt for the tree roots with a 4 inch drop, each about 2 square foot. If you were carrying a plate a food and not watching the floor constantly you were asking for a broken ankle or leg.
|Making it legal…|
A couple of days before their Friday afternoon wedding, Josh and Erica planned a scuba diving trip. What in heaven’s name ever possessed me to heartily say, “sure I’m in,” I will never know. John said yes too, but after his nasty spill, the 40 pounds of equipment wrapped tight around his chest caused him to back out. Leaving the 3 of us with a young, extremely handsome, professional diver. First we walked out on a very wide, slippery old wooden dock. The water is about 8 feet deep and a very beautiful baby blue this close to shore. This is where we’ll learn how to breathe and maneuver underwater, carrying 40 pounds of oxygen on your back and wearing flippers. Lord, help me here, I might have been a bit hasty in my decision making and thought process. Our handsome hunk guide (forever forward known as HHG) moves from one clueless person to the next. Explaining, encouraging and patiently teaching. Josh seems to ‘get it’ and is doing great, just under the water, moving about gracefully. Jerk. Meanwhile the Beluga whale, also known as Mom, is thrashing hopelessly, helplessly while others are being taught the art of staying alive under water. It’s a beautiful sunny day, with a little wind. Curiously, that bit of wind carries me precariously close to that high, wide dock. Each little wave sends me further from the group. Soon I find myself underneath the dock, very close to our boat which is securely tied about 6 feet away. I try and turn around to see if anyone’s watching Neese disappear or crash into the boat when I glance up. About a foot above my bobbing head, just barely under the dock are spikes. Long, slender nails that keep the dock boards in place. Holy shit. If a wave catches me just right, one of those little puppies could pierce my noggin all the way to my throat. Suddenly I’m sluicing my way backwards to safety by HHG. That was close. Really close. Pretty sure HHG thinks so too. He personally beaches this whale on the boat, takes care of the rest of the divers and crew and away we go.
|Water colors were phenomenal…|
It’s not a long ride. The water we’re diving in is about 20 feet deep. HHG gently explains we each need to sit on the edge of the boat and fall into 20 foot deep Caribbean Sea. Backwards. Oh my, I surely will never live to tell this tale. But I did. HHG waits until I grab the rope leading us down to the bottom. Erica is right beside me. I never noticed the other paying patrons again except for Josh moving about like a dolphin. Geesh. When Erica and I reached the end of our rope (ha-ha, but did not seem so funny then) HHG grabbed one of my hands and one of Erica’s. He never let go of me. Never. Guess he had a rep to maintain and didn’t want the paperwork involved with my death. (Maybe there would be no paperwork) He cautiously pointed to exquisite fish lazily swimming by, letting go of Erica’s hand for a couple seconds at a time. But never my hand. After the spikes nearly got me, this was a piece of cake. I remember looking up at the water surface and seeing waves ripple by. Which affected the plants swaying. That part was so neat. Loved spotting different fish, the water swaying, the reality that I was walking on the bottom of The Caribbean. (HHG did have to keep pulling me back down. You kinda just start floating up, at least I did or maybe it was part puffer fish panic attack, but I thought I was pretty calm for nearly dying). But it’s not anything I would ever do again. Memorable though. And a good memory.
One afternoon I was in search of Hubs. He was sitting at a small bar facing the Caribbean, drinking something tinged light green. I sat beside him and he offered me a sip. Most of you know how rarely I drink. Never liked the feeling of not being in control. Or cared for the taste of booze. I took a sip and sputtered, blech, salt. But the drink part was kinda good. John ordered one for me with a sugar rim instead of salt. Tasty. Soon Shannon came and sat beside me. Looked me squarely in the face and queried, “hey mom, are you ok?” “Sure,” I slurred, “I can’t feel my nose.” She grabbed my arm and marched me to our room (oh how times have changed in 30 plus years) where I took a nice, long nap.
Of the 45 friends and family vacationing for a wedding, Hubs and I had the nicest room. Best view ever.
|The view from our room…|
The wedding was lovely, the dinner, and dancing a lot of fun. Two things. I had never before had Tres Leche Cake (milk cake which contains whole, sweetened condensed, evaporated milk and real whipped cream. Delicious doesn’t describe it very well. Or gone into a photo booth wearing goofy garb for silly pictures to capture the moment. I loved both.
|Josh schmoozing with Shannon, mom and dad…|
Seems like yesterday, but November, 2017 will mark J & E’s 5th anniversary. Thanks for all the great memories guys. Let’s do that again…
|My favorite shot of the night, J & E, bumping butts, 11-16-12…|