Why mourn a person that you haven’t seen for twenty-five years or spoken to in over five years? That’s what I’m going through right now. I found out recently that a once close friend died. No notice. No fanfare. No obituary. Nothing came my way; just a phone call from a friend regarding a post on Facebook. Before anyone starts the negative foolishness about posting such a sensitive matter on social media, it had to be done. His family is looking for his sister, Deborah, whom they lost touch with.
His name was Joseph Todd Pearson. We met in high school through mutual friends. We didn’t date until the end of our senior year and for several years off and on. When I hear women state that there aren’t any good men around, I can agree on a certain level. That’s based on the idiots that I have dated after Mr. Pearson. Don’t get me wrong. There were a few decent ones in the mix. However, no one compared to him. A few came close. Not only was he my first love, he taught me how a woman should be treated. No – that honor does not belong to my father. I love my father dearly but Joe taught me LOVE.
Joe really was my first love and you never forget your first love. The first man to buy me flowers. He was the first man to open a door for me, help me with my coat and defend my honor. Joe was the first man to buy me a gift just because. He was the first man to tell me he loved me. He was the first man (besides my father) that wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. He was the first man to tell me I was beautiful and didn’t mean it in a sexual manner. Matter-of-fact, he told me after I had allowed someone to plaster makeup all over my face: foundation, blue eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, rouge, and lipstick.
It had been months since I saw him. I was away for training for the National Guard. Since he was picking me up from the airport, I wanted to look fabulous. I was still in my dress uniform when he picked me up. He smiled, laughed, hugged, kissed me, told me I looked and felt muscular. He teased me about my arms (which had bulked up from all of the pushups). He avoided commenting on the makeup. He had never seen me wear makeup and I thought it would be the first thing he noticed. I finally asked him if he liked it.
His response, “You look like a clown. You don’t need makeup. You are a natural beauty. Natural beauties don’t need makeup.”
Needless to say, I was ticked off and expressed it in a very un-ladylike manner via cursing! I didn’t expect him to be so blunt, although he always was, after not seeing me for months. He pulled the car over, grabbed my face and told me calmly while looking in my eyes, “You are too pretty for all of that. You don’t need it. You are beautiful.”
I was still upset but he always knew how to calm me down. At that moment, I knew I really was beautiful. It wasn’t because Joe said so. It was because I looked in the mirror and noticed that I really did look like a clown with the exaggerated makeup on. To this day, I rarely wear any makeup except brow filler, lipstick/gloss and maybe mascara. Joe’s words always come back to me. “You are a natural beauty.”
Am I having a shoulda coulda woulda moment? No, I am not. Joe and I had that conversation eons ago. I was the one that sabotaged our relationship. I was the one that played games. I was fighting my own battles and didn’t understand love. I never really appreciated what he tried to give/show me until Karma kicked me in the behind and those games were played on me. He was my template of what a good man should be in a relationship. To this day, I will not date a man that does not treat me like a lady or with respect. My father taught me that too but Joe was the one that made it REAL.
In the aftermath of our failed relationship, he got married and I had a child. The last time I saw him, my son was two and we were waiting at a bus stop to take my son to daycare. Joe spotted me and gave me a ride. We chatted and went on with our lives and wished the best for each other.
Throughout the years, I often thought about Joe. The thoughts weren’t based on the hope of a reconciliation of our love. No. We were long past those moments. I would have dreams about him. Whenever I had more than one within a week or month, I would try and locate him. I knew something wasn’t right and I felt the urge to check on him. I tracked him down. We promised to check in on each other from time to time. Of course, it didn’t happen. That’s my regret.
Today, I searched for a few of his letters that he wrote me while I was in the service and the photo of us at our high school graduation. I’m a packrat and keep almost everything that has ever meant anything to me. I read the letters again and stared at the photo. I didn’t cry. Not one drop of a tear.
I didn’t start crying until I started writing this “memorial” for him. I’m crying because I feel Joe deserved better than what he received from life. I’m crying because I wish I could have at least talked to him one more time. Yeah. Yeah. I know. We aren’t supposed to question or ask “Why?” However, my relationship with God is very open and direct. I may not get things my way but I get answers.
Every year on his birthday, I would post “Happy Birthday” on his wall/page on Facebook. I knew he wouldn’t respond because he seldom was on Facebook. However, I wanted to keep my word by checking on him, albeit, the lazy way. This year was different. When I wished him Happy Birthday, I added “peace” at the end without really thinking about it. I had remarked to a friend previously that I felt something wasn’t right and I had hoped that all was well with him. I had no way to contact him and pushed the ominous feeling to the side. I then received the phone call reporting his death. Sigh.
There were a few rough patches in Joe’s life but he never complained. He was a private man. When we were younger, I knew his secrets and his dreams. I can only hope that he truly is resting in peace. He was a magnificent and handsome man. Everyone should know that about Joe. Yes. It is possible to mourn someone you haven’t seen in twenty-five years or spoken to in over five years. I’m mourning the man that taught me so much right now.
Rest in Peace Joe – You made a difference in my life and others. Your mission was accomplished.
Next on our list was the Coliseum or the official name, Colosseum, the huge amphitheater in Rome! We found it easy enough by using public transportation. Matter of fact, it was easy compared to the other locations in Rome. Even the cab drivers were confused with GPS or were they taking advantage of tourists? The streets can start off with one name and end up being two other names before you get to your location. The numbers were not in any particular order. An address with 200 can end up being next to 35 and then 400. Trees “park” next to vehicles on the streets. I love it!
When I tell you the Colosseum is huge, it’s huge! You cannot miss it! We were smart (again) and purchased tickets online before leaving the US. We did not wait too long in line. Once inside, we climbed the same stairs that the ancient Romans climbed. On one level, we saw various statues and artwork. We exited into the walkways that led around the entire area of the Colosseum. It was crowded but due to the magnitude of the place, there was plenty of room to explore. I made sure I brought my handy red umbrella to shade me from the sun.
It was 100⁰ or more and the sun was out in full force! I was sweating before I stepped out of the shade of the entry way! Due to the Roman heat, there are several fountains in the Colosseum to fill your water jug or mug. I had my personal mug of my own design (Go to Products Page to purchase) and I filled it a few times. I also dabbed my towel to freshen up my face. I wish I had a small spray mist bottle for my face to help cool off! Renae and I took a selfie showing our excitement of being at one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
After a while, the heat will beat you down, if you are not use to it. We headed back to the lower entrance level to wait for our tour to begin. I highly advise purchasing tickets for the Colosseum Underground Tour. We had to wait a few months to purchase them separately. The tour started shortly and we headed through a gated, locked entrance and back upstairs. I felt sorry for an elderly woman that was part of our tour. She was a trooper though. She went everywhere we went. An elevator was available for the lower area but not all areas of the Colosseum. I peeked around a fenced off area and snapped a photo of pieces of the Colosseum possibly being repaired.
The lower level (underground) – is worth every bit of the ticket price! Our tour guide was a very knowledgeable young woman. She showed us the cramp living area where animals, prisoners and gladiators lived together. She stated that death was always around because of the unhealthy living conditions, stench and heat. There was a system for running water and latrines. However, it was not an exciting existence for anyone except the spectators sitting outside enjoying the show.
The guide explained the process in which the Colosseum was flooded to enable ships to battle to the amazement of the crowd. We looked out at the exit where Gladiators walked to perform in the Colosseum. It was amazing to see a reproduction of an elevator that was used to transport animals to the Colosseum arena. Many people were used to operate the elevator. The guide directed us to another set of stairs leading to another level. She told us each area was sectioned off by social standing. The second story we visited was for the middle class.
The magic of the Colosseum was further exposed when we saw the trap door that magically popped up animals, prisoners and gladiators to the main floor of the huge amphitheater. The tour took a depressing moment when we were showed the entrance that led to the morgue for fallen gladiators. As we walked around and listened to the guide, I hid away into a cubby hole to avoid the sun and cool off a little. After I was busted by Renae, I came out of the cubby hole and looked over an edge (slowly because I am afraid of heights) to see the entire inside of the Colosseum. Behind us was the view of Palatine Hill. This was our next stop. With our purchase of the Colosseum tickets, a visit of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was included.
We left the Colosseum and got turned around and could not find our way to the shortcut for Palatine Hill and Forum. We found a dark-skinned young man and asked him directions. He pretended not to know and even made fun of us to his co-worker that was delivering items on a push cart. His actual words were, “It’s black Americans.” This disturbed me because not only was he darker than us but he considered himself better than us. Before I knew it, the South Side of Chicago came out and I told him he was rude and he understood.
We eventually found our way. Make sure you wear comfortable flat shoes. The cobblestone, which I nicknamed “Break Something,” is not the place to wear cute heels. The Roman Forum has the massive Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. The crumbling, massive monuments are beautiful if you love ancient architecture. This area is where Rome is said to have begun. Hunger, heat and exhaustion got the best of us. We dragged slowly through the area and headed back to the direction of our hotel for something to eat.
After eating, we found another thrift store. Come on! You knew it was going to happen. This was a smaller store and we did not purchase anything. It also contained a lot of 70s clothing. If I had room in my spare suitcase, I would have at least bought one of the men’s hats. I love the style of a man’s fedora! A pair of furry shoes also caught my eye. However, they looked like Bigfoot was missing something. They were hideous. Not my style but I am sure that someone loved them and they were extremely expensive looking.
NEXT: MORE ITALY, LENNY KRAVITZ AND THRIFT STORES!