Memories & Reflections

A Eulogy for a Longtime Travel Companion

We had to recently say goodbye to a dear friend: my ceramic hula man.

This hula man was gifted to me for my 16th birthday by my little brother to put in my car. My friends and I named him Roth (or Ross with a lisp) after David Lee Roth, a famous rock n’ roller in a hair band; Roth tended to head-bang while the car was in motion, so the name seemed apt.

Roth was one of my most frequent travel companions. He accompanied me all over this country: from St. Pete to Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Atlanta, North Carolina, Boston, New York.

The day I got Roth, I affixed him to the dashboard of my minivan with a few 3M strips, and there he remained until graduation, when he moved with me into my second car. We moved from St. Pete to Jacksonville (which he wouldn’t even recognize these days!), where Roth accompanied me to college, and I lived on my own for the first time.

He was there when I went to Miami to get my visa so I could study abroad. He remained at home with my parents while I studied abroad in Paris, but rejoined me when I bought my third car, the Mazda3 that I owned for more than a decade, and moved to Orlando to finish my degree.  When I “temporarily” moved back in with my parents from college, to figure out next steps. (But I met my now-husband, fell in love with Nashville, and never looked back.)

I came of age alongside him. And now I have lain him to rest.

Roth has been on countless road trips, witnessing my enthusiastic off key renditions of musical numbers. He’s helped many people learn to drive, and has been privy to innumerable intimate conversations between besties. He’s lived everywhere that I have (with the exception of Paris). He helped move my little brother home from his first year in college, getting honked at in Boston and lost in New York City.  Strangely, he had never been west of the Mississippi.

Eventually, after spending years in the sun, no amount of sticky pads would keep him in place in the dashboard; his hula skirt had disintegrated years earlier, and after falling and hitting the console one too many times, he’d become chipped. He took up residence inside our (first) house, shuffling between my office and storage shelves. He survived the move five years ago to our second house, where he’s mostly remained sitting on the water heater in the garage (to be honest, I have no idea how he got there or why we left him there for so long).

A few months ago, my son got his hands on him and for anyone who’s ever hung out with a three year old, Im sure you can imagine how that went: he broke apart at the ankle so I had to glue him back to his base. More recently, I accidentally dropped him when I was moving some items around, and glued him back together again. And then Skyler wanted to see him again, which led to him breaking again and part of his ukelele falling off as well.

I dont want to watch him fall apart any longer. And I’ve been working on letting go of physical things that I don’t need or arent serving any purpose anymore. I had been avoiding getting rid of him due to the sentimental value, but it’s time to say good bye. Hence, this eulogy and remembrance.

So please help me pay tribute to my longtime friend Roth. Dedicated rock n roller, loyal road trip companion, and lover of nudity. We had a good run. Aloha. RIP Roth: 2000 – 2022

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