Three thirty in the morning I woke, after a 30 minute nap. It was pertinent that we be on the road by four in order to avoid some of the heaviest traffic in and around the cities at the busiest time of day. Watching the weather, it also looked like we would be driving through a snow storm just south of Philadelphia. It was said to be capable of 3-6 inches, and 8-10 near D.C. This could easily slow the progress, not to mention heighten the risk of driving making it quite dangerous. Behind that storm, and brewing just over Texas was a huge rain storm that easily took up five southern states. Nothing like driving through snow and rain for five days. I looked around my dark room and saw the results of my packing. Love seat gone, now boxes piled upon Rubbermaid containers.
I jumped out of the comfort of my bed to make sufficient coffee to get me over the first part of the mornings drive. My heart was already racing in anticipation of the travel ahead. I filled the machine and pressed start before the noises above me signaled that the family knew I was awake. They would soon join me around the kitchen table to say their farewells. But I had to get moving with putting everything into the car. First I took the larger items, stopped to pour myself some coffee, then began taking out the odds and ends. For the most part everything was fitting together well. Mary, my sister who was going to be joining me on my journey, still wasn’t around. I hurried my already tired legs to the attic to see what she was doing.
Of course she was still sleeping! I finished loading the car with continuous vocalized prompts to “hurry up” towards my sister. Finally by 4:45 we were ready to rock. I said my farewells to an amazing man, and to my family before we started up the car in the brisk thirty-two degree weather. Once we began driving we both realized the comfort of a stuffed car. Seats were pushed almost all the way forward, there was no elbow space, and poor Mary had a bag under her legs, her computer bag, and her packed bag on her lap. I blasted some techno music from my CD’s the first hour, then encouraged Mary to grab the CD titled ‘I’m Somewhat Gangsta’ and put that in. It was more her style of music. I wanted to make her a bit more comfortable considering how much stuff she had weighing down on her.
Almost a full two hours passed before we had to make our first pit stop. Opening the doors reminded us of the freezing temperatures we were in. It was of no help to us that the wind was blowing harshly, beating against our faces. We went through Gettysburg, then Virginia, then Maryland, North Carolina, and then South Carolina. Following the route Google instructed us to go, it got questionable. We took an exit and found ourselves on some back roads. For miles there were abandoned houses. Randomly we’d see someone sitting on a chair out front of one of these houses, don’t worry, it still looked abandoned. Swamps lined the road with oak trees dripping Spanish moss. The sixty two degree weather encouraged us to roll down the roadways with our windows down. Only once to quickly roll them up when two dogs came running out to the car, next to yet another abandoned house.
Soon we had found a small Exxon. It was at the only developed corner we had run into the whole time in South Carolina. Walking inside, I wanted to be happy hearing the funny way they talked. It was tough due to their physical appearance. Just you know, not used to going out on the town. I smiled ear to ear anyway, which is when they all looked at me like I was the crazy one. I also didn’t have a full story to go along with my purchase, which alerted them that I was a foreigner to these parts. “Marlboro menthol lights,” I informed the lady I needed. She started talkin ta me. I rightly could hardlee unerstan wha she wa sayun. I smiled politely and gave her money. I think she gave up on me then, because she didn’t really have much else to say with her southern accent to a degree further than anyone could ever imagine.
We finally made it to our destination only an hour after my run in with the locals at the Exxon. Palm trees were more exuberant, red roads intersected and ran parallel, and the buildings were suddenly inhabited. Turning onto Ocean Boulevard was a treat, as it was lined with beautiful hotels, and entertaining shops. It was easy to identify this as a tourist or vacation spot. Palm trees lined the streets, and people walked lazily by the shops. The sky was a beautiful blue and the ocean happily reflected it. We got to the hotel and checked into the rooms. Mary, was on the sixth floor with an ocean view and small balcony. I was on the sixteenth floor in a corner suite. I was honestly hoping for more on my first suite visit, but it was still pretty neat. Hey I had a living room!
After the exploration of our rooms, I couldn’t stand the want for a nap and a beer. We went down to the closest gas station and picked up a case of beer. I had an exciting night ahead of me, and absolutely had to get my nap and a shower before I would face the town.
By the end of day one, I had excitedly navigated through the ninety five and seen some wonderful sights. I had a burning desire in my heart. It was there, pulsating, and making me shake. I couldn’t have been happier to be there; homeless and living without a care.