Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Into the New Year (part the final)

Concluding the adventures of Sonny, Ashley, Cricket & Maggie as they document their trek across Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and back again…only almost one whole month after Christmas…

DECEMBER 29: DAY EIGHT OF THE GREAT SOUTHEASTERN ROADTRIP OF 2007: Yet another day of relaxation…and gift exchange. Turns out that in the flurry of gifts that Ash and I got, we received gift cards for stores that we don’t have in Miami. So, we decided that we would take some time to go shopping in Tupelo so that we could use the cards we got. …however, we didn’t take into account that (a) this would mean more crap to try and cram into the Jetta (which was going to be VERY close to capacity at this point) and that (b) we could have just ordered stuff from the respective websites of these stores.

Yes. I am a genius. Thank you for asking.

This was also the day that I think I gorged myself completely. See – during the car ride to Mississippi I kept espousing the virtues of the various and sundry places that I wanted to eat that there is nothing like in Miami. Like, fried catfish. Fried. Stinking. Catfish. You have NO idea how much I started craving this artery-clogging dish as soon as it was not longer readily available. So, the afternoon was spent eating dough burgers, chocolate milkshakes, and the evening was spent at the local out-in-the-literal-middle-of-the-woods catfish eatery.

And I had Pepto for dessert.

DECEMBER 30: DAY NINE OF THE GREAT SOUTHEASTERN ROADTRIP OF 2007: Memories…nothing more than…memories… I think this date marked a moment in time that should have been captured with a camera for all eternity. Too bad none of us were smart enough to do so…

Andy Pittman (see the blog link on this page), Kenny Anthony and I were moderately inseparable during a lot of our senior year of high school – which, in retrospect, is kind of odd, since we were all three so radically different in personality styles, tastes in music and movies, and dreams and aspirations from one another. But, there were a few common bonds that ran strong between us, and this is what was the cohesion to our loose little affiliation.

Anyway, unless I am mistaken, I think that the last time the three of us were together was at Andy’s wedding…in the mid 1990’s. Time and life had a way of letting us drift apart, but we kept weaving in an out of one another’s radar during the interim time: Kenny and I wound up as roommates for YEARS while living in Columbus, MS and never really lost touch for extended periods after that, while Andy and I had only recently (in the last few years) begun a moderately healthy and irregularly scheduled dialogue on church, culture, our places in it, what ministry was supposed to look/feel like…and how our respective life paths had changed/altered our perceptions and beliefs on living a life of faith.

But that afternoon in Starbucks…it was like we hadn’t seen each other for a few months. Oh, sure – the waistlines were different, the hair (or lack thereof) was different, the fact that Andy has three children was different…but the core of the connection was still there. My only regret was that we couldn’t devote as much time to the reconnection as we wanted to. Life, again, had other plans…and so did our respective families.

DECEMBER 31: DAY TEN OF THE GREAT SOUTHEASTERN ROADTRIP OF 2007: We left the great city of Tupelo sometime around 10:00 am for the first leg of the trip back home – which would mean a stop back in Albany, GA to see Ashley’s mom and to get Cricket & Maggie back.

The conversation on the ride home was VERY deep and meaningful, and I’ve debated talking about it on this blog. Ultimately, what was said in the car needs to STAY in the car…but it was a great time for Ashley and I to talk about the future, our plans/dreams for a family, and other intimate moments that only two souls who are so close can share in terms of a dialogue about life.

JANUARY 1, 2008: DAY ELEVEN – THE LAST AND FINAL DAY OF THE GREAT SOUTHEASTERN ROADTRIP OF 2007: You know how it always takes longer to get back home at the end of a trip than it does to get where you’re going? Or how it seems that way? Yeah. That was this day. In spades. But, we made it home safe and sound...and not at one another's throats.

So – ultimately, what did we learn from this roadtrip?

We miss our family and friends. Rather, I miss them more than I was either willing to admit or that I was even really aware of. Living in Miami has some amazing blessings attached to it (and no – I’m not talking about the weather), but ultimately? Home is where the heart is, and we found out that our hearts still lie in the Southeast.

We miss cold weather. Stupid UV rays…

We will NEVER travel with that much crap in the car again. Say it with me: UPS. Why the devil I didn’t just pony up and ship all the gifts we go back to Miami, I’ll never know. (Again: yes. I am a genius. Thank you for asking.)

Thus ends the travelogue.

COMING SOON: Leadership Summit recap – HUMANA 08 – the East Coast Conference on Hunger and Homelessness – and much, much more…

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