Cliche title? Sure. But it fits.
This morning I packed up Paolo with my things and on a crisp Tuesday morning left Amy’s house in Charlottesville and hopped onto 29S to start my adventure to Tucson.
Just over 500 miles and 4 states. Virginia. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Leg 1 final destination: Life University in Marietta, GA (it’s lovely having friends who are willing to put you up for a night or two). Despite a little bit of rain, the drive was pretty standard for this part of the country: rolling hills and trees on either side. I only had to stop twice to fill up and rest and stretch my legs (who knew how tiring sitting can be?). What did I listen to? Why, country music, of course. It only seemed fitting. I changed it up a little bit Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery on tape. FABULOUS. Read a review! I’m only a few chapters in, but Eco’s writing mixes great prose with intriguing narrative with laugh-old-loud descriptions. He’s been one of my favorite authors for some time now, and every time I read something by him I’m reminded why that is.
I drove up to my friend Dave’s place around 5, just in time to see him make me a fabulous dinner of home-made meatloaf, sauteed brussels sprouts and roasted purple sweet potatoes! I was going to bring him some yummy house-warming gifts but Jackson (Amy’s dog) ate them. No lie. He found them among my things and ate them. Hopefully the mini packet of Justin’s chocolate-hazelnut butter I brought Dave was still acceptable.
After dinner we walked over to Life University’s gym in time to watch the men’s basketball team play Carver College (NAIA league) … and go from making it a close game to letting the other team score over 100 points. What happened? The other team played like a team, and our team did not. Simple as that. Highlight of the game was when the little girl sitting in front of us decided to be a contestant in the half-time dance-off.. and completely brought the house down. Girl had moves that I can only dream about! She won a free packet of Skittles. I won a priceless memory.
Don’t ask me what I thought about Atlanta, because I have no honest opinion. I barely went into town. I drove 8 hours yesterday and am looking at the same tomorrow, so today I blissfully slept in until 9 and then hopped on my computer. Emails, more emails, news, Daily Show, and some blogging. This. This is what I do on my road trip. And every now and then I look out the window to see the blue sky over the green campus. When Dave came home for a break between classes we made Paleo zucchini brownies today (almond-butter base). Mmmm. Later on we stopped at a chiropractor’s house (he’s going to work for her) and she adjusted us both for free! Then we went into the city, and as we got out of the car to head into Yeah!Burger, I saw the lit-up Atlanta skyline.
Yeah!Burger is pretty darn good. It’s one of those gourmet burger joints in that they have local, grass-fed meats and bison and such (and turkey and veggie and chicken…), gluten-free options (buns, fries, onion rings), assorted toppings, sides, sauces, and the “side of the day” was roasted brussels sprouts topped with some seriously good goat cheese. Sooo what do I think of Atlanta? I think it’s delicious!
Who knew having fun could be exhausting? I just spent a week in Charlottesville, VA doing just that. My parents thought I’d decide to spend the Spring there, after all!
So what was I doing, if not moving back? For starters, I was gathering my scattered possessions, including my car, which I had stored at various homes thanks to the help of fabulous friends.my worldly possessions on Amy’s floor”]
And then there’s my car, Paolo, a 2008 Honda Fit. I hadn’t driven him, or a manual, in all of 6 months, and it sure felt good to shift those gears again after so long. But 6 months without my love is a while for even sturdy Paolo, so I spent my first day back in the ‘ville getting my car ready for the big drive West, which included replacing the car battery and getting the tires checked, and then making him street legal with updated license tag. I tested him on the road the next day when I drove to Harrisonburg to see my buddy Jake and workout with him at CrossFit Harrisonburg. Great little box which challenged me with a short 12-9-6 wod of clean and jerks (135/95) and chest-to-bar pull-ups. Then I witnessed Jake eat a whole half a pig as a post-WOD meal. That was most impressive. His post-meal constant belching was not. Still… very good to see an old bud!!!
Jake wasn’t the only gym buddy I saw, I mean, I did coach at CrossFit Charlottesville for a year and work out there a year before that… I have connections I had to visit and cherish! So if I said I went to Charlottesville for a week and spent every day in the gym, I’d be lying, but it’s close. I had my own lifting to do, after all, and I knew the gym was where I’d get to see a ton of people I wanted to see.
Speaking of my own lifts, it turns out lifting on my own isn’t all that awful. I still prefer having a coach watching me at the moment, but I managed to PR my snatch at 133#/60.5kg (yayyy!)and got a new clean at 169#/77kg clean PR video [don’t mind the failed jerk]! 175#/79kg was sooo close, I managed to get under it twice, but just couldn’t drive it up.
The gym has provided me with a great little family of friends in Charlottesville, and one of them hosted me for the week (thanks, Amy!), others I got to visit for lunch at Eppie’s and BeerRun, dinner at Positively 4th Street and Himalayan Fusion, and a potluck dinner with others while watching the Golden Globes. We even had an impromptu bowling night at Waynesboro — I never even broke 100, but I sure had a fun time with them all.
I have other friends, too. I did got to Charlottesville for a grad program at UVA, and that’s where I first met people. I saw my old roommate and “the three Elizabeths” (yes we all share the same name) had our victorious reunion at Now and Zen for sushi (after a failed attempt to get manicures… for some reason the nail place was crazy crowded!). We caught up on girl talk and all our overseas adventures — all academic in purpose — of me in Greece, Elizabeth in Italy, and Libby in England. So so so good to see them. That’s why I booked a week in town, after all! It might now have been long enough.
And I saw dogs, at the gym and at Amy’s (awww Jackson, such a sweetie even if he did eat some of the gifts I brought for people). And I saw lots of cats. I love cats, I really do, not because they’re adoring like pups, but because they are, well, catty. They have sass and attitude. I was reminded heartily of the reasons why I love cats. Devon and John’s cat, Maggie, showed the adoring cuddly side when she snuggled up to me in state of total and utter relaxation for a while just letting me pet her. Joe and Lex’s cats are of 3 different natures: shy, ambivalent, and curious. Jason and Lydia’s cat, Mia, apparently has become a little more evil than usual… she loves feet but now she also loves attacking feet (I learned this the hard way). And then there’s Mrs. Noam Chomsky, Amy’s cat, and my new roommate for the past week. Chomsky normally hates everyone but Amy and she makes no secret of it by hissing at everyone and everything to her heart’s delight. However, towards the end of my stay there Chomsky not only tolerated my presence (no hissing?) but even drooled happily while curled up in my bed on my pillow. Call me the cat whisperer.
Oh, I went house-hunting! Still am doing so in preparation for moving back in July/August, and if anyone knows of a 3-bedroom place for July in the Belmont/downtown area please let me know!
To sum it up, Charlottesville looks the same: green and small and charming. Such is most of the South. One could get used to life there, knowing DC is a short 2 hour drive away along long stretches of green highway. But, as is ever the case with a place I can call ‘home’, it’s the people. Seeing all those familiar faces and remembering once again how lucky I am to consider each one of them a friend, and how happy I am when I’m with them… that I wouldn’t trade for anything.