Last Wednesday, I drove nearly a thousand miles across the United States from Illinois to Alabama. I left behind a lot: I quit my job and everything I had built up in my short tenure there;I also left behind new friends, experiences I had planned to have, and a place that felt a little more like home than the Deep South (at least when it comes to my liberal politics and atheistic beliefs) ever has. I even left behind one of my closest friends, a girl I had dated for nearly three years. Though our relationship had dissolved before my mother’s sickness, I do hate leaving Anne behind. I learned a lot and grew up a lot while with her.
It is amazing how quickly a single human being can take root and begin to grow.
My posts before leaving were pretty negative. I do have a lot of stress and worry and concern on my plate. My mother’s cancer, my father’s alcoholism, my own social ineptitude and the outside-ness I often feel in this part of the country – all pile high and add more burden than my legs feel capable of carrying. Still, there is a lot to be thankful for, and a silver lining is always hidden nearby if you can just gather the will to go looking for it.
The first leg of my road trip home took around ten hours of continuous driving. That’s a hell of a lot of time to think; it is more than enough time to get thoughts and emotions in the right order. A fellow blogger has recently kept my mind busy doing some editing work, which helped, but more than that, the ‘asking for my help’ and her general positivity started me on the road to a better place. With every delicious Dunkin Donuts pumpkin donut I ate, every 90’s alt rock song I sang horribly to truckers and commuters alike, and every episode of Welcome to Night Vale I listened to all made the road trip a comfortable, pleasant affair. By the time I arrived in Tuscaloosa, AL, however tired and weary, I was in a good mood. A mood that only improved as I began reconnecting with things I took for granted for far too long in my life.
Friends. Friends are irreplaceable. Find a good one, and tie that person down with hugs and appreciation! My friend Brandon was napped and (mostly) rested for my arrival. We had no major plans and ended up doing very little aside from catching up and chatting. With one exception: after many, many miles traveled with over a year in between, he and I decided to venture over to Dreamland for good ole Alabama BBQ ribs.
God have I missed Dreamland. The ribs are huge, smokey, and covered in a delicious sauce with the perfect balance of heat, sweet, and tang. I had mentioned it to a few of my northern friends, but one of the big draws for Dreamland is the fresh white bread and BBQ sauce they serve you before the meal (in much the same way a Mexican restaurant serves you chips and salsa). Yeah, it is weird, and I was a little alarmed by the notion the first time I sat down at a Dreamland, but god damn is it a wonderful way to begin a meal (and stretch out your dollars a bit more). Between the good food, comradery, and some Waffle House the next day, I went home with spirits uplifted. Sure, now that I am back home again, I am still four hours away from some of my closest friends in northern Alabama, but that’s a lot better than ten!
Thus far, home life has been okay. It’s certainly terrible in a lot of ways, but there are things I am especially thankful for. For instance, my mother still has her wits about her. Despite being physically unable to be the person she was before, mentally, she is still present and still my friend and mother. I’ve driven her to a couple of radiation treatments as of writing this, so we had a chance to bond. Other than some other issues, things are alright. Now that I am officially moved into a newly renovated room (which is only missing a bed), I have blogging again to keep my own wits about me.