Phew. That was quite a few days.
Let me try to explain without getting too detailed. It was all about getting my daughter back to college in Virginia. Complicated by the fact that she spent the month of August in Europe. Not gallavanting, but working! For a stipend! Since her responsibilities ended just two days before classes began, it didn’t make sense to fly her back to Alabama and then drive back up to school. So she packed up all of her College Belongings in plastic bins before she left back in July, and I configured her ticket so her return leg was to VA, not AL. And yes, Charleston – where one of my older sons lives – is on the way to Virginia. Sort of.
So the little boys and I spent the weekend in Charleston. We did Fort Sumter. The USS Yorktown. The Aquarium. Went to Mass at the Cathedral.
I can’t claim to have any real sense of Charleston. We’d been there before – a long time ago, when Bishop Baker was bishop of Charleston – and we went for a visit, and I was mainly terrified that the little boys would somehow wreck the ancient, historic episcopal residence – but these are new times and honestly, until I just typed that, I had completely forgotten about that previous visit. How weird.
But what I was going to say was that I enjoyed it quite a bit and look forward to returning many times in the future….
Oh, and as per usual: the beach. The last time I was in Charleston, I was there visiting, but w/out little boys, who were in Florida. I think I was on a rather convoluted path to fetch them from a summer visit. But then, I stayed at the beach (Isle of Palms). I’d considered it for this trip, but decided against it, since it was so bloody expensive, and staying in Mount Pleasant, all of five minutes away, was half the cost.
And now, the hard part…..Sunday night, we drove up to Florence, just because we knew what was coming the next 24 hours, and needed to minimize Monday’s driving. Once we arrived, I Yelped a bit, and found Red Bone Alley, which had some reviews claiming it was loads of fun, others citing it for simple lameness. I drove up to it – it’s in a mall – and hesitated. I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. Other people drove up, got out of their cars, and walked in. Why not us?
In we went – to one of the oddest restaurants I’ve ever seen. Have you been there?
It is, indeed, inside a mall, but it’s this very strange, expansive, lofty space constructed to look like a town – a Charleston/Savannah-ish town with rowhouses, balconies and squares all about. We were asked if we wanted to eat in the children’s section, so we said sure, and that meant we were in the area in which an ice cream truck was parked – and as part of the children’s menu, you could go scoop up what you wanted from said ice cream truck.
Pretty different – a little cheezy, absolutely, but the food wasn’t terrible and the boys spent a while in the arcade while I drank a little wine and read.
Oh, and then what?
So…..Sunday night in Florence.
Monday morning, get up. Go to Target and shop for supplies for daughter. (And before you go all “helicopter Mom” and “tell her to buy it herself,” just remember that the girl doesn’t have a car and doesn’t live within easy walking distance of Supplies, so there. ) Get on Flightview and see the flight from Europe is right on time. Start trucking up 95. Get within 40 miles of the airport and see that the flight from her US landing point to her US destination – where I’m picking her up – has been delayed . Like…pretty dramatically. She and I text back and forth. She says that she can get others to meet us in her college town, others who can get her stuff out of the (rented) van, and that she can get a taxi from the airport to school. She says this because she knows what the next leg of our trip involves, and that her delay messes this up. I consider this, but then decide, no. I really want to see her. Haven’t seen her in a month, won’t see her again until at least Thanksgiving, if that, so yes, I can do this.
So we do. We do all that, and what that means is that at about 1 AM, I’m driving on I-81 with sleeping boys in the back, thinking that I’m crazy.
Shortest hotel stay ever. Checked into the place in Bristol at 1:30, checked out at 7:30, because, well…homeschool!
Ack, it’s complicated. I wanted to get to Knoxville to try to empty out at least some of the storage unit I have there, a storage unit that contains some of my father’s goods that I didn’t have space for in the old house. I had actually hoped that I could take it all, but my memory had deceived me, as I discovered when I unlocked the unit at 9 am Monday morning….nope…it was too much. I could take 2/3 of it, no more….what’s left will fit into my car, at least, so I’ll make that trek again in a couple of weeks…
So we loaded the van up, then hit the road one more time to make it to the Mind Gear Lab in Huntsville for the first meeting of the Lego robot league or whatever it is….all I know is that it was at 12:30 and we made it….
I wasn’t thrilled to be driving through Virginia in the middle of the night Monday night, but I wasn’t miserable, either. I don’t mind driving, and can even go long distances without any radio or music. It’s one of the advantages of being an introvert. The boys were asleep, it was quiet, and I had my thoughts.
Thoughts about many things, among them gratitude.
Yes, I would have preferred to be home already. No, I wasn’t looking forward to unloading boys into a hotel at 1:30 and then rousing them just a few hours later and driving some more.
But I was glad to have seen my son and daughter-in-law, and glad to have seen Charleston.
I was grateful that my daughter had a great summer and that I could help her do that and get ready for her senior year of college.
Grateful for the little boys snoozing in the back seat.
Grateful that at 53, I’m healthy and energetic. Who knows how long that will last. Since I’m a mortal human being, we know it won’t be forever, so yes, I’m grateful for now. I won’t always be able to gad about like this, so yes. Thank you.
Little difficulties, small challenges, and really they are indeed…so small.
I’m here, hands on the wheel, tired, shooting through the dark, but still driving, by heaven, and just…
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