"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southern Drivin'

Last weekend, Oldman and I left Louisiana in his truck, packed to the hilt with all of his stuff.  The first leg of our life on the road took us through the south.

My dear friends, Anne and Sterling, were conveniently living in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which was about a halfway point on our 17 hour drive from New Orleans to Virginia Beach.  Even though Anne and Sterling would be traveling as well and wouldn't be at their house, they left a key and welcomed us to stay anyway!

Luckily for us, our traveling paths were still able to cross, and we met up with Anne and Sterling for dinner in Montgomery, Alabama.  Driving through the steamy town, past run-down homes and big, beautiful ones with tall, white columns, I felt as though I were in a Civil Rights documentary.  I had read and studied so much about this town over the years; I was excited to visit, even just for a drive through.

Over dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant (I have a knack for finding them wherever I go), we laughed and laughed and laughed.  We held parallel conversations - the men talked about guns, and right next to them, the women talked about relationships.  We had a fantastic time, and were inspired by this generous, unconventional couple.

We said goodbye to them in Montgomery and continued our drive to their South Carolina home - which was BEAUTIFUL!  It had a huge yard and porch, and was full of antiques and funky spiritual and kitschy pop culture items.  The bed in our guest room was a four-poster canopy bed!

To give them some laughs, we took a few silly photos at their house and sent them to Anne and Sterling before leaving.

Johnny enjoying the stuffed sheep from their bed a little too much. . .

Just hangin' with the cardboard cutout of Leonardo in their dining room.

They had a giant bowl of cicada shells in the guest room.  Yum!

The next morning, after our silly photo-taking session and some first-class snooping through this fascinating house (heh heh), we headed to downtown Spartanburg for some breakfast at "The Skillet," Anne's recommended greasy spoon diner.

This diner certainly was a picture of the south.  The table next to us held the whitest white family I've ever seen.  The mother had perfectly-sculpted, blonde wavy hair, and makeup so precise it looked plastic.  The father wore a striped, button-down shirt and casual khakis, topped off with a salt-and-pepper wave of hair.  Their little girl had a huge, pink hair bow to match her fluffy dress, and the older son had - no kidding - a mint green and pink bow tie under his aryan blue eyes.  I could have drank their thick, southern drawls in with a straw.

The waitress gawked at Oldman and my tattoos, which has been a pretty common occurrence for us down here.  Oldman gave his schpeel about the four noble truths of Buddhism on his arm, the eightfold path on his ribs, satori on his chest, and of course, his dragon.  Then the woman asked to take a photo of my tree, and invited the rest of the wait and kitchen staff to come see as well.

After tattoo show-and-tell, we said goodbye to The Skillet and South Carolina, and finished our drive north to Virginia Beach.  Now we have a week with my extended Italian family (just 30 or so of them!)  going to the beach, playing cards, and eating, eating, eating.

Stay posted.


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