How I learned to stop watching TV and love a dog.
Day Four of The Great Adventure, I gotta tell ya, started off a little rough. Having spent the night on a couch who’s cushions insisted on running away from me during the night, I woke grumpy and slightly hung-over. This was in now way due to the graciousness of my host, as Dexter was great about Kevin and I crashing at his place, but more to do with the joys of sleeping on a leather couch and the joys of imbibing many beers with old friends neither of which I would have traded for anything.
So, I made a conscious effort to shower and get the car loaded, taking my mind off my mind, or more specifically, my brain, and it’s unfortunate level of dehydration. A good scrub and a full bottle of water later, I was rarin’ to go.
And Go I did. And go, and go and go and go and go. 10 ½ hours across all of New Mexico and a good portion of Arizona, with only the briefest of stops for food and gas. I listened to a lot of music, and discovered the joy of iPhone television episodes whilst driving in the car. One can’t actually WATCH TV episodes while driving, but I can listen to episodes of Firefly that I have seen a half dozen times, and they keep me entertained. I couldn’t help thinking how something less visually stimulating might go for a trip like this. Perhaps epps of The West Wing would have been even better, all talk and very few special effects… something to consider.
I reached Flagstaff in the dark and cold, found an Arby’s, ate, and crashed. I awoke at 4:30 in the morning, realized that was the local time and that I had gotten two hours back (take THAT Daylight Savings Time!) and got back on the road by 5:45. Crazy, I know, but there was a little lady waitin’ on me in L.A., and I was wasting no more time. 7 1/2 hours later, these being the longest and dullest of the trip so far, I was cruising through traffic in the City of Angels, rockin’ out to The Thermals, and thinking, “Wow, I live in California now.” It was an odd sensation, but a thoroughly pleasurable one.
I called the lady on got directions to her friends place, and after a bit of a parking cluster F, I walked on over. It was here that I at long last got to meet Nina in the flesh, and had the honor of addressing the legendary Daisy J. Dog. In fact, I am pretty sure I leaned in to pet Daisy before bothering to say hello to or hug Nina, a sure sign that I am a sucker for a cute pup. She led me down the street, and there was Carla, at long last.
I can't begin to explain how happy I was in that moment (yet watch me go ahead and try). If you’ve ever been separated from the one you love for a long period, and then been reunited, you might understand a little of it. But it was so much more than that, this time. Seeing here was not merely the relief of missing her, my heart having once again grown proverbially fonder with her absence, it was a real sense of homecoming, regardless of the fact that we haven’t actually made it HOME yet. Home is indeed where one’s heart is, and she has mine tucked firmly away in her hip pocket, no question about it.
We spent a bit chatting with Nina and the aforementioned legendary pooch, on life and shared friends and puppy surgery and all manor of topics. After a bit we headed to the hotel to unpack, mercifully allow me to shower, and then headed back for an evening of beers and pizza. Here, I met Will, another great treat. He and his lovely bride are dear friends to Carla, and I have enjoyed knowing them virtually. I was deeply happy (and more than a little nervous) to finally develop that friendship in real life, and it turned out I needn’t have bothered with the nervousness, as they are delightful folks and so easy to spend time with. We had a great night, swapping old stories and laughing, and it felt more like coming back to see old friends than it did making new ones.
Carla and I eventually retired into the night, happy to be together in a way that was both excited and greatly content. This is where we are supposed to be, together, and though I might make you all sick of hearing it, I could not be happier.