The ‘Odd’yssey

So, the magnanimous Lady L and I have been on a world tour for the past week:

Saturday: Tallahassee, Fla.
Sunday: Birmingham, Ala.
Monday: Atlanta, Ga.
Tuesday: Scottsboro, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn.
Wednesday: Lexington, Ky., and Charleston, W.Va.
Thursday through Sunday: Baltimore, Md.

OK, so that last part is still mostly “to come.” But let’s just say that explains the (perhaps welcome) void on the Internet while has gone dark.

There’s so much to say about each adventure. It’s been a wonderful trip. Each day has been better than the one prior. Each city met and exceeded our expectations. Well, we weren’t overly fond of Lexington, but then again, we only stopped at a Starbucks there. And Tallahassee was just plain cold. Amazing how South Florida was 89 degrees when we left, and its capital city was 50-odd degrees when we arrived. Once again, its saving grace was Starbucks.

I hope to record our other wonderful adventures at a later time. Right now I am nursing a scorching sore throat (I had to buy a winter coat in Oxford, Ala., because my thin Florida blood can’t hack this fall weather) and I’m living at Lady L’s parents’ house, where I am being treated like royalty.

This is the best and yet weirdest part of the odyssey. I’m getting to see Baltimore like I never have, and frankly never expected I would. I lived 40 minutes down the freeway for eight years and barely traveled up here. I guess I always thought I’d have the opportunity to get to know this neck of the woods. And luckily, today I got to explore Fells Point and Canton in a way I never have. (I ate at Ra earlier this year. My big exposure to Baltimore. Whee.) Lady L, Mrs. L and I ate at Shucker’s and enjoyed a midday dessert at Vaccaro’s (rum cake. NOM) before finishing off the day with tomato-basil soup from La Madeline.

What makes this part of the journey put the “odd” in “odyssey”? Because I have never lived in a real house. On a real street. With a backyard and furniture and enough bedrooms for everyone. Where the adults in the house pay the bills, buy the food and take care of the “kids.” No fighting, no tension … no problems whatsoever. It’s like a 1950s sitcom; the only thing missing is a talking horse and a white picket fence. But we have George waddling around the neighborhood in a doggie polar fleece, and that’s even better.

And while I’ve loved all the opportunities on this trip, it’s made me sad. Sad for a childhood I didn’t have. Sadder still that my mother, grandparents and great-grandparents never knew this kind of a life either. I realize they couldn’t have given it to me because, not only did they lack the means, but they never really knew how.

And it goes back to an earlier post I wrote that I’m too lazy to link to, that most people will never know what they’ll never be able to have.

The only real moments of stress I’ve had on this trip was when we talked about work (which decreased with every time zone/state line we crossed) and when mentions of my mother came up. Watching Lady L and Mrs. L giggle and gossip like my mom and I used to, well, has been a bit bittersweet. I envy them. I love them. I’m glad to be accepted into the family circle for as long as I want to be a part of it. I just wish I didn’t revile my mother so much for the unfortunate event of her living with me and probably never moving out.

Of course, the lovely family here has offered to adopt me. Especially if I ever want to relocate to the D.C. area. Which, if weather were the only factor, I’d say give me my beach life, thanks. But for culture and authenticity and excitement, sign me up, baybee.

Mrs. L found a lovely tote bag at Trixie’s Palace she wanted me to have today. It had a slogan on it that I can’t recall right now. But I do recall very clearly what she said to me — that I need to mark this period of my life with the things that make me, me. That my thoughts and tastes and jobs have evolved over the years, and I need for my wardrobe, apartment and life to reflect who I am now. That I used to have all black furniture, worked all the live-long day, and would never wear white. Now I’ve introduced color (beach colors — brown, blue and beige) into my home. And that it’s time to unpack my boxes already and really LIVE in that apartment I pay so dearly for.

I did note that I am wearing sea glass around my neck — my memento of my beach life as I toured the cold, dirty (albeit genteel) South. Because that’s what I’m returning to. For now, forever or for at least till I figure out my next move.

It’s been a thought-provoking trip overall. I rediscovered my grandfather’s memory in Nashville, my grandmother’s here in Little Italy and, somewhere around the Unclaimed Baggage Center, which, incidentally, stands in front of a cemetery (full of unclaimed caskets?), I started to understand my mother. Not forgive her or even LIKE her. But I started to “get” her.

It’s been an emotional journey. And it surely will be until I fly out of here on Sunday. And, I suspect, I will come out of this a changed person. What started as a road trip with a friend gave me a whole lot of adventures, experiences, conversations and hard, uncomfortable looks at the person with whom I spend the most time: me.

Lady L might have found her voice in Maryland, but I’m pretty sure I rediscovered my fire somewhere in the arts district of Atlanta. And as God as my witness, I will never be (spiritually) hungry again.

To be continued…

One Lonely Response to The ‘Odd’yssey

  1. Michael :

    Wish I could have taken off work to meet you for coffee/lunch in Lex. Sadly, living an hour and a half north now (Cincinnati area) and moving apartments ate up my remaining personal time for the year. Maybe next time you’re up this way!!