Monday, May 15, 2017

Oh the Places You Will Go

Since April 7th, I have driven 3084 miles, visited 7 cities, spent 47 hours and 18 minutes in a car, and spent 20 out of 44 days away from my bed.

I've fit a lot of life into that time, but at a certain point all the beer starts tasting the same, you just order fries because it's easy, you lose track of days and weeks and dates, and your body goes into autopilot.

But in all the exhaustion, lost days, and autopilot, I'm trying to see what was good in each place.

St. Charles, MO

I was booted out of the house for Lizzie's bachelorette party and stayed out with Cory.

It's always a relaxing time. Sort of shirk off responsibility and get to live with with the reckless abandon we did in college. It's usually a weekend filled with beers, jokes, and video games.

This time we did something I've never done before. We went to a gun show. It still feels weird to type that out. It was an eye opening experience. A look into this sub-culture that I have no interest in joining and one that you rarely see gathered in such numbers.

I felt uncomfortable with how loose the rules were followed. Teenage kids walked around the parking lot with assault rifles trying to sell them to people coming in. People had laws written out about how they couldn't sell a rifle with a suppressor and extended mag, but had each part laying on the table next to each other, totally legal to sell at the same time. There were the racist t-shirts. And there was the father buying his 7-year-old daughter pink butterfly shaped knuckles.

Madison, WI

I had a customer on-site where I spent a week up in Madison.

Working so remotely with a company that works mostly in house adds about 20% more work to my day. But I'm succeeding. And people like me. I know this because every night I had some sort of company wanting to have a few drinks and appetizers.

The highlight was getting to watch the Blues beat the Wild on our 40 foot projection screen.

Louisville / Lexington, KY

We spent 4 days on the bourbon trail for Matt's bachelor party.

It was maybe a little long, but it was good to get away from everything happening to our house.

And really, it was a great group of guys all really needing a break. It's something I forget about, how important male bonding can be sometimes. Something my generation lost by eliminating camping trips and float trips.

It's hard to justify a few days out of town, drinking bourbon, eating Nashville hot chicken with just the guys. But it was good for all of us.

Chicago, IL

We spent a few days visiting a college friend and her husband. There wasn't an itinerary. We didn't want to do the touristy things like see a Cubs game or go up in the Sears tower.

We wanted what we generally want in every trip. We wanted the local perspective on the best places. We wanted good company.

We went to this Tiki bar that had been around since the 60s. It was one of those places with the bamboo shoot walls, the drink stirs hanging from the ceiling, classic surf music playing at the perfect volume over the speakers.

I was incredibly relaxed. It took me back to my grandpa's basement, one of my favorite places to adventure in and discover.

We sat at the Tiki bar, drinking pineapple juice drinks out of goblets, and I think we all felt this little haven away from the world's troubles. It was one of the first times in months that the conversation didn't drift to politics, or the water coming into our house, or the body pains felt when growing old. Cell phones were in pockets and purses.

It was just four people, around a table, listening to Elvis, really being in the moment.

Nashville / Knoxville, KY

Unfortunately Sal and I got caught up at work and by the insurance adjusters. Our hope was to get to Nashville by 7 pm, get a late dinner and drinks downtown, listen to some good music. But we didn't get into town until almost 9:30. We were beaten down and tired and just didn't want to leave the airport area we were staying in.

We drank at the airport Ruby Tuesdays and had an overpriced, over-salted appetizer.

Luckily Knoxville and Friday went much better.

Knoxville is a college town that I had never been to before, but one I instantly fell in love with. It was filled with the local shops and bars like Columbia but had a bigger city vibe like Chicago. I only wish I had more time there.

And I should say the highlight was Matt's wedding, but I feel like you get so caught up in making sure everything goes right, every possible combination of people in pictures is captured, every ounce of food and drink paid for consumed, that you forget to look around and really just take in the event.

Friday night though... Friday was a good night. We drifted up and down the Tennessee River on a boat, having drinks and laughs, spilling back into a hotel party, where the only emotion everyone knew was love. Everyone hugged, laughed, and told stories and jokes that outside of that room would make no sense, but inside that room it was the only entertainment we ever needed again.

I get to be home for a few weeks before I travel to Cincinnati. I'm happy for the things I've done in the past few weeks, but I'm also beyond excited to sleep on my little couch bed, curled up in the familiar.