The trip home to Texarkana started later than expected; I couldn’t leave town until 9pm. Something about packing up, getting showered, taking care of my car, things like that. I load up, gas up, hook up my laptop to my car stereo as an MP3 jukebox, and I hit the road, still tired from my day of work. I was making excellent time on my drive. When I reached Henderson, TX, I switched over to state highway 43 where I had the excellent fortune to turn on my high-beams and tear off through the wide hills. I made the leg from Henderson to Marshall in a respectable time.
However, once I got onto US Highway 59 in Marshall, and as I was just past the north edge of town, I’m driving through the 55mph “ramp up” zone getting ready to accelerate to the highway speed of 65mph. Well, a DPS officer saw me, and he had so much respect for my early 65mph speed that he decided to pull me over and congratulate me. Even got my autograph. I had no idea that a 10mph overage would make me a celebrity. Now I have to call the judge in Marshall to make arrangements to pay the roughly $122 fine. So, yeah, there goes my perfect driving record. Shot. Shit. I’m so pissed. More pissed than you would believe. :sighs:
So, the cop sends me on my way with my green slip. I get in, and I want so much to just tear off, but he’s still right behind me. Grr. I just drove off slowly, carefully. I didn’t even turn my music back on. Just sat and stewed for the rest of the drive, face more stern and angry as the miles passed. In a case of shellshock, I suspiciously looked at every car I passed in the opposite lane, every pair of headlights behind me, never knowing if any of them were cops. Ahead of me, there was a storm on the rise, tall clouds glowing with flashes of orange. And I was still an hour from Texarkana.
Finally, I make it to my cousin’s house, where my mother lives. I pull into the driveway, my cousin’s husband greets me and extends the invitation to have a drunken walk around the neighborhood, but I declined in lieu of getting some couch time. I unloaded my stuff from my car and brought it inside. No sooner did I sit down and open up the laptop to get online, in order to report to my friends back home, the rumbling skies opened up over us with sonic booms, bright flashes, and torrents of rain. I opted to put my laptop away and wait for later.
After my eventful and misfortunate trip up to Texarkana, and the oncomforting welcome, I turned in for what can only loosely be called “bed” around 5:30am and passed out.
After being woken up by my mother leaving for work, my cousin coming home from work, and the various trappings of couch stiffness and coldness forcing me awake, I woke up a very rough five hours later and finally crawled out of the couch to start my day around noon. One shower and half a cola later, I meet with my mother at IHOP, where she works as cashier and hostess, for lunch. After her replacement came in, we hung out, ate, and we chatted for a good two hours.
I found out that she’s not making that much here, at least not much compared to her old job at the paper mill, but she enjoys her job. Her coworkers respect her and her boss loves her. That counts for a lot. She’s also not too happy with living in what can affectionately be called a “mother-in-law’s house” behind my cousin’s place. She’s paying only $25 a week, sure, but it’s definitely not the digs that she was used to way back when. We share some more gossip, some more chatter, and we had to split up to do other things. She had errands, I had people to meet. So I paid the tab and we head off.
I stopped by Moderne Primitives to see who was there and hang out for a bit. Always good to see those guys. Then I headed off to visit my friends Laura, Jon, Liz, and Doug at the “Cigar Hut”, and for once, thanks to the wonders of Daylight Saving Time technology, I go there BEFORE the sun sets. And for what? To watch TV. Ah, sweet TV. Some Cirque de Soleil thing was on, rather entertaining; more entertaining to hear my friends going, “Oh my god, that’s just not natural! How do they do that? Gah!” Heh. Had a small birthday party for our friend Hoover; he was something like three hours late, so we gave him much hell over it. We had hot dogs and cake, traditional kid-party stuff, and watched more TV. Everyone started to get snoozy, and one-by-one we all kinda pealed off to go to bed.
I left and went to David and Angie’s house, where they and their friends Brian, Curtis, Karla, and (some other guy — sorry) were wrapping up another of their usual AD&D sessions. They had one of their computers connected to the widescreen TV as a monitor with a webcam and mic sitting on top. They had a friend of theirs from Oklahoma on an IM session who was joined in with them on their game. Heh. It’s gaming taken to the next level! Telegaming! It was their first trial at doing something like that, but I can see how this could take off. Y’know? Heh.
They splintered off after a while, everyone getting sleepy, so I opted to leave. I intended to go driving around to see what’s changed in Texarkana since my chistmas visit, and to find some more wireless hotspots, but I was much too tired to even see the road straight. So I grabbed a cola on the way and made the beeline straight back to my cousin’s couch around 12:30am. Yeah, early night.
2pm, at IHOP: So, I’m here at IHOP. It’s around 2pm, and I’m waiting on my sister, who just hired on here, to get off of her shift and come back here to hang out with me. I got up around 11 this morning, and kinda lazed around for a little bit. The house was absolutely frigid thanks to the open window, the ceiling fan, and the cold front that blasted through yesterday, so I just skipped the shower, washed my face and changed clothes before I headed out. This really is a mean north wind on us. Overcast. Not an ounce of warmth in sight. I just hope the rain holds off for my entire trip back home tonight. Ugh. So yeah, I’m here. Just had some breakfast, and I’m pretty full. Sipping on coffee, and avoiding the odd looks and glances of the other people who were here. I mean, seriously, if I still lived in this town, I’d probably give an odd look at anyone who sat up in IHOP on an easter sunday with a laptop. Seriously. Wouldn’t you? Heh.
My sister’s about to get off shift, and my mother will be leaving her shift about an hour later, so I reckon I’ll put away the journal. We have a shindig at my sister’s house, a little bit of dinner. Then I gotta be on my way back home, to Austin. Yeah, Austin’s my home. This is just my home town. Heh.
Ok. Went to my sister’s house to join her family for a grilled-out easter dinner. Brother-in-law cooked up some good meats. The rain was starting to come down, so we had to do the “hiding of the eggs” thing inside the house, which was entertaining. Those kids. Glad I don’t have any. Heh.
So around 8pm my mother and I leave, and we part ways from there. I had to get in to town, gas up, and try to find a wireless hotspot so I could check the weather. No luck: all the wireless hotspots I found yielded very bad connections; either I got no IP address, no DNS ip, no gateway, or I just couldn’t associate long enough to fulfill an HTTP request. After wasting too much time and seriously starting to feel the fatigue, I had no choice but to leave town and get under way around 9pm. So much road ahead of me.
Well, the rain started getting worse the darker it got. It took me about 20 minutes to get past the edge of Texarkana, and that was just too much time. Should never take more than 10. Seemed like a harbinger of the bad roads ahead. And that couldn’t have been more correct. The leg from Texarkana, through Atlanta, and on to Marshall shouldn’t take more than an hour: it took an hour and a half. By the time I reached Marshall, the rain was pretty on-and-off rough, and the road surface was just as sketchy. Most places I couldn’t drive faster than 45mph. I carefully made my way through town and reached the other side where I transfered off of 59 and got onto 43 to make it to Henderson. Well, apparently they were having some serious storming there, because the traffic lights apparently weren’t working. Actually, nothing was working. That side of Marshall had a power outage. Was really bizarre taking the roads and curves I was accustomed to, but lited only by my headlights. Weird. So I’m on 43 and it takes even longer than expected; the roadways are horrible on that back highway. One long waterpuddle. One long chance to hydroplane. Thankfully, the rains started to recede when I reached Henderson. And, just like my drive back to Austin after my christmas trip, well, actually exactly like it, the rain finally let up at Palestine, my half-way point. Finally I could drive like I mean it. Damn.
With the worst of the trip behind me, staying awake was easier, and I listened to a good amount of MP3’s that I’ve not heard in a long while. Was entertaining running my jukebox on “serendipity mode”. I guess that and the Mountain Dew, more than anything else, helped me stay awake for the remaining 3 hours of my drive. Couldn’t have been anything else. I finally pulled in to Austin around 3:30 this morning. I loaded my stuff in, unpacked it, checked in with friends online, called my mother’s answering machine to let her know I made it home, and I passed the hell out, only to wake up 3 hours later for work.
So. This weekend could have been better. Shit, it could have been a lot better. If I had actually made a decent connection with someone, y’know, actually sat down and cracked wise, or caught up, y’know, really made that interpersonal connection, like I had in trips before, then I think the whole misadventure would’ve been worth it. But outside of chatting with my mother, which was good to do I’ll have you know, I really just, well, I didn’t feel like the weekend was worth anything. Yes, it’s good to see family. Yes, it’s good to spend time with them. Yes, it’s good to see old friends, and see how much your hometown has changed, and see how little you have left with the place, yes, that’s all good, but it’s not worth everything I put in and got taken out. It’s not worth the traffic ticket, or the fatigue. Gah. Maybe I’m just selfish.
Ok. So here’s where I recapitulate my lessons learned:
- Never sing while driving. Ever.
- Never ramp up your speed until you are past the highway-speed signs
- Officer Friendly pays a lot of attention to oncoming traffic around “bar-rush” – he does not care that you don’t live in his precinct
- You have 30 days after moving to update your address with the Department of Public Safety in order to be issued a new driver license
- There’s not enough Claritin in the world to help you handle your home town’s foreign pollen and the dander and fur of all the pets your family and friends own
- Lint brushes are your best friend, but they do not love you
- When you’re tired, nothing matters, not even driving around to see what’s changed
- My wireless card seriously sucks. It is time to get a good one.
- The next time I visit Texarkana, I really should consider renting my own hotel room.
- After a long and arduous journey, you too can discover, upon unpacking, that you left a precious pair of your jeans in the bathroom of your cousin’s house six hours away.
That is all. Seriously. I love my family, but I’m really, really glad to be home.
Now is the time where I pass the hell out.