I’ve been absent for awhile. Not just from the blogging world, but from the planet Earth.
Maybe preoccupied is a better word, and it’s all because of a trip I took recently down to Lafayette, Louisiana…to go on a date. I know. I’m sure a lot of words come to mind: ballsy, desperate, detached, or possibly even clinically nuts.
Becca, the author of 25 to fly, and myself have been communicating via Skype and email for the past few months now, and after a whole bunch of scenario planning, discussing potential meetup cities, and buying seven hundred dollar plane tickets that I couldn’t use, I finally decided to swallow my uncertainty about all of it, pack my bags, and head due South for The Bayou.
The Crazy Cat Lady in all her glory.
It took me roughly 21 hours to get there by car from Detroit, with a layover in Tennessee. I found that ten hours on the road flying solo is about all I can physically and mentally handle. It’s extremely tough on the body and mind, for me, anyways. But I’m kind of a wuss like that.
Being that far from a familiar lifeline is an unsettling thought, and with over twenty hours to sit and ponder, it’s impossible for it to not cross your mind at some point. What-if scenarios will drive you into a panic if you let ‘em. Stop for a minute and think about the idea of being stranded in the middle of the country, alone.
Toledo, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, and Baton Rouge were the milestone cities. With crossed eyes and sweaty palms, I anxiously watched the minutes crawl by, whispering to myself the mantra: “just get to the next big city.” After reaching one, another couple hundred miles of open highway to sit and think some more.
I decided to stop just South of Louisville on the way down to clear my head. I was starting to feel overwhelmed by all of it, and I even entertained the thought of turning around. I thought better of it, and after gathering my wits, I bit my tongue and got back on the highway.
I rolled into a small town in Tennessee called Hurricane Mills at about 7pm that first night. It was time to unwind. According to the yammering twang at the counter, some famous country star was born a couple miles up the road. I don’t recall the name. The only thought on my mind at the time was, “no offense ma’am, but I could give a flying fuck. Now please give me my motel key.” Stereotypical small-towners…
It wasn’t a particularly luxurious room by any stretch, and to ice the cake, the mini fridge sounded like a time bomb. All night long: click, click, click, click, click, click…By 4 am I nearly lost my mind. I decided to pull the plug. The trade-off for a good nights rest? All the food I’d brought spoiled by morning. Fuck. Back on the road.
Truck traffic is horrid through Kentucky and Tennessee, and getting stuck behind a trailer blockade is probably the most nerve-racking part of the drive. Trailers take turns passing each other down the stretch, but never with any real sense of urgency. Sometimes it would take up to five miles for a truck to finally merge out of the fast lane - a far cry from traveling on any given Michigan highway.
The second leg of the trip was longer than the first. Mississippi is nothing but a long stretch of highway with few places to stop. After swinging through Jackson, Louisiana was only about an hour away. It’s a noticeable transition upon entering. For as far away from home as I’d traveled, it felt surprisingly familiar.
The Baton Rouge Bridge. Equip your meds.
The Baton Rouge Bridge spanning the mighty Mississippi River is an impressive structure. And large. (That’s what she said.) If you don’t like bridges, bring your meds, because after that doozy, expect to spend about thirty miles on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.
The last couple hours were inspired by adrenaline and heavy metal. Full steam ahead. And then suddenly, Bam! Everything came to a halt. There was a car fire in the middle of the expressway that shut down both lanes. Nobody was moving and there was no place to turn around. Even if I did, I had no idea of any alternate routes.
After what felt like days, the blockade finally loosened. Petal to the floor. That’s when I started to think about the greeting part. You know, actually meeting Becca for the first time. I mean, how do we do this? Do we shake hands? Do we hug? Do we high five and shotgun a beer? Oh, right, beer. Yes, that sounds like a great idea right now.
I finally arrived in Lafayette at around 6PM that second day. What a beautiful compound. (I think Becca is secretly sitting on some cash-ola.) It looked like a hotel resort from the front; a multi-level apartment complex with boutique-style storefronts on the lower level, and a reflection pond and walking path for the residents.
The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.
I hadn’t eaten much that day and was almost through a second pack of smokes. I got out of the car on two shaky legs, still lost in thought, and stumbled around the resort trying to reach her by phone. No answer. Dial again. No answer. What the? I come all this way and she’s dodging me? Luckily, I remembered I had the apartment number on my phone log.
I walked up the steps, excited, pprehensive, and breathing heavily from the endless flight of stairs. When I arrived at the door, it was slightly propped open. Deep breath. A creative knock…
The door opened slowly, and low and behold, before me stood the real Becca. The final puzzle piece. Not an email message, not a Skype image or a picture – the real Becca. It was a surreal moment for both of us. We hugged each other and then sort of awkward silence followed. We were both a bit shell-shocked and reality immediately set in. What the hell did we just do? We’re basically complete strangers. This was the first time we’d ever met face to face and we’re about to spend a long weekend together.
Quiz question: Who is crazier?
A.) the guy that drove twenty one hours to go on a date.
B.) the girl who invited a potential rapist/nut job/ax murderer into her apartment for a long weekend.
C.) all of the above.
The answer is C. All of the above.
Ok, put all that crap aside. It was time to start warming up. The clock was ticking and we had a lot to talk about: drumming, video projects, astrology, marriage plans, cats – in no particular order. But, first things first: I needed to shave, brush my teeth, and put on a shirt that didn’t smell like a dog fart. Oh, and beer? Yes, please. After feeling semi-human again, and slightly buzzed, we ordered a pizza from the restaurant downstairs and started pounding beers like we were in high school again. Note: for a 5’4″, small-framed chick, the girl can put em’ back.
This is Becca making garbage bag balloons when we’re supposed to be eating crawfish…
The following night Becca introduced me to a local delicacy that I’d never tried before: Crawfish. If you ever visit, take my advice, don’t refer to them as Crayfish. Those crazy bastards down there will skin you alive and hang you in a smoker someplace if you insult their prized dish like that. Anyways, now is the time of year that they’re in season, and according to her, they sell a shit ton of ‘em. There are all kinds of roadside shacks and restaurants everywhere selling bags of the tasty little critters.
Ten pounds is a pretty typical amount for two people to share. It sounds like a lot, but after you dismember them and toss away half the body, the only thing that’s left is a piece of tail meat the size of a grub. It was pretty obvious who the out-of-towner was during the crawfish-peeling tutorial. Becca on the other hand? Pro-level.
The night after, we went out to a local bar for a greasy patio burger and more beer. There was a band playing covers that evening. I remember having a strong déjà vu moment while I was walking around the joint. Apparently, the bartender was also having an out-of-body experience; she mistook me for some dude in the band (I get that a lot) and put my burger next to the stage for a half hour. By the time I got it, it was cold to the touch, but the gallon of Tabasco that it was slathered in more than compensated. Everything those folks eat down there is spicy. I can dig that. We shot some pool and I didn’t even have to let her win. The chick’s a shark.
Is there anything this woman can’t do? I’m getting to that part…
Throughout the trip I taught her various drum sticking patterns, one of them being the Tom solo in that 60′s surfer song, Wipeout. Everyday she’d sit on the couch or balcony, biting her tongue with her lips, lost in her head. Over and over she’d practice the pattern. Like a machine: mess up, shake her head, try again. It was fun to watch. She’s just about got it.
We stopped in at a friend’s house nearby one evening to listen to hippy music and have ourselves a jam session. The owner of the house, Chris, stopped playing his guitar shortly after I sat in. I’d like to think that it’s because I’m so god damn good, but he probably just had bad gas or something like that. After a few beers and some porch monkey conversation, we decided to turn in for the night. Sorry for showing you up bro, honestly. \m/
Adam and Adam Clone
We spent one afternoon messing around with another mutual obsession of ours: corny videos. I introduced her to a video editing program awhile back, and since then, she’s become a regular Spielberg. Becca’s a fast learner when it comes to pretty much everything. Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump when I’m around her. That’s all I have to say about that.
Check out the video here: Shitty Clones on Hashtags
The last night was probably the best night. Bittersweet. We were finally starting to feel comfortable with each other, and after several days of eating nothing but pretzels, coffee, and beer, our appetites finally came back.
Quiz Question: How does Becca like her steak cooked?
A.) Burnt to a crisp.
B.) Just a little Pink, please.
C.) Don’t bother cooking it.
D.) Red meat? Sorry dude, I’m a vegan.
The answer is C. Don’t bother cooking it.
Me and Rebecky.
So let’s recap: she shoots whiskey, she’s a pool shark, she plays the drums, she drives an off road vehicle (like a maniac), and now I find out that she eats her steak nearly rare? Wtf. Stop making me look like such a pussy all the time. Man Card revoked.
Needless to say, it was really hard to leave that following morning. After saying our goodbyes, I watched her as she slowly clicked down the stairs, got into her car, and drove off into the hazy Louisiana horizon. Soon after she left, she became that same figment of my imagination that she’d been just a week before. I had to pinch myself. Did it really happen, or was it all just a dream?
If it in fact did happen, then thank you for your incredible Southern Hospitality, Ms Rebecca Ann Cord. You’re one of the most considerate, sweet, charming, and genuine people I’ve ever met. You’re better than a cold beer and a head full of Led Zeppelin on a warm summer day.
That’s sayin’ a lot.
- Happy Blogging (in the Bayou) \m/
P.S. If you ever wanna see Jack the Cat again, wire transfer me $500 U.S. dollars by Friday. He said you better do it.