Finally! A getaway, down to beautiful Charleston, S. C. to spend the weekend with Carolina McMullen (who has a new novel coming out in May) thanks to my local girl (and highly seasoned technical writer/girlfriend herself) Pat West. The weather, the food, and the companionship were supreme. Carolina is Spanish, from Rota, Spain and has the accent, flair for drama, and big loving heart and home that makes you feel like you've landed in a Mediterranean villa.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Charleston is such an inspirational town; beautiful this time of year. And that it is the home of Pat Conroy, one of my writing heroes, who writes dark and gritty stuff like me. Not that I am comparing myself to him of course. I'm simply saying that we both write dark, dysfunctional family, crazy relatives, haunted lives kind of stuff. I can only aspire to write as well as he.
But I jump ahead. Getting there was part of the fun. On Saturday morning Pat tucked Chico and Rosie (her two adorable little doggies) into their car seat in the back of her white convertible and after kissing Rick the Rock and waving goodbye like Miss Piggy we went buzzing down I-95, hair blowing in the wind. Now, how young do you think that made us feel?
Lord, the conversation flowed like Purple Jesus at a Freshman frat party, especially after having been cooped up all winter. Is there anything a good road trip with a friend can't make better? But the problem is, when we got to Florence we were talking so much we took a wrong turn, not realizing our mistake for about 25 miles in the opposite direction of where we thought we were headed.
By the way, I was driving, Pat was navigating and neither one of us was paying too much attention. After all, we ARE both blondes and proud of it. But as the road became narrower, the population less sparse and no road signs mentioned a dang thing about Charleston I suspected we were trouble.
Finally, I pulled over at a fork in the road, flashed a big smile, and asked two old geezers hosting a Saturday morning garage sale (in the front of an actual garage) which way was the way to get to Charleston. Of course we knew we were gorgeous, we had to be, especially since the sun was shining, and our floppy hats and big sunglasses covered up most of our wrinkles. So at the very least I expected a couple of winks and some mild flirting from those gentleman. After all, when do old men like that get to see two younger women in a white convertible stop for directions?
Instead they looked at us as if aliens had just landed in their cornfield. Finally one of the pointed and very gently said "back in the direction you just came from..." As we drove off I think I even saw one scratch his bald head....
So...sucking in our guts (literally) so we could digest this unpleasant bit of news, lamenting having lost a good hour, reluctantly I turned the car around and drove back over the 25 miles we'd just come. Which meant of course that before getting back on I-95 we had to stop at a gas station to pee (yet again), put the rag top back up (yet again), and then busted our asses to get to Charleston before dinner. After all, time was a'wasting and the sun was going down.
Kind of like my life in general these days.
But you know, on the way back home we laughed about it all, realizing that some of the best conversation we had the entire trip happened during that misadventure. Who knows? Maybe we missed being hit by a drunk driver, said things to each other that bonded us for life, or simply needed that extra hour in the car to test our friendship and see if it held up under pressure.
And you know what? It did. I'd go anywhere in this world with Pat West. She's the kind of travel companion who makes a trip fun--flexible, relaxed, and considerate. Rarely complains, is patient with my long, rambling discourses on life. I love her a very keen, sharp mind and the backbone that she has to quietly push back in a clear and logical manner when our views are divergent. Pat is the kind of woman whose views on life and the state of things make you think. I like intelligent women like that. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she has lived and traveled all over the world. As clichéd as it sounds, it really IS all about the journey, and who you share it with makes all the difference in the world.
Just as long as she drives and lets me read the maps from now on. ;)