Shenandoah County, Virginia

NO idea what town I’m in… but it’s in Virginia.

Okay, I checked. I’m in New Market, VA. Part of Shenandoah County.

I’m currently sitting in a cute Cracker Barrel-like restaurant called Johnny Appleseed’s, eating a cheap steak dinner with green beans and potatoes. The best part of the meal was the powdered sugar-covered fritters they gave me when I first arrived. Up until two minutes ago, I was the only customer in the restaurant, which I always find delightful. Or awkward, depending on how you’re treated.

I feel very peaceful at the moment. First of all, the accents have arrived – the sweet southern drawls. The only time I’ve ever heard these accents in person were from the occasional traveler up North. To be surrounded by a southern drawl is quite … giggle-inspiring. But I must say, a guy can look like a regular ol’ bum up here, but when he opens that mouth to speak, following up his mono-syllabic words with a lopsided smile, my northern girl resistance melts. Boy oh boy. My oh my. 🙂 I think I might be in trouble!

I’m on my way to Corey and Laura (and Gabby!) now. I have about… gosh, five more hours or so to go. I’m taking my time, though. To be honest, I want to stop at about every exit. I want to see the cows and the caverns and the adult book stores (kiddingggg) and the civil war monuments and the antique shops and the hiking trails and… well just about everything. But I’ve restrained myself and kept driving ever forward.

It’s a very surreal feeling – to be driving around the country. I’ve honestly never driven outside of New England. This has been a long-anticipated journey, and although I always imagined traveling it with someone by my side, I am indeed finding my solitude to be quite comforting. In fact, I’ve barely turned on the radio, I have yet to plug in my Ipod (!), and oftentimes I just drive in silence, listening to the hum of the car and the beating of my heart.

When I went through West Virginia briefly, I stopped at the welcome center and took some lovely pictures of flowers and trees there. I look forward to many more moments of sunlight and nature… with me and the shutter of the lens.

When I entered Virginia, my paranoid self insisted that I pull off the road to the nearest Jiffy Lube (thank you, Magellan GPS) and have my oil changed. One hundred dollars and synthetic oil & an air filter later, I continued on my way. However, I first need to mention something: the service. The young men at the Jiffy Lube were ridiculously sweet – holding the door open for me, explaining the services, “escorting” me to my car (whatwhat?!). The only complaint I have is that one guy must have reset my mileage for my trip, which just broke my heart. My OCD-like nature is all about numbers and order, and it saddens me that every time I look at the mileage I’ll have to add 420 miles onto the total. ::sigh:: I suppose this is just a test of my anxiety levels, haha. I’ll show Zoloft it’s not needed no more! Durn it.

After my oil change, and running away from what the locals labeled Hell but the town of Winchester labeled the “Apple Blossom Festival,” I called and had a great conversation with my favorite friend of the past – my dear Jessica Ralph. I felt like a total loser, however, since I called her after passing her vicinity by about 30 miles. Stupid me. But it was nice to hear her voice, and to hear her smile over the phone lines.

Well I suppose I should be hitting the road again. I finally have a full belly and a taste of southern accents, so I suppose I can move along.

Newfoundland, PA

I got into town around 5:30 yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Newfoundland, PA welcomed me with open arms, and breathtaking shades of light and shadow that reminded me why I had left everything behind in the first place.

The drive had been easy (only about 3 hours) and I felt… nauseous the entire time. It was a mixture of first-date butterflies and life-altering seasickness. I had left. I had actually packed my car, got behind the driver’s seat, and drove away. The “dizziness of freedom” that Kierkegaard often mentions had it’s grip on me good, and I was indeed dizzy. Dizzy with freedom, dizzy from lack of food, with possibility, and with all the other things that dizziness and freedom imply.

When I pulled into the driveway, with it’s weeping willow standing sentry and sunflower seeds tucked deep beneath the soil, preparing to breathe, I shut off the ignition and sat. There was no movement from the house, and I was surprised when a green car pulled into the drive and settled in the garage. Jeanmarie.

I really didn’t know what to expect; how can one make expectations of such things? All I could rely on were my instincts, which had failed me many times in the past and had been started to be put into question. But there she was, with her red curls and smiling face. Just like in her pictures – perhaps a bit slighter. I was surprised by her apparent resemblance to a daisy that could be carried away by a breeze, and yet assured by her eyes that she was firmly settled into the ground. No one was wisping her away.

I felt instantly comfortable in her and Brian’s house. It was small, but the floor plan was open and the walls were palpably brimming with human emotion.

I would expect no less from Jeanmarie.

Which I soon discovered to be her writer name, and I was caught between calling her that and calling her Happy, which I personally found to be a name rife with unfulfilled expectations… especially for one has complicated and authentic as she.

I met Caitlin, her beautiful baby with ethereal blue eyes and curly wisps of hair (who is quite obviously going to be as stunningly lovely as her mother). For the next 30 hours she proceeded to cry and coo and giggle and scream and eat and fuss and poop… and, overall, be ridiculously adorable. I will definitely be leaving a piece of my heart with her… that, and a moo woobie.

Yes, a moo woobie. 😛