Silver Lining Finding (another reflective travel piece)

The metaphor of life being a journey is one that everyone uses when they hit the rough spots and need to remind themselves that there’s more road ahead. This past weekend contained every emotion humanly possible. The physical manifestation of the journey of life via the American tradition of the road trip.

 I’m not huge on boring time-lines, as you know so here are the highlights.

The Feels

For the first time in 7 years Mr and all his siblings were under one roof. I had the honor of riding down with him and all his brothers to meet up at their sister’s house to surprise his mother for her (over 40)th birthday.

  This makes for two weekends in a row for me in celebration of the life of our respective mothers. This time the backdrop was Charlotte, NC. which I have calculated as: ( Charlotte= Atlanta + Nashville + Ohioans) or Chat-la-nati.

We all shared food, drinks, stories, laughs and even tears. The look on Mr’s mom’s face and her impromptu speeches throughout the weekend made everything else that I’m about to share below so worth it.

Girl Whet? Moments

Moment 1. Winding the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in an old school Chevy packed with four grown men and a fabulously not skinny yours truly, a cloud appears on the road in the distance. The light of the sun extinguishing for the day, it’s absence made more prevalent with the canopy of trees overhead. I find myself at the wheel of the vehicle being charged with the duty of the safe arrival of the precious cargo (all these great big men) to the given destination. When from the back seat I hear “Just follow the lines and go.” Rage welling up like a storm I assert my apprehension. “Can I just be really honest, this is terrifying right now and everybody out here is up.” Pseudo-brother-in-law (PBIL) was on my ACTUAL nerves. I kept it cute, but he was about to meet “Marri” right there on the side of that mountain.

 We finally make it through the fog just in time for the next turn. Still in a fiery rage and coming down from the anxiety of feeling as though a death of being smacked in the face by the unseen back of a broken down semi- was eminent… I miss the turn.

Don’t you know Mr had the nerve to suck his teeth?
I was so damn mad that he said. “Now it’s going to take an extra 5 minutes.” I contemplated the cost of a last minute one way ticket back home both financially and socially. I went into perpetual eye roll mode until I could find a hot rag to wipe the road off and get into the festive mood of the party.

Moment 2. It’s been a while since I booked on Priceline for several reasons but since we had to work until nearly the last days prior to driving down to sort out the details of the trip we refrained from buying the good non-refundable deals ahead of time. FWD to me riding down the highway after the gas stop (guys always have to pee) knowing that we’ll be much later than normal checking in, we call the hotel in an effort to secure a King sized bed… not a suite upgrade, just a bed change.

Don’t you know the individual on the phone tried to get us for $10? I just said ok on the phone so that they wouldn’t release the room (I’m nearly 6ft tall, I ain’t sleeping on a double & paying money to do it). Luckily when we finally checked in I was able to appeal to the common sense of the manager on duty and got that $10 fee waived. Never in my life have I heard of such a thing, and if that’s something new that the hotel industry is trying to roll out, go ahead and stop that nonsense now. I promise to goodness I was just about to buy a sleeping bag from Target and catch some floor at Mr’s sister’s house.

Moment 3.

Shake, rattle and roll.- In the beginning I thought I was being a car snob. As the proud driver of a VW Jetta with a Turbo engine, I’m used to a certain type of ride (Didn’t that sound horrible? I laughed at myself.). In an effort to sort out the logistics of transporting 5 adults and luggage we took Greased Lightening the 2000 Chevy that has never let us down… until this trip when it decided to do the stanky leg all the way to Charlotte with varying severity. There was a time while we drove that I just knew that the tire was going to fly off and we’d end up dead in the Smokies, to be eaten by the local wildlife prior to our retrieval. Fortunately Mr and I believe in the power of a warranty and we cashed that ticket several times with Firestone to be sure that we could make it home. That story is next.

The Twirl
1. Firestone Liars- I used to think that you only got tried at the mechanic if you were a woman walking in alone. I was so wrong. We stopped at one location only to be told there would be an insanely long wait and to try another location after they did a safety check on the lug nuts.

We get to the second location and they give us a list of free services that we can have that come with our warranty. In the interest of safety we agree to them all. One trip to the coolest little nerd heaven ever, two naps and a discussion about politics later we’ve invested 2 hours to determine that there’s an oil leak and a bent rim.

Through the center aisle we walk over to the car and see a puddle of oil and the bottom of the car looks like a fresh piece of chicken. Nevermind the fact that this has NOTHING to do with a shaking front end, these fools then proceed to tell us that the bent rim is the cause for the shaking and they have rotated it to the back. “Is everything OK now?” we ask. “Yes everything is fine, just check that oil” they lie.

Two more trips to alternate locations and we find out from a strong looking woman named T (I trusted her with my car immediately)  that the issue has nothing to do with the tires and the problem won’t kill us on the way home.

Don’t you know T didn’t say a damn thing about oil?

Children Reading
Mr and I live an alternative lifestyle apparently. We are over 25 living together, unmarried and without children *GASP OUT LOUD & CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS*

Although we are not the only ones out here freestlying, this past weekend ended up featuring one of my favorite little kids to hear talk, Mr’s nephew, accidentally reading us both for filth in 2 seconds.

Kids are generally honest and common sense driven, and when you hit them with something that simply does not compute, some hold it silently and ask their parents later… others hit you right in the mouth with it. Simple exchange:
“Say hey to Margaret, Auntie Margaret.”-Mr
“Are y’all married?”- Mr’s Nephew
“Ask him again baby!”- Black Maggie
Later on for those battlefield promotions, I need some pinned on brass to charge that hill Cap’n. Needless to say that kid didn’t have to beg for a high five out of me the whole weekend, I was showing up for every single one.


We finally made it back to the hotel to sleep for the night after kicking it hard with the family. Snuggled up and cozy after finally getting my Afro twisted down between exhausted spurts of work I start dreaming about being asleep, so you know it’s good. Then out of the silence the fire alarm goes off at 5:58am.

I’m a firefighter’s kid, for my newer readers, and anything fire safety related has been drilled in my head repeatedly throughout my entire life…not just my childhood. We move like the wind and are able to put on enough clothes to be legal and not freeze, grab the keys to the room and get out.
   Problem 1- The map on the door is supposed to tell you your path and meeting spot. It did not so I had to devise the plan that put us in the least danger. I determine walking through the outdoor courtyard gives us the most options without putting us on an unmanned side of the building.

On the way out we walk through the workout room into the courtyard and there’s a lady on the treadmill tearing it up at about a 6.5 nonstop. I notice the deafening silence in the room and the absence of the alarm. She has no clue what’s going on. So being the good citizen that my parents raised, I wave my arms and alert her to the alarm.

Don’t you know that heffa said yeah and shrugged without breaking stride.
“Die then, hell..” I walk off.

According to the lady that supplied the hot cookies and breakfast coupons for my inconvenience, there was an incident in the boiler room. To the credit of the Charlotte FD, they got there in a hurry and in an orderly fashion. I was beyond tired, but that free breakfast was everything I needed for the day that lay in wait.


The only thing better than the smile on Mr’s mom’s face and the laughs that everyone shared in fellowship was finding this little store during our TWIRL at the second Firestone. Sound, lights, retro memorabilia, funky pieces of custom furniture. If only they had a shipping solution to get the items to Cincinnati; I would’ve bust a dent in my credit card buying trying to buy all the things that I loved. Enjoy the photos because there’s no amount of words that will do the store justice. They aren’t on any social media right now, but I told the guy I’d make sure that changed after this weekend.

Final Thoughts

This journey was a trip indeed. I can’t remember a time that more things went both so wrong and so right all in a 72 hour window. We didn’t win the Powerball, and the Bengals let me down again like they have my whole life, but we won several “Effective Adulting” points for refraining from acting up the whole weekend. Life will send you through the ringer on some days, and as we’ve seen, maybe an entire weekend.

Yet, the key to making it to the other side of the fog is keeping your eyes on the silver lining, and just go. Turns out PBIL was right.

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