So recently, we had some friends stay at our house for a couple of days. They were relocating from Ft. Lauderdale to upstate New York, and we were one of the ports along the way as they transplanted their entire world from the bottom of the country to the top.
We had a wonderful time, as it’s always fun to catch up with an old college buddy, if nothing else so you can tell old college stories, which get incrementally more awesome and interesting as each year passes. His wife and my wife always enjoy listening to the stories so they can compare notes from the previous time we told the same story. I often remind them that the story is not changing but rather our minds, like wine and cheese and Alec Baldwin, are improving with age and we are refining the story toward its perfect retelling.
They were traveling with their 3-year-old, Madeline, a delightfully spunky ball of curiosity that cannot help but make you smile, especially when she is having in-depth conversations with the dogs or piling baby dolls on top of her sleeping father.
Visiting with this friend, named David, always makes for an interesting linguistic challenge, as the two of us both went by nicknames in college. He was (and still is, by many) known as Otter. I was (and still am, by many) known as Bart. Combine that with conversations from people who only know us by our real names, and you get two more names than people in a conversation, which tends to make conversations a bit confusing. When my wife and I first met in college, David and I shared a phone line. She called, knowing both of us by our nicknames. “Hey, this is David and Mike. Leave a message.” She was fairly certain she had a wrong number, as neither Bart nor Otter were on the outgoing message.
As they were preparing to leave, we discussed the path to their next destination – Washington, D.C. It’s a simple shot – I-20 to I-95. My friend said he was looking to time departures so as to avoid any big city rush hour. My son chimed in, “What’s rush hour?”
My friend laughed a hearty laugh, no doubt relishing that he has put the traffic of South Florida far behind him. My son looked confused. “Seriously, what does that mean?”
True, my son really doesn’t know what rush hour is, mainly because he lives in a relatively small town and his parents are experts at avoiding rush hour traffic by continuing to live in a relatively small town. In fact, we will only pass through major cities between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m.
I kid. My wife is from Atlanta, so she knows full well that snarling infuriation that is rush hour traffic. When we go back to visit her folks, we make a point to time it where we are as far away from rush hour as possible, which is proving to be more and more difficult as Atlanta, by my estimate, currently has 65 billion cars on the road at any given minute.
When my wife first moved to Aiken, she found it quite amusing that we had traffic reports on the radio. She, correctly, noted that more often than not, the traffic report was, “Yep, all good.” Furthermore, for the most part, if you heard there was a big delay, by the time you got there, it was out of the way. I tried to be indignant and made the comment that the same was true for Atlanta. She said it was not true, and that for folks with long commutes, you had to actually listen to the traffic report to determine which route to take to work. She also mentioned that she had once starred in one of those traffic reports by way of getting T-boned in a Honda Accord, so she practically had a license to comment on such matters.
Anywho, back on track. It was a great visit with some dear friends, and I wish them nothing but the best at all turns as they start this new journey in life. Hopefully, we will meet up with them again soon, and we can talk about this past weekend. It will have gotten even better by then.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.