Hit The Road, JackPosted: 2011/06/04
The drive North was fantastic. I got away from Matt and Stephen’s at exactly eight. Traffic was light and the sky bright blue. I took note of the skyline with the thought of comparing changes at some future date. Miles fell away quickly. The music was good. I answered the phone occasionally to chat with well-wishing friends. Connie made a care package and her delicious scones became my mid-morning snack each day.
The drive on I-77 from North Carolina was exceptional. I guess I’d never really crossed the Blue Ridge mountains except near Charlottesville. But the drive up past Mt. Airy, North Carolina and into Virginia was spectacular. Virginia, always lush and green and welcoming, did not fail. I made it a point to call my sister and share with her the beauty of her beloved native state. I called my Mom on Mother’s Day as I passed Roanoke, where I was born.
The drive up the Shenandoah Valley was equally as gorgeous, if not long and clogged with traffic. I didn’t mind, I was happy. I had to chuckle as the clichés popped into my head….the road was full of promise, my future stretched out before me, I was on a journey and on the road to happiness….etc, etc, etc. Before I left, Matt convinced me to stay at his father and stepmother’s in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.
I was nervous about asking but Matt made the matter a done deal by arranging it himself and convinced me that their house was one where short-notice comings-and-goings were normal and welcome. He did not disappoint. Susan left dinner and the makings for gin and tonic and a nice note. I unpacked, made myself a drink and waited on the porch for her, Ron and Grandma to return from celebrating Mother’s Day. The sun slipped behind the Pennsylvania hills and I relaxed on the porch of this big, lovely, comfortable home.
Matt’s family is just that: family. They were warm and easy and gracious in their hospitality and made me feel immediately welcome. All 3 were interested in my “journey” and we talked for a nice couple of hours. I was up early and, again at Matt’s prompting, had asked Grandma to cook me breakfast. I walked the 3 blocks to her house, arrived at the back door and after a few minutes was greeted by this amazing 89-year old woman. We laughed because, confused, she had gone to the front door. The ice was immediately broken and we talked about her service in World War II, Matt and Stephen’s marriage, Mercersburg Academy, The Cape and a hundred other things. Tough, fair and lovely, Grandma made me miss and love my Nennie that much more. And her steamed eggs taught me a thing or two about simplicity and simple hospitality.
I didn’t linger and met Ron later at the school for a tour of the new “Gym.” Well, Mercersburg Academy does nothing half-way, and this athletic complex, which I had seen under construction last summer at a memorial service, surely is a diamond among prep-school “gyms.” It rivals collegiate facilities. Ron’s pride in guiding its construction was very evident and he appreciated my interest. Ron’s a big man and when I was leaving, gave me a big hug, enveloping me in his big arms. It was truly wonderful and totally unexpected. And with a head full of love, I was on the road to Princeton.