09 April 2007

On the road of life...

You remember that VW ad campaign from a few years back that declared, "On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. We're looking for drivers. "

This past Saturday, on the road to Raleigh, there were passengers and drivers and, let me tell you, I would so much have rather been a passenger. My vitals haven't quite returned to normal but, well, I'm cautiously optimistic.

I knew I wouldn't enjoy making that drive. Last week when I would fast-forward and see myself motoring north in my sweet little PT Cruiser, I didn't accurately forecast the sheer TERROR. As the miles clicked faster toward my fear and destination of Raleigh/Durham traffic, so did my heart rate, respiration and I'm sure my blood pressure was off the scale.

The only saving grace was that I would get to see my daughter who had wrestled her own fear by flying south from Teterboro, NJ airport. True, she was flying in style and, rather than commercial, she was in an opulently appointed private jet, courtesy of John's generous and wonderful Aunt. Apparently this 12 seat jet came equipped with every amenity imaginable including a flight attendant. Ahem. Oh how I would have loved to have traded places with Katie! But to be fair, she would have been happy exchanging her airborne seat for the driver's space in my car. Hey, everyone's got their "issues", I just wish I could have sent mine on spring break for the weekend. But of course, it doesn't work like that with irrational fears and phobias. They have the obstinate and annoying ability of sticking around when they are least welcome. Not that they're ever really "welcome" in the first place, but my gosh, give me a break!

Other than the drive - which should have taken 2 hours and 20 minutes at the most and actually took something like 4 1/2 hours - it was a great visit. In addition to Katie and John, I got to catch up with Nina, John's mother, Daria, Melanie and Bill, John's aunts and uncle and their frequent traveling companions and good friends, Kathy and Mary Lou. And of course, there were John's two sisters, Kim and Katie and his brother, Mark. Last but certainly not least, to make the mix even more interesting, were some of Nina's neighbors and friends. What a colorful and eclectic crowd!

Embassy Suites of Cary was the scene of arrivals and departures and where we stayed when the ensemble wasn't shopping, sight-seeing, more shopping and, of course, eating and, did I mention eating?

Saturday Night we had the most amazing meal, hosted by Daria and Bill, and this was a big meal! There must have been 25 - 30 of us. The food, the service, and the wait staff were impeccable. Dinner began at around 7:30 PM and we finished up around 11:00 PM. What a great night!

And I must send out a special and heartfelt "thank you" to John's sister, Katie, for offering to exchange places with me so that I could have the chance to visit with Katie without actually yelling across the room. Not that I would have, but this young lady was so kind and considerate and after she made the offer, midway through the first course, I smiled and hesitated and then, with a wry and knowing grin, she said, "Come on, you know you want to do it. Let's trade.". What a sweetheart! What a very kind heart housed inside a lovely young lady. Thank you Katie G.!

We arrived back at the hotel at around 11:30 and met up again the next morning at 11:15 to head off for brunch at Nina's beautiful home. Of course, as expected, she thought of everything, and then some. She's not only gorgeous, but one of the most gracious and generous women I've ever met. No wonder John is such a great young man. In fact, each of her four children are just a gaggle of over-achievers and I mean that in the kindest and most flattering way possible. Not only are they well-accomplished, but they're so much fun to be around! Trust me when I say this is a very unique and impressive family and their affection for each other and those of us blessed to be included and counted as friends, feel bathed in that warmth and love as well.

After John and his sister (and new puppy owner) Kim, opened their birthday presents (John's was on the 2nd of April and Kim will "formally" celebrate her 25th birthday on the 18th), it was time to load the van and head for the airport (big gulp for Katie) and I-40 (big gulp for me). Nina followed the van carrying the 12 NY'ers with John's bicycle in tow. Since they were traveling on a private jet, they were able to take all manner of things not allowed on commercial airplanes. Good thing - in addition to John's bicycle, more bottles of wine than I could count and countless bags from shopping excursions, Kim received a very nice knife set as a birthday present which would never have made it through airport security.

I followed Nina who lead me to the ramp that would deposit my cruiser on (big gulp) I-40 where I proceeded South to Wilmington and long before I was halfway home, Katie called my cell to let me know they had already landed at the airport and that it was snowing in NYC. I already miss her like crazy, but I'm so happy not to be dealing with snow. Suddenly our mid-50 temperatures felt just a little more temperate. I did find driving AWAY from Raleigh to be more calming than heading INTO Raleigh, but I do wish Katie had been with me.

I arrived home in one piece and I'm happy to say I didn't crash into anyone on my drive, but I was so relieved to be out of that car and out of that traffic that I swear I briefly considered kissing my driveway but, given that it was daylight, it just didn't seem like the thing to do. I'm sure my steering wheel was pretty happy to be released from my white-knuckled grip.

Was it worth all of the angst and fear and hyperventilation to motor north to see Katie and the clan? Of course it was. Though we were together just short of 24 hours (and 8 of those asleep), any time spent with my daughter is time well spent. She and John looked great and being with them made it all worth the ride. I simply adore her and, while I miss her, I think NY agrees with her and she's obviously very happy and that's what matters most to me. Even if happy happens to be 485 miles north.

And, while driving wasn't exactly relaxing (understatement), it did get my mind off the fact that I'm still looking for a job. I'm certain the change in scenery was good for me, particularly if that scenery included my daughter.

Now, I can relax and settle back into praying and searching for the perfect position. One can't lose faith or heart and I'm nowhere close to throwing up my hands. Hey, sooner or later something's gotta give, right?

Until instructed otherwise, prayers are still encouraged, welcome and most sincerely appreciated.