Friday, May 25, 2007

A little Hotlanta love, and some Orlando magic

The drive from Louisville to Atlanta is a fun one, with a lot of up and down in the Tennessee hills that had my ears popping. Traffic in Atlanta itself was ridonculous and it took me an extra couple of hours just to make it to the apartment once I was already in the city. Originally, the Atlanta plan had been to stay with Lem, another Bryan House boy, but he ended up heading off to a wedding. Nicely enough, he arranged for me to stay at his girlfriend Laura's apartment, where Laura's roommate was off in Europe. I had hung out with Laura a bit for Halloween when the boys had headed down to Atlanta to see Lem, since he was the most distantly scattered person at the time (discounting, of course, Adam, who lives in Istanbul, Turkey). Laura had chosen a lovely costume as a fan of a rival college, and had made herself up appropriately, with bad makeup and Billy Bob teeth. It was nice.

Despite my delays, I got in just in time for the season finales of Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy, which I was very grateful to catch. Love those shows. I'll miss them this summer. It's going to be a little depressing next year when my grade suffer so that my TV watching doesn't have to. But what can you do? It's an addiction.

Laura headed off to her new CDC job the next morning and I loaded up for another long haul down to Orlando, Florida. A word of warning for anyone traveling to or in Florida by car: the insects are just crazy. Sometimes it sounded like it was raining, there were so many splats on my windshield in rapid succession. I washed my windshield regularly, and it was still horrible. The number of love bugs plastered to my front bumper was just phenomenal. But I made it through the plague and arrived at the house of Justin Greider, and old buddy from high school swimming and band. I had gone to Justin's wedding a few months before and had a great time with him and other high school superstars. Obviously, he was a little busy at the wedding itself, so it was a lot of fun to get to hang out with him one-on-one for a bit down there.

We toured the new neighborhood where he and his wife are building a house, I defended myself against his dogs (though not too much, they were pretty well-behaved), and enjoyed some pizza from a nice little place that's actually a part of the "downtown" of his neighborhood. It's a cool set up, designed to allow people to walk more and not need to drive all over the place to get their basic essentials. There's a grocery store and restaurants, and I would assume a pharmacy, too. It was a neat idea and I'd love to see more of it. But through all of this we chatted about our families, friends in common, old memories and the like. Justin had to pack that night as he was heading off the next day for a conference in Vegas of basically everyone who does anything with malls. He works for a real estate firm that is involved with various mall permutations and so was heading off with his co-workers for some desert fun. Then he would actually be heading back to Indy to see his family for Memorial Day weekend and the Indy 500. His parents are just wacky people that I love to death, so I'm sure he had a good time. Amidst all this Andrea, the wife, returned home from working at a trainer at a spring football game, an event that would have been illegal in Indiana. She was delighted to find left over pizza in the fridge. I call her "the wife" because that's quite literally what Justin calls her. He manages to infuse it with affection and consideration, but it's still a bit startling to hear him just say things like "Wife, did you look up those directions?" He says he has to watch himself in public sometimes because people will think he's being derogatory or disrespectful, but Andrea doesn't even notice and thinks nothing of it. I found the practice charming, almost like the old prairie-style of a husband who would address his wife as "Mother", more as a title of respect and position than a simple designation.

Once he'd finished packing, Justin and the wife headed to bed. Andrea would be gone by the time I woke up, but I got to take Justin to the airport and see him off to Vegas before continuing on my merry way down to Immolakee, near Naples, FL.

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