9:30 in the morning, already 90 degrees.  Sitting on my new balcony drinking coffee in the sun.  Listening to birds and insects that make entirely different sounds than I’m used to.  I wanted to write while on my road trip, but I was too exhausted. 2,042 miles in 3 days left me bleary-eyed and shaking after a full day of driving.  Once I pulled into a sweet, sweet chain motel parking lot, all I could do was remove my clothes and lie on the enormous bed (on my belly because my ass was sore from sitting on it for 13 hours straight) and zone out to bad cable T.V. 

I spent the first night in a small town in Virginia, off of I-81.  Driving south early the next morning through the misty Blue Ridge Mountains while listening to Bluegrass Sunday on the radio made me very happy.  Sometimes trips just feel right.  I fell in love with Tennessee this time around.  Gentlemen opened doors for me, people smiled and struck up conversation while pumping gas.  While I was fueling up, a man next to me asked me if I was heading to or from college (I assumed he asked because my car was packed full of junk).  I told him neither, that I was relocating for a new job.  He asked if it was my first job.  I laughed and told him certainly not.  That I was 31 and this will probably be my 20th job or so.  On the radio I heard there was road construction up ahead in Knoxville and I-40 was being detoured.  When I asked him about it, he happily gave me some pointers to avoid the mess. 

Second night was spent in Forrest City Arkansas.  From what I gathered the ‘city’ was comprised entirely of fluorescent-lit chain motels and fast food joints.  I felt as if I stepped onto the set of a movie where McDonalds, Exxon, Motel 6, Best Western, Waffle House, and Taco Bell paid big bucks for advertising.  I did manage to find a grocery store within walking distance of my motel.  It was here that I really felt like I was in Arkansas (or another world).  People with thick southern accents and slow movements, that despite the heat didn’t sweat.  Unlike me, who was pink and very sweaty.  It was because of this feeling of being scorched by the sun through my windshield that I was craving a cold beer.  I wandered through the store grateful to look at things other than brake lights, road signs and mile markers.  Collards for 50 cents! Almost reason enough to move here.  When I approached the counter (which was confusing and seemed backwards) with my bag o’ salad, a stock pile of frozen nastiness to nuke for dinner and a tall cold Heineken I was informed that “we don’t sell beer on Sunday” and she looked at me like I was either a moron or trying to slide by with my illegal purchase.  Instead of cooling off with a beer, I swam in the pool.  It was a quick swim because it was tucked away in the back and no one else was there and suddenly it seemed very unsafe.  Like I could have been easily murdered by a strung- out trucker or bitten by poisonous snake.

Stopping for gas and to pee outside of Dallas, in the land of ranches and HUGE house,s a BIG Texan glared at my green license plate (poor little thing was sticking out like a sore thumb) and grunted “Summers here are nothing like you’ve ever seen”.  His statement sounded threatening and annoyed me because maybe I’ve lived in Africa where surely it was hotter than Texas.  I hate when people assume that they know where you’re from and what you’ve done all your life.  At this point I was so ready to be nestled in the oasis of Austin.  After a seemingly endless final 200 miles, I arrived at 4:00, just barely enough time to sign my lease, write a check and get handed my new keys!