Trip From Hell
My husband’s culture requires that members of his family visit each other no matter how far away they live from each other, and regardless of how inconvenient or uncomfortable the trip will be. And apparently, if I don’t go too, there will be an international incident
So, my husband made me take this ridiculous weekend trip to visit his cousins in South Carolina just across the line from North Carolina. I was against it, but I gave in because I knew it was important to him. I should have listened to my gut and dug in my heels.
Two weeks before the trip, when he was still in persuasive mode, my husband, the pathological liar, told me that it was a 5-hour drive. OK, I could live with that for a Friday through Sunday trip.
(Note to self: “Your husband has lied to you about the travel time required on various trips since he was your boyfriend. Please use technology to double check in the future. You have no one to blame but yourself.)
Two days before the trip, when he knew that he had won, and when he realized that I was about to find out his truth-stretching, he told me it was 6 hours.
NINE AND A HALF HOURS after we leave Maryland, we reach our destination; some cornfield in South Carolina named “Indian Land,” which seems vaguely racist and disrespectful.
Indian Land is like a holiday pop-up shop. Where once there was nothing, now there are upscale housing developments and three Harris Teeters in a five mile stretch of road. The boom times for Indian Land are the result of job growth in North Carolina. Consumer demand has created the need for housing more affordable than in Charlotte.
Traffic, Construction, and Hail
How in the Hell did a “six hour” drive turn into almost ten?
There were numerous traffic slow-downs due to normal city congestion. Every hundred miles or so, there seemed to be a construction zone. At one dead-stop, we went on an off-road detour.
THEN, there were the electrical storms with lightning streaking through the sky like a fireworks show and hail – in freaking July.
At this point, our lives have turned into the Griswold Family Vacation, though not as funny. My husband is complaining about his hip. My right butt cheek has cramped up.
We also had to stop and grab a quick dinner to replace the one we should have eaten at our destination hours ago. We have to eat in the car in a gas station parking lot because our dogs are with us and it is too hot for them to stay in the car while we go inside a restaurant.
At one point in this trip from Hell, I only half-joked that we should get a hotel room and try it again in the morning.
And then, two miles from his cousins’ home, came the cherry on top of our shit sundae. We were pulled over by a South Carolina sheriff. The officer thought “maybe” we were driving with our bright lights on – we weren’t – and we were let go with a warning.
It could have been worse. My husband looks like a terrorist and at that point, I looked like a hostage, and his brand spanking new Maryland license didn’t show up in the computer. Seriously.
We were lucky not to spend the night in a South Carolina jail which would have been a tragedy because they don’t have wine there.
Charlotte, North Carolina
On Saturday, we paid a little visit to Charlotte, NC which is a fun and strange city.
I watched this intense group of black men street preaching. I listened for several minutes and I still don’t quite know the point they were trying to make. I am all for equality and black power, but I will say it didn’t seem very friendly.
A black woman with a baby and three little ones under the age of eight approached me panhandling with a story and a box of pencils. Ostensibly, they were “raising money to help with the boy’s football team” and for a donation, I got a pencil!
I gave the kid $2 (and took a pencil) not only because I admire their ingenuity and creativity committing to a solid story and offering a reward for donating, but also because as she passed by me and the street preachers earlier, she was explaining their presence to her son who had obviously just asked a question about them, and the mom said, “Anyone who puts black people and white people against each other are not about God.” Bless this woman and her babies.
So, Momma’s explanation about the men-on-the-microphone was my first clue that their biblical positions would not be beneficial to me personally.
The second pretty strong indication that they might wish me harm was a group of folks giving away Free Hugs. That’s right! In downtown Charlotte, on one street corner, someone wants to hurt me while at the other end; another person is waiting to ease my anxiety. I spoke with them a few minutes: They don’t belong to any particular group. They are mixed race and multi-national. They have been doing this about two years and just want to spread love.The men-on-the- microphone at the other end of the block don’t like them, hence my second clue.
I wish the best for both the disenfranchised preachers and the huggers. Diversity of opinion and beliefs make a better world and a stranger city.
And what would a strange city be without a cosplay, comic convention in town? Fascinating creatures were walking around everywhere. Here I snapped a pic of some Hoshicon attendees on their way to lunch.
Charlotte had cool public art and vintage buildings nestled against modern high rises.
I bought some handmade jewelry from a street vendor and had a locally brewed beer at Carolina Brewery.
I watched a homeless man give a spot-on lip sync performance to a street musician’s rendition of “My Girl.”
When I visit a big city, I like to keep some singles on me to give to street musicians and children offering pencils because they are a part of what makes a city wonderful and strange.
Early Sunday morning, we get to start the Trip From Hell in reverse. Since my fundamentally dishonest husband swears he has made this trip several times before in six hours and blames The Trip from Hell on Friday on factors beyond our control, I hope for better things on Sunday.
It was better, but not by much. It only took eight and a half hours to get home. We spent almost as much time on the road as we did on the visit. I now have (perhaps permanent) spine damage. I am weary to the bone. I am not saying that I hate my husband right now, but he is not my friend.
My reward for surviving the Trip from Hell was a bubble bath and a glass of wine. Next time, I will click my heels three times.