One of the few perks of working a job with ungodly hours is the fact that there are times where I have a little bit of time during the week to do my own thing. Last week, in the spirit of my goal of traveling a lot more this year (as always) I made a quick trip back to the South to do some laundry and get my hair done by someone halfway competent. I don’t normally go halfway across the continent to do laundry and chill for all of one day but the flight was free and the checked bags were free and it certainly beat a trip to the laundromat contemplating the intricacies of my life while waiting for my clothes to dry and wasting an afternoon. But I digress. Other than the unseasonably bitter cold that happened to be the current climate at the time, I had an interesting experience right fresh off the plane. I went with the other passengers in the mad rush to the baggage claim only to stand around for about a half out before the bags were put on the conveyor belt. Since the biggest goal of my trip was doing laundry, I didn’t really pack a lot. I just dumped my dirty clothes hamper into the biggest suitcase I had and lugged it with me. Wonderful strategy. So my bag finally appears on the belt and at that point I was just ready to grab it and go. Mind you, it’s a pretty good sized suitcase but not so big that I can’t pick it up. It’s just bulky. So as I’m reaching for my bag I see a hand in my peripheral vision but ignoring its relevance to my situation I just ignore it and heft the bag over the belt onto the ground and come eye to eye with a man who looks pissed off. He immediately starts to chastise me for not allowing him to get my bag off the belt. He vehemently reminds me that I’m now in the South and that there’s no excuse for me not to allow a man to get my bed because chivalry is still alive and well. I was pleasantly amused by the experience and it was a nice reminder that there are some really good qualities about Southern culture. It’s funny how much you can miss those little things when you don’t live in that environment anymore but it’s also interesting how you learn to adapt and go without them because they aren’t even an option. If anything like that happened where I live it would be a big deal because it is SO rare. Even the nice gesture of having doors opened surprises me every time that it happens because it is not a common occurrence. Definitely a contrast to the societal norms of the South.
I think that almost everyone at some point or time has read, or watched a story on television that centered around the experience of being in a blizzard. Being from the South and also due to mostly mild winters, I had escaped the experience until a few days ago. There are hundreds of rules about what to do when you’re driving in winter and the things that you need to bring along with you and store in your car in order to ensure survival. These rules are all fine and dandy but unfortunately they were disregarded because it was the freaking middle of April. Winter is supposed to be over by this point. The days are getting warmer and snow is melting. Not this weekend. So my friend and I picked the route to drive because we were trying to dodge a severe weather system in Oklahoma and Texas that included a very high chance of tornadoes. Trip started off great. Warm weather (100 degrees) and sunshine. Gradually clouds started to appear that were darker in color. As the sun was setting it started to rain and become extremely windy. This rain continued and then turned into snow. The wind picked up to the point that it was dangerous to drive. The snow was coming down fast and the wind was making it impossible to see more than five feet ahead of the car. Unfortunately we were in the middle of nowhere. Literally. With the nearest town being 60 miles away. The temperature is dropping and we don’t have proper shoes, coats, water, food, or even flashlights if we were to get stuck. There are no houses nearby and even if there were, being in a white-out makes seeing anything else beside blinding snow impossible. It was then that we realized that if we were to stop our chances of surviving in freezing temperatures without any proper equipment and no cell phone signal was pretty darn small. There are so many stories of people who have overcome huge odds and many times their successes are due to the fact that they did what they had to do because they didn’t have a choice. Stopping on the side of the road would have been a very bad decision so we had to press on. And press on we did. Very slowly and carefully. It was like driving while blind. Horrible horrible horrible. But (thank God) we got through driving 60 miles in blinding snow to the nearest town and stopped for the night. I say all this to say that blizzards aren’t any joke. I have absolutely no desire to ever be in one again and I hope to move to warmer regions where snow is very rarely (if ever) in the forecast.
It seems as if all my trips these days are a challenge against logistics and timing. One thing that I’m happy about is the fact that I am traveling more–as I have vowed to do this year. One thing I especially like to do is visit the Southern states. So I made a “quick” 14 hour (one way) road trip down to Dallas and it’s been so nice. It’s interesting how different various regions of the States are so different from each other. I love laidback formality of the South and just the overall feel. One thing that has been fun during this trip has been people-watching. It’s interesting how one’s standards of what is attractive can change based on who they see around them on a frequent basis. I’ve definitely noticed this myself. It’s been an awesome time, and as usual, I’m dreading the long drive back and am already plotting ways to catch up on the sleep that I’m lacking at this point. It’s interesting how feeling so exhausted can also be exhilarating due to the thrill of a new place. However, life does go on and it’s important to remember to stop and smell the roses at time. Reuniting with old friends and getting away from routine can be rejuvenating–and in my case it’s that. Can’t wait to do this again.