The drive from Dothan, Alabama to Charlottesville passes through Georgia and the sisters Carolina before nestling into the home of several founding fathers. More on that later, though. If you’ve been following my earlier travels, Imelda and I had a turbulent ending. When I returned home the other night, my sixty-plus bar soap sculpture – courtesy of my chambermaid Imelda – had tumbled to the ground. Slightly disappointed, I scraped the pieces from the vanity and shifted them into the trash can. At some point, I found the note. “Looks like I lost the Jenga. Sorry. —Imelda” I can only imagine what she was doing with my sculpture. Perhaps placing a groom and bride figurine atop it, or maybe cleaning out a bedroom for an illicit tryst. Whatever the reason, Imelda wrecked my architecture. So, now I am stuck with a range of emotional upheaval. There is anger at a person who would destroy another person’s art. Too, there is sadness for the irony of a woman, who spends much of her life cleaning up, knocking down sixty bars of soap to make a mess. And finally, there is dismay, at the idea of poor Imelda, feeling the guilt and shame of wrecking the home she’d seen me build for us. Had I known it would come to this, I would never have asked for more soap. Live and learn.
As for the drive, various small towns pave the path from the lower south to Virginia.
Eufala is home of the big mouth bass, deer processing centers (I know!) and intellectual restaurant names like Pete’s Uh (guess what they serve?) Moving Northeast, old plantation houses transform into southern colonials and I get to row the recollective oar for my collegiate architecture class. There’s a municipal airport with a guy named Bill who holds up his sandwich to direct a plane’s approach. When you ask Bill if a certain type of sandwich is more effective, he doesn’t laugh. Beacon-bacon, tomayto-tomahto, I guess.
Several rivers snake their way through the landscape and hundreds of small boats sit upon placid lakes, which host dinner if you wait long enough. One lake appears to serve double duty as a Chevy dealership. At least four hundred pick-up trucks fill its bank, although there is one poor little Toyota set in near the end of the line
and you get the sense this car feels like the kid in the locker room who wants to wait ’til everyone else leaves before taking his shower for, let’s call them comparative reasons.
The tickle-belly roads offer a sense of liberty, restrained only by the intermittent speed limit signs which place a prohibitive shackle upon your freedom and provide a reminder that your government will never leave you unbridled. Eventually, the music changes from pick-up trucks and bass fishin’ to shady trees and couples kissin’ and you know you’ve entered a State with fewer gun racks.
This is Charlottesville, Virginia now. Monticello sits twenty minutes from my hotel and UVA’s rotunda and green lawn require only one-thousand uphill strides. As I leave my car to cross the campus, graduates and parents cover the quad. With an ear toward history, I eavesdrop upon the next generation’s political leanings. The conversations are not what I expected.
………“Dude, I’m gonna start a weed farm.”
………“You going to law school?” “No, the future is pot.”
………“If I did this again, I’d have gotten a degree in agriculture. Haha.”
It is a brave new world. I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think.