In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine
Can’t you just feel the moonshine
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind
Last weekend we drove to North Carolina to attend my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday celebration. It was the first time I had taken a real road trip in a long time. No kids, open road, nine-hour drive there and back with only one day in between. It would have been no big deal when I was twenty.
Sadly, I’m not twenty anymore, and at the moment I’m still recuperating from the trauma that long drives and late nights now bring. But it was definitely worth it.
For one thing, we couldn’t have asked for better traveling companions. We made the drive with John’s brother and his wife, Jen, who are infinitely more laid back than we are and provided gems to the journey such as tailgating supplies and the thought-provoking (often gag reflex provoking) game “Icky Alternatives.”
Once there, I sucked in the familiar piney smell and the humidity of the Carolinas like someone who just realized they were starving. Our hosts, John’s sister and her husband, made us feel right at home and we gravitated between the party preparations (my favorite was filling up a baby pool with beer), walking the streets of downtown Apex (where I made friends with some bourbon connoisseurs), and relaxing on the back deck, watching for deer (or at one point, I believe a goat was mentioned).
The party itself was a blur of good food, many drinks, and excellent live music. I won’t go into details, because this is on the internet, but let’s just say there was, among other things: a robot conspiracy theory, a hillbilly beach hat, a bold move involving the movie-star neighbor, and plenty of video footage of Jim dancing along-side the back up singer.
The morning after, more people rolled out of my sister-in-law’s house than I remembered being there in the first place. The whole scene took me back to Woodland Avenue and my senior year of college; except this time there were phone calls to check on kids, and coffee was the recovery drink of choice.
After the long drive home, I hit the proverbial wall and finally subcomed to my body’s desire to act my age. Then I drank a gallon of water and slept like a two-year-old. This morning I looked at the party photos and thought about how much we laughed; about how I can’t wait to go back to Carolina. In the end, despite the aches and pains, our Road Trip has in fact made me feel much younger.