Last weekend, I decided to visit Holly D., my old friend from high school, who I very serendipitously and unexpectedly re-connected with several weeks ago. I’m working in South Carolina right now and she just happened to move to Athens, Georgia right about the time that she contacted me. Athens is only three hours away from Columbia. I had the weekend off, so I decided to go for a visit and explore Georgia.

I won’t lie. I have mixed feelings about Georgia. I have ex in-laws who live there and so that sort of colors my outlook on the whole place and reminds me of times in the past. But, that was a very long time ago when I was very different (well, kind of).

My Georgia extravaganza was a really long weekend. Not in that “Oh-my-god, when-is-this-going-to-end” kind of way; I just experienced a lot and it feels as though I packed an entire week into those 48 hours. Holly D. and I picked up right where we left off 17 years ago. We met at The Globe restaurant, in the heart of downtown, chatted for hours and drank copious quantities of Pinot Noir, the wine of poets. Since we are both writers, it seemed quite appropriate.

I am fascinated with the architecture of the deep, hidden south. For instance, all the buildings are crumbling, old buildings with imperfect plaster and crooked doorways. These folks understand the value of preservation and aren’t obsessed with new, clean, sharp edges – a trait I very much admire. History is important and valued – although the new, corporate environs are encroaching upon the edges. The artsy community of Athens, however, is doing it’s best to keep Athens weird. And imperfect.

And of course, Holly and I were happy to contribute to that endeavor.

We stumbled from The Globe, window shopped for wigs and headed onward to other sights. We saw two rocker chicks in the street. One wore a t-shirt that said, “Stop Bitching and Start a Revolution.” I have that same t-shirt. I bought it from a mountain-commune hippie on the Georgetown streets of DC back in September. We stopped and talked to the rocker chick and her friend, who were promo-ing their rock-n-roll camp for teenage girls.

“Where’d you get the shirt?” I asked.

“My mom bought it for me from some random guy on a street corner in DC,” she said.

“Get out!” I laughed. “I bet it was the same dude I bought mine from!”

We jetted into a corner bar by the college and the downstairs was kind of dead. We did, however, notice that upstairs was hoppin’. The bartender told us that it was a private party for a wedding reception.

I was wearing my fabulous Southern Belle straw hat and Holly and I both just happened to have on sun dresses. I have learned that this Audrey Hepburn-esque straw hat with it’s trailing ribbon will get me everywhere, so I told Holly, “follow my lead, shugar,” and proceeded to walk into the entrance of the upstairs, exclaiming, “Didn’t she look sooo good in her wedding gown!?!”

The bouncer opened the door for us.

We drank free PBR’s from the wedding party’s open bar and danced with the music as the live band played. We grabbed one of the disposable cameras and took shots of ourselves for posterity and left it behind for the bride to someday find. Then we headed onward. No one even gave us a second glance.

imgp0396_web.jpg

The next morning we happily drank non-corporate coffee.

I bid my old friend adieu and then took off to explore the back country roads solo. I very much enjoyed my leisurely jaunt back to Columbia. I stopped at roadside stands in search of tree-ripened Georgia peaches. Read more about how the whole “Georgia Peach” state motto is a marketing ploy from the Civil War Reconstruction era. Fascinating stuff. Not only did I find juicy peaches, I also went on a jelly-acquiring, liver tonic spending spree. More on that later.

But, as you can plainly see,

imgp0402_web.jpgthe peaches are damn fine!

I cruised by an organic farm that gives tours, but sadly, it was closed. I stopped at an old roadside junk store and bought four books, even though I really don’t have room for them on the airplane ride back to Albuquerque. Gosh, Albuquerque seems so far away . . . . I pressed onward to Lake Oconee, wanting only to find a shady spot to read one of my newly acquired books in repose from the blazing mid-afternoon heat. But I suppose that Shangri-La only exists in my mind or in one of the many high-stakes real estate plots I spied around the lake’s edges, as I never found a public spot to rest. There’s a Ritz Carlton on the lake too. I am disappointed with the lack of public access on Lake Oconee, but oh well.

I drove onward to Augusta. Besides The Masters Golf Tournament, Augusta also boasts the world-famous Sconyers BBQ. They weren’t open. Shucks! But, it just so happens that my ex in-law’s live just down the street. I had a bit of reminiscing and loose ends to tie up, if only inside myself. So, I decided to do a psycho drive-by of their house. They are very nice people and all, but suffice to say that they just don’t have the warm fuzzies for me since divorcing their son eight years ago.

Nothing has changed there. Same cars parked the same way in the same driveway. I am the one who has changed, thankfully, and so now that part of my life is at peace in a way it’s never been before . . . a knot that I didn’t even know existed deep down in my belly suddenly came undone and I took a big, deep breath. Fuckin’ yay for me!

A shit-stirring friend of mine suggested I knock on their door unannounced and say Hello, but I’m not so sure about that. He says, “Honey, you look good and you are happy and doing exactly what it is you’ve always wanted to do . . . doing things you never could have done if you would have chosen that life.” Exactly why I should not bother them.

Eh, it would be a shenanigan for sure . . . a funny one, a bold one, a morally illicit one . . . (you know, the kind I normally like) . . . . but not worth it this time. I’ve moved on . . . no looking back. Driving past and untying those stomach knots was good enough.