Dave's Excellent Adventure, Part II

So the flight back to Raleigh proceeds uneventfully except for a bit of weather-related turbulence. It's funny. I've traveled a lot over my life. When I first started, turbulence didn't phase me. I just got a kick out of being on a plane. Then over the next 10-15 years as air travel lost its novelty, I became more and more bothered by turbulence and thinking about falling out of the sky would make me nervous about flying. But at some point, I looked back at my early life and how enjoyable I found flying, and I decided I simply didn't want to be one of those people who allowed irrational fears to affect what I do and keep me from enjoying my life. To me, that's weakness of the worst sort. I don't want to be controlled or even slightly influenced by stupid shit like that. Life is challenging enough without inventing obstacles to worry about. So I just mentally decided I wasn't going to let it bother me. And now it doesn't. Simple as that, I just willed myself out of letting it affect me. The mind is an amazing thing.

Anyway, I'm in the next to last row of seats due to my crummy boarding sequence number. But considering the relative ease with which the airline allowed me to do a last-minute change to my travel plans, I'm not complaining. At least it's an aisle seat. The plane touches down at RDU near midnight, and I do the half hour drive home. I'm in bed by 12:45AM.

Normally, I'm an early riser and don't require an alarm. But this week I've accumulated a sleep debt, so that night I set my alarm for 7:30AM. It's a good thing because the alarm wakes me out of a deep sleep. I get showered, pack clothes for the weekend, and I'm ready to go at 8:30. But I can't leave. Remember when I said that the kids were staying with neighbors? Well, they're now waiting outside across the street for the school bus. They don't know I'm just inside our house. I haven't seen much of them for over a week (remember, I was sick, then they went on the fishing trip without me, and then I went on a business trip). I really want to go outside, give them hugs, and tell them goodbye before I drive to Alabama. But I resist the temptation because they're at an age where seeing me may make them decide that they want to go with me to Alabama and they won't understand why I won't take them. I don't want to have that conversation and make them get on the bus after rejecting their pleas to go with me. So I wait inside for their bus to pick them up before loading the car and starting for Alabama.

The drive to Alabama goes without a hitch. I-85 is packed as usual. Everything is flowing well, but all that traffic means that driving requires constant concentration. There's no mental downtime. I bring my camera because, well, that's what I do. But I'm in a hurry and I don't stop to take any photos (although I do make a mental note that I'm going to have to do some sunrise photos of Jordan Lake very soon!). I only stop for gas, food, and to pee. As I said, traffic on I-85 is flowing nicely. But I hit the usual traffic jam on the I-285 loop around Atlanta. Now, I'm used to shitty traffic as I lived in Houston for a few years. But Houston has nothing on Atlanta for shitty traffic. Atlanta is like one giant parking lot.

I arrive in Tallassee in the late afternoon/early evening. Unfortunately, through a miscommunication they ended up scheduling the funeral for Friday. So I've missed the service! This really sucks. Partially because I don't want it to appear that I didn't care enough to attend the service, but mostly because I would have liked the opportunity to pay my final respects to my father-in-law. But what's done is done and it doesn't do anybody any good to worry or complain about it. I'm here now and I can still serve a purpose in supporting my wife and grieving and reminiscing with the family.  So I do that. I've said my prayers and have gone through my mental tributes to my father-in-law on the drive out. So that'll have to do.

We spend Saturday at my in-law's home where my wife receives a few of my father-in-law's possessions that hold sentimental value to her. I'm really glad she got those because those kind of things mean a lot to her.

We get back to the hotel late on Saturday night. Honestly, I think it would have been better to have another day there, but we've got to get back to the kids and I've been out of the office for two weeks already. The drive back home goes basically the same as the drive out, which is to say, uneventfully. I share the driving duties with my wife though, so at least it's less exhausting.

When we get back home, I find out from the neighbors that my oldest son was really missing us and asked several times to come home. So it was a good thing that I didn't go out say "Hi" to him before he got on the school bus. That would have probably set him off and made the whole thing a lot harder on him.

So right now I'm at work, typing up my blog post. This little chapter of my life is over. Lots of stress, lots of sorrow, lots of reflection. But I'm glad to be home, healthy, and with my family. The events of the past couple weeks have reminded me that I have a good life and that I should pause every so often and appreciate it.