Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Enjoying The Ride

When I was eighteen Lord I hit the road
But it really doesn’t matter how far I go…

Lyrics to a lot of songs seem to hit home with me, the above line in Don Williams Good Ole Boys Like Me always reminds me of when I left South Carolina not realizing that it would probably be the last time I actually lived in my home state.

I had graduated from High School in June of 1978 and taken a job in doing construction work leaving behind the meat market at the local Bi-Lo grocery store that I worked for while in school, my new job took me out of town all week long and brought me home late Friday nights to play all weekend as long as I met up with the guys in time to leave town at about 5:00AM Monday mornings. We built a hospital in Waynesville, NC, cottages and motels at Lake Junaluska, NC, built add-ons to the airport in Columbia, SC and was working in Chapel Hill, NC on a housing project when I got a summons for jury duty, I had to show up at 8:00AM Monday for jury selection which meant I would miss my ride to the job site and a weeks worth of work, I had moved back to my hometown of Easley, SC and picked up this summons from my Moms house where I had lived before.

I fretted all weekend about this because I had never been called to jury duty before and this would be my first, the pay that I would get from this would not match the check I was losing so I was a bit ticked about it anyway. I showed up to the Greenville County Courthouse on time and waited to be called in for my interview, I filled out the forms and played with the pencils while waiting, I added my address change to the forms because I’m honest like this and guess what I was told for being so honest? “Sir I see you have moved, is this your correct address” I replied yes to which I was told, “You are now living in Pickens County and cannot serve on a Jury for Greenville County” I was dismissed and went on my way, now I was really upset because I didn’t have to serve and I had missed my ride to the Job site in Chapel Hill, now instead of trying to find directions and driving my own car to work I did what my eighteen year old brain said and that was to cash my paycheck, load up my car and take a “Road Trip” to New Mexico. My Grand Daddy lived here and I had not seen him since I was little and my Dad also was living with him, it had been several years since I had been with him also, so it made sense to pay them a visit.

I had very few clothes so it didn’t take long to pack, the only thing of value other than my car was that .22 rifle I had used for collateral, it was carefully wrapped in some of my clothes and loaded into the trunk, I told Grandma bye and stopped by the gas station to fill up and get a map to study, I actually made it all the way to Lonoke, Arkansas the first day and got a motel room for the night, my last paycheck was running out pretty quick by now, I bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and settled in for dinner and a movie, early next morning I was again on the road, now picture this a long haired eighteen year old kid in a hot rod looking Gran Torino, no power steering, no cruise control and no air conditioning, but a killer stereo and a CB Radio that kept me in touch with what was going on around me, you know I blended right into the crowd, especially when I hit Amarillo, Texas and was trying to find the right exit to continue my trip in the right direction, “breaker one nine kin ennybody tell me whut road ta take ta git ta Mexico” I think my Southern accent gave them all a good laugh because I got a lot of hateful comments explaining that it was New Mexico not Mexico and if I didn’t know the difference then I deserved to be lost, OK I was scared now I guess my accent gave it away that I wasn’t from Texas, yes a South Carolina accent is different from a Texas one contrary to popular belief so I wasn’t getting much help until a trucker with a soft Southern voice told me which exit I needed and actually which one I would take on the next highway to get to the town I going to.

He was 100% right and riding down that lonely highway I saw the most beautiful sunset I had ever witnessed, I made good time and arrived in town at just about dusky dark, I had my Grand Daddy’s address so after inquiring about the street I was looking for while filling up I drove straight there, he answered the door and was grinning from ear to ear when he shoved me behind the door and opened it widely to hide me, he yelled for my Dad to come and look for the newspaper because he thought they had missed his yard again, I could see the agitated look on my Dad’s face as he crossed the room to the door from the crack behind the door I saw him looking for the paper, when he said “Daddy I don’t see it but looks like somebody parked in our driveway” Grand Daddy pulled him back in and closed the door, I was now face to face with my Dad who just stared and softly said “Jimmy?”

Thirty something years later I remember my home state clearly as it was then and still think of moving back home, my Dad moved back a long time ago and Grand Daddy has been passed away over twenty five years now, so the ones I came to see have left me behind so to say, they tell me you can never go back but I do feel a tug that direction ever once in a while, I am blessed with my wife and I would have never met her had I not come this direction, so maybe she was actually the reason for this road trip and the reason I am still enjoying the ride.

I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees…


  1. I grew up in NY but moved to Chapel Hill, NC in 2001. It didn't take long to feel at home there. My husband and I moved back to NY to start a family in 2004. This is where I grew up but I kinda feel like somethings missing...and wonder if it's back in NC somewhere?
    Keep enjoying the ride...sounds like you're having a good time!

  2. Interesting where life takes us and the road to get there. Enjoyed your refelction Jimmy.

  3. Oh, what a flawless ending to a wonderful story, Jimmy!

    "I would have never met her had I not come this direction, so maybe she was actually the reason for this road trip and the reason I am still enjoying the ride."


    I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. That's why I say, "There is no such thing as a wrong turn."

    Enjoyed this post, my friend!

    Have a super day!

  4. What a great story. While reading it I really felt like I was experiencing it! You have a gift!


  5. I love that! I forget what it's like to be adventurous and just hit the road.

  6. Great story, I love road trips. Especially when you are un-encumbered.
    Meaning, I love my family, but when when I was a lad it was good to just get up and go without having to worry about leaving anyone behind.

  7. Great story Jimmy! Fantastic closing line...
    It was also a nice glimpse into your life.

    Grasshopper, the fork in the road does present us with a challange, but there is no right or wrong answer, because every fork leads to another.

    Snatch the pebble from my hand...

  8. Good Morning Kerri,

    Chapel Hill is a beautiful place and I am partial to the South, North Carolina just may be tugging at you because once it gets into your heart that feeling of a comfortable place is always there making you remember it.

  9. Thank You Suzicate,

    I am happy you enjoyed the post and you are so right about the interesting roads life leads us down.

  10. Hey Ron,

    "I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. That's why I say, There is no such thing as a wrong turn"

    I believe this also my Friend, I have thought in the past about why I ended up living away from my home state and if only I had stayed home rather than bugging out like I did, that last line is my answer.

    I never would have met her had I stayed at home, you have to go with your gut and follow the Good Lords lead because he has a plan if you listen.

    A Great day to you Buddy

  11. Thank You Cindy,

    I appreciate your kind words and really enjoy having you read my stories, I'm proud you enjoyed it.

  12. Hey Kristy,

    It does feel good to just up and hit the road at times, I guess it was a lot easier to do then :)

  13. Good Morning Joe,

    Yes Sir like you I do love road trips and like you said having a family gives you a whole new outlook on just up and going, just have to remember when we did things like this and look forward to doing them again once the kids are grown.

  14. Hey Pat,

    Thank You Sir, I appreciate you my Friend.

    Yes life has different forks in the road and it is up to us to follow without worrying about right or wrong answers because once you have taken that fork it has become the right one for you.

    Snatching for the pebble...

  15. I love Waynesville and Lake Junaluska! Our Carolina property isn't far from Waynesville. Quite close, actually. You're making me pine for a vacation in NC.

  16. Such a brave spirit to go where the winds taken you! I think you just enjoyed your "ride". What a great story and ending. You are right where you should be no doubt. :-)

  17. Hey Ms A,

    That whole area of North Carolina is beautiful, I was raised just down the mountain in South Carolina so I'm kind of partial to that area.

  18. There's nothing like growing up in the South. I loved it. God's country I say.

  19. Thank You Angelia,

    I have been several places in my life and right now I agree with you that I am just where I should be.

  20. Amen Trisha,

    I will go with you on that one :)

  21. I have never really been to the South but I feel as though I have with the stories you tell...and your accent..it comes through in your writing. I admire anyone who just gets in the car and goes...I have never done this either since I lack a certain amount of the adventurous spirit that so obviously possess. I have to rely on Tim to force the adventure spirit forth...I am always happy when he does. Some how there is nothing like great music, your favorite, playing in the car with awesome scenery going by...I love that.

  22. Hey Susie,

    You never know one day Tim just may get you into the car and take you for a trip to the South, I know you would love it, heck I just may have to start throwing some hints his direction :^)

  23. Loved your story, Jimmy, especially when you returned and your dad opened the door. Ohh!

    I am a Kansas girl, transplanted to Southern CA too. I love to go back. It's like re-reading a really good book, but my life's here now and I've got two California boys who love their own home state.

  24. You are soo good at getting me to cry! Eye to eye with your dad, and the tears started. I am such a sentimental lush.

    When we was truck driving all of creation, I would get on the cb and everybody knew I was a Texan!

    If I hadn't made that one impulsive decision to run off with a stranger 19 yrs ago, I wouldn't be where I am today either.

  25. I'm with Ron on the fact that I too feel like everything happens for a reason. We might not understand it at the time but He has a plan and sometimes you just gotta go with it!

    Really enjoyed that post. I felt like I was riding shotgun with ya! :-)

  26. awesome story and I loved the comment about your sweet, supportive wife.

  27. Hey Betty,

    Thank You so much, I made the mistake about ten years ago of saying "I will never live in California" well goes to show you to never say never, we have been here about a year and a half now and SoCal is our home, you have to smile when the Good Lord shows you who is in charge.

  28. Hey Heather,

    Nothing wrong with sentimental, I wish more folks were now days.

    Yes our accents tell exactly where we are from at times, I remember when I was working I would meet up with a customer and part way through the conversation I would hear "What part of Carolina are you from?" I usually would reply with my answer followed by "And what part of Georgia are you from" (pronounced something like "Jaw ja")

    Impulsive decisions at that age shape who we are and where we will be, I guess that is life and how it should be.

  29. Good Morning Peg,

    I'm glad you got to ride shotgun there for a bit, I do enjoy having all of you along for the ride.

    You are right along with Ron that we just have to follow His decisions because the plan is there whether we see it or not.

  30. Morning Leanne,

    I have to give her credit also because without her I wouldn't be here and by me being here shows that The Good Lord had planned for her to be in my life.


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