Sunday, January 09, 2011

Adventures in Barretting

In an attempt to be funny, I made up the term “Barretting” to describe the act of driving to Tennessee to see my friend Chris Barrett. My wife, Liberty, and I had some fun throughout the week using the term whenever it would fit. “Well, we don’t need to stop at the store on Friday, we can get to that when we’re back from Barretting.”

Chris introduced us to the “Flying Saucer” pub last year, which has a giant wall full of taps (possibly 20 or 30), as well as friendly wait-staff, not too intolerable prices, and a 100-beer tour that gets you some sort of free party there and your name on a plate if you finish it. Liberty and I went once with Chris to the Memphis location, and have been twice to the one in Nashville while taking an impromptu “let’s see where this road takes us” vacation.

Chris used to live in Columbus like we do, but now works in western North Carolina. Nashville is a good midpoint between us, so we planned to meet up this weekend and catch up for a few hours, and go our separate ways. We did so, adding beers 10 through 12 to our tours (16 to 18 for Chris) and a good time was had by all. But something happened on the way down that trumps that story.

On Saturday morning we started our drive down, and by mid-afternoon, with the sun starting to dip low in preparation for nightfall, we found ourselves on I-65, a little South of Louisville Kentucky. There was this idyllic moment as we drove down a stretch of road with rock structures on either side. There were a couple clouds visible, contrasting the darkening blue sky, a flock of birds crossed the road in front of us, first horizontal, then swirling to a vertical diamond-shape as the crossed the opposite rock facing. Liberty was sitting beside me, engrossed in knitting a new creation, and a local radio station was playing the Zeppelin song “In My Time of Dying”.

And there it was. Our life and responsibilities back home - to kids, house, school, and job - was a fiction that neither of us believed in. The truth was the road, the song, the shawl, the birds, and the setting sun. And the real truth: each other.

I felt a sense of overwhelming bliss just driving around with the woman I love. No matter what happened after we decided our fiction back home was real again, Liberty would be with me still, and hence, the world would be less bleak.

In 71 days we will have been married for three years. When we look at each other, we both know we found the right person. The house may collapse, my job may give me the boot, the mounting school debt may be a beast difficult to slay, but that will all be illusion. The real world will continue to be the birds serenading us before sunset, as we head down the road together.

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