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Monday, May 23, 2016

Powhite Parkway

I tend to associate phases in my life with places and things, tangible, solid structures that can perhaps hold a memory. Keep it safe. I will always associate highway 85 with my father and trips to Atlanta. God, it's a long drive, 8 hours. Traffic is never that bad, not too many trucks. The Virginia and South Carolina stretches aren't too bad, it's getting through North Carolina that's the kicker.

Plenty of time to think no matter what stretch you're on. I used to think about seeing my dad, about life, about the future, dream of things that I wanted. The playlist was also extremely important. In the confines of the car, a song could make me happy, sad, upset and everything in between. Sometimes, it was just me and the music. I preferred that if I'm being honest. Just me and the music.

I became familiar with 85's signs and exits, it's Starbucks and Waffle Houses. I knew it. It was familiar. I don't drive it as much as I used to. Life always changes. I imagine the next time I'm on it I'll see something unfamiliar and say that must be new. It won't feel the same after that. It won't be mine anymore, It will belong to someone else who will say yea, they put that in a year ago.

I remember driving on another road, the Powhite Parkway, to my first interview at my, now, former job. I hurriedly got ready that morning and hopped on the Parkway to head out to Brandermill where their offices were located. I'd probably only driven on the Parkway a couple other times my whole life. Unless you lived out there, there really wasn't a reason to.

I remember thinking how much I really did not want to make that drive every day, not to mention pay tolls, but I ended up getting that job and the rest is history as they say. In the beginning, I didn't travel so I had to drive the parkway every day. I came to know it's curves and potholes, all important if you drive as fast as I do. After a year I think I could have driven it blindfolded. For a while I even called the other side of it home and moved in with a roommate just a couple of minutes from the office. That was weird. It never really felt right. I'm from the north side of the river.

Later on I traveled a ton and so only had to make the drive once or twice a week, but it was still my road. I knew everything along the way and where I would be when I came to the end of it. No need for a GPS. Over the years I've only gotten one speeding ticket on the Parkway. Oddly enough it was just a few weeks ago. First ticket in 11 and a 1/2 years, despite my penchant for speed. Maybe karma was making up for lost time and knew this was her last chance.

There were other signs that a change was coming. On the way to the office one morning I heard on the radio that Mercury was in retrograde for the next month so we should all hold on to our hats. Then, I opened a desk drawer just three weeks ago to pull out a few more business cards, having just run out of the stash I kept in my purse, only to notice that the box was almost empty. I would have had to order new ones the next week. Turned out I wasn't meant to. Change did come, and I won't be driving that road anymore. I've moved on to a new professional adventure and I'm extremely excited, but I'll remember my time at my old organization with profound fondness and be grateful for the amazing experiences and opportunities it brought me.

I will miss driving that road. So much has happened. I was heading north one evening when I got the call that my father had had a heart attack and wouldn't last the night. I was driving on it when I was the happiest I'd ever been in my whole life. I didn't even know I could be that happy. I was driving on it when I realized the new direction my life needed to take.

The last 11 1/2 years and the memories that accompany them are more than just a road. But I will always keep them safe and close, incorporated into the fiber of that road. The miles, the songs, the weather, the trees, the signs, the sky, the life that I have led while driving on it.

Did I mention I don't have to pay tolls any more?!!!!!!!!

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