Home > Book (Nonfiction) > Memoir > An Incredible Journey to the South - A Home away from Home > Chapter 4
An Incredible Journey to the South - A Home away from Home
Escapades in the NightThe first thing we were to do once I finally arrived, even though it was supposed to be around four, not seven, was to play a long-awaited game of Know Ya Boo with Molly, Tessa, and Andrew as my partner. Know Ya Boo is essentially a spinoff of the Newlywed Game, where the teams’ contestants are asked questions about their spouse, and try to answer them correctly to see how well they really know each other; the only difference is that it’s with friends, rather than with lovers. Although, Tessa, being the eloquent darling she is, did once say this to Molly in the form of a tweet, “I am extravagantly gay for you.” She may have been facetious, but nonetheless, the two are inseparable as friends, much like how it is between Andrew and myself—only that we express our affectionate sentiments to one another a bit differently, to point out one difference. However, Molly called me after I checked my messages to tell me that she had waited at the hotel, along with Tessa, for us for maybe a good hour, and left around six after not hearing from me; it was also too late for Andrew to join us for our scheduled game, so I suppose it wasn’t quite meant to be. She then asked if I wanted to do something with her that night, she said she could either show me around, or we could catch a movie, or both. It seemed there was a silver lining to the cloud that covered my sun that day, as I happily agreed to go with her. I had decided she’d just show me around Huntsville, as the only movie playing of interest to the both of us was Les Miserables, a movie a bit too long, especially when its showing time was at 10:10.
Within about fifteen minutes, she texted me telling me she’d be waiting in the lobby, so I reassured my mom multiple times that I’d be safe when driving with her, and that I’d be back by around 11:00 … about two hours from then.
I sauntered my way out of the room and into the elevator, continuing to saunter as I exited the elevator and walked toward Molly, who was reading the hotel’s Bible in one of the chairs. We both smiled at each other casually—not awkwardly, as I had thought it was going to be, seeing each other in person for the first time—as Molly pointed out the irony in reading the Bible when she wasn’t even religious. I’d only heard her voice two times before now; and it sounded different than it did on the phone, but it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about meeting everyone, so hearing her just ask me if I was ready to go elated me and caused me to involuntarily beam. Molly said nothing. I think she realized why I was smiling and let me revel in the moment as we walked out to her car.
“Do you wanna get something to eat?” she asked in a rollercoaster-like fashion, shifting the pitch of her tone throughout her question.
Thinking about it for only a second, remembering the last thing I had was McDonald’s in Tennessee, “Sure!” I acquiesced.
Molly asked what I wanted to eat once we got in her car; I briefly recollected that there was a KFC nearby the hotel, and while she was planning on showing me around, I didn’t want her to have to make too many detours—so I told her KFC would work just fine.
I was somewhat nervous as she started up the car and was about to drive off – Molly turned 16 in May of 2012, so she’d somewhat recently gotten her license, my mom was quite unsure about letting me drive with her because of this, and after mostly only driving with my aunt besides my mom—who’s someone that tailgates, stops at the last second, and floors the gas the second the car in front of her starts moving—I usually held on for dear life when getting into the car with anyone other than my mom since then. Despite my paranoia, though, she did everything a good driver was supposed to do; she looked around everywhere before exiting the hotel parking lot; she kept a good car’s length between her and the car in front of her; and she applied the brakes at a consistent pace when it came time to slow down. I had to admit: I was rather impressed.
It was somewhat past 9:00, now, and we tried going in to eat once we arrived at KFC, but it was already closed, so we hopped back in the car and went through the drive-thru.
“What do you want?” she asked, giving me an inquisitive look.
“Oh! Yeah… um, I’ll have the chicken strip meal with potato wedges and a Pepsi,” I told her, completely aloof to the fact she didn’t know my usual order at KFC; I turned over to face the window and bonked my forehead lightly as Molly giggled. She placed the order, I gave her the money to hand to the person at the window, and I took my food and change from her.
“Damn,” I just said, expecting Molly to know what I meant by uttering that one word.
“What?” she beckoned for explanation.
“Oh, it’s just that you did all of that like such an adult… the way you handled that. I’d have been a bit of a stammering, misspoken mess, probably,” I complimented casually and somewhat humbly. I always gave unusual compliments others were not used to receiving, aside from me wording them in a verbose fashion, as well.
Molly looked unsure as to how she should respond, likely thinking of a way to reciprocate the fashion I’d spoken to her in, and simply said, “Well, thank you!” with an elated expression.
Despite how hot the box of food felt on my lap, my hunger took over and pried it open; the heavenly aroma of chicken and potatoes filled the air in the car.
“That smells so good,” Molly envied, taking a deep whiff. I offered her a potato wedge, but she respectfully declined. I began to indulge in my meal as the tour of Huntsville (hopefully some other, more lively parts of it), had begun.
“So, what do you want to see first?” she asked, looking to me.
“You mentioned something about a park earlier, can we go there?” I politely asked, likely being more formal than need be. This was true—Molly did mention a park whose name continues to escape me even now; she told us we could go walking around there, ambient strolls were something I’d never cease to find enjoyment in, no matter who they were with.
We crossed through an intricate structure of layered roads that could best be called an expressway… just a small one, though. Molly expressed her disdain for these because of how confusing they can be, as well as the fact they turn people into idiots on the road. While I wasn’t as familiar with them, they did give me a slight uneasiness riding through them; within several minutes, we were cruising through downtown Huntsville, a place planted with large buildings, strewn with bright lights, and filled with a serene sense of home – it was quite similar looking to downtown Mount Clemens. Having a touch of home among the contrasting atmosphere of home was another nice thing about visiting.
“Welcome to downtown Huntsville,” Molly announced to me. There was much to look at, from the buildings, to the people, to the other cars around the corner of each building.
“You seem to like the sights,” she noticed.
“Observing is one of my favorite things to do,” I said, “Especially when there’s so much to look at and take in.”
Without even noticing at first, we’d stopped, meaning we must have arrived at the park Molly spoke of.
“We’re here,” she notified me, breaking my transfixion with the city bustle. I hadn’t even eaten much of my food from being so preoccupied with looking around. We got out of the car as she locked it up and I felt the nighttime but soothing Alabama breeze hit my gray jacket. The temperature difference wasn’t as significant as I had expected—it was only ten degrees warmer than it was in Michigan, but it was enough to unfreeze my feet, after getting snow in my shoes before leaving from my house and never really recovering from it.
We began walking across the grass, making our way to the actual park area, which had fountains and bunches of benches, as well as a bridge that could be walked under.
“I had to tell my mom you were essentially gay, therefore harmless, to be able to hang out with you tonight,” Molly confessed. I contained myself from bursting out laughing as I tried to respond to that, already knowing what to say.
“You wouldn’t be the first or even second person who’s had to do that to make me seem innocuous enough to be around,” I rolled off in between my laughing.
“Yeah, but there’s not really any kind of story behind that—pretty self-explanatory,” I told her, somewhat faking a laugh.
“It’s funny,” Molly started, “because Tessa’s mom doesn’t allow us to hang out anymore because she thinks we’re gay for each other; and we may call each other ‘heterosexual life partners,’ but that’s the greatest extent to which we’ll profess our love for one another.” I gave her a somewhat incredulous look, but after I thought about it hard enough, I changed that look to one that said, “Sorry about that, but at least you’ve got someone you’re that good of friends with.”
Since we were on the subject of best friends, I brought up Andrew to her; her response to my conversation-starter was different than I had anticipated. She immediately began talking.
We reminisced upon how we both met Andrew and our first experiences and interactions with him—I’d met him on the popular “blogging” site called Tumblr. It was when I first started out on there. On a random whim, I checked out a new follower’s blog, looked at the list of people they were following, looked at all their icons, and I laid eyes upon his and thought to myself, “Gee, he looks like a cool guy; I’ll follow him.” After a quick glance at his blog, I enthusiastically clicked follow. (Reflecting upon this decision now, I realized my terrible taste in humor, and also, that if I were to have done the same a year later, and his blog still contained the same material, I certainly would not have clicked follow, my future would have diverted down a path unfathomably different; he was one of my first ever friends from the internet.)
Molly and Andrew’s friendship was somewhat complicated. They’d met through Tessa, essentially. To digress briefly, Tessa and Andrew had dated for about six months, and before they officially went through with it—after weeks of them being aware they had mutual feelings for each other—Molly had jeered him into asking her out eventually. While the iron was hot during that critical period, Molly used the choice phrase, “S***, or get off the pot.” Perhaps Molly felt somewhat obligated as Tessa’s best friend to have some liking to Andrew, especially when he became her boyfriend, but the two were alike in ways I saw that neither of them may have seen.
Then, we discussed the history and current status of our friendship with him; I expressed my guilt and regret for being too sentimental and mushy with him too often, as he didn’t reciprocate that often, not being in his character to do so. Molly told me she knew this about him just shortly after she met him, and therefore kept herself at a moderate emotional distance from him.
We passed by a pond populated with geese and speckled ducks.
“It’s nice to see a body of water that’s not completely frozen over,” I somewhat said to myself, rather than Molly; but I had said it loud enough for her to have heard it.
“Yeah,” she responded to my partially rhetorical statement, “this is about as cold as it gets around here.”
I sighed, gazing at the ducks and geese jumping into, flying into, and skimming the pond. They were so aloof and carefree—the same blissful ignorance that once governed and dictated my life without me knowing of it … as ignorance tends to go. Perhaps it was apples and oranges as I thought about this whilst watching animals, rather than children, but when I thought about it… our minds and mentality may have been as supple and malleable as that of a full-grown animal, even. The whole time I was lost in thought, looking into the rippling water, Molly had to wave her hand in front of my face just to snap me out of it. I apologized for the delay, and we continued on under the bridge. I spoke nothing of what I was thinking to her.
“Here’s a thought-provoking question: now that we’ve spent some time together in person and everything, what do you really think of me?” I probed.
Molly hadn’t hesitated for a second before she responded.
“Well, it hasn’t really been that long, and I don’t draw too many opinions and/or conclusions right away; I don’t really believe much in first impressions, given many factors I’m sure you’re aware of,” Molly cohesively answered. Impressed and satisfied, I nodded my head, telling her I was the same way and that I liked that.
“In all truth, I was terrified of this long-awaited meeting with all of you. But, really, this has felt so natural and like you were just any friend from Michigan,” I energetically told her.
“I know!” Molly concurred. I was elated that she thought the same.
So involved in each other’s company and conversation, we’d gotten a bit far away from our point of disembarking, and had to find our way back before it got too late. Surprisingly, it was only somewhat after 10:00.
I gnawed on more of my food that had become a little cold as Molly drove off, seeming to know where she was going.
Although I’d already seen it, I still looked off into the city as we exited it and made our way back to the confusing arrangement of highway roads. Molly drove us to their high school, which had a bit of a resemblance to mine; it was somewhat out of the way, and by then it was about time to head back to the hotel. She talked about the rivalry between their school and another, called Hazel Green, making defamatory but joking remarks about their sports teams and students—she atoned for what she said, even though they were jokes as I could tell, by pointing out the flaws of their school sports teams and student body, haughtily putting herself up on a pedestal as superior to most of her fellow classmates. While some may have thought it utterly vain of her to do that, I found it rather humorous. I thought about the fact I’d only been in school for two days before being placed on homebound services, and then enrolled in online classes, how I hadn’t seen most of my friends that I mostly only see around school, how I didn’t observe the others I passed in the halls as I usually did, and how I didn’t even go to my school’s homecoming game like I routinely did, even though I’m not a fan of most sports, or football. I don’t think Molly had noticed how lost in thought I was, as for some reason I kept quiet; although I would have felt comfortable sharing these unusual and stimulating thoughts with her.
It was ten minutes after 11:00 by the time we made it back. I thanked Molly for the interesting tour of Huntsville, the good conversation, and I commended her on her superb driving skills for her age. She thanked me for my compliment, told me she had a nice time as well, and we wished each other goodnight as I got out of her car and happily strolled back into the hotel.
I let my jovial aura fill the lobby as I greeted the desk clerk without them saying hello to me. I got into the elevator, and my index finger danced in midair as it flew into the third floor button; I got out and walked almost straight ahead past the snack machine to knock gently on our hotel room door, my mom let me in and the first thing I told her was that Molly was an excellent driver and I came back in one, unscathed piece. It seemed she’d gotten out of bed to let me in, so I saved the rest of the regaling until the next day; but I didn’t go to sleep just yet—I spent some time on my laptop, making a tweet, telling everyone what a lovely first day I had in Alabama, thanks to Molly. Then, I spent some time on Tumblr, but held off really making any sort of post just yet, only making a post announcing it was technically my birthday by the time it was midnight.