Getting Older

I have spent 6 days back in Chattanooga.  Pat spent 2.  He returned from his trip up to Columbus Thursday night and had one day in town.  Today, we will drive to Indianapolis.  My nephew is turning 18 on Tuesday.  We will spend the weekend there and then go on to Columbus Sunday night where I will work and visit as many friends as possible.

It’s funny how other people’s children become a measure of time for me.  Even my own nephews, whose birthdays I keep track of, progress through time at a rate that constantly shocks me.  Their birthdays somehow shifted from being a fun opportunity to delight and surprise a child to a reminder that I’m aging.  I’m not sure if this is more because of the delusion I suffer from that I am not actually getting older or if it’s because they stopped getting so excited about their birthdays when they entered the realm of double-digit birthdays.  Whatever the cause, it surprises me to realize that their birthdays have ended up being about me.

We load up in the car and head out.  We have a ton of gear for this trip.  We pack more for this road trip than we packed for two weeks in Germany.  But, I am taking a slew of electronics and work clothes as well as play clothes.  And, to the fill the suitcase even more, the temperature in Columbus is in the 50’s and it’s raining.  Funny how much more space sweaters occupy than T-shirts.

The drive to Indy is about 35 miles shorter than the drive to Columbus, so we are actually only adding about 150 miles to a trip to Columbus by going to Indy first.  We head up through Nashville and Louisville to get there.  As we approach Louisville, we decide to stop to get something to eat.  I find a restaurant that doesn’t sound like a chain and we pull off the freeway.  Unfortunately, there is a massive street fair going on at the stop we choose.  Traffic is backed up and there is no where to park.  We can’t get to the restaurant we’d selected and we decide to head on back to the highway just to get out of the congestion.

On the way back to the highway, we pass our second-choice restaurant, a fish fry place.  It has ample parking, so we pull in, get out, and walk in.  The place is tiny.  There are 2 ice cream parlor tables sitting just inside the door that block part of the area available to stand in line at the counter.  About 8 people can fit inside the door standing in line if they like each other.  There are 4 ahead of us now.  To the left, there is an old TV mounted up near the ceiling, pictures all over the walls that make me think of an older person’s living room, and 3 tables with 2 small chairs each.  One table is open, so we stand in line.

When it’s our turn to order, we ask if they have restrooms since this was an ulterior motive for stopping.  They have none.  This shocks us–in Ohio, it’s not legal to have a restaurant with sit down tables and no bathroom.  Pat pleads, telling the woman that we’ve been driving for hours and had no idea the street fair was going on.  But she is afraid of setting a precedent with so many people from the street fair stopping in looking for a restroom.  I contemplate suggesting that if she make the restroom available to customers only, she might sell more food, but decide that she is firm about the bathroom and that it’s not worth the argument.  Since we are both able to wait, we decide to go ahead and eat while we’re here and find a restroom after.

The food is probably fantastic if it’s something you were raised on.  For us, it’s just greasy and flavorless.  There is no good reason for having stopped here at all; the only result is that our bellies are full, we feel slightly sick, we still have to pee, and our arteries are probably more clogged.  Oh well.  We head on down the road and stop at the first rest stop.

When we arrive in Indy, our first order of business is to attend a soccer game.  My nephew plays in a recreational league and my brother coaches his team.  We all head out to the soccer fields together, me with my camera, big lens, and monopod in the hope of getting some good action shots.  I’m not really that much of a fan of shooting sporting events in general, but when it’s one of my nephews, I take a sudden interest.  I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m not a sports photographer when you look at my shots–they’re all of my nephew rather than following the ball.  I get some practice panning and play with various shutter speeds to see what kinds of effects I get, and, my brother’s/nephew’s team wins, so it’s good all the way around.

That night, we decide to walk to the Mellow Mushroom for dinner.  It’s too cold to sit outside, so we pile into a large booth.  Pat and I decide to share a pizza, but the pizza doesn’t come and doesn’t come.  Finally, the waitress brings our pizza about the time everyone else is almost finished with their dinners.  She apologizes and explains that another server took our pizza for their table, which caused the delay.  We are famished by this time.  We eat our pizza loaded with greasy cheese and greasy pepperoni with a relish that belies the amount of “greasy” we’ve already had today.  I end up ordering a beer to wash it down.  I was trying not to because my brother is buying and I don’t want to run up his tab, but I learn that Pat and Paul bought Corona and that Mello Mushroom has Oberon on tap.  So, not looking forward to Corona, I order an Oberon to enjoy with my pizza.

When we return home, we celebrate with “homemade” chocolate cake and ice cream.  In a rare demonstration of  . . . not sure what . . . Scott practices waltzing with his mother around the kitchen.  Maybe all the sugar in the cake and ice cream got to him?  After dancing enough to demonstrate the waltz to the rest of us, we all retire downstairs to watch “The Event.”  I fall asleep about 10 minutes in and we all go off to bed after the episode is over.

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