The 4 hour drive from Orlando to Tallahassee is brutal. The only thing present to break up the awful monotony of the trip are the toll booths. And even they eventually disappear. I’ve made the drive dozens of times and the only thing that makes it bearable is the anticipation of seeing my friends.
First pit stop was a visit to the Hennessy household. Matt and I went to Engineering school way back in the day. We used to be study partners as well as happy hour mates. Matt was a Tallahassee native and the running joke was that I was his Tallahassee girlfriend since his real life girlfriend went to UF. All these years later Matt and Ann are still married and have 3 beautiful children. And even though I’m no longer an Engineer it’s always good catching up with them. I have to say this visit was one of the best in recent years. They’ve never looked healthier or happier, which is always a good way to see friends. It’s even nicer now that the kids are old enough that we don’t have to constantly watch them so we got to catch up over beers for several hours on their new deck.
After catching up with The Hennessy’s it was time to meet up with my old HH crew. I first met Jim way back a hundred years ago when I had just become legal to drink. It’s sort of funny that I decided to have my first legal drink at the Ruby Tuesday’s in the Mall, but that’s what I did at a 3:00 pm on a Thurs way back in ’93. No big surprise I made friends with the bartender and therefore returned many more times. (side note; I used to get so tipsy at the bar at RT’s that I would have to go shopping in the mall until I sobered up. The only thing more dangerous than drinking and driving is drinking and shopping. It never failed that the next day I would have a complete panic attack over what I’d bought and have to return it the next day). One day I was in there having my afternoon cocktail and an older gentleman a few stools down started chatting with me. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Norma Jean?” Now you wouldn’t think that a line like that would lead to a 20 yr. friendship would you? But somehow it did. Jim and his lovely wife CJ have become some of my longest lasting and dearest friends all these years later, across the miles and thru multiple moves on both sides. The funny thing about this town is that people never seem to leave. The same bartender has been moving around with us for years as have the patrons so there were a lot of familiar faces.
The next morning, after a week of libatious reunions I decided some exercise was in order. Lake Ella was my refuge during those crazy college years. I used to run several rounds around the lake to clear my head and reconnect so it was the perfect place to get my blood pumping on a Sunday morning. Despite all the Moscovy Duck runs I attended, those pesky, filthy birds are still in abundance there. Late morning brunch, afternoon thunderstorm, a retail visit to the Quarter Moon (the coolest store ever) and a few other pit stops, it was a full day. The evening was finished off with a house concert over at a friend’s house of a successful Nashville musician. It was a great way to end my FL tour. I had a great time catching up with all my old friends and now look forward to the next chapter of the journey!