I rolled over in bed and squinted at the red glow that was my alarm clock: 10:12AM. Ugh.
I don’t want to, but I get up anyway, rubbing my eyes and thinking I really need to lower the temps on the thermostat so the air conditioner will run even cooler during the night. I go through the usual morning routine of making myself look somewhat presentable to the outside world, then head out the door. A wall of humidity slams into me like the angry, oppressive force of nature that it was. I get in my car and quickly crank up the A/C.
Sigh. I hate this time of year. The humidity, the hot air, the unbearable congestion of roads now packed with old folks coming up from Florida for the summer and teenagers who were now off from school. I tap my iPhone and bring up a little U2 to help lighten the mood while I drive to work. A car passes by me and I happen to notice the license plate: Tennessee.
Hmmmmmmm. I’m almost tempted to get off the next exit and hit the interstate due south. Tennessee, indeed! It was only less than a year since I had been there, but it already seems a lifetime ago now. I had rented a log cabin near Pigeon Forge and spent 3 glorious days nestled deep in the bosom of the Smoky Mountains. At night I could feel the crisp, cool mountain air gently breezing all around me as I sat and soaked in a outdoor jacuzzi, then dried out in front of a cozy fireplace while I sipped hot cocoa, sat back, and admired the woodwork of the cabin I was in. Serene, quiet, peaceful. I was home.
Somewhere in the distance a driver obnoxiously sits on the horn. The living room of the log cabin vanishes, and is now replaced by the scenes of a busy intersection. I stop and turn, then turn and stop again before I finally pull into a tight parking space at work. I brace myself as I open the door and the humidity greets me once again, like a loan shark who won’t just leave me alone until he gets paid.
I walk inside and sit down at my desk, ignoring the stains of red ink left over from stamping an endless stack of papers and documents that meant nothing to me. I have an errand to run for the job, so I grab a briefcase, a set of keys for an unmarked car, then head out once again. Somewhere in the office, a map of the United States is posted on the wall, perhaps to cover up the paint that peeled behind it, its once vibrant color long since gone. I stop for a minute to look, then put my finger on Tennessee and tapped a few times. I smiled.
“I’ll be seeing you again very soon.”