The trip from Jackson to Greenville, SC was relatively uneventful, albeit long as hell. 526 miles (give or take a kilometer).

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If you’ve never bothered to take in the majesty of our nation’s interstate highway system, you really should sometime. Take a step back from it and observe its simplistic (sometimes) beauty. From Crackipedia (some people call it “Wikipedia”, but it’s addictive as hell to me):

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly called the Interstate Highway System, is a network of highways (also called freeways or expressways) in the United States that is named for the president who was in office when the system was created. The Interstate Highway System is a separate system within the larger National Highway System. The entire system, as of 2004, had a total length of 46,837 miles.

If you just think about this, it’s utterly amazing. The article goes on to say that each state is responsible for its portion of the interstates, which goes a long way toward explaining exactly why driving through Mississippi is like driving down a gravel road in a ’69 Impala with no shocks and a square wheel on the back passenger side. At any rate, we made it to Greenville, where I finally succumbed to two powerful forces: the Concerta I took that morning was wearing off, and I watched as my beloved Clemson lost to Boston College (and also a berth in the ACC Championship game). And by the way? The Concerta Flow I mentioned before? Great for driving. Not so great for sleeping. Who slept for maybe 3.5 hours that night because he was too wired from taking his ADD medication, and thought that the clock was ticking too loudly in the room? The DIGITAL clock? Yeah. Lesson learned.

Being back in Greenville was an interesting experience. I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who said “You can never go home again”. But he’s wrong about that, I think. You can most certainly go home again, but what you may find out is that home doesn’t fit you anymore. Sure, it has all the same things you’re used to seeing…the same run-down businesses, the same houses, even the same people. The thing is, although the scenes you see are as familiar to you as the smell of your mother’s house, what you find is that they’re a lot like a favorite pair of dress pants that you used to wear back in the day, but that no longer fit you. They still look good, but they’re now two sizes too small for you, and you have to put them away. Driving around town was a lot like going back in time, but with enough sprinkling of newness that it makes it seem surreal, like it’s not quite the place you’re used to seeing. The old/new juxtaposition serves to disorient you, and makes you doubt your own memories. Like I said, it’s an interesting experience.

Our first stop upon reaching town was Grandmother S’s house. We got to see a big chunk of DWW’s family, including the cousin and her husband who still owes us $14,ooo in back rent. Pleasant. To this day, they’ve never even so much as apologized to us for not paying, or even offered $2 in restitution. Fortunately, I was too exhausted to try to make much small talk with them, and I found out that they recently had to move into a small apartment due to some financial difficulty. The same kind of financial difficulty they put US in when they wouldn’t pay rent, and DWW lost her job. They might have a car, but I have karma. Check and mate, bitches.

Sunday was Pre-Thanksgiving Day. Because we’d be with my family on the actual holiday, DWW’s Grandmother J organized a feast for everyone on Sunday afternoon. We still own a house in South Carolina, and we usually stay there with DWW’s cousin (RenterCousin) who lives there. However, the last time I went there, the cousin’s son (age 36) decided to spend his time drinking and playing his stereo at top volume at 3am, filling me with the urge to punch him with vigor and forcefulness right in his carotid artery. I made the executive decision to stay in a hotel this time, and reduce my desire to inflict bodily harm upon him when his childless ass attempts to tell me how to discipline and/or raise my kids. A sidenote for all non-parents: parents HATE getting advice from people who don’t have children themselves. Seriously, it’s more annoying than Ashlee Simpson singing Christmas carols in March. Don’t do it. Dinner was fun, and I got to eat all the fried okra I can stand. I even did Badger the Witness live from the driveway of Grandma J’s house, chillin’ in my Jeep. I rock like that. That night, we met up with a bunch of my friends in town, and spent several hours just laughing and shooting the breeze. It was definitely a good time. (By the way – Bryan? I know you’re reading this. Your fiancee is too hot for you. You’re marrying up. Know this.)

On Monday, we did a couple of things, the most interesting being that we went to the mall. Living in Dallas for a while kinda skews your impression of what a mall should be like. Malls in Dallas are gargantuan, sprawling affairs that require Gatorade and a Segue to properly navigate. You should also carry a stun gun and a sharpened toothbrush so you can defend yourself against the Plano MILFs who want the same Juicy Couture tracksuit that you’ve got your beady little eyes on. Malls in Greenville…not so much. 5pm on a Monday, and the mall was more empty than a Busta Rhymes concert in Montana. But the good thing about that was that there was a mall Santa Claus just chillin’ in his Faux North Pole, all alone, with no kids. Generally speaking, it’s a bit early to take Santa pictures, and the boys weren’t really dressed properly for that, but (1) there was NO LINE, and (2) see 1. Last year, we waited in line for damn-near 3 HOURS to get Santa pictures, and when the boys finally got to him, 4YO wouldn’t even look at him. In fact, this is the best pic from that day – and I TOOK IT!

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And I can tell you this – this picture was a LOT cheaper than the pics we actually paid for. Anyway, because no one was interested in the Haywood Mall Faux Santa, DWW and I gave each other “the look”, and sent the boys on in to see Mr. Faux Claus. And they got to hang with ol’ boy for nearly 10 minutes, and even helped him put on his coat and belt before he left for his break! They loved it, and we got some good pictures out of it. That’s called ‘taking advantage of an opportunity’, because we saved ourselves a heap of money and time. Holla.

After seeing Claus, we dipped into the South Carolina Store, where they sold tons of Clemson gear. I had to stock up, since I’m not in SC that often, and I HAVE to represent. I got a new wallet (no worries, Elle – I just couldn’t let my momma see the bad-ass wallet you got for me last year. It’s safe.), a pen, some other shit I can’t remember, and a bunch of stuff for the boys. When we got back to RenterCousin’s house, we noticed that there were two golf balls from that store that mysteriously appeared from 8YO’s pocket. We didn’t buy golf balls from the store.

Oh, HELLS no!

The ONLY thing that saved him from the worst ass-whipping of his shoplifting life was the fact that we yelled him down like – well, like he stole something, and I took all the money from his wallet, took the golf balls, and (get this) took the SNOW GLOBE that HE bought with his OWN MONEY! Meaning, he had money to buy the balls. His reasoning for stealing? “I didn’t have enough money to buy the snow globe AND the balls.” We returned the golf balls to the store the next day, and he still hasn’t seen that snow globe. But it’ll look really nice on my desk at work, believe me. Punk.

Tuesday we packed our gear, said our goodbyes to DWW’s family, and traveled across the state to my mother’s house. I’ll continue the story there.

Peace.

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