I feel blessed that I only live six hours from home. Yes, six hours is a long time to be in a car, but it's not eight hours. It's not fourteen hours. It's not a $250 plane ticket. It's just a long morning in the car. I spend more time every day in my office, sitting at my desk.
Katie and I have made that drive back home several times now. In fact, I recently counted how many trips I've made between Ohio and North Carolina in the last two years. Final tally? Sixteen.
Still, every time we make the drive, we look forward to it. The stretch between here and there is far from tedious. Sure, the two-hour stretch from Durham to the North Carolina-Virginia border is a pass through modern-day America -- complete with billboards, factories, and Hooters -- but about four miles south of Virginia, you hit the north-south vein of America that is Interstate 77.
Interstate 77 is just more than 600 miles of highway that stretches from Columbia, South Carolina, to Cleveland, Ohio. We pick it up near Mount Airy, North Carolina, and take it to Ravenswood, West Virginia -- a full 223 miles -- before splitting off on 33 toward home. It's two-thirds of our drive home, and I couldn't be more thankful.
I think Interstate 77, or at least the length that we drive, is fascinating. Honest to goodness, I think it's beautiful. Immediately after crossing the Virginia state border, the rolling pavement designated into four lanes leads you high into the Appalachian mountains, which don't release you until you're several miles north of Charleston, West Virginia. Even then, you're roller coastering along the foothills. That whole stretch, including about an hour's worth in Virginia and two and a half hours' worth in West Virginia, offers mountain panoramas, rolling forests, myriad colors, and a pass through one of the more under-appreciated cultures in America.
I've never thought much of West Virginia -- biased, I know -- but I'll hand it to them: they've got one gorgeous state to traverse.
And so we look forward to our drive north.
And we look forward to what's on the other end of the drive. Home.
Trip number sixteen carried us home last week. But it was bittersweet. The stop home was only brief, as it was more of a pitstop on the path toward the place Katie once called home, a full three hours beyond the place she's come to know as home. Katie's grandmother had passed away. She was ninety-three. She outlived nine siblings, four children, and her husband. We gathered to say goodbye.
I never really knew Katie's grandmother. A stroke two years ago had left her speech permanently impaired, and my only encounters with her were ones in which she struggled to get us to understand what it was she was trying to say -- and what, in her head, made perfect sense. But even in the scrambled words that came from her mouth, she was a charming woman who'd lost plenty in life and yet hadn't once pointed a finger at the world.
She'd meant a lot to Katie.
And so the trip home last week was one that included tears, exhaustion, and barely a moment to rest. But it was still a trip home, one that reminded us of everything we were blessed to have not so long ago. And everything we're blessed to have just a six-hour drive away. And everyone who has blessed us along the road that has put us here.
The trip really is a beautiful thing. And so we look forward to it.
There are a few things I feel I should make note of so as not to confuse any passersby.
First, I've changed the layout of my blog. Previously, it was a sort of, how shall I say, boring navy blue with a fun little header I once designed myself while busy in the school library. But Blogger has up and modernized itself to 2010 and finally made things a touch more customizable. So today, a lazy Saturday, I toyed with some things and made some changes. Fun times. I'm still not positive I'm satisfied with the changes. Feel free to let me know what you think.
(This begs the question of how I chose my background image. I'm glad you asked. Blogger didn't exactly give me a ton of options. They sort of just offered a handful of images that assumed I wrote about music, nature, food, travel, or my family. You win this time, Blogger. You win this time.)
Second, rest in peace, dear lala. Yes, the beloved music streaming service has been shut down, thus creating several awkward "No longer available" boxes peppered throughout my blog. I shake my fist at thee, Apple. Indeed, the music/computer/world domination giant has once again made its presence known in my life, this time buying up lala.com and smiting it in the name of competition.
On April 10, 2010, I got hitched to the most beautiful bride a man could ever ask for. Katie and I were privileged to be joined by our close family and friends at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, where we (finally!) became Mr. and Mrs. Oches. It was a gorgeous day, a gorgeous place, and a heck of a fun time. (The type that will probably influence future writing. Stay tuned.)
One of the greatest privileges of the day was having our friend Matt Eich as our photographer. Matt is more than just a wonderful photographer, he's an artist - his pictures prove his eye for not just moments, but the mood and emotion inside every moment. See more of his stuff at his website.
And so it was with great delight that Katie and I scrolled through the many hundreds of photos that Matt sent along to us a few weeks ago from the Big Day. The images are beautiful and poetic, and will certainly live as a testament to that great day.
Above is a slideshow I threw together of some of the good shots we picked out. These are just a handful of the many, many great images, but I just wanted to put a couple up to give a taste of what that day was like. Enjoy.
I really like to write. It was why I started this blog; sometimes I just have to write, even if it's senseless, even if it's boring, even if it's self-fulfilling. There's just something about writing that clears my head and makes more order about my world.
I've not gotten a whole lot of writing in lately. But I've had a few other things going on. Indeed, quite a few things have changed, and I've been managing those things.
But with Spring in full force, and with life finding "normalcy," I might find some more time to write. Or maybe I'll just post photos. Or maybe I'll find other ways to express myself. I don't know. But I've found that even though life changes, sometimes those changes are pretty cool and will lead to other new things that I don't even know about yet.