We’ve pushed north into Atlanta and I dragged Heidi to meet even more of my friends and family. 🙂 If I remember correctly she’s counted 23 relatives since landing in FL just six weeks ago. I can only hope I handle the constant new faces and personalities as well as she has!
The first stop was Atlanta to meet my good friend Justin and his awesome wife Karissa. We went for a nice evening walk and ended up seeing some cool ruins from an old sanitation plant (Decatur Waterworks) near the turn around point. After we worked up an appetite we headed to a nearish restaurant and went over some of the crazy times we had together when we worked at Best Buy. It’s truly amazing how much our lives have changed over the last 8 years! When the food coma started to settle in we rode back and spent the night in their driveway per the usual friends and family visit routine. Unfortunately the photo of Justin, Karissa, and I at the same location got lost. 🙁
In NYC I lived with one of my best friends, Ramon. Ramon’s mother Rita would come to visit him a couple times a year and stay at our apartment. Over time I really got to know her well. She celebrated July 4th with us last year at the picnic where Heidi first met my friends. Rita’s young at heart and has had an amazingly eventful life. It just so happens that she lives a little north of Atlanta, so we just had to stop by and visit. It’s not often we have friends cook for us, so when she offered to cook us an Indian inspired vegetarian dish, we didn’t put up a fight. 😛 We pulled into her insanely steep driveway, swapped hugs, and in what seemed like 10 minutes later we were all enjoying a delicious dish together! Later that evening we got to experience her much talked about basement. Rita, you see, buys massive amounts of stuff, sight unseen – sometimes storage units, sometimes lost mail – then sells it on eBay. She also creates beautifully crafted jewelry using all sorts of beads and found objects, many of which she purchases in NYC when she visits. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the sheer amount of beads and miscellaneous items to be resold blew my mind. For me, the most exciting area was the collection of unidentified, mostly steel, objects. I enjoyed going through each piece, imagining what it might be used for. One item in particular that Rita had not yet identified caught my eye; upon further examination it turned out to be an industrial looking, aluminum-covered, stainless steel-centered, plexiglass-windowed thumb-operated pepper grinder!
The next morning we set out to visit a few more of my ATL folks. Jeremy, who I used to work with at Best Buy, could squeeze us in during his work lunch break. As I was setting up the details, I discovered that he had hired two others that we had worked with at Best Buy, also friends of mine. As luck would have it, they were in the midst of the company’s largest database outage (RAID failure causing MySQL DB corruption). Despite the urgency of the problem and the impact, the three of them were able to break away for a quick lunch at a local Indian buffet. It was nice catching up and seeing where their lives had taken them, full circle from work buddies repairing computers at Best Buy to professional colleagues managing computer infrastructure for a manufacturing company. We wished for more time to visit, but the impact of the outage took priority and the recovery efforts had to continue. (Due to the rushed nature of the visit, we forgot to take a group photo…next time).
After a quick goodbye, we headed back north to get the primary radio for the van replaced. This two hours of time and approximately $200 was the best “investment” since I purchased the van. It’s not that the old radio didn’t work, it’s just that FM was the only audio source. [Editors note from Heidi: This doesn’t come close to describing the problem. The speakers were horrible, the antenna was not installed correctly so the FM stations didn’t even come in, and the user interface was on an unintuitive touch screen that took a full minute to emerge and set itself up before you could even see what station was playing, let alone try to figure out how to change it.] Now, we can listen to podcasts over bluetooth until our ears bleed (and Heidi’s marathon of podcasts has put my ears to the test). Side note: you’d be surprised how difficult it is to listen intently and safely drive a vehicle of size. Heidi’s multi-hour NPR podcasts sometimes make me question the choice of the installation, but the we are thankful for the entertainment when our destination requires a full day of driving.
With smiles on our faces and the sound of our own media playing through the speakers, we proceeded to my friend Aaron’s house. I’ve been friends with Aaron since the womb (our mothers were friends before we were born over 32 years ago). He just so happens to live less than a mile away from Rita’s! Strange but true, we could almost see his house from Rita’s porch. We rolled in when Aaron was still at work and for the next couple hours, we happily occupied different areas – Heidi in Aaron’s kitchen doing what she does best, listening to podcasts while making delicious vegetarian food, and me in the van, “pushing buttons and turning knobs” (as Heidi likes to say), and putting the van into driveway-camping mode. I also installed a new smoke alarm and an auxiliary input cable for the secondary radio by our bed.
When Aaron arrived, we ate dinner, caught up and planned to hike on Kennesaw Mountain the next day. The hike the next day was peaceful and it was nice to have Heidi meet such an important friend in my life. We set out to hike for a couple hours, but couldn’t help doubling that as we discussed the idea to build a house that could be lived in horizontally or vertically. The idea is to turn a three room house into a three floor house to fit it into small spaces; some walls would be floors when the house is moved from horizontal to vertical. I am *slightly* obsessed with tiny homes, so this conversation carried on for more than half the hike. After taking a few pictures for keepsake, we headed back and satisfied our appetites at a tasty Mexican restaurant.