At bedtime my first night in Atlanta I was left briefly contemplating whether a small dog’s leaving a giant beef knuckle in the middle of the guest air mattress was the equivalent of the Godfather horsehead, but I was too tired to worry much about the miniature canine mafia.
Friday, when both Neil and Stacy had to work, I drove to Dublin to visit Grandmommy. She had her usual wonderful spread, three or four kinds of vegetables, fruit, mashed potatoes and gravy and fried chicken. She’d cut up a single chicken breast and somehow there were eight large pieces, of which she and I consumed two each. I couldn’t stuff in more. I’ve never had any trouble believing in the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, because Grandmommy has always done this with chicken—one piece, which would normally be sufficient for one person, suddenly is capable of satisfying several, with leftovers to boot. And it’s not as if there’s a heavy crust of batter—it’s just a thin crispy coat, well-drained of any oil (again, contrary to the stereotype of Southern cooking, Grandmommy has never “deep-fried” anything). After lunch (and chocolate cake) we played a game of Scrabble. I managed to eke out a win at the very end. Then, the two of us went out antiquing. I’d asked Grandmommy if she wanted to go with me on my hunt for re-wireable lamps, given that she seemed a little unsteady, and after considering it a little hesitantly, she agreed. We were both glad she decided to come, because at one place we ran into a woman my age, who had just lost her own grandmother the previous week, and Grandmommy was able to comfort her—she knew the family and of the death in question, and was more than happy to allow the bereaved woman to give her a hug. Grandmommy is very huggable.
I was back in Atlanta by 7, because Stacy had asked me to go with her to a wine and cheese party for women from her church (she doesn’t drink, so she thought I might get a glass of vino out of it), but the two of us weren’t in the mood for socializing when it came down to it and we decided to go to a great seafood restaurant called Six Feet Under instead. Another friend of Stacy’s who had bailed on a different social engagement met us halfway through the meal and the three of us just had a good time talking for hours about dogs, men and medical malpractice.
Saturday, Stacy and I went clothing consignment shopping, and I found a handful of sterling jewelry in the bargain baskets for a fraction of its melt value. Then, I went to an Ikea for the first time (a long-postponed rite of passage), where we ate lunch while people-watching and then bought a bookcase as a Mother’s Day gift for her mom. Later, we took the two small brown dogs with us to the old cemetery where Bobby Jones (instead of stones, visitors leave golf balls on his grave) and Margaret Mitchell are buried, and admired the stain-glass fitted crypts and lovely landscaping. Stacy was highly amused at my admonishing the dogs to “Hush! Be respectful,” when they broke out in fits of yapping at other visitors.
Sunday, we picked up Stacy’s Georgian friend (from the former Soviet Georgia to the American Georgia…) and went to church. Great atmosphere, great music, great sermon, great fun. The elder who dispensed communion to us had colorful tattoos down to his wrists, and the pastor, who wore a pair of small silver hoop earrings, had shaved his head. He was not affected, but theologically clear, and the song lyrics were meaty, rather than the pap which often passes for “praise ‘n’ worship” material. I’d never heard such a great band—it was a testament to the notion that Christians ought to have the best music, whatever its genre, which in this case was a sort of modern swing. It called itself a community church, but it was most definitely Presbyterian, with the responses to the scripture readings, the passing of the peace, and so forth. I was encouraged that my sister in law, who has many tattoos and piercings herself, had found such a solid fellowship.
After my necessary Sunday afternoon nap, I drove an hour to the northwest to my friend Alison’s, to see her new baby girl. She and I have known one another since she was in kindergarten and I was in first grade. She was mainly my sister’s friend back in the beginning—they were in the same class and had the same name, so they referred to each other by their surname initials. We’ve kept in touch, and talk usually about once a quarter, though I hadn’t seen her in person since her son was born three years ago. He’s now tall and talkative. She decided to name her daughter Rita, too, so now I’ve got a sister and a niece and a friend and an honorary niece who share names! Rita is already a Daddy’s girl—when Ally’s husband got home, his daughter, who’d been fussy, curled into a ball on his broad chest, her ear pressed to his heart, and promptly fell asleep.
Monday, after squealing awake under an onslaught of small tongues in the morning, I packed up my laundry (like Thoreau, I take my washing home) and hit the road. With three brief stops, it took me until 1:20 to get back to DC—over 11 hours. Thank God for audiobooks. I was engrossed in Ready Player One by for most of the trip (I had to stop at a Starbucks for half an hour when I discovered that a part hadn’t downloaded properly, but other than that hiccup, it was smooth sailing), and managed to avoid all major cities at rush hours.
Back at the daily grind from Tuesday AM. It was a whirlwind long weekend, not restful really in the physical sense, but a much-needed psychological respite, small animals and all.