Inspired by the wonderful friendship with Josh and Ginny, along with the news that Josh was driving up to New York to see Ginny, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet the both of them in person at once. I drove three hours along the Mass Pike, passing stunning rock formations covered in ice and snow, since it was the middle of winter, countless pine trees dusted in more snow, and white, sprawling valleys of neighborhoods and open fields.
The road Ginny’s house sat on wasn’t very wide at the time, thanks to walls of snow encroaching on the road. Ginny greeted me and my Camry at the foot of the driveway, and then she scooted her truck farther up the driveway so I wouldn’t have to park on the road. The neighborhood was beautiful and homey, all the houses aged with history.
Ginny and I hugged and greeted each other, and I marveled at how long her hair was. I’d seen it over Skype, since we video chatted so I’d know what she looked like before driving up there. She’d even demonstrated that she could wrap her hair around her neck no problem, which got a laugh out of both of us, but since I’ve never been able to grow my hair past the base of my shoulder blades, Ginny having hair down to her waist fascinated me.
And then Josh… Oh, my god, someone who towers over me! One of my running jokes is that everywhere I go, I’m in the land of midget men. They’re all my height or shorter. Heck, I towered over Ginny and her mother, but Josh? Not so much.
Ginny’s parents are awesome people. They have strong values and a good sense of humor, and they took me in like family from the moment I stepped inside their home. I felt very welcome and, since they knew I was visiting, they made an effort to prepare a dinner I’d like. I’m not a health food nut, but I am a picky eater. However, I’ll eat around other people’s preferences, instead of make them bend over backwards to satisfy my palate. I want to say we ate roast beef, green beans, and one other vegetable that night, but I think my imagination is trying to flesh out the blank spots. What I do recall is the super awesome card game that followed.
It’s called F@#k Your Neighbor. I’d never played it before, but oh, man! It was so much fun. I was terrible at it, but Josh and I teamed up against Ginny and her mom while her dad watched on. No drinking was involved; just betting—terrible bets on my part, but it’s all good—and lots of laughs and friendly competition. Josh made a valiant effort to help us win, but my inexperience left me dead last, thus dragging him down with me.
Once the game concluded, I remember chatting with Josh and Ginny for a good while, until we convinced ourselves to stop talking and get some sleep. Before we tucked in to bed, Ginny fed her trio of cats, Peeve, Magic, and Simba, who were trained to sit in a loose circle and await the placing of a dinner plate inside the circle. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Ginny also named one of her cats Peeve because she liked the idea of having a “pet peeve.”
Breakfast the next morning consisted of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, waffles made from scratch, which I so totally forgot to take leftovers home with me, and tea for me and coffee for them. Since I was the only tea drinker, I remember them having to scrub the kettle free of limestone deposits. Didn’t impact the tastiness of my preferred morning beverage one bit.
I got to know Ginny’s parents really well. I didn’t want to leave since I felt so at home and at ease there. However, I returned home in high spirits, despite having to ask for some extra quarters for the toll booths. I’m bad at math. I thought a ten-dollar roll of quarters would get me through the round trip on the Mass Pike. However, I’m so bad at math that I came up a dollar short on the final toll booth. I still remember the feel of color draining from my face. I was in the middle of a high way with insufficient money to continue my journey, and toll booths usually have law enforcement officials nearby. How was I going to get home?
Thankfully, the lady behind the glass just waved me through when I offered up my debit card. I stared in disbelief, my spike of panic vanishing like switching off a light. That’s it? Have a nice day? I’m free to go?
Throwing a wary look at the cop cruisers, then turning back to the lady, I thanked her and drove off, wondering if I should send that last dollar in the mail or something. However, I decided that’d be an awful lot of work for just a dollar, so I silently thanked the kindness sent my way and told my mom all about the visit and the inadvertent shortchanging episode when I got home.