Jeanette and I met in library school. She would drive me to campus in her big, red minivan. Sometimes I would drive the minivan home after a long day. It is because of the experience of driving this big red minivan through downtown Chicago traffic during evening rush hour that I am a confident pickup/moving van/other truck driver today.
I would have been happy if my entire week in Georgia was driving with Jeanette. We both carry the same gene that makes you susceptible to talking at length and in great philosophical detail about life, love and work when exposed to a view of a highway flying by. Once, Jeanette and I met for coffee in Chicago, after which I was supposed to get on a bus for Cincinnati, Ohio. Sometime during the five minutes it took for Jeanette to drive me to the bus stop, she decided to drive me to Ohio. We didn’t even go home for her toothbrush. There was too much to talk about.
We talk about love, relationships. She mined the depths of two breakups with me, and I one of hers. We agree on the inadvisability of dating rocker dudes and wimpsters. She told me stories of her rock music days in Athens and her life as a poet’s assistant, nanny, dishwasher, and other jobs. She told me the story of how this very van we were driving in got stolen in Atlanta, and she and her friends miraculously tracked it down and found it stripped, windows smashed, with blood and cocaine all over the interior. Jeanette cleaned it up. We talked a lot about the nuns we worked for at our library school (a Catholic institution) and how bad-ass they were: Sister Jeanne reluctantly giving up her name right before Vatican 2, which would have given her the right to keep it, and now she doesn’t even say what it was anymore; the Sisters protesting during the civil rights movement, not afraid to get arrested or beaten up; their intolerance for men, always wanting to come in, take over, and rearrange things (or so they saw it). We named off our favorite funny business signs as we passed them (Johnny’s Uncle Jimmy’s, Crafty Beaver). Sometimes we stopped for french fries.
When this happened, I was kind of sad that she insisted I stay behind and not drive another 2-3 hours with her between Athens and Atlanta. But I was tired, and I know sometimes she likes to drive alone.