Monday, May 30, 2011

12 hours in a car with Tom Hanks

That will be me, tomorrow. In a feeble effort to prepare myself for the undertaking, I will endeavor to compile an update of where we're at… perhaps to help myself understand why this is something I’m actually looking forward to!
As I’ve mentioned, Tom was assigned to work in the Neenah office in January. The project started out as a 6-week assignment, and he’s been working pretty steadily at it ever since. He’s worked on it from Raleigh, but even more, he’s worked on it from here. It has been FANTASTIC to have him around, to be able to spend time with him, and to be able to go and visit him when he’s been in Raleigh. But I think we were both pretty-dang relieved when he received and signed a job offer at the Neenah office – and actually got a start date!
This meant taking a step forward on figuring out what to do with his condo back in Raleigh, and beginning to think about where to live in the Fox Valley. As of right now – he has a good friend in Raleigh who’s going to rent from him (so no condo selling in this real estate market – hooray!) and he’s checked out several potential places to live in the area.
Tom writing now.  Anticipate monosyllables, grunts, and gestures.  With this crazy pace to life, we didn’t finalize plans for Memorial Day weekend until…well, I’m not sure they ever really got finalized.  We did book flights back to Raleigh the week before, planning to head out Wed. night, with Angela returning to Wisconsin Monday and me returning … sometime. 
Wed. night I don’t think I was a cheery, optimistic traveling companion (Angela can confirm).  Logistics still weren’t totally determined for the trip, I’d had a tough three days at work, and I was worried about seeing everyone I wanted to see.  But, the flights went smoothly and we had a nice time traveling together, discussing shared values and how to handle money.  Looking back, I think we came to a two-pronged approach:  create healthy environments where people can connect, and dedicate resources as necessary to cultivate a healthy attitude in ourselves. Pretty cool stuff.
Thursday went pretty well for both of us; I enjoyed catching up with the Raleigh coworkers and Angela had a productive time working out of my Dad’s place.  That evening, Ang got to meet some friends of mine at a dinner at the Mellow Mushroom.  Adam is a large man:  6’5, 340, with a genial disposition and a passion for interesting ideas.  Brandie, his girlfriend, is not nearly as tall and is a comedienne par excellence; she’s extremely expressive and funny, doing impressions or original bon mots.  After great pizza we were fortunately able to catch her improv show at ComedyWorx down the street.  Hilarity ensued, as campers quested on the mesa for a port-a-potty. 
We both took Friday off, ostensibly to pack.  However, one of us (Angela) took her sweet time in the morning enjoying a leisurely breakfast and conversation with my Dad.  Then, we had to purchase boxes, and there happened to be an REI nearby, and –is that a sale sign?  It is!—we were delayed.  We did enjoy a wonderful lunch at the French restaurant Coquette.  Angela had her first Croque Monsieur, a sandwich that is the Big Mac of France; the blackberry tart for dessert was amazing.  The French do not agree with the thought of healthy eating, which means their cuisine is heavy with butter, eggs, sugar, and deliciousness.
After a great evening with my family Friday night, including a dinner at Souper! Salad!, a nice salad buffet, we got around to the hardcore packing, and homework, on Saturday.  Everything came together pretty well, though we had to enlist my friend Michael’s help after we had promised him a movie.  We did browse some art galleries and I got a few items to brighten up my cube, and we had a nice dinner outside in Cameron Village and played some frisbee in Fletcher park, so I don’t think anybody was complaining too much. 
Annnd… back to Angela-as-author. Sunday morning I wrapped up my homework assignment (oof!) while Tom and his dad moved boxes and puttered around. We had been debating all weekend about how we were going to get back to Wisconsin, and had finally agreed that we’d take a road trip! That way, Tom would have his car in Wisconsin and… well, we both like road trips! Tom Sr. had the great idea of accompanying us (which means Tom Jr and I got to ride in the Corvette for the beginning of the trip – thank you Tom!) as far as the Hanks family cemetery plot in western Virginia. The Hanks had been settled there for a while before a certain Thomson and Caroline, ages 20 and 16 respectively, headed out in a covered wagon and settled in eastern Nebraska… which is where Tom Sr. grew up! We stopped on the way at Pilot Mountain, where we saw tons of black vultures, mountain laurel in bloom, and some of Tom’s favorite rock-climbing routes. We then had a neat time heading on toward the cemetery and, once there, wandering around the grave markers and talking about what Tom and his dad had both figured out through researching the family and the area.
Then it was time to part company. Tom and I bid his dad farewell (he had a neat trip back with more historical discoveries as part of his journey) and took off for Wisconsin. Traffic was great in spite of the fact that it was Memorial Day, and we really just had a lovely time traveling together. Just before we took off, Tom asked me, "are you ready for 12 hours in a car with Tom Hanks?" I guess I was!