Current Location: Atlanta, GA; Miles Traveled: 256.5

As Paula Abdul once wisely noted, sometimes the course that we’re given by the universe allows us to take one step forward but then forces us to retreat two steps back.  For me today, it appears that Paula knew what she was talking about.  I took a giant Neil Armstrong-sized leap ahead only to then be seemingly pushed back in the opposite direction.

I blame myself for the minor downfall.  Things were going too perfectly, and I knew it.  I had even been thinking to myself, “hey, a positive attitude really goes a long way.  I thought that everything would work out perfectly and it has.”  Right.  In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “ha. ha. ha. ha. ha.  I fooled you.”  It was as though I had never heard about the dangers of speaking too soon.  It was like I was brand new to the planet.

I’ll start out with the good.  Shortly after reporting that there are no apartments in Nashville, I drove around the area of town where I want to live and saw a sign outside of a complex claiming that there were apartments for lease.  I had fallen into this trap before.  Despite a sign reflecting the existence of a vacancy in the building, typically one does not exist.  Luckily in this case though, I went into the leasing office, and the building manager told me that there was an apartment available in a building down the street.  Upon further description, I realized that it was the same building where a friend of mine lives.  The same building that I had wanted to move into originally.

I told him I would take it.  “Whoa, slow down,” he responded, “you should at least go take a look at it first.”  I told him I was staying in that building as it was and that I didn’t need to look at it.  He insisted that I go to see that specific unit but also cautioned me to hurry because there was another person “right behind.”  I took off like a shot.  For a brief moment in time, I was a contestant on The Amazing Race and that apartment was my million-dollar prize.  There was no way that I was going to be the loser again.  Not this time!  This apartment was mine.

I went over to the complex, but I had no idea which unit I was supposed to be looking at.  I checked all of the paperwork that I had been given, but the apartment number didn’t seem to be listed on any of it.  I called Jim back.  He didn’t answer so I had to leave him a message, “I just saw the apartment.  Looks great.  I definitely want it.”  And that was it.  Next thing I knew I was handing over checks and signing paperwork, and I finally have an address again!  Ultimately, I did find out the unit number and went over to the building to look at it.  It looked exactly as I had expected it would.  Phew. I felt like I had cleared a major hurdle.

Of course, the thing that I had failed to take into account is that in the Olympics, when a runner clears a hurdle, there’s another one waiting to be tackled in just a couple of strides.  This hurdle is the one that I ran straight into.  And then I fell down and rolled into yet another one.

See, some of you might be wondering how I managed to rent an apartment without having a job.  Without incriminating myself too much here, I managed to figure out a way to get around that, but employment does remain a goal of mine.  In fact, without getting into too much detail, I had a pretty good lead for a job.  “Yep,” I thought to myself after securing the apartment, “today is the day when everything falls into place.” “Not so fast,” God’s voice boomed from somewhere beyond the clouds, “I will decide when everything falls into place.” And so needless to say, I’m still waiting on the edge of my seat for that moment.

To quote Rachel Green from Friends, “so you guys, like, all have jobs?”  And then to quote “all,” “yes, it’s how we, like, buy stuff.”  Ahh.  So that’s how you guys do it.  Lately, it has occurred to me that I should begin to think about what I’ll be doing at my trip’s end.  Some of you might have thought to think of this next step prior to your original departure, but really, I was driving across the country for thirty days, who wants yet another “plan?”  Kerouac didn’t know where the road was going to take him, why should I?

Luckily, someone in Nashville at a company of interest to me agreed to have me come in for a meeting.  I had the fleeting idea that they might offer me a job on the spot and that would be it, case closed.  Unfortunately, as I learned after my meeting today, it was more like “case reopened.”  “Hmm,” I thought as I headed back to my car, “no time to worry about the job hunt now.  The road is calling, and I’m going home.  I want to make good time to Atlanta.”

I got into my car, and cranked it up.  And then I repeated this step.  And then I tried repeating it again.  And again.  Evidently, my car had no imminent interest in getting to Atlanta whatsoever.  Somehow, despite being functional a mere one hour before, my car battery was now completely dead.

As a fairly careless person, I had found myself in this predicament a few times before.  Once, I left my car in the driveway over Thanksgiving break with the lights turned on.  Another time, I left my car in a parking garage overnight with the lights turned on.  Another time, I left my car on the street for an extended period of time with the lights turned on.  Get the picture?  But this time, I had done no such thing.  This wasn’t my fault!  Fate was failing me.

So there I was, staked out in the parking lot of the company that I had just begged for a job from.  It occurred to me that I was basically engaging in a sit-in, and I wanted to stand up and get the hell out of there.  Initially, I refused to believe that the battery was to blame for my car’s refusal to cooperate, but after calling the Honda dealership in Nevada where I had gotten the car (this is another story altogether), I became convinced.  I called AAA and then I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.

Luckily, it just so happened that in my car, I had a book.  The back of this particular book had a review that read, “if you only read one book per year, this should be it.”  One book per year.  Perfect.  This book knew me so well.  After waiting for two and a half hours, the AAA truck arrived, and two minutes later, I was on my way.  Another step forward.   I figure I’m about where I started for the day.

As I drove, clouds started to form in the distance.  And then in began to rain.  I didn’t mind though.  I knew exactly what I was driving into.  I was headed towards summer in Georgia.  Of all of the places that I’ve been throughout this trip, there is no place that I was happier to be than Georgia.  I guess it’s true what “they” say, there is no place like home.  Of course, “they” also say that you can’t go home again, yet here I am, so I’m not sure what to make of that one.  Tomorrow (which is now today because the Internet wasn’t working when I arrived last night, so it’s now the following morning), I look forward to visiting one of my favorite Marietta, GA landmarks which I will later share with all of you (and believe me, it’s pretty spectacular).

Thanks so much for following along!