Miles Traveled: 243; Current Location: Lunenburg, MA

I love the “stars in my eyes” attitude that I had yesterday when I assumed that by leaving New York before 10:00 this morning, I would arrive in Massachusetts by the afternoon.  Unfortunately for me, it seemed that everyone in the free world had the same goal today – leaving New York and arriving in Massachusetts.  My friend, Liz, made the last leg of the journey with me, and it had been four hours worth of driving before we had even made it 100 miles.  This trip gave me a new understanding of the phrase, “snail’s pace.”  Had today been a race though, the snail would have won.

For whatever reason, certain things about New York continue to remind me of Seinfeld.  In addition to its episode, “The Parking Spot,” the show also has an episode entitled, “The Parking Garage.”  In this one, the gang wanders around a parking garage for hours, looking for their car, completely clueless as to where they had parked it.  We’ve all been there.  You’re in a hurry, you’re on a mission, you just want to get into the GAP for it’s half-off sale on khaki shorts for the family.  Whatever the reason for carelessly walking away from the car, the frustration of searching for it is always the same and always very annoying.  Well, I’m here to report that looking for your car “somewhere” on the streets of New York is the absolute worst episode of “The Parking Garage” imaginable.  And when you’re scheduled to be ticketed at 9:00, it’s after that, and you can’t find the car, you realize that looking around a parking garage is amateur hour.  You wish your car was simply lost at the mall.

As I searched for my vehicle, I cursed myself for not writing down the exact address of where I had parked.  What was I thinking?  Obviously, I wasn’t thinking much since I simply walked away from the car the day before without any sign of hesitation.  It’s not as though there is much variation between one street and the next either.  A hint would have been a good idea.  Eventually though, I did find the car, and by the grace of God, I hadn’t been ticketed yet.  New York was smiling on me.  Things were going well.  Of course, an hour later, I hit that traffic I mentioned earlier, and I started to think that Connecticut was frowning on me big time.  Yep, Connecticut seemed to not be very happy with me at all.

I, however, was very happy with Connecticut because it brought me face to face with the inspiration for my very favorite movie.  No, I didn’t see another Titanic replica or anything from Casablanca, it was even better than that.  Liz and I ate lunch at Mystic Pizza.

I love Mystic Pizza.  Once, while cleaning my room, I watched it on a loop for about eight hours or so.  (It thus seems somewhat unlikely that I’ll be named “Neat Freak of the Year.”)  Not only is the film fun and entertaining on the surface level, but when you really break it down, you’ll also find that it’s chock-full of deep wisdom and sound advice.  For instance, at one point, Lili Taylor calls out, “I don’t have to marry an asshole!  It’s the 80’s!  Why would I marry an asshole?”  And I think that’s a very good point.  Sure, if it had been the 70’s or in the future of the new millennium, marrying an asshole would make a lot of sense.  But not in the 80’s.  Not while wearing blue eye shadow and smacking your wrists with neon slap bracelets.  Not on Reagan’s watch.

Mystic Pizza is also incredibly relatable.  In my favorite scene, Julia Roberts swamps her boyfriends Porsche with a truckload of giant fish because she mistakenly believes that he’s on a date with another girl.  In a shocking twist, all is not as it seems, and the girl turns out to be Charlie’s sister.  Julia’s character realizes the faux paus and admits, “I fucked up.”  Charlie agrees before lightheartedly remarking, “yeah but you gave it 100% effort,” and picks her up the following day in a brand new car because it “smells a hell of a lot better than the Porsche.”  I know exactly how Julia’s character feels in this scene because I’m sure this is the same reaction that I would receive in such a situation.  “You totaled my Porsche, no problem.  Let’s head back to your work for some pizza.”  Of course, in my case, this conversation would likely take place in the form of a dream from my bench in prison.

The real Mystic Pizza is a perfect example of the reason that I love America as much as I do.  It’s here, in the U.S. of A, that a person can open a pizza restaurant, see it turned into a feature film, and continue to hang their hat on this fact well into the following century.  It’s a perfect illustration of the reality that can be the American Dream.  The restaurant has many photos, posters, and articles relating to the 1988 film, and they too play the movie on a constant loop.  From the looks of things, I would feel right at home if I moved in there.  Pizza, beer, Mystic Pizza… if I can’t be happy there, I can’t be happy anywhere.

Everyone in the restaurant was incredibly helpful, and no one even seem jaded about being a stomping ground for fans of the film.  In fact, I wonder if the girls working there had dreams of meeting their own Adam Storkes and living happily ever after in Porsches that had been tainted by the smell of raw fish.  I wondered that because I thought to myself, “hmm… I need a job.  I wonder if they’re hiring.”  If I want to be like Julia though, I can probably make more money following in the footsteps of another of her careers.  After all, Pretty Woman had a happy ending too.

I have to report that although I didn’t have any particular expectations, the pizza was very good, and it was a nice break from the traffic.  Naturally, I purchased a T-shirt to have my own reminder of this little slice of Heaven tucked away in Mystic, Connecticut.  And of course, seeing this adorable seaport town with its white picket fences and tire swings made me ready to move away from Tennessee before I moved in.  Although, I’m not sure if I could really live a lifetime up against the looming threat that is Connecticut’s traffic.

Pulling up to my parents house in Massachusetts today certainly felt like grand homecoming, and I’m very happy to be here for this upcoming holiday weekend.  Over the last month, I have seen twenty-nine states as well as Washington D.C. and have stayed in fifteen different cities.  It’s nice to be back here where my family is and where my car’s license plate says it belongs.  My Civic has been advocating for Massachusetts for three years now, and I’m glad it finally made it here.  Of course, next weekend I have a seventeen hour drive ahead of me as I relocate to Tennessee, but that’s part of another adventure!  This trip has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I hope that you’ll follow along with me for one more day through my final wrap-up tomorrow.  I hope everyone has an amazing 4th of July!  Happy Birthday America!

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