The journey down south (pt. 2)

Phil Cocchiaro petting his dog Nanny

(Go read part 1 if you haven’t already.)

Day 1 (cont.)

Jerry lugged my broken-down car onto the bed of his tow truck. We hopped in and sparked light-hearted conversation.

His middle-of-nowhere-Virginia accent only allowed me to catch every other sentence. But similar to learning Spanish in high school, I was able to fill in the blanks. He was a jolly dude.

“Where ya headin’,” he asked me.

“Florida’s the end goal,” I replied. “I’m going to a retreat with my life coaching community. Do you know what a life coach is?”

He had no clue. He said he was just in Florida, though.

“Me and the wife flew into Miami for a cruise. First time on a plane. 64 years old.”

“Wow,” I said. “What made you decide to try it after so long?”

“Wife roped me into it,” he chuckled. “Didn’t have a good reason not to. Got a Budweiser at the airport. Sat down in my seat. Wasn’t scared at all.”

We continued chatting for the rest of the 20-minute drive back to his shop. He told me about his family and asked me about Maryland.

We were in Pulaski, Virginia. I scoped the farmlands and shopping centers to see if maybe moving to Brooklyn was the wrong choice. Alas, Pulaski didn’t grip me.

A map of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina
Heart: where I live.
Pin: where my car broke down.

We got to the repair shop and I gathered the luggage I’d need over the weekend. They were closed on Saturdays and Sundays so I’d have to pick my car up on Monday.

“You gone be good out here by yerself?” Jerry asked me.

“Do I have any other options?” I joked timidly. “What is there to worry about—coyotes, murderers?”

He laughed. “Well, if ya get hungry, there’s a McDonalds that a way, and a KFC that a way. There’s also some hikin’ trails down the road a bit. I know ya said ya like hikin’.”

I did say that. Thanks for remembering, Jer. But I looked down at my two heavy suitcases and my backpack.

“I think I’ll just sit in this chair and wait for my friends to come pick me up,” I said. “They’ll be here in about two hours.”

“Okee dokes,” Jerry smiled. We shook hands, I thanked him for the ride, and he got on his Harley Davidson and zoomed down the road and out of sight.

I wanted to feel productive before the coyotes came for me. So I opened up my laptop and wrote a few pages for my book. I also did something I haven’t done in years.

I drank a soda.

It felt amazing…for 10 minutes. Then I got dizzy.

My friends texted me saying they were only an hour away. Until then, I’d sit in a chair that reeked of cigarettes, sipping my Mountain Dew, calmly typing away on my Macbook.

What struck me most was how unfazed I was.

This was a huge inconvenience. I was on a road trip, and the device I needed to keep me on the road was out of commission. If I get travel anxiety 100% of the time, why wasn’t I freaking out?

This was insight #1: I had nowhere to be and nothing to do.

I can’t remember the last time I had days in a row where I truly had no deadlines. As cheesy as it sounds, my shoulders were completely relaxed because I knew everything would be totally fine.

My friends were coming to pick me up. I’d get to have fun with them. My car would get fixed. I’d make it to Florida.

All was good.

I took another sip of my sugary death liquid and wrote another paragraph. The sun was going down and I was smiling.