It was a drive I had made thousands of times in my life. This can be a good thing or a bad one… good in the sense that it is familiar and comfortable… bad in the sense that it is easy for your mind to wander. This was more of a bad thing on this trip. My mind drifted back to January 1977 when drove it the first time. Then the drive would take a little over 4 hours because I-95 had not been completed yet so you had to get off at Kenly and take Hwy 301 back to Wilson and then take 42 through Pinetops to Conetoe to pick up 64. Hwy 64 back then was two lane and went through downtown Bethel and Robersonville and Everitts. There was no by pass around anything. you had to drive through Williamston and Windsor and Edenton too.
But this trip was different. Everything is by passed now. This makes it so easy to set your car on cruise control and just get lost in your thoughts. Which is exactly what happened to me. This trip was almost the exact opposite of the 1977 trip. That was a trip of new beginnings… a trip to the college of my future… the promise of my future looming out in front of me. High school graduation was finally just a few months away. Every day from the day of that drive through June was just so exciting… so promising… so hopeful.
My sister and I have been working over the last year or so cleaning out our mom’s house. There were days when we both wondered if we would ever get through it all. Forty plus years of living in one location had allowed for lots of time for things to build up and boy, had they ever! But finally that is all behind us. I am on my way home…. for the last time. No longer will the residents at that plain, simple house on Rosedale Drive have the last name of White.
The finality of this trip just sits on my shoulder and claws at my brain. The shear volume of my thoughts cause my shoulders to drop under their weight. For the first time in 5 or 6 generations none of the direct lines of any of my families are in northeastern North Carolina. When will I ever come back up here again or even will this be the last time I ever make this trip? So as I reach Tarboro, I am able to connect with 102.5 “The Shark” radio station from down on the Outer Banks and the songs of my youth help lighten the load a little.
But even with the company and comfort those songs bring me, my stomach is in knots as I cross the Chowan River bridge in Edenton.. and then the Perquimans River Bridge in Herford. Then I see the sign, Elizabeth City city limits… I take a deep breath… let out an audible sigh… and drive on.