It’s been too long since I last had something to say, something to share with all of you. Sure, I post to social media, but it’s not the same as engaging with you through this blog. I apologize for my lack of presence. This year has been troubling, scary, rocky, and at times extremely chaotic for me. I have been split between two coasts since March of this year.

I won’t divulge my personal situation and drama here, just know that I haven’t been missing because I lost my zest for blogging. If you follow my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog, you already know that Monday through Friday you can find a post from me. That blog has helped me through my spiritual battles along this rugged path. I haven’t resumed hosting my Don’t Call It Small…Business podcast, as I had intended to do this past summer. But thanks to God, giving Him credit for what I’m about to do, I have found the time and space to get back on this saddle and return to regularly blogging and podcasting each week.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of today’s message? Well, let me share…

Last month was my birthday month. Woot woot! Yeah, I didn’t do anything big and fancy, but I did enjoy myself. I flew from California to Atlanta, two days before my birthday. I could only be in Atlanta until Wednesday evening, because I needed to ensure I was back in California by Saturday to celebrate my nephew’s birthday and my favorite holiday, Halloween. I keep my promises and nothing was going to keep me from getting back in time.

The travel to Atlanta wasn’t that bad. I met some pretty interesting people on both flights. On my first leg, I met a gentleman from Scotland, who I told we’re probably related, only because I have Scottish and Irish heritage. We chatted a bit before we both settled into our in-flight routines. Before getting off the plane we exchanged contact information. I’m hoping he will give me some historical and archival insights to better assist me with my genealogical journey. I had a quick layover in Houston and then hopped on my final leg to Atlanta. On that flight I sat next to two women, one a student who graduated from the University of Southern California, and is pursuing her Master’s degree at Emory University (which I excitedly shared that I taught there in 2014) and the other woman was in marketing, from the looks of her work deliverables she was cranking through.

At the end of the flight, the Emory student said that she was inspired sitting between two professional Black women, doing their thing, working passionately. That touched my heart. I wished her the best and I silently said a prayer for her. She is still trying to determine if she wants to pursue her MD or PhD, and I hope that whichever path she chooses, that she is positioned to give fully and passionately to help others.

I landed in Atlanta late that evening, wondering why I didn’t take the earlier non-stop flight, but then reminding myself of the people I met and connected with that day. I spent the next day running errands and stopping by to see a few friends, having lunch with two of my buddies who treated me to one of my favs, IHOP, and I had a quick catch-up session with another. Sadly, I had to reschedule with one of my friends because my day slipped by and we were playing tag-you’re-it.

Day three was my birthday and I won’t lie, it did not go as planned. Like nothing, absolutely nothing went as I had planned. I know what I had written down on my list and my well-mapped out plan, but Murphy’s Law decided to make a believer out of me in a real way. A friend of mine had gone with me to take my SUV to a mechanic and I was told that I needed a new tire for the front passenger side. See, I had a road trip planned for the next day, and I needed to ensure that my SUV was ready for the long ride. I rushed to get my tire replaced and found that some locations didn’t have mine in stock. I had a lunch scheduled with one of my friends and I had promised a friend (the one who followed me to the mechanic) that I would drop them off at the airport, because they were heading overseas for a month. Now this tire situation was causing issues. I had to cancel lunch and then was absolutely heartbroken to find out that I wasn’t just cancelling on my dear friend, but on three dear friends. Yep, she was surprising me with two other friends who were eager to see me.

My birthday was really sucking. Like, seriously.

I started reaching out to friends to see if anyone had connections with tire places, as my mind was all over the place. When you leave home for several months it’s definitely weird when you return, so much is familiar, yet much more leaves you dazed and confused. It didn’t take long to receive a return call telling me to head to Decatur and get there no later than 3:45pm to get my tire. Thank God for great friends. After dropping off one friend at the airport I rushed to Decatur and there I was planted for almost three hours. I was a walk-in so I knew the wait was inevitable. I was okay with that. But unfortunately, that meant cancelling meet-ups with one, two, three, and then four friends. It also meant cancelling swinging by the after school program I used to work for, as I really wanted to see my team members and the kiddies. But there just wasn’t enough time in my day.

It was 5:15pm and I was already exhausted, but determined!

Here’s a picture that I sent in my group text to my three gal pals, as I waited for my tire to be swapped out. I told them I was tired and a picture rarely lies!

One of the many things I love about one of my friends is their ability to find workarounds to situations. Since our original meet-up didn’t pan out, they drove to the tire center to meet me. That was the same friend that connected me with the tire center. What was their birthday gift to me? The new tire. Yes indeed. I was so happy. You can have the fancy, I will drive past you with my new tire, thank you very much! Standing outside we pondered how long it had been since we had seen each other, and were shocked that it had been some time early last year. I started thinking about my other friends, and this was the truth for many of them. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in person since 2019, because this pandemic put a stop to the in-person connection at the start of 2020. That made cancelling on them suck even worse.

After my tire was swapped out I rushed into Atlanta to visit the mother of one of my friends. She and I had spoken by phone from time to time, but we hadn’t seen each other since February. I’ve grown extremely close to her over the years and we adopted each other, in a sense. She’s like another mother. I was determined that I would see and hug her, so I made it happen. There’s something super special about mothers, wouldn’t you agree?

After leaving her house with a bag filled with pastries (because she wasn’t going to let me not have cake for my birthday) I floored it to southwest Atlanta, rushing into the home of my friend and hairstylist, where she had dinner waiting and ready. We laughed and gossiped (ssssh don’t tell anyone) as I scarfed down my food. I couldn’t stay long because I had an online class to teach at 9pm and I couldn’t be late. Well needless to say, I was about five minutes late because she also surprised me with a birthday brownie and ice cream. It’s a tad bit difficult to scarf that down, but my students were more than accommodating because they knew it was my birthday. Class wrapped up at 10pm and I won’t lie, I was exhausted. I gave them my all. I poured every ounce of energy I had left into that class period. I was super hyped and they thanked me repeatedly for loving them enough to leave it all on the mat, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t afford to go straight to sleep after class, because I wasn’t done packing.

See, I had convinced myself to stick to my initial plan to hit the highway no later than 4:30am the next morning. I thought that if I left out at 4:30am I would arrive in Memphis in time for breakfast, relax and chill for a bit, and then get back on the highway. But as I just stated, I still hadn’t finished sorting and packing for the trip. The night before I had created my pack, donate, trash, storage piles, and because of the tire fiasco, it took longer than I anticipated to complete this task. That’s probably because I didn’t originally plan to be as aggressive with the sorting as I found myself being a few hours in to the process, the night before. I actually did more than what I imagined and I’m grateful that I did. I know that when I do return to Atlanta I will be in a better position to pack up and move to wherever, with little to no time—I just need to grab and load, and then go. All of my furniture and other items are waiting for me in storage. Oh yeah that is a long story I won’t be sharing anytime soon. Maybe in a future post or even in a book. Maybe.

So what time do you think I finally climbed into bed, knowing I needed to be on the road at 4:30am?

If you said around 2:30am, you’re right. I made some adjustments in my thinking. I looked at the weather reports again and noticed that Alabama was going to be clobbered by stupid weather and both Alabama and Georgia were having later sunrises, like after 7:30am. My common sense kicked in and I made the decision that it wasn’t wise to drive in the dark, with high winds, and rain. Yep, it was scheduled to rain, which I already knew, but what I hadn’t planned for was the 40-plus miles per hour winds that were zooming through Alabama. I also decided that it would not be cool to start this road trip with soaking clothes, so instead of waiting until I was leaving out to load the car, I made the decision to do everything then and there.

I hauled all of the trash bags outside, packed my SUV, and then hopped in the shower, bypassing my original plan to relax in a tub filled with hot water and this cool muscle soak I bought days earlier. I need to have a long talk with Murphy, because this fool has a habit of ruining plans. Since my plans to drop off my donation bags were derailed, I labeled the bags, and left them for my friend to drop off for me when they return from their trip later this month. My “welcome home” gift to them. Not really, but that’s what I’m going to say when they ask me about those two huge black trash bags in their guest room. I’m giggling now just thinking about that future conversation.

Okay, so back to this trip. I caught a few zzz’s and after sending out my massive text messages to friends and family (and a link for my family to track me), I was on the road at 7:30am, chatting on the phone with one of the friends that I couldn’t squeeze a visit in with the day before. I stopped by Dunkin Donuts and then refueled at a gas station, and after that it was just my Sirius XM rolling with me. If you’re wondering if I was driving by myself, I will tell you what I told friends and family that asked the same question: No, I had “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit rolling with me. Jesus said he was gonna rest at the half-way point of our journey, so I would pick up my maternal uncle, Michael, to ride with me the rest of the way”. This, my friends, was the start of my first cross-country road trip all by myself. Well, at least the first five states were all by myself. I’ve driven plenty of times on long road trips, but never alone.

There I was, leaving Atlanta, my SUV packed with snacks, bottled water, tire kit, beat-you-down flashlight (one of those huge ones), two cans of wasp spray (just in case pepper spray and mace were illegal in some states), written directions in case my GPS went on the blitz, and just enough clothing and supplies to make my current stay comfortable. Thanks to my aunt Debbie, I renewed my AAA. I had totally forgotten that I hadn’t renewed in forever. Thanks Debbie for that. Whew!

Next week, I will share more about this amazing road trip and even share some photos. If you’re wondering which Sirius XM channel I was jamming to, it was channel 50, “The Groove”. Yes indeed, the best of 70s and 80s R&B music. It was like a nonstop concert and I loved every minute of it. I even have a video or two to share with you of me lip-syncing some songs. I cracked myself up. Be prepared to laugh with me folks. Chat soon!

~Natasha

Copyright 2021. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.