The Love Interest and I drove through the Florida Panhandle, affectionately termed by some as The Redneck Riviera. You could cruise right by the beach with sand so white some could confuse it for snow. We pulled over and I almost stupidly drove my car right on to the sand where we would have needed to shovel the tires out, but we averted disaster. We sat and stared out into the Gulf where remnants of an oil spill were nowhere to be found by my naked eye.
We got to Tallahassee at night and I drove around a place that for four years I dubbed home. But these college towns are places of transience and I’m unsure if anyone I knew still resided in capital city. The university campus looked the same as I left it eleven years earlier and the capital building still served as the state’s biggest phallic symbol.
As we got closer to my destination I grew less and less worried that my journey would continue to run parallel of the characters in Easy Rider. It seemed no rednecks would be aiming at shooting for our heads because we looked too freaky. Instead I felt similarities with another sixties counterculture classic, The Graduate.
Remember the end? Dustin Hoffman runs off with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter after breaking up her wedding. Everyone tries to stop the duo. But they run past the naysayers, on to the bus headed to who knows where. She’s looking beautiful in her wedding dress and Dustin Hoffman can’t believe his luck. He got the girl, he got his freedom and he couldn’t have a bigger smile. Then Simon & Garfunkel comes on the soundtrack and the realization comes on both their faces, “Oh shit! The movie’s over. What are we going to do now?”
The Love Interest must have seen this look on my face as she told me, “Don’t freak out on me now.”
“I won’t.” I promised. I looked out at sights that were growing more and more familiar as we neared South Florida and the area I grew up. “Remember those eleven years I lived in California?”
She humored me and let me get to my punchline by saying, “Yeah.”
“What was that all about?”