alternate title: how many pictures of the beach can I shove down your throat?
+ We drove down 40 East while listening to the Avetts sing 40 East. I had a moment.
+ We stopped at Bojangles on the way to the beach for breakfast. It's the world's most unhealthy food, but if there's anything I've missed about North Carolina, it's Bojangles. I took one sip of James' sweet tea and I think I developed some kind of secondhand southern accent.
+If there's anything I didn't miss about North Carolina, it's the bugs and rodents of unusually large sizes. I found a centipede in my mother-in-law's house so large I could've thrown a leash on it and taken it for a walk.
+ We discovered on the way to the beach that my MIL can't read traffic signs even with her glasses on. She would've run three different red lights had we not said something, and not once could she see where she was supposed to turn. I have never prayed harder than I did in the front seat of that woman's car. And she refused to relinquish the car keys to anyone. In her words, "I passed the vision test for my driver's license only because I knew the person who gave it to me."
+ The water was much colder the next day. My MIL was certain we would catch hypothermia and die if we so much as dipped our toes in, but to me it felt just like a beach in California. I dove in again and absolutely horrified her. I swam out a little bit, and she stood on the edge of the beach screaming at the top of her lungs that if I didn't come out right then I would catch hypothermia. Listen, if I can survive a polar vortex 16 times over, I can survive moderately chilly Atlantic water in June. Plus, I had my NSYNC towel to keep me warm ;)(;
+ James and I had plans to sneak out one night once his mom was in bed to go play mini golf and get some ice cream (because we are rebellious teenagers), but we were so exhausted from the sun and her incessant chatter, that we laid in bed in our hotel robes and watched The Newlywed Game on TV. I think it was my favorite part of the whole trip.
+ The first time I went to the Outerbanks was January of 2010. There had been crazy storms that flooded half the roads, and while we were there it started snowing. We stopped at this little coffee shop that day, and I ended up interviewing the owner and writing an article on it for a class I was taking, and every time I go back to the Outerbanks I stop there, because they have the best coffee I've ever tasted in my life. My mother-in-law had thankfully been there too and made sure we went every day. I wanted to sit in there all day, but she wasn't into that idea.
+ The day we spent at her house was the most horrifying and terrifying day of my life. After an afternoon nap, I woke up and looked out the window, where I saw..........a snake (I got the shakes just typing that).........climbing the bird bath just feet from the house. I don't know if you know this, but snakes are a real-life phobia for me. They are my number one fear hands down, no competition. It's completely irrational, I know this, but I've been this way since I was a kid. Every time I see one it honestly shakes me to my core. I don't mean that I don't like them in the way that some girls can't kill a spider, I mean I have a reaction so intense that I think I'm going to actually, literally die from terror. So after several moments of being literally paralyzed in fear and horror and unable to look away, I SCREAMED like I was about to be hacked to death. James ran and told his mom not to go near it, since it was likely a copperhead and very dangerous (omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg)(apparently those are common out there)(never going back), but she ran outside screaming bloody murder and shaking a rake at it. Meanwhile, I had a full-fledged attack in the back bedroom. I was shaking and hyperventilating so bad my hands went numb, and I buried myself under the covers where I sobbed, completely unable to cope with life. It was so bad I texted my mom, in Ohio, to come pick me up and take me home. Except that wouldn't have worked because I was too scared to ever go outside the house.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE.
We went to James' grandparents' house for dinner that night, and we drove through some wicked thunderstorms. On the way back to my MIL's house, we were driving through the country and trying to beat the black clouds following us. Storms are another phobia of mine. I'm completely fine if I'm at home and there's no tornado warning, but if I'm not where I know I'm safe, then I'm terrified. As she sped down the back roads (with her terrible eyesight, James and I tried to get enough service to get the weather radar to load on our phones while we kept an eye on the skies. At one point, there was an actual funnel cloud forming right on top of us. My nerves had already been shot by the ~situation~ that afternoon, so I didn't even have enough emotion in me to freak out. We finally got back to the house, and his mom parked her car in a field near the house so tree limbs wouldn't fall from the huge trees surrounding her house and onto the car. The three of us opened the car doors and were getting ready to run inside, when a lighting bolt hit the ground merely SEVERAL FEET from us. Once again, I was completely paralyzed from fear, and James had to pull me out of the car and force me to run inside. We were fine, everything was fine, but I think I am still recovering from that afternoon.
+ The day before we left for North Carolina, I read a blog post about car trouble while traveling. Thankfully that had never happened to me before, but I was sure it would then. Everything was fine until we were 6 hours into the 10 hour drive home. Just as my car sickness started to hit, the car started squeaking and whistling through the West Virginia mountains. We stopped so I could regain my equilibrium and to call my dad who verified it was probably a loose belt. Thankfully we made it home and it hasn't made a single noise since, but obviously I handled this well given my state of emotions after the day before. And clearly I handled all the horrible traffic we hit as well, as I found myself doing the sign of the cross despite not being catholic. What I really need is for someone to tranquilize me and stick my in the backseat during car trips so I stop panicking anytime someone in front of us brakes, but then who will save the day by slamming on the invisible passenger-side brake and screaming? Exactly.