Cue the harp music as we go back in time to October 19th, 2014….
Lucas and I drove to Nashville, Indiana, to stay with my brother-from-another-mother, Terry, at the home he shared with my brother-from-the-same-mother, Paul.
Their house is in the middle of a 100 acre wood. Well, it’s 15 acres, but after three or four, who’s counting? Terry lives with Rudy, the cat, and Sky, the dog, and was dog-sitting his friends’ Corey and Brandi’s Cocker Spaniel, Lucy, for a few days while we were there.
Lucy was happy, sweet, and allergic to everything. The poor dog scratched herself silly, releasing a rather pungent, odiferous scent. When I took her for walks, I tried to stay upwind. Ashamed of my inability to tolerate Lucy, I walked with my tail between my legs.
For supper (I love that word; it’s so ignored up north,) we made a small dent in the cooler full of food Grandma had sent with us.
Terry went to work, Lucas caught up on his sleep, and I hiked around the property with Sky and Lucy. Since we were in Brown County, Indiana, the colors of the leaves were every shade of magnificent. You couldn’t turn around without bumping into a tree. (Well, that can happen to me anywhere.)
For supper we made a small dent in the cooler full of food Grandma had sent with us.
Before we left town, I had made tentative plans to visit Iris Rosa, my favorite professor from I.U. that day, and watch the 2014-2015 African American Dance Company (AADC) rehearse. Because Terry came home from work early and Lucas was awake at 3:00 PM, they dropped me off on campus, and walked around town together.
When I was a member of the (AADC) in 1981-82, as Paul had been years before, we rehearsed in a small, old basement.
The AADC has a new home: the Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall Black Culture Center, named for the first African-American graduates of I.U. The studio is huge, with tons of mirrors and windows, and a vaulted ceiling with a skylight.
Watching the AADC rehearse brought back the best memories I have of being a student at I.U. “ProRo” and the dancers welcomed me like family.
It was an honor to watch these beautiful, amazing dancers prepare for an upcoming concert. Their energy was palpable. I was itching to get up and dance with them, but didn’t want to risk ruining the rest of our road trip with an upper or lower body injury.
See Monday, except, Terry brought Lucy back to Corey and Brandi’s house because they were home from their vacation (I was still upset with myself for being Miss Judgy-pants.)
Thursday would have been Paul’s 59th birthday. The night before, Terry told Lucas and me that he had taken the day off from work and had a surprise for us.
A surprise for us? I imagined this day would be so hard for him, but he turned it into a really fun day that I’ll remember every October 23rd.
Terry’s last name is Briner, which will prove to be very important in this story. He has often told me about where he had grown up and how his family had settled in the area of Paoli, Indiana. I did some research one night at Mom’s house when Paul and Terry were visiting, and found tons of information about his ancestry, at which time I began to refer to his hometown as “Briner-ville.” I wasn’t too far off the mark.
Terry had the entire day planned out, including an itinerary of where we would go, and how much time we would spend at each place. We had been invited to Corey and Brandi’s house for supper at 6:00, and would need about an hour to get there.
Terry’s hometown was about an hour away from Brown County, so we tried to leave the house as early as possible. I am perpetually late, even when trying to be early, but managed to get up, dressed, and ready for our adventure.
Terry’s family settled in Orange County, Indiana in the late 1700’s. 1700’s! We visited Briner Springs, and the Briner family cemetery, high up on a hill, just as his great-great grandfather, George Briner, had wanted.
Terry came prepared with documents that led us to barely legible, weather-worn tombstones. Then he read to us the beautiful love-letter his great-grandfather, John, who was fighting in the Civil War, sent to his fiancee, Eleanor.
The tour continued to the Baden Springs Hotel with an atrium that looks as if it defies all laws of physics. We had lunch there, and, yes, I did lie on the floor in the middle of that great room to get this shot.
From there we drove a few miles to see Brenda and Jim, Terry’s sister, and brother-in-law. We were also introduced to Brenda’s pet catfish. Yes, pet catfish (who live in her pond.)
These were no ordinary catfish; they were so immense, they were like catfish on steroids.
Before we left, Brenda gave me a set of hand-knit oven towels for my sister, Beth, and one for me. She also sent me home with this very cool puzzle.
Supper at Corey and Brandi’s was delicious, and their kids were adorable. Lucy smelled like a new woman. I felt like I had gained more family that day, not to mention all of Paul and Terry’s friends I’ve known and kept in touch with for years. I felt more whole than I had in the few months since the Recent Unpleasantries.
That night, I accidentally knocked my little makeup mirror to the floor, shattering it completely. Seven years of bad luck?
I don’t think so.
I just laughed. What could possibly be worse than this past summer? Nothing.
INDIANA ROAD TRIP PART II coming soon to a computer screen near you!