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Explorations, Mississippi

UVA Visit – the Epic Tale

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It’s Monday, February 18th, and I’m finishing up at work when I get a message from my friend Chris. He has a challenge for me: be at UVA for the club swim meet that weekend. The time has come to return, and that time is Vince O’Clock. Reason takes over, but is subsequently defeated, and by Tuesday night I have bought my plane tickets. I’ll be flying to North Carolina, where Chris works, on Thursday night, then driving up for an epic three-day weekend in Charlottesville.

Pictures and more after the break:

Day 1, 3:30 pm: The Skybus flight is full of hyperactive tourists returning from the casinos. I am sitting in the back, where they have had entirely too much fun and/or caffeine and will not stop talking loudly with each other and the flight attendants.

5:30 pm: I arrive in Greensboro and have less than 30 minutes to catch a taxi to the Amtrak station. The station is at least 30 minutes away. The taxi driver saves the day: the next station along the line is equally as close, so I can catch the train easily. I make it to Chris’s and crash on the couch.

Day 2, 8:00 am: We head out. Chris’s phone is malfunctioning because it got wet. At a gas station, he accidentally douses his jeans in gasoline while filling up the car. Thinking they are the only pants he have, he goes into the McDonalds wearing gym shorts which are hidden by his three-quarter-length coat. People start giving him funny looks. Then the cashier rips him off by giving change for a $10 instead of the $20 he gave him. Things are not going well for Chris.

1:00 pm: Arrive at UVA. Chris drops his gasoline pants off to be washed. I head to the architecture school for a bit to visit people, he heads to the commerce school to do the same.

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7:30 pm: We have dinner with Alex (my gracious host for the weekend) and Patrick at Jabberwocky’s replacement, “Three”. It is pretentious but tasty. Afterwards, Chris and I meet Nah Youn for a drink. This involved waiting to pick her up in the parking lot of her apartment for at least an hour while she returns from her dinner date (“I’ll just be 10 minutes…”) and puts away her groceries.

Day 3, 11:30 am: Good rest is the key to good swimming. At least, I hope so, as that — and, not drinking heavily the night before — is my only preparation for this meet. Then I discover that, rather than being smart and signing up for 50’s, I am in fact doing the 100 Fly, 200 Free, and 100 IM. Am I crazy? My times end up being fairly slow — no surprise there — but the meet was fun. We clean up and head out for pizza and awards.

Talking with Megan and Chris between events — odd facial expressions are not an uncommon feature of our conversations:

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We are serious about club swimming:

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First place! First place overall, first place girls, third place guys. Okay, the girls’ team carried us. Go ladies!

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8:00 pm: Finally get a chance to visit la Maison Française, my old dorm. It’s great to see Karina and Jill. We hang out with a bunch of the residents, eating pizza and ice cream, playing Taboo, and speaking barely any French. Must… suppress… LHA… instincts…

9:30 pm: Club swimmers party early. By 10 we’re playing kings, by 11 flip-cup. Other club swim teams arrive — UPenn, UNC — and suddenly there are maybe 50 people crowding into a small apartment. Then the real competition begins. UVA vs. UNC flip-cup challenge. After a first-round loss, we naturally begin to dominate:

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By 12, Coley and Sarah are using my phone to send drunken text messages to Dan, last year’s coach. Becky is fulfilling her duties as social chair but running around with a bottle offering shots to everybody.

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Day 4, 10:00 am: Wake up. After at least two breakfasts, I pack up, say goodbye to Alex, and we hit the road around 3. Luckily Chris is more awake than me. Still, two hours in, we drive about 10 miles past Liberty University before realizing we forgot to turn onto the right road. We arrive at Charlotte, but manage to drive 15 miles past the city before realizing we missed the exit. Tired as I am, for some reason I decide it is a good idea to watch the entire Oscars ceremony before going to sleep.

Day 5, 7:20 am: Amtrak takes me to Greensboro. I have plenty of time and wander around downtown, which is pleasant. Opting for a $2 bus ride rather than a $30 taxi ride to the airport, I catch my flight, full of more hyper people, back home.

3:00 pm: Back in Biloxi, it’s straight to work — we’re meeting to prepare for the Oak Street community planning session on Wednesday. It was enormously fun to be back at UVA, although it feels surreal to not really have a place there anymore. All in all, the trip gave me a chance to both reconnect with old friends and make me appreciate where I am now, doing a job I love. And in 70-degree winter days.

And that’s about it. Thanks to Catherine, from whom I stole all these photos. Go Hoos!

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