"You seem lost in thought," the waitress at Longhorn Steakhouse in Johns Creek, GA, said Sunday night.
"Not really," I replied. "Just enjoying the peace and quiet."
"Most people don’t come here for peace and quiet," she said. "But Sunday nights are quiet."
With a planned dinner with the Johns Creek city manager scrapped, I struck out on my own to find some food after a six-hour drive from Floyd to the new city in Fulton County north of Atlanta. I tried one place I found on a trip here in June. It stood empty, a "this location for lease" sign in the window. Darkness greeted me at another local eatery: Closed on Sundays.
So I let the Garmin GPS locate a restaurant near the Hyatt hotel. It found Longhorn, just a few blocks away.
Most diners at Longhorn packed the bar to watch Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. I had my corner of the restaurant pretty much to myself. Not that it mattered. My first wife used to say I could be alone in a crowded room. I could, and can. In 40 plus years of traveling around the world, I’ve spent a lot of time alone on the road, even when the road was crowded.
Maybe that’s why I like riding motorcycles so much: Just me and the road. Even on a group ride, you’re left pretty much to yourself with just the sound of the wind and the sounds of the bike for company. On Sunday’s drive from Floyd to Georgia, the NASCAR race in Martinsville played out on the radio but it was mostly background noise. Jimmie Johnson won but I don’t remember much of what happened in the race.
During my days as a working stiff, I enjoyed 14-hour flights across the Pacific because of the solitude. I could lose myself in a good book or music from the plane’s sound system.
We left Washington in 2004 in part because of the crowds, the traffic and all the hustle and bustle. We found peace, quiet and solitude in Floyd but, lately, even Floyd is getting crowded, busy and noisy. Traffic is growing, especially on weekends. Three charity events crammed last Saturday night’s schedule. Leaf season packed the Blue Ridge Parkway the last two weekends.
Four years ago, we fled the city to find peace and quiet in the country. On Sunday, I fled the country and found solitude on the road to the city.
Life is full of ironies.