The weekend traffic crawled onto the turnpike and inched along Route 611. Then slow-moving local roads lined with big-box stores opened up into fields of melting snow interrupted by sprawling developments. We were getting close.
My wife, Jackie, and I drove out to Bucks County this weekend to visit two of my closest friends, Mike and Jay. We all grew up in Brooklyn, and we've all been growing up together ever since.
Mike and Jay lived in downtown Brooklyn when it was beautiful, bruised-up downtown Brooklyn. Before the hipsters took it over.
They lived in brownstones blocks from the shops on Court Street and the bars and cafes on Montague - blocks from the East River and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. You could see Manhattan from their roofs.
Jay's house was a speakeasy during Prohibition.
When Mike talks, it sounds as if he chewed up Brooklyn and is offering it back to you. It's a beautiful voice.
I grew up in Marine Park, the Mayfair of Brooklyn - a great place to grow up. In high school, I would take the subway or a taxi to go hang out with Jay and Mike in their Brooklyn.
That was 20 years ago.
Jay and Mike both married girls they met in college from the Philly suburbs.
In the way life works out, after other stops, they both, by chance, recently moved to the same small pocket of Bucks County. Big new forever homes with vaulted ceilings, playrooms for the kids, sprawling backyards, and carpeted basements roomy enough to fit a decent-sized nightclub or a small church.
It's an age-old story. City kids growing up and moving to the burbs - to the country. But that doesn't make it any less weird when it's the people you love.
I still live in the city. We met at Mike's. Jackie and I brought cannoli from Isgro.
The high school rugby team Jay and I played for once traveled to the town where they now live to play an away game.
"We thought they were hillbillies," Jay said, laughing. "Now we live among them."
They've both been out there about eight months. Jay lives 10 minutes away from Mike, but where he is, it's a lot more rural.
"I live where the farms are," he said. "Everything out here is a farm."
The other day, he saw a sign for a "Meat Farm." He had to check it out. It turned out to be a butcher shop in a farmhouse.
Jay and his wife lived in Fairmount for seven years. It was tough to leave. But he's taking to it.
The schools are some of the best in the state. And there are lots of kids - and lots of things for kids to do. Life is just a little easier than in the city.
Mike is a talker. There are no stoops where he lives. And maybe it's his accent, but sometimes it feels as if people don't get where he's coming from.
He's trying to join a softball team. Get outside and meet people.
His neighbors have been great. His wife's happy. And Brooklyn is no longer Brooklyn, anyway. He wants to make it work here.
Outside the dining room window, there were tracks in the snow.
"I think I saw a caribou out there the other day," Mike said. "It had the horns and everything. I said, 'Where the heck did this come from?' "
We sat there laughing and drinking, and time presented itself in the way it does. Not in the large moments - the weddings, births, reunions - but in the small moments. In three friends sitting around a table in a place they'd never dreamed they'd be, talking about caribou tracks.
And it hit me that I'd probably be sitting around this same table 20 years from now. And I'd be happy for it.
Soon, the oven timer rang. The ziti was ready. It was left over from a catered family party Mike had at the house. "Don't worry," Mike said. "It's good." He had found an Italian restaurant nearby that orders its ingredients from Brooklyn.