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Wednesday, 12 October 2016 16:26

This must be the place

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What the hell, I figured.

Sometime around midnight, and somewhere around my third beer, I decided to send her a message.

Cruising the ole Facebook stream, I saw something recently posted by her, or “Ms. D” for the sake of this column. Even though she would “like” things of mine on Facebook, and vice versa, I actually hadn’t spoken to her since our last week of college in 2007. 

So, what the hell, eh? I don’t see any boyfriend, husband or significant other in any of her pictures. No harm, no foul. I wondered what she was up to these days. Is she happy, with life and all that entails? I hit “send” and she responded. Small chat led to a hearty round of “21 questions,” which then dove down below the surface to deeper levels of introspective and retrospective thoughts. 

We’re both 31. No kids. Never been married. Both constantly being berated by our families about not having kids or getting married. Both wondering what else there is out there in the great cosmic abyss besides domestication and building a robust 401K.

You know the drill. That right there was enough of common foundation of current affairs to keep the conversation ball rolling of daily back and forth text messages of long and drawn out statements throughout the early mornings and late evenings when our respective worlds are quiet, but our minds racing. 

She’s in Pennsylvania. I’m in North Carolina. And it has been nice to have this person out there in the abyss to bounce things off of, especially one that’s a direct link to a chapter of my life that set the course for where I stand today. It’s been quite the trip down “Memory Lane” rehashing old war stories of raging college parties, people we used to be friends with, folks we’re still in contact with — the “Did you know?” and “Remember that?” which always seems to trigger and dust off such wild, vivid images in my subconscious. 

I remember that kid — me — who took off from a Canadian border cow town in Upstate New York for the high-class academic digs of Quinnipiac University, a stone’s throw from the elite and style of Yale University and greater New Haven, Connecticut. Rolling up on “Moving Day” in my parent’s minivan, packed to the gills with trash bags of clothes and CDs. Add to that my shaggy look and large tie-dyed shirt collection, and those well-kempt freshman from Long Island and suburban Boston probably thought I took a wrong turn somewhere up in rural Vermont. 

But, I stuck it out, and I thrived. Running track for QU and also becoming a founding member of an upstanding fraternity on campus, I traded the shagginess for a shaved face, the tie-dyes for a full suit, strolling the college with a new sense of purpose, one of ambition and clarity that still holds true as I explore Southern Appalachia. 

Talking with Ms. D, we compared mental notes, as well as sharing old photos from long lost nights spent trying to act cool, trying to show we could hold our own in terms of booze consumption, and, perhaps, trying to finally pick up that person you’ve had a secret crush on since that “History of American Business” class during sophomore year.

Though I knew Ms. D most of my time at QU, I was closer with our mutual friends. I remember her always being around, and I do remember interactions with her, but it was mostly due to being acquaintances with the same faces. And it’s funny, looking back on that, seeing as we have so much more in common than previously thought, or known. We were on the same path, and yet our crossing of it could be chalked up to two ships passing in the night. 

Just thinking about how we weren’t closer back then is so fascinating to us, especially since now we are constantly talking to each other, about nothing and everything, all the usual “under the sun” topics that plague the human condition. The last week or so has been quite cathartic since I was three beers deep and felt adventurous enough to shoot off a seemingly out-of-nowhere message to a face and a name I once knew, and was intrigued to know more. 

In essence, we’re (all of us) all in the same boat, we just sometimes forget that seeing as our eyes are always aimed outward into the darkness and not back at those also onboard with whatever tomorrow brings. 

I remember that kid — me — who took off from a Canadian border cow town in Upstate New York. I remember long lost nights spent trying to act cool, trying to show we could hold our own in terms of booze consumption, and, perhaps, trying to finally pick up that person you’ve had a secret crush on. I remember it all, with the slightest grin emerging across my lips, my feet hoisted up onto the windowsill underneath the Western North Carolina twilight, as I lean further back into my chair and shake my head in awe. I remember. Do you?

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all. 

 

 

Hot picks

1 “Octoberfest” will be held all day on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Mad Anthony’s in Waynesville.

2 The Water’n Hole Bar & Grill (Waynesville) will host The Johnny Monster Band (rock/blues) at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14.

3 The 26th annual Chili Cook Off and Car Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad Depot in Bryson City.

4 The Swain Arts Center will present classic rockers The Freestylers in concert at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in Bryson City. The evening will also feature the opening of the George Evans Photography Exhibit in the lobby. 

5 The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville will end its 2016 season with “The Mystery of Irma Vep.” The production will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21-22, 27-29 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 23 and 30.

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