The crunching kept catching my attention.
After finding a scarce parking space, it was a short, careful stroll from the Montford neighborhood of downtown Asheville to the U.S. Cellular Center for the 29th annual Christmas Jam last Saturday evening.
“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing. As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
— Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)
It was right around the second beer when I began to settle in.
The warm sunshine and lingering foliage of metropolitan Charlotte was in stark contrast to the chilly air and empty trees of the mountains of Western North Carolina. But, with my aunt and cousin within arm’s reach, and my girlfriend beside me, I immersed myself into the Thanksgiving gathering last week.
That slow walk from the car.
When I was 16 years old, I entered the American workforce. I was the breakfast and lunch cook for McDonald’s in Champlain, New York. And it was that slow walk from my rusted out 1989 Toyota Camry to the side entrance under the bright yellow arches, into another morning and early afternoon amid the chaos of the fast food world.
It’s the carrot.
For the better part of the last 12 years, Rolling Stone magazine has been a carrot dangling in front of my eager, overzealous — and often restless — journalistic spirit.
Taken too soon.
It’s the three words one person — let alone one family or one community — never wants to here when it comes to a young person passing away before they could blossom and take over the world, usually with a signature smile or laugh (or both).
My first love. Baseball.
The quintessential American pastime. The thing of which childhood dreams are made. The playing grounds of heroes, either ready to be made or already part of the centuries-old lore surrounding a game that knows no bounds in its depths of imagination and sheer ability to capture yours.
It was right around the third song or so that the goosebumps kept appearing.
Up and down my arms, the raised hair and skin resulting from the massive sound and stage presence of the Foo Fighters, the saviors of rock-n-roll in the modern era, one could easily surmise.
For a moment, I thought the dog was going to charge me.
Running along the quiet back country of Southwest Georgia, dirt roads that make up most of the escape routes into the abyss ‘round these parts, I could see the small creature out of the corner of my eye. Once I realized he had stopped at the end of the driveway, my primal instincts disappeared, my eyes aimed further down the bright dirt path my feet playfully and joyously jogged atop.
Three pickup trucks. One stretch of highway.
Since 2005, I’ve routinely traversed a never-ending stretch of Interstate 81 from north-central Pennsylvania into Eastern Tennessee. Some of the trips were for business, others for pleasure, with every single trek one of personal reflection amid a wide-spectrum of the beauty — physical and spiritual — that is singular to the identity of America.