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This must be the place

art theplaceIt snuck up on me.

Sitting at my desk, I turned towards the window. Raindrops from a midday storm trickled down the glass. I stared beyond the window, into the foggy abyss swirling above Waynesville. I thought of my musty apartment, my aging father, my old truck, and the books gathering dust on my shelves. 

The ole “mean reds” as Audrey Hepburn spoke of in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s:” “The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”

I got up from my desk and went around downtown Waynesville in search of lunch. I needed some fresh air, and by the time I made a full loop up and down Main Street, I had yet to find what I was hungry for. Whatever it was, it didn’t appear before me. 

The afternoon drizzle fell upon me, as I remained dry under my thick plaid long-sleeve. In shorts and flip-flops, I found myself not avoiding any puddles that lay in my path along the sidewalks of downtown. The cold water splashed atop my feet, my head held high, just gazing around at the people milling about, the vehicles shooting by to wherever it was that those anonymous faces had to be, and be in such a hurry. 

I am antsy, restless, and yet very tired lately. My soul is road-weary and ragged — a result of years pushing myself, and those around me, to always pursue what lies around the corner of your destiny, no matter the emotional or physical toll it puts on you and yours. 

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Following the funeral of my uncle last week back in my native Upstate New York, I was reminded once again just how fast those seconds were ticking on any and all clocks — on the walls of your office, your home, or within your precious being itself. 

The more you run away from something, the more likely you are to just keep running back into yourself. I always looked at the whole thing (you know, “life”) as a linear timeline, one that started at Point A at birth and ended at Point B at death. But, as I’ve wandered and pondered this great big world, I find that existence (and your place in it) is a cylindrical set of situations, sentiments and sheer awe, where you find yourself walking through rain puddles in flip-flops all while trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe. 

At night, even after a long day spent running around, I’ll be wide awake at midnight, during what I call “writer’s hours,” that time where the minds of the curious race furiously as humanity and all creatures big and small are asleep under a twilight moon. 

Sipping from a lukewarm beer bottle in a quiet apartment, I stare out the window, sometimes at passerby cars on nearby Russ Avenue or a swaying tree branch in the front yard. Midnight slides into 1 a.m., onward towards the 2 a.m. bedtime threshold. With Herbie Hancock’s seminal 1965 jazz record “Maiden Voyage” on the stereo, the closing melody “Dolphin Dance” comes on.

Within the 09:16 tune, innumerable images flood my field-of-vision. Long lost but not forgotten childhood cronies, of neighborhood bicycle rides and summertime swimming, of pizza parlors and teenage shenanigans, of many things that didn’t seem to matter at the time, although they stick to your memory like peanut butter. And, of course, there are females — always females — who enter the mind.

Unforgettable lips and the way they said “nobody has ever looked at me like the way you do” from across a table during a long-forgotten dinner in some alternate universe, one where you felt you were ripped away from unfairly. And yet, you shake your head, knowing damn well things work out the way they’re supposed to, come hell or high water. 

You think of freshman year of college in Connecticut, when you discovered “Maiden Voyage” for the first time, and how it comforted you, headphones wrapped around your head, laying on your bed, staring up at the empty ceiling of your dorm room, wondering if being 300 miles from home and all things familiar was a good idea or not. 

At 31, I still lie in bed and stare upwards, with many of the same questions posed to an empty ceiling. “Dolphin Dance” is played and it all circles back to the start, which is also the finish, in essence. Once your heart begins to beat, it’s already over, you’ve already been pulled into this beautiful and crazy thing called “life,” a force of nature and nurture that is elusive to some, but attainable by all who never waver in the pursuit of things just and kind. 

With wet toes and raindrops stuck to my thick plaid long-sleeve, I re-enter the office and sit back down at my desk. I again turn towards the window. I again stare beyond the window, into the foggy abyss swirling above Waynesville. I think of my musty apartment, my aging father, my old truck, and the books gathering dust on my shelves. 

I think of you, too.

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



Hot picks

1 Tipping Point Brewing (Waynesville) will host Darren Nicholson & Richard Foulk (Americana/bluegrass) during their “Cinco de Weirdo” beard competition and spring celebration at 7 p.m. May 5.

2 The 14th annual Whole Bloomin’ Thing festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 7, in the Frog Level district of Waynesville.

3 Nantahala Brewing Company (Bryson City) will host Ol’ Dirty Bathtub (Americana/bluegrass) at 8 p.m. April 30. 

4 The Mother’s Day weekend “Airing of the Quilts” festivities returns all day Saturday, May 7, in downtown Franklin. 

5 The Water’n Hole Bar & Grill (Waynesville) will host Joey Fortner & Friends (Americana/bluegrass) at 9 p.m. April 30.

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