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This must be the place: You would do anything, you’d give up everything for god knows why

Christmas Eve. Downtown Waynesville. Sitting alone in my one-bedroom apartment, I was bummed that I couldn’t be back home in the North Country for the holidays with my family and friends. Putting on the baseboard heater, I proceeded to make my way to the fridge for a beer.

My smart phone on the desk vibrates. I get a message from my boss (a dear friend) asking if I wanted to join he and his family for a very small family dinner, since I was by myself on Christmas Eve. Yes, sold. I drove out of town and up a steep mountain to their house. 

As I get there, it starts to dump snow. Heavy, wet snow. The roads became extremely treacherous. So, after dinner and a few drinks, it was decided that I’d crash there for the night and leave in the morning. 

Laughter. Card games. Bourbon. Sincere friendship, love and appreciation for those present. A peaceful slumber on the comfy couch in front of a roaring fireplace. 

Woke up to a Winter Wonderland in Southern Appalachia. Coffee, bacon and English muffins before I hit the road. I said goodbye to my friends and headed out the door. Getting into my truck, I proceed to back out of their driveway. It’s icy and such, but seemingly manageable, though somewhat of a steep incline. 

Barely touch the gas to backup, one of my tires catches some ice and loses grip, slowly sliding the truck over the edge of the driveway and onto the snowy slope that’s the front yard. Without touching the gas or brake, the truck continues to slide. I touch the brake and yank the wheel to avoid flipping over into the ditch. 

Putting the truck back in park, I get out to inspect the situation. My front left/right and back left tires are over the edge of the driveway, the back right tire now several inches off the ground. The truck is at a 45-degree angle to the driveway. It ain’t getting out unless towed. If I kept trying to gun it and get it moving, it’d just slam into the nearby boulder in the yard (a couple of feet away from the driver’s side). 

Shit. So, with the snow supposedly going to melt by Sunday when warm temperatures return, I left the truck and decided to walk the five miles down the mountain, along rural farm roads and back into town. Ratcliff Cove Road to Raccoon Road to Old Asheville Highway to Main Street. My Waynesville folks know that’s a haul by foot. 

Screw it. Nothing I can do about it now. The road down the mountain was a sheet of ice, fell a few times, cursing to myself. Rural farm roads were a mess of snow and ice. Nobody stopped to give me a ride. I figure with the pandemic, who would want to pick up a stranger, eh? With the temperature around 15 degrees with a slight wind, I held my coat tightly and remained warm considering the elements at hand. 

A couple miles into my frozen journey, the skies finally cleared. Bright blue with a warm sun piercing the frigid air. And even though I was frustrated and stressing myself out about what happened to my truck, I looked up at the sunshine in gratitude. 

I thanked the universe for all the great things I do have, and to acknowledge things I cannot control, like accidentally getting my truck stuck. I was grateful to be healthy and sturdy enough to be able to easily walk five miles in the snow and ice. I was grateful to have kind and wondrous friends in my life to invite me to a dinner when I was all alone and kind of sad. 

And I was grateful for the beautiful farmland surrounding my cold trek, a continuing scene of barns, cows and farmhouses that reminded me so much of my native North Country. I was grateful for the time to simply walk and be lost in thought, taking lemons and trying to make lemonade. 

An hour and a half later, I stepped onto my porch and walked into my warm apartment. I was grateful to have a cozy and safe place to call home, food and beverages in my fridge, etc. Thus, I found myself sitting in the recliner for the rest of that evening, sipping a beer, gazing out onto nearby Russ Avenue and thinking about everything else I hold with a deep sense of gratitude. 

If you stop for minute and take a quick inventory, you’ll find endless things to be thankful for, it’s all a matter of perspective, right? It’s like they say, “some see obstacles, others see an adventure.” And I stick by that sentiment. Push ahead. You’re still standing. Hold that head up. Move forward, happily. The eternal optimist in my heart and soul radiates through once again. 

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

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