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This must be the place: I don’t want to look at the past and be sad, there were plenty of good times and more to be had

This must be the place: I don’t want to look at the past and be sad, there were plenty of good times and more to be had

Like clockwork, the garbage truck shook me awake at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. Picking up the dumpster from the pizza joint next door and flipping it up and over the roof of the massive vehicle.

Eyes open and stare at the old ceiling tiles of the old apartment in the old house in downtown Waynesville. Grey skies and raindrops. The sounds of the air-conditioner in the other room. The buzzing of the cell phone with reminders of the day’s obligations. Kick off the comforter and hop into the morning. 

The start of a new week. A new me, perhaps, eh? The core and foundation remains solid and aware. The branches of the tree of oneself constantly stretching outward, up, around, you know? 

My mindset is a lot clearer, more focused this morning, compared to foggy and remote the last few days, as if a small boat floating along the coastal shores, caught in a storm, but I can still see the comfort of land and lights in the not-too-far-away distance. 

It was Saturday when I felt odd and beside myself. With two weddings that afternoon, it was a rush to get myself together and presentable, to “get to the church on-time.” One at 3 p.m. in the backwoods of Bethel. The other at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Waynesville.

Weddings have always tugged a little harder at my heart and soul than other social gatherings do, which is no surprise for an old-soul, hopeless romantic like myself. To boot, as a self-proclaimed “extroverted loner,” I also find myself dipping in and out of interactions and the buzz of the space at these most ancient of celebrations. 

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Maybe it was being in the presence of unrelenting love between two human beings, extended family and friends sharing in the unforgettable moment, the sincere emotion of the occasion. Maybe it was being away from most of those familiar faces amid “all this,” somewhat alone and on my own for the last year-and-a-half. Truth be told, it was probably both. 

For a lot of us folks who live alone (and work alone, for the most part), the pandemic and shutdown was rough (as it was on so many levels for everyone).

Being alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a quiet downtown for weeks last year was difficult, but I was able to find solace in writing, listening to music (and learning to play guitar), disappearing into the depths of Mother Nature for hiking and trail running. 

And yet, you still had to circle back to silent apartment, to your thoughts, memories and moments lying in the rearview mirror, for good or ill. Each day left to your own devices was another day to — whether you wanted to or not — peel back the layers of your existence (past, present, future) like an onion with the core so damn deep it would take an eternity to unravel it. 

You push through and hope to reach the other side. It’s that idea of happiness and sadness, where the true sense of self comes with embracing both ends of the emotional spectrum, to appreciate when you smile as much as you appreciate the ability to cry — to feel the purity of what it means to be human, in essence. 

And the key to immersing yourself in what makes you sad (people, moments, situations) lies in how you’re able to eventually emerge from the sadness, to not get stuck like so many folks do — for months, years, maybe the rest of your life. You can be sad. You can acknowledge that you’re sad. But, what are you going to do to finally climb back over that wall into the bright light of your true and happy self?

Thus, all of that sadness and grief within me reared its ugly head on Saturday afternoon. All of those people, moments and situations of (past, present, future) that I’d been mulling over during the isolation of last year (and this year, too) came to a head, seemingly as I crossed over the threshold of the backwoods pavilion and of the reception hall in downtown. 

It was this intense, whirlwind bottleneck of emotions and imagery chaotically floating across my field-of-vision, dancing along my dashboard when I find myself aimlessly cruising the backroads of Western North Carolina to cleanse the feelings within. Images of beloved faces long gone and femme fatales that still hold onto a piece of me wherever they may roam these days. Faces still traversing this earth, wondering if they’re happy, if they’re loved — if they maybe think of me in the same regard, too.

Maybe that’s what weddings are meant to do for those in the audience observing the scene unfolding before them. Maybe it’s meant to be this litmus test for where you currently stand in your life. And the fact the gatherings this past weekend were some of the first real hints of “normalcy” after so much confusion and loneliness. 

That said, do you want to grasp something similar to what’s unifying before your eyes? Of course. So, then, what are you going to do about it? Not sure, at the moment. But, I won’t stop pushing forward — head held high, with a light stride. 

And don’t forget you’re loved — by someone, somewhere. We all are. If anything, make sure the face in the mirror is loved from within, for that matters most when stepping out the front door and interacting with the world swirling around you. 

Each person is like a magnet. With humans, however, positivity attracts positivity, negativity attracts negativity. Yes, sadness happens. But, don’t let it define you or prevent you from moving forward. The rainstorm ends and the sunshine reappears. As cheesy as that old adage is, it’s also truth. 

The garbage truck shook me awake at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. Eyes open and stare at the old ceiling tiles of the old apartment in the old house. The buzzing of the cell phone with reminders of the day’s obligations. Kick off the comforter and hop into the morning. The start of a new week. The branches of the tree of oneself constantly stretching outward, up, around, you know?

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

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