This must be the place: I wanna be an American cowboy, and I ain’t never moving away

Every-so-often, I’d look around the crowd and wonder if I’d have known any of these folks, perhaps called them dear friends, if I had stayed all those years ago.

Standing in the middle of Teton Village, in the shadow of the Grand Teton Mountains, just outside Jackson, Wyoming, this past Sunday, I immersed myself in the raucous sounds of rock act Futurebirds. I thought of who I was and what I wanted out of life when I was 23 years old and living in this part of the country. 

This must be the place: Tomorrow’s gonna be a brighter day

Back to square one.

Dammit. You’d think that after existing on this earth for 33 years, and being a legal adult for the last 15, that I’d get this relationship and/or love thing correct, eh? Somewhere on I-40 West right now is my now ex-girlfriend, bolting across the Mississippi River toward the next, new chapter of her life in New Mexico. 

This must be the place: Pebbles and marbles like things on my mind

Well, 15 years ago this past weekend, I spontaneously bolted from Upstate New York straight to northern Maine to attend Phish’s “IT Festival.” 

A lifelong fan of the beloved jam-rock act, who was raised in the Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont (home base of the band), it was my first time seeing them in all their melodic glory. I was 18 years old that summer of 2003. Just graduated high school, spending the summer working front desk and maintenance at my aunt and uncle’s motel in downtown Lake Placid, New York. 

This must be the place: Happy 50th birthday, Dirty Santa

And there I was, at a dive bar in the 800-person high desert town of Victor, Idaho, with the backdrop of the Grand Teton mountain range, playing horseshoes and sipping on a lukewarm can of Rainier beer. It was the early summer 2008. My friend, Billie, was watching a few of us play, when she asked me what I had planned now that the weather had gotten warmer.

This must be the place: Finding Nirvana is like locating silence

Emerging from the Appalachian Trail on the North Carolina/ Tennessee state line this past Sunday afternoon, a hot southern sun hung high, beads of sweat rolling down my face. I turned around and saluted the dirt path I just had finished running. 

This must be the place

I still don’t really know what day it is.

This must be the place: Don’t shoot the messenger, literally

It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now. When news broke last week of the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, that thought now shifted from the back of my mind to the forefront of my thoughts — could it happen to us?

This must be the place: The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own

“If you see all the people playing corn hole in the driveway you’re at the right place,” the familiar voice said over the phone last Saturday evening. 

After the shock, and the pain, life goes on

It has been about eight months since my stepfather died. My mother has been talking about getting her house in order for a while, but now she has reached the point of putting her thoughts into action. The question is what to keep, what to sell, what to pass on to the kin, what to donate, what to burn, and what to take to the landfill. We are outside, taking a brief and informal inventory. Plus, it’s the second day of summer and nice out, so it is just good to walk off a breakfast of pancakes and bacon with a little time in the sun.

A life stranger than fiction: Local author releases novel of true-life confessions

As Royal Phillips packs up her belongings that signify the last 20 years she’s spent in Waynesville and prepares for her next chapter in Palm Springs, California, she can’t help but to feel like her life has come full circle — and what a crazy circle it has been. 

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