This must be the place: Roads that we abandon and others that we take

As the decade comes to a close, I sip this cup o’joe in a quiet coffee shop in a small town in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I think of December 2009 and how incredibly different life was. 

At 24 years old, the economy had tanked a year earlier. Living back in my native Upstate New York (in my parent’s farmhouse), I had left the west in 2008 following my first journalism gig at a tiny paper in Eastern Idaho. 

This must be the place: And what it all comes down to, is that everything’s gonna be fine

My eyelids fluttered open and it took me a couple moments to realize that I was in my apartment and it was Thanksgiving morning. After a wild, raucous Thanksgiving Eve bouncing through the fine establishments of downtown Waynesville, it was time to dust myself off and be ready for the impending dinner.

This must be the place: No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge

When I was a kid, my parents would talk to anybody. Literally anybody. Though my little sister was somewhat embarrassed by it, I was completely fascinated. 

Learning to relish the meaningful moments

As fall draws to a close, and the leaves turn brown to pile up on the sidewalk instead of in the trees, the cycles existing all around us become more obvious, more visible. 

My personal stressors in life are those everyone young person faces: finding employment, making enough money, trying to figure out what I will do with my life. A few nights ago, I had a dream about my grandmother, my father’s mother. She was young again in my dream (and alive) and had long, beautiful, curling blonde hair. The rest of the dream is a blur, but I remember being in awe of her beauty. As I woke up, I relished the opportunity to have been with her for a few moments. 

This must be the place: Drifting back down to earth at the peak of beauty

It was right around 3 p.m. when I knew I had to escape.

Sitting in the Panacea Coffeehouse in the Frog Level District of Waynesville on Monday afternoon, I had finished my writing for the day. I had concluded all my emails, correspondences and text messages, too. I just wanted to get away, even if but for a moment, from my damn smart phone and laptop in an era of Wi-Fi and unlimited data plans. 

This must be the place: That’s the way it goes, first your money then your clothes

For a moment, I had thought I’d gone crazy.

Standing in the laundromat just a block away from my apartment in Waynesville, I stared at Dryer #4 with a puzzled look on my face. It was 1:45 p.m. on an otherwise normal Tuesday. I walked up to Dryer #4 and put my hand on the door. It was still warm. It had happened: someone stole my laundry. 

This must be the place: Breakin’ ties that you’d grown, catchin’ dreams from the clouds

The crisp air now wafts into the open windows of my quiet apartment in downtown Waynesville. The ushering in of fall. Another summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. 

This must be the place: Their music being born of love, children danced night and day

This past weekend at Kickin’ It On The Creek marked my 20th music festival in the last 27 weeks.

This must be the place: When I pass by all the people say, just another guy on the lost highway

Last Sunday morning, at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Route 27 in Wiscasset, Maine, I decided to turn right instead of going straight. 

Instead of the usual drive down U.S. 1 to Interstate 95 and back into civilization, along the highways that lead me to my native North Country of Upstate New York, I chose Route 27 and pushed north into the desolate backwoods of Maine. I had a lot on my mind and preferred the scenic path. No need to rush back to my parents’ house. 

This must be the place: Where will you take me? What will we do?

Pulling off Interstate 87 onto Route 9, the fading sun lowered itself behind the cornfields and open meadows of the Champlain Valley. It has been a while since I’d found myself crossing into the village limits of Rouses Point, New York, a place where I spent the first 18 years of my life.

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