I wanted out. I didn’t care where; I just wanted to be anywhere but here. I was about 17 when I really started to itch. Like the rest of my friends, I was college-bound and fantasizing about how all my dreams would come true. Most of all, I knew that whatever was going to make my dreams come true was not here. It was not in North Carolina, and most certainly was not rolled up somewhere in the dust of these small-town roads I’d sped up and down throughout my teen years. My destiny was somewhere in a foreign land without air conditioning where I would have to wear interesting, airy clothing, and take up a new language. My artistic hub could not, would not be in the old rugged hills of some deep mountain range tucked in the southern states of America. I would flourish somewhere else.
I owe North Carolina my deepest, and most sincere apology. I was wrong about you. I’ve travelled European countries, that have given me a taste of the foundations of who I am, and the foundations of art. I’ve travelled down the sweaty streets of Caribbean islands, buying unique treasures from the village children. I’ve been up north and out west to different parts of the country, finding differences in the land and people who make me curious. I’ve lived in a couple different cities…but I came back to you. I came back to the tiny town of Candler, North Carolina, just over the hill from Asheville. You are the true love I never got over, and my true parent. I never thought you would be the place I call home, and the place I fall into the arms of, but you are. You gave me a place to rest my head as an infant, you gave me an education, you gave me a husband, and you gave me all of my writing material. I couldn’t leave for forever because you have me all mixed up in your dirt. I am so sorry I ran your name through the mud, mocked your intelligence, and refused to see that mystic beauty for so long. I’m sorry, my beloved Carolina…
I’ve had these thoughts a few times before…before I was quite ready to apologize. I’d have a nostalgic tug here or there, knowing my home place was tapping me on the shoulder. However it came upon me with an entrancing perfume when I noticed the grapes were in at my grandmother’s house. I trotted down the hill from my mother’s to pick some fresh ones off the vine. I squeezed the fruit into my mouth and became as filled with sweet, bare foot memories, as I had the purple nectar. My beginnings came rushing at me again by way of a grape-vine, next to the stump of a tree I used to climb. I was standing in the place I would play and dream..the place I got my first material, make believing story lines. After all, when children dream they are just writing stories without a pen.
A couple of days later I was out with friends and met the niece of one of my long time friends. Her niece is from California, and at nine years old couldn’t help but remark on all the space, and land around her.
She asked me, “What’s that sticky stuff in the air?”
“That would be humidity,” I replied, with a chuckle, knowing that sticky stuff was part of me too.
I felt connected to this little girl somehow…maybe it was because she abruptly spoke her mind, or was so prissy. Maybe it was because I could see her connecting with her atmosphere so much, but it was something. Whatever it was, it made me appreciate my homeland even more. I was blessed to have been brought up running all over these fields she admired and felt so free in. I had to apologize to Carolina again.
I asked her, “Emily, do you write?”
“No. I hate writing. It makes me think of school, and I hate school,” she said in the typical nine-year-old fashion.
“But you’re doing it right now. When you’re communicating to me, or outside make-believing you’re doing it. You just don’t know it,” I replied thinking back to eating grapes by my old tree.
She kind of smiled at me, not insisting she just hated it. I actually think she knew what I meant. Maybe she’ll still hate writing, or maybe she’ll like it a little more now. I don’t know, but Carolina touched her, and touched me too. There’s something so wonderful about this place, and it is exactly where my dreams will come true. I’m sorry Carolina for what I’ve done, but I will never betray you again.