This week we’re precisely in the middle, straddling two completely different worlds.
Spent the entire day putting 30 year’s worth of life into cardboard boxes. This will continue through next week and what doesn’t go in a box, goes into a dumpster the size of a Greyhound bus. (This is the third one we’re filling. I have no idea how we did that.) At the moment, one leg straddles the Northeast. Overall, we tend to be a little wealthier up here…mostly. We also consider ourselves a little more worldly which we equate to intelligence. Not so sure about that. We consider ourselves more sophisticated, too, though here’s where things begin to unravel.
With sophistication, we begin to develop layers of existence, layers of reality, depending on a whole bunch of things. We disclose that which we choose to disclose, but there’s always a layer that we keep to ourselves…just in case. Not so much down South. It’s more direct.
Early one morning, Pam and I wandered into none other than a tractor supply store about 200-feet from our motel. In a way, it was just what you’d think and in a way…utterly different. First the prices: You probably won’t believe me, but here goes anyway. In Doylestown, PA, a quart…emphasis on quart of Kubota-orange paint…with tax will pretty well wipe out a fifty dollar bill. Down in Black Mountain, we didn’t believe it when I held up a gallon of the stuff for $30. And it goes on and on. A high-tech kayak sitting in the window: $225.00 The same thing in L.L Bean is $450.00. Freshest organic tomatoes you’re ever going to pop in your mouth…under a buck a pound. Up here, $4.99.
Pamela wandered over to the clothing section, rummaged around and then held up a little pink t-shirt with the following inscription: Sweet as Sugar, Cold as Ice. Cross Me Once…I’ll Shoot you Twice. We were chuckling at the humor . But then a very skinny, very pretty cashier came over to help us and we struck up a conversation. She had married for love, gotten pregnant, and then discovered the love of her life was highly abusive…dangerously so. Now, with a two-year-old she said that she carries. For a second, I didn’t get it and she sensed this. “I carry a .38 Colt in my glove box. If my ex tries to hurt my baby or hurt me…I’ll blow his head off.” This may be crude, but it seems to be effective. She’s had zero problem with her ex since.
Trust and Keeping Your Word: When my son, Cameron, was a munchkin, we had one of those talks, the heavy-duty father-son kind. The topic? Your Word…giving it and keeping it. I came on pretty strong that day. I explained that you can have a Mercedes, you can have a BMW. You can have a mansion in the foothills. But if your word doesn’t mean anything…it’s already GAME-OVER. Most people, and I include myself, either trust or they don’t. In not so overt a manner, that little pink t-shirt is correct. Cross me, lie to me, and we’re pretty much finished. You just don’t need a gun to do that.
When I pulled into Black Mountain last year to go house-hunting, my realtor didn’t know me from Adam. Conversely, I didn’t know him from Adam, either. And a moment came a few days later, when we had to get a bid in amidst a field of bidders. Four of us sat down that night and the paperwork…gobs of paperwork, appeared. Signatures and initials by the dozens. At some point, I stopped and looked across at the gentleman. I’ll call him Byron, for the purpose of this conversation, though his name was Fred. I said to Byron (Fred): “You know all of this paperwork doesn’t amount to anything if I can’t trust you.” He smiled at this, which was strangely heartening. He said. “You’re right. And you can trust me.” We had a guy-moment and that was that. And it’s been this way for a year, and I’m pretty sure it will always be that way.
Lest my Northern friends become offended, or hurt, here’s the thing: I don’t think the people in Black Mountain or Asheville are inherently any different from my Northern friends. I really don’t. But things are more complicated up here. Egos are bigger up here,I think, and STUFF, a word I’ve grown to loathe, has begun to reign supreme. Down there, in the space of a week, I didn’t see a single Maserati, Mercedes, or BMW. But you know what else I didn’t see? Any road rage…at all. No discourtesy and not one single beep of a horn during the entire week. I think horns should be deemed optional down there….soon to be here.
The house we bought down here is less than half the size of CrossBow, but guess what: Savannah Blue will be paid for, you don’t really need A/C down here and…the TAXES are One-Tenth what I’ve been paying for 30 years.
Life is good and people are happy. They may carry a pistol for protection, but no one I’ve met down here will knife you in the back… Piss ’em off and you may be ducking a bit of lead, however.
Henry and Miss Pamela
P.S. A whole bunch of you have honored us with your acceptance to come down and visit for awhile. I can guarantee you’ll be very pleasantly surprised if you haven’t been to the Asheville area before. You may gain a pound or two…the food is that good, and you’ll see some gorgeous mountains, waterfalls and truly friendly people. Here’s what the Guest House will look like with a coat of paint and some gussy-ing up. It has its own driveway, pond, waterfall, parlor, kitchen, washer/dryer and it’s 100 yards from the house. Who knows, maybe you’ll see what we saw coming down here: Friendly, happy people.
Warning.. Yield signs may face you, but everyone knows where they are… The result? “Go ahead, you go.” “No, I’ll wait, you go.” “No you go”…. Ad infinitum… Be careful on the highways.. They’re almost too polite… Hey, you gotta drive West and visit the city with a slightly different spelling… Nashville… We’ll discuss it Labor Day Weekend in person!!!! 😉
Yes, there’s no use in competing Asheville vs Nashville. You chose well, my friend. I believe we did, too. Now if you want to bring Newark, New Joisy into the competition, I think we have an interesting argument. After one week down there, friends up here told me my accent was already morphing. When in Rome…do as the Romulans do.
Hello dears Pamela &Henry
Everything about this new place of yours sounds so very wonderful, and
like Wallet Disney’s dreamland. We(mo &Su ) are very glad for your great achievement. For sure you deserving more and more of this kind of places. You have good nature, and excellent sense of peace, love and friendship I wish some days we cloud visit this Heaven! Henry do remember my purple socks 45 years ago, that it made you laughing ? so please paint some part of your new guest house purple, and laugh to it any time that you see it. life is funny .
Take care and be happy all the time
your old sincere friend Mo .
Yes, I remember those purple socks very well! And I promise you 100% that there will be purple paint on the guest house…and not just a tiny dab of it somewhere. Deconstructing a 30 year life in one place was harder and more challenging than I expected. But that’s part of the definition of LIFE: Grappling, struggling, trying to figure out what is important, meeting new people and saying goodbye to some. One of the very nice things about the internet is that we can communicate and joke and reminisce across many thousands of miles.
You have a fine family! You and Su should be very proud!
Your old friend,
Wish I was still in the moving business. Yes, Asheville is fortunately a well kept secret, as Waco is, so my invite is open to you and Pam as well, well, once the newness wears off!
Thank you kindly! Wish you were in the shipping business too. I’d feel a lot safer having someone I know break all the dishes and cups. Having a stranger do it doesn’t quite seem right.
As I have said in other emails to you, trust and respect are the foundation of genuine relationships. You and I and our spouses are definitely on the same page. We couldn’t wish you two more success. You’ve earned and deserve it. Also, add to the list, from the song…is…the only thing money can’t buy is True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes. Clear sailing my friend.
Thank you my friend.
You have an open invitation to ‘c’mon down and sample some of those tomatoes. Two miles from the house is a breakfast cafe, appropriately called The Whistle Stop Cafe, where they do, indeed, serve up terrific fried green tomatoes.
Feeling strange at the moment, deconstructing 30 years of CrossBow. Big sculptures getting shrink-wrapped and place in a staging area. They’ll travel a bit and then spend the rest of their years hearing the sounds of a waterfall. Could be worse.
Thanks for your friendship and we’re still in cyberspace.
I wish you both well, Henry. Best of luck.
Thank you Janet. It’s been a pleasure knowing you. Just talked to Harry Snyder the other day at Wegmans. Good man!
Just getting to my good mail. You know, the ones you save to read when you’re not in a hurry and can savor the sentiments.
The tee shirt reminds me of another I saw at a gun show…something to the effect of…beware of dog, hell no, worry about the owner who’s packing.
Enjoy hearing of your escapades.
It’s funny how you spend 30 years, turning a blank canvas of a property and house into a home. And then at some intangible point, when everything is in a box or crate, the home magically transforms into a house again. And then the process repeats itself all over again. The circle of life, only speeded up a bit.
Gonna miss you and Wade! Hope you’ll come down and visit.
Henry and Pamela