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art theplaceIt snuck up on me this year.

I know that it resides at the end of November. I know it’s filled with food, friends and family. But, I wasn’t really paying attention to the calendar until the day before the “feast” when it struck me. 

It struck me I wasn’t going home again for Thanksgiving.

This time of the year, between Turkey Day and New Year’s Eve, I find myself in a state of pondering, like I think we all do, when the leaves are long gone from the trees and a cold wind hits you leaving your house in the morning. There’s something timeless and distinctly human about the loss of summer, into the fall colors, into the silence of winter. 

It’s a deep sense of self, where you start to notice your age and appearance a little more in the mirror. The well-earned crow’s feet and wrinkles aren’t disguised by an August tan or the shenanigans of an unknown Friday when the air is warm and curiosity peaked. It’s a solemn state of being, an emotion that, the older I get, I embrace and appreciate, as sobering as it is. 

I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving (or Christmas) since 2011. In 2012, it was due to a lack of funds (very expensive to fly back to Upstate New York during the holidays). In 2013, it was due to work, and being able to get all of my deadlines met. This year, it was matters of the heart. You see, I had been planning for months to finally go home for Thanksgiving. I had planned to see my brand new niece, visit familiar faces and places only found in my dreams these days. But, most of all, I had wanted to see my girlfriend. 

But, as with life itself, those plans didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. My girlfriend is now a past-tense reference. No ill will on either end, it just is what it is, and at least we can remain friends when all is said and done. So, with that said, I decided I wasn’t ready to go home, not yet at least. The beating muscle in my chest is still pretty fragile and I walk on eggshells around it, leaving it alone, periodically making sure its ok, but mostly letting it repair itself in due time.

I miss my family, always do, and yet I find myself following my heart and intuition, which has always led me in the right direction of my intent. I’m truly blessed to have my career, to do what I get to do on a daily basis, all the amazing experiences I get to be part of. I’m blessed to know and be loved by incredible family and friends across the country and around the globe. 

Moving to Western North Carolina was quite possibly the best decision of my life. Those here have taken me in and always made me feel part of their families. They are truly some of the most kindhearted and caring folks on this planet. And for every one of those experiences and days down here, there are things back in the North Country I don’t bare witness to. 

Even though I feel I have the best job in the world, I’m out here in the cosmos, and for each of the wild moments and newly grasped pieces of knowledge and self, I’ve missed innumerable weddings, funerals, anniversaries, births, birthdays, holiday dinners, and moments of “just because.” Those faces back home, those things back in my native land that I cannot be there for, where an empty seat remains at the family table, they get heavy on my heart during the holidays, heavier each year. 

I’ve made a lot of sacrifices, for good or ill, to get to this point in my existence. I’ve lost good women, old friends and sometimes my own sanity, all in pursuit of things I feel are worthwhile. One will never know if it all was for nothing, but, for me, I believe if your heart is pure and your mind open to the endless possibilities of the universe, you can never go wrong. 

There will be days, too many to count, where I find myself driving the highways, bi-ways and back roads of this great big rolling piece of land we call America. I stare out over a silent dashboard, towards the horizon, always looking ahead, only looking back when I need to be reminded why I do what I do and why I’ll be relentlessly curious about what’s over the next hill, who is out there and what’s around that corner? 

There’s a method to my madness, and a lot of it comes from the conscious and subconscious support of those back home. I suppose someone has to be out here in the abyss, in pursuit of irresponsible enlightenment, in utter love with Mother Earth and eager to discover her secrets. I suppose.

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

 

 

Hot picks

1 The Festival of Lights & Luminaries will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 13-14 in downtown Dillsboro.

2 “The Christmas Shoes” stage production will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13 and at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Smoky Mountain Community Theatre in Bryson City. 

3 The “Toys for Tots” with Darren Nicholson Band (bluegrass) will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville.

4 The Jingle Bell Bash will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at The Classic Wine Seller in Waynesville. 

5 The Nanta Claus Christmas Children’s Benefit will from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 13 at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City.

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