At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

art theplaceThat space between freedom and responsibility.

Sunday afternoons. While some of us nurse throbbing headaches from the shenanigans of the prior evening’s libations, others are headlong into the backwoods of Mother Nature, trying to escape just a little bit further away from the trials and tribulations of tomorrow. 

For me, it is a safe haven of time where the idea of “time” falls into some kind of daze, a flexible state of mind that makes the seconds on a clock tick away a tad slower. I wake up and remember where I am, usually in my quiet, unassuming apartment. Staring up at the ever-evolving water stain on the ceiling tile above my bed, I try to focus my vision on the dark blotch. Perhaps I can see some kind of figure or symbol within it, maybe even the face of Jesus, which can command a pretty penny for public viewing, or at least some attention from the local media.

No Jesus today. Rats. Hopping out of bed, I pull up the dusty blinds and welcome the world into my window. Plopping down on the squeaky baby-poop-green recliner, I hoist my feet up onto the windowsill and gaze out the window. Cars filled with people up already for hours zoom by, filling the fast-paced lanes of Russ Avenue in downtown Waynesville. 

Turning to my bookcase, I peruse the shelves of novels. Bukowski. Kerouac. Thompson. McInerney. McMurtry. I’ve read them all, but the timeless words can feel fresh again after a few years of neglect from their owner. I feel like reading, but I can’t seem to focus on the sentences, as I reread each paragraph for the second or third time and yet still can’t seem to comprehend what was just said. I’d rather sit, and think, maybe do some writing, some contemplation of my own state of affairs rather than dive down into that of others.

Thirty-one. When I was 18, the thought of being 31 seemed so far away, like the other side of a vast canyon that I had years to find the correct path to the other side. Down into it and back up the hard way, or take the long way around in an effort to be safe than sorry. Throw John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” into the headphones and let my fingers do the talking, gliding across the keyboard like a rolling wave emerging from the unknown ocean, ready to crash onto the shores of reason. 

Sunday used to mean sitting in church with my family, my legs dangling and dancing over the edge of the old wooden pew out of sheer boredom and anxiousness to be outside playing with my friends. It meant a red alert to finish my homework or else I wouldn’t graduate, wondering just when in the hell would I ever use algebra in my soon-to-be adult life? It meant sitting in my childhood bedroom and listening to the radio, staring out the window onto the empty, endless cornfields surrounding my house in rural Upstate New York. It meant driving my old Plymouth Acclaim an hour down the road to visit my high school sweetheart, to perhaps steal a smooch that would surely hold me over during our time apart.

Nowadays, if I’m not regretting my bar tab from Saturday night, then Sunday becomes more of a day of mischief, one that seems to stray awkwardly from the rest of the days of the week. I sit in the baby-poop-green recliner, staring blankly onto Russ Avenue, questioning just where everyone is going, and why they’re in such a hurry? Going faster doesn’t mean you can outrun time. It only means it’ll take that much more brake power to slow down and maybe, just maybe, smell those roses you keep hearing about. 

I’ll put on my boots and jump into the rusty pickup truck, throwing it into drive and coasting around Western North Carolina. Slide onto a back road, crank up the tunes and ponder in amazement of just where all that time went. Faces appear on the dashboard, many of which not seen in years. I’m tempted to reach for my cell-phone and call’em up, saying, “Well, hey darling, remember me?” But I decide against it, for the last time I was directed right to voicemail.

Sunday afternoons are a lot quieter these days, due in part to my own silence that occurs when clarity is found at the bottom of a cup of coffee at the start of another week in this universe all too big for my comprehension. On the outside, this appears to be a rambling, a manic chatter of sputtering thoughts, words and sentiments. But, upon closer inspection, it’s the sincere notion stemming from someone with an unquenchable thirst for just what lies outside their door.

Open the paint-peeling door and look around. I’ve yet to actually find what I’m searching for, let alone know exactly just what “it” is. But I do know, however, that’ll when I do come across it I’ll know.

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

 

 

Hot picks

1 Legendary country/folk singer Emmylou Harris will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

2 Bosu’s Wine Shop and Feline Urgent Rescue (FUR) present the “If I have not but nine lives, let me fill them with wine” fundraising event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 22, at the shop in Waynesville.

3 The production of acclaimed southern comedy “The Red Velvet Cake War” will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 14-16 and at 2 p.m. April 17 at the Haywood Regional Arts Theatre in Waynesville.

4 The “Beer, Bluegrass, BBQ Spring Celebration” will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Outdoor 76 in Franklin. 

5 The Strand at 38 Main (Waynesville) will host Soldier’s Heart (folk/rock) at 8 p.m. April 16.

Go to top