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This must be the place: Just as long as the guitar plays, let it steal your heart away

Sunday afternoon in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The date on my phone says April 5, but I really haven’t had any sense of time since early March. Coming into a month of the “new norm” during all of “this.” 

I mean, granted the only sense of time I had before were merely the deadlines for articles and putting out the newspaper on Tuesdays. But, anyhow, it’s surreal to kind of feel like you’re in this holding pattern, awaiting the green light to move forward with your (our) lives. 

For someone like myself who thrives on human interaction and moving around constantly, it’s been hard to sit still and be so damn alone these days. 

Sure, I’ve lived alone for many years, and happily. But, not being able to see folks and bounce around has proved difficult. Living alone and being single in a small apartment in a silent downtown is quite the predicament. 

Before, the simplicity and purposely minimalist intent of my existence at home was fine, and still is to a large degree, but I was never really home anyhow, always wandering and writing somewhere about something or someone. 

So, now with that pulled away from me, the work and the travel, the faces and the events, quite the void remains, physically and emotionally. 

And I’m dealing with it the best I can (as we all are). It’s tough to sit in such silence, alone with one’s thoughts, loved ones and dear friends faraway and such amid the quarantine. 

I feel like some of my mojo has disappeared or slightly vanished, in some respects. Face-to-face interaction, conversation and immersion are what get me out of bed in the morning, put a kick in my step and fuel my soul. 

My heart isn’t so much heavy as it is laying low. I run, listen to music, cook a little bit, play the ukulele and do some writing, but that only seems to fill so much time in the day. 

It’s weird to realize how much time is actually in a single day when you’re put in a situation like we’re in right now. It’s a bittersweet, but truly beautiful thing to realize that within these current government and social mandates. 

Lots of things are definitely going to change and be radically different after all of “this” is said and done: for me, you and everyone else in our big, bright world. My head is held high, and I’m optimistic about the days, weeks, months and years that lay ahead. 

When I fantasize about the return of normalcy, I picture myself in my truck, windows rolled down, a cool breeze cascading into the vehicle, sunshine radiating through the windshield. 

I’m cruising somewhere serene to see someone special: the anticipation for a hearty face-to-face conversation, maybe even in the confines of a concert. Can you even imagine how incredible it’s going to be to be allowed to attend live music again? What a once absurd thought now a real sentiment, eh?

Nowadays, I go over long-held dreams and goals in my head. When normalcy reappears, I’m going to take that trip overseas I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m going to visit that old friend who I keep telling every year that “this is the year I’ll swing on by your place.” I’m going to spend more time playing my ukulele and hopefully work my way up to a mandolin at some point. 

What’s also been wild is how much my heart is returning to its roots, in terms of dating and relationships. I’ve been running the roads and so focused on the written word for so long, that I’ve really neglected some of the greatest aspects of life: making a deep and meaningful connection with a significant other. 

I’ve spent so many years putting energy towards work and career aspirations, and yet, none of that means much when you’re sitting alone during this pandemic with nobody to share the beauty of time and place together. 

The irony of this era we’re in is that it really shows us the urgency of life amid a landscape of quarantines and limited access to the ways and means of daily life. 

With all of this free time at our disposal, many of us are finally waking up to what is important in our lives, a token a gratitude that will be the cornerstone of our new lives when we return to our regularly scheduled program.

And I’m thinking about all of you out there, wherever you are, reading this in your own time and silence. You remain in my thoughts, with our memories made together passing through my field-of-vision as I sit on my porch or jog along empty streets. 

I put on albums and records that make me smile, that lighten my heart, that ultimately remind me of those people, places and things I’m missing an awful lot right now. 

I’m alone. But, I know that there’s love that swirls around me: as I walk, run, sit, listen, sip, eat, and gaze out the open window onto an unknown world within uncertain times. 

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

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