Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Your Left Are the Baptists. To Your Right Are the Baptists

This is part one of the trip Mr. V and I just took to see if we want to relocate to the other side of the country. Photo taken en route to Brevard, just inside North Carolina.

Taos, Santa Fe, Tucson, Sedona, Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, Billings, Bozeman, Big Sky, Missoula, Eugene, Jackson Hole, Durango, Manhattan, Paris, Barcelona, Brittany, and Fraserburgh, Scotland. These are all places I thought I might one day wake up and find myself living in.

North Carolina was never on that list, well and so.

You fly into Atlanta where the females are ornamental, every girl a cheerleader and every woman blonde with her hair teased like a farm boy in a Nevada bordello. Get out of the city and for three and half hours, you can just hear the banjos playing all the way through South Carolina to Brevard, NC, so rolling and remote is the countryside. Every exit promises food-gas-lodging but there are so many trees, you can't see them. I don't believe it, if we're being honest. I couldn't see a damn thing but forest and more forest, and I half think all those signs promising Wendy's and Exxon mobile were put there to reassure the tourists. Where I'm from, if someone does a jig three miles away you can see what shoes they're wearing and smell what's on for dinner. Growing up in Denver leaves you a strange hybrid daughter of the Rockies and the plains. One majestic and demanding father who hurts you just enough to keep you running toward him, and your flaxen-haired mother just spread wide open, head down in the grass and arms begging you to enjoy all that sky.

The road side attraction in Georgia are boiled peanuts, which the locals insist on calling "balled", but I know the truth. All the grocery stores are called things like "Save Mor Foods" and "Lots 4 Less", which to Mr. V and I might as well be "Crap For Dimes" and "Edible Chemicals for Sale". "Why can't we just have a Piggly Wiggly?" I asked Mr. V. We did see a Publix, but I can't help hearing it "Pube-lix", so as you can see, it's not much better.

After all the peanut and strawberry stands, you hit the Carolinas and you might as well have canoed down the Amazon. The forest is thick as jungle to my prairie-trained eyes, the trees so canopied they turn the light old fairy-green until it goes so dark you begin to wonder if the sun shines here at all, or if you have landed on some strange sunless planet where the light shines pine from the leaves themselves.

We pulled into town just in time for the White Squirrel festival, where they have vendors and live bluegrass and some poor body dressed up in a white squirrel outfit, wandering around and waving paws. There are six to eight thousand people living in Brevard, depending who you ask. They are friendly and welcoming, even if the Starbucks Barista was a pink fellow named RayRay and I almost called the whole thing off. There are Baptist churches left and right, Main Street runs about four blocks and two lights, but there's music and art galleries, wine stores and French cheeses, so what's a girl to do? Women who might as well be from Colorado, wearing dresses and sandals, peasant blouses and no makeup, have come for college and never left. The people have accents and I can't help it, I adapt them immediately, saying "thank yew" and drawing all my vowels out long from the throat. No one looks at me funny, I think they are fooled. I do have an ear for accents. People love it at parties, no seriously. THEY DO.

 Noah (who still prefers to be called Mr. V on the blog) and I arrived at the stage just in time to hear the mayor giving out awards to the winners of the White Squirrel boxcar derby, where boys and girls from six to sixteen, all functional in athletic shorts and t-shirts with hair and ponied and un-teased, were blushing and receiving their trophies. They mayor ribbed a mom for holding up the ceremony to take pictures, then said, "That's all right, she was my high school girlfriend. She knows it. Ask her where she was the night of her sixteenth birthday," and Mr.V and I laughed like we'd gone back in time to find Laura Ingalls and her farm boy husband, who were all modernized and twinkling-eyed about it.

We introduced ourselves to the mayor, who also runs the Ace hardware on Main by the cinema. This little town is very excited to have Oskar Blues coming in, and Dale's big focus is to help out the community and grow more jobs. So the mayor greeted us warmly, gave us his number and recommended good neighborhoods for house hunting. "There's no better place to raise your kids," he said, and even though we know it's his job, Mr.V and I were starry-eyed. After shaking hands and kissing babies, we were thirsty for some beer which is, let's face it, what we're here for. We drank a few absolutely first-rate beers at the Brevard Brewing Company, including an American lager that I want to take down some slow river and sip the whole way, then headed over to the Square Root for dinner. It was hopping. Chewy homemade blue corn tortillas and folks hanging out on the light-strung porch, where Mr. V and I observed a unique, bearded fellow in a fancy brown suit. He looked like Joaquin Phoneix in his crazy stage, only without the mad pretension and self-importance. After a wonderful meal of fish tacos and good old cheeseburgers, local grown Brussels sprouts on the sides and Dale's on tap, we wondered back out to the stage to find the man in the brown suit up on the stage, playing with his band, Chatham County line.

Well no wonder.

The next day we drank cups of hot coffee and cruised for houses. Everyone had babies and was strolling toward the swimming pool in this quiet green neighborhood set right into rolling hills with the woods creeping up into the yards, nature just waiting to take it all back. The word idyllic came to mind, but I am city-bred and was feeling a thump of something that might be called panic.

So we rolled out north to Asheville.

Tomorrow, Part Two: Asheville--It's Just Like Boulder, Only Awesome.


  1. Sounds amazing! I lived in a lil' 9,000-person town for my first year of college. I thought I'd hate it after 18 years living among millions, but by the time it ended and I was set to transfer to CU I didn't want to leave. There's something magical about small towns. Excited to see what you have to say about Asheville. :)

  2. I'm so happy for you guys! But I'll miss you so if you move :)

    Then again, looking forward to ditching my family a couple of times a year to come visit you by myself. :-D

  3. 6-8 thousand people?! Sounds like a metropolis! ( I grew up in a town of less than 5,000.) I've always wanted to live in NC; now you can do it for me! Can't wait to hear about Asheville.

  4. Alright, I'm hooked and want to hear more!

    The captcha tonight? dowthell. As in "Is he comin'? I dowt -hell I dropped my beer."

  5. You know, I went to college in Chapel Hill -- I'm a Tar Heel -- it's the only state in the south (and I grew up in Georgia and lived for five years in Nashville after college) that I'd even CONSIDER living in. The only drawback is the damn humidity -- and it's BRUTAL. Sorry for the caps -- I just hate the humidity. And with the exception of Chapel Hill, the politics.

  6. Your verse is mesmerizing, lady. Truly. Loved the bit about the parents, Rocky Mountains father and flaxen haired Plains mother. And now I crave me some bluegrass, it does this soul good. Just beautiful, Can't wait for more!

  7. You better be careful what you write or you may find that your extended family may be relocating with you. I found myself having a crazy toothy-grin on my face while I read this.

    I can't wait to read about how some place can be like Boulder yet be tolerable.


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