Saturday, June 30, 2012

Life in Glass Mansions AKA Murder Houses

One thing about me is that for a writer, I often make myself spectacularly unclear. Last week, when I was saying that I was going to live in "a van down by the river", what I meant is that, during the ten day interim between the end of one lease and the beginning of another, we were actually going to be living in a pop-up camper that would not be on a river but across the street from a Target in one direction and the movie theater in another. It wouldn't have been the end of the world, it's just that we weren't sure how we were going to shower or cook or keep from turning into cave people. "Need to pick up wood.We'll have to build a fire every night," I said bracingly to Mr. V, who then informed me that under no circumstances would we be building a fire every night, a statement I still don't understand. How does one camp without a campfire? Can't be done. How would you make the s'mores???

However, the night before we were to go take up our new lives as mole people who live behind the Target dumpster, a very kind person we know called us up and said, hey, rather than living in a van down by the river, why don't you come stay in my mansion down by the river instead?

So it was that yesterday we found ourselves moving for a ten day stint into an enormous and fabulous house, whose owners have only just moved out and are trying to sell it. Let's just say that walking through it, I feel like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, treading on plush carpet past high vaulted mid-century modern fireplaces, dancing a gin-soaked shimmy while the owner remains unseen. Naturally, my immediate instinct was to throw a giant party, invite all the parents who paid real money for the private school my girls attended on scholarship, as well as everyone I went to high school with, pretend the house was ours, and then be all super casual about our seeming wealth. "What, this? Yeah, we became rich like, yesterday. I know, right?" And then we'd serve Chef Boyardee, which everyone would think showed how down-to-earth we still are, but really it would be the only thing we could afford. "Gwenyth Paltrow recommended Livingston Cellars Blush Chablis on GOOP today," I would say conspiratorially, pouring generous gallons of the stuff.

Of course, I know from Hollywood that the only two things to do in huge houses are to throw parties or get murdered in them. After dropping us off at the throne we are pretending to, Mr. V left to work the night shift at the brewery and left me alone in a huge and empty house that has floor-to-ceiling windows everywhere and no blinds. Needless to say, the surrounding woods were just crawling with rapists and axe murderers, and those guys that came after Harrison Ford in his lake house in Patriot Games were swimming out back in the river. To allay my fears, I put on the movie Gone, expecting Amanda Seyfried to be all cute and clumsy and got instead a flick about a man who kidnaps women from their homes at night and drags them into the woods. This was a mistake. I spent most of the night standing in front of the picture windows, watching vigilantly for my demise. I realized that if anyone was out there, they were going to see me looking scared and timid. So to throw them off, I started doing karate moves, busting out clumsy chops and off-balance round kicks in front of the glass. Ok, I didn't actually do that, but I thought it might make a funny scene for a movie. (Somebody remind me to call Mindy Kaling on a totally unrelated-to-my-movie-idea issue).

So this is where we are. I'd love to stay and tell you all my movie ideas, (Jensen Ackles is War Horse's trainer. I need riding lessons. We kiss.) but our fake pool house doesn't have wi-fi and the robotically polite Chick-Fil-A teenagers are giving me the stink-eye. 


Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Don't I Just Make Myself Scarce For Awhile

Four days until we abandon our home to go live in a van down by the river.

Perhaps we will become river people, with tambourines and seitan. Perhaps we will braid our hair and dance barefoot.

It was 106 degrees here today and we don't have air conditioning. It's 9:30 pm and I'm just now coming back to life after collapsing, lifeless, around four. Just when I thought I couldn't live another minute, Mr. V made me cold shrimp po'boys with mango-kiwi salad and I was like new for at least ten minutes.

Time for packing. Time for vodka slush puppies. Time for Firefly on Netflix.

Bear with me while I'm scarce for awhile. I might not have wi-fi again until mid July. If I go four days without tweeting about alcohol, Indy, or Supernatural, call the police. No wait, call Jensen Ackles.

That is of dire import.


(tell him river people live by a sacred code, and that these margaritas aren't going to mix themselves.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Home Is Wherever I'm With Me

When it became clear that we were going to have nowhere to live for the month of July, the obvious choice was to take a vacation. Mr. V had been offered the use of his mother's camper to stay in, but what is left the daughters? Nothing but the darning, as usual.

When it became clear I was going to take a vacation, the natural thing to do was to name it Rainbow Tour. I planned to drive through Idaho all the way up to Portland to visit my sister-in-law, Mercy, who lives there in typical Portland fashion with her musician husband, both of them working at an organic bakery to make ends meet, maintain street cred, and eat croissants. The dream of the 90's, y'all. After a week there, I was going to travel south down the coast to visit Blood Sister A in Sacramento, where she works at the Capitol building for the Speaker of the Something and the Representative of the Other-what, dealing with a lot of you-know-what-shit while trying to improve people's lives. She watches C-Span all day and cares about it, it's hard to believe we're related. (What do you mean, "we're not"?)

Immediately I did what any self-respecting artist does to prepare for a tour--I started soliciting donations and letting my leg hair grow out. I began the process of choosing a tour t-shirt, and selected Rainbow Tour's official album. (It's magnificent). Excitement grew as I planned trips to the zoo, and Mt. Hood National Forest, and A's friend's houseboat in the Bay area (see how I talk just like a local, now?). Meanwhile Mr. V sent encouraging texts about how much he loves my spontaneous side, things like "This is awesome, I get to work all day and live in a trailer down by the river while you take off on a magical bus tour"*. It's a sacrifice, I know, but I'm willing to take vacations whenever necessary and it's what he admires most about me.

(Mr. V keeps saying we need to become less impulsive, and I agree, only it might be working very well but backwards because I just left to take my husband to pick up a trailer and returned with an antique victrola and a pair of antlers.)

In this frenzy of preparation, Blood Sister A wisely pointed out that the more excited I got about Rainbow Tour, the more likely we were to find a place to live.

And that's what happened.


I'm just kidding. I knew this was a win-win situation all along. Either I take Rainbow Tour, or I get a home to live in, and we found a cute rental. It has hard wood floors, which is good, because I have sworn a blood oath against carpet and am honor bound to burn any the moment I lay eyes on it. I got to pick the bedroom paint colors, and it has a massive hulking lawn that I'm going to get to mow all by my lonesome, because guess what? The girls and I are moving out on July 12th, and Mr. V cannot join us until October. I told him I hoped he was feeling nice and sorry for me now, and that's when he said we could hire people to mow the  football field-sized lawn for me.

So you see, he's not heartless after all.

Right now Mr. V is out working in the hot sun--it's supposed to hit 102 degrees here today--moving things into storage, so I'd better get off my whimsical rainbow blog, which smells like tulips and rain and tastes like Bordeaux (or will, once technology catches up) and pack a couple boxes for the girls to add to their throne.


*actual text from Mr. V. You might have to be him or me to understand how jokingly he meant this and how hard we laughed over it. Or you might just have to be a sociopathic narcissist like I am.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dads, the Better Late Than Never Version

My dad and his brother Eric in their youth, must be about
1872 or something.

Dad and me, and grandma either behind or reflection, 1981
My dad taught me about art and camping and fishing.
He took me to theater in the park, shopping for books, climbing on
boulders and fishing in rivers. He took us sledding and skiing and made
elaborate, scaled and clawed Chinese snow dragons when
other kids just had snow men and carrot sticks. He's an artist and
a writer and his memory has got to be borderline
photographic. Never play against him
in Trivial Pursuit.

Bradford Erickson, Great American Trout Series, oil on canvas

My cousin Sarah and her dad, my uncle Eric, who we lost 
in 1991. I know he had a great sense of 
humor and one of those great
big personalities. Being around him 
was always a good time. 

My dad's dad, Grandpa Erickson, who was
on ski patrol and kept horses and always
wanted us to watch a John Wayne or The
Unsinkable Molly Brown. 

My mom's dad, Richard, who I never knew but didn't
he just have smiling eyes? Also may have
been connected to the mob, look, we'll never know.

My girls and their daddy, who 
teaches them about wrestling
and reads them fantasy stories
and shares Ayla's love
for strange and creepy things.
 We hike mountains
in flip flops here, because why not?

Love all you awesome dads.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Moving, Divorce, and Other Things That Take Two Hours

Mr. V asked me if I wanted to get ice cream for my birthday, but I said no because if there's one thing I hate more than your average theater-goer, it's people eating ice cream. If it is possible for an adult human to lick an ice cream cone without coming off as smug, I've never seen it. I take pride in the fact that I'm not superstitious, but I'm neurotic enough about ridiculous things to make up for it. When Mr. V eats bananas or crunchy food, I leave the room. If you think this is harsh, I ask you why do you want our marriage to fail? Heartless, really.

Here's a funny thing. When it shook down that we were going to be moving to a place fifteen-hundred miles away, I thought: maybe this will be the one time in our life when we'll get movers. You know, since OB is footing the bill. I didn't assume ,since my mother taught me that assumptions make the apocalypse occur. Well, Noah got the details of the offer and since no mention of movers was made, I forgot about it. No big deal. A week went by and I heard from a friend that the two other families who are moving with us are, in fact, expecting movers any day now. Immediately I texted this intel to Mr. V, but he didn't reply. He was righteously angry like I was, OR SO I ASSUMED. When I got home, I mentioned it again. "Harold and Donna are getting movers," I said pointedly. Mr. V's smile was sheepish bordering on panic. "I know," he said. "They offered to get us movers but I turned it down."

I brewed coffee. We're pretentious about our coffee so it took fifteen minutes. I poured a mug, stirred in cream, took a sip, and then spit it dramatically into the sink. "Very funny," I said after spectacular spray. (Mr.V was still there, he'd known what was coming)."When will the movers come?"

"Hahaha!" Mr V said stiffly. He didn't laugh, he actually spoke it. Ha ha ha. It's what he always does when he doesn't think I'm funny. I keep telling him this courtesy laugh is going to destroy our marriage. He just smiles and eats a banana."But seriously. We don't need movers. It takes two hours to move."

I drank coffee and spit it out again. Mr. V and I have moved so many times I have lost count. "We need to get you to the hospital," I said. "Clearly you are in shock. Otherwise you'd know good and well it takes two damn days to move. Not two damn hours."

"We can do it ourselves!" he said. "It's stupid to have movers when we can do it ourselves! It's a waste of money--"

"But Harold and Donna--and their kid gloves--"

"We're a profit-sharing company now, Brittany," said Mr. V, going all Pete Campbell on me. (Oh, he's gonna love that one.) "The cost of movers comes out of that. If I hire movers now, we'll all get a smaller bonus in March."

I tried to spit my coffee again, but honestly. His pragmatism just sucked all the heart right out of me. The one time in my life I could have had movers, I swear to god. Next time someone offers you  movers you damn well take them, I said, like Scarlet O'Hara with no makeup on. Turning down movers isn't a thing I can abide. I just hope someone at OB realizes that Mr.V is forgoing the assistance of brawny college guys on a cross-country move to save them money, I really do.

Later that day we got word our landlord needed to show the house again. Our lease is up in two weeks, they insist we leave, and they still haven't found a new tenant. Every other time, I've scrambled around cleaning the house, but now I cried giddily to Mr. V that I didn't give a damn anymore! The landlord insists on showing our house, let it be messy. "He's gotta understand," I said, doing a not bad Pete Campbell myself, "that not helping out a young family is bad karma."

"Damn straight!" said Mr. V, and dropped the spaghetti-sauce pot he was holding on to the floor with a dramatic flair I quite admired. The next morning I remembered I had my own karma to worry about and spent my birthday morning scrambling around the house hiding the underwear and tampons Mr. V and I had tossed out of our drawers in our "hell with 'em!" glee. When we returned to our house after the showing, I went into my bedroom and saw said tampons sitting in full view atop my dresser drawer. At least it wasn't the item I was once forced to tell Indy was a "pink cucumber that mommy's friends gave her for a big fat joke, I mean a regular joke, isn't it silly?"**

One of the best things that happened on my birthday was M from The M Half calling me "inimitable" on twitter. That is my second favorite thing I've ever been called, right behind "feminazi" in high school, which is damn near impossible to beat. (I can say this now after hundreds of dollars spent on self-help books.) In a flush of joy, I turned to Mr. V. We were sitting in the Mayan theater waiting for Moonrise Kingdom to start, drinking beer and wine, hipsters all around us crunching popcorn loudly. Apparently that is the hipster thing to do now, along with slurping soda for hours (it's gone, you bastards, or it wouldn't slurp) and honestly hipsters, I think we could do better. "I'm like Joss Whedon before The Avengers*," I told him, wine-flushed and happy. "My audience isn't big, but it's the best."

"What nonsense are you referring to this time?" he asked me. M called me inimitable, I told him, and Mr. V said, "What's that mean? Annoying?"

I laughed very hard and told him he loved me. Afterwards we drank mojitos and ate arepas and salmon rolls that were only so-so, but it didn't matter this time. This is how our marriage works. We reveled in that flush of each other, smug like bastards eating ice cream. It's true.

Mr. V's sister Lucy, Ayla--I thought it was Indy, too--(with a peanut can), Mr. V's sister Sophie, Mr. V's sister Mercy, me, and Suzy, the wife of Mr. V's brother at OB. Whew. I'm sharing this picture
here because of reasons.

*It's true that I swing wildly between sickening grandiosity and extreme self-loathing, but Mr. V wouldn't have me any other way. Or so I allow myself to believe.

**Still, neither of these moments count as the most awkward thing I have endured. That title goes to the time a satellite dish installer asked to use my bathroom, abandoned it twenty minutes later in an unfragrant state, and when I went back in I saw I'd left a pair of underwear on the floor. I'm pretty much shame-proof now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drop It Like A Boss

There are three things I want to tell you guys today:

1)Every day for the past few weeks I've been looking forward to waking and doing my Morning Pages from Julia Cameron's My Artist's Way toolkit. Here's something you might not know about me: I'm addicted to self-help books. When I read a good one, I become absolutely unbearable because I want to preach it to everyone the way some people preach religion. It was due to my habit that I first came across Julia Cameron a few years back. She offers techniques for stirring creativity and letting yourself go loose in your writing practice. The thing is, she wants you to wake up every morning and write three pages longhand of stream-of-consciousness, whatever comes into your head, brain drain. No "real writing" she says, just keep the pen moving. I tried this a few times, but it never really stuck. Something about longhand in the morning just didn't work for me. (I've been telling people that mothers shouldn't bother with the "write every day" rule so often lately, I think it's become my anthem).

Now Julia has taken the concepts of her book and put them into an online toolkit. Let me just tell you: I adore it. I can now type my morning pages. I should be clear and say that Julia doesn't advocate this. She still wants me to do it longhand. But I believe in taking what works for you and leaving what doesn't. Every morning I wake, turn on my computer and start typing, and it feels great. Getting all that noise drained out of my head really does help me focus on my work and stop stray bits from interfering when I don't want them to. I've been able to sit down and really play with words and stories afterwards. It feels great.

I read from some other users that the pledge Cameron asks you to sign when you get started freaked them out--well, I just plain didn't sign it. I don't do resolutions, I don't do pledges. There is so much else I love about the toolkit. You can upload pictures and pin them in your journal, making an online version of that artistic, doodled, Polaroid-loaded leather-bound journal all the really creative kids have in the movies. There's a section that allows you to pin post-it notes to a page, so you can collect and pin down all those fleeting thoughts and bits of story that show up unbidden in your brain. There's also a weekly artist's date. I admit I haven't done any of them, but some other uses have said the prompts--visit a thrift store, go out and buy some of your favorite childhood candies--have been their favorite part and triggered some great writing sessions. Like I said, I believe in taking tools and making them work for you. I take the same buffet approach to religions, but don't tell my mom. If you want more info, there's an on-going discussion over at Blogher about the Artist's Way Toolkit, which I honestly am addicted to and don't plan to live without.

2)I did yoga like such a boss today, it's not even funny. Don't laugh. That's how funny it's not. File this under more things I shouldn't be admitting to on my blog: I have this female character that I write into the show Supernatural while I'm watching it. It just suffers such a terrible dearth of female characters (Sam counts for some feminine energy, but just barely). I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong--the female character is not a stand in for me. (Otherwise she'd be doing a lot more kissing of Jensen Ackles. So far, she's done none.) So today, when yoga got really challenging and I wanted to drop out of all my poses and mewl on the floor, you know what I did? I became this bad-ass female character in my head. Actually I became the actress who plays her, look, my inner life is complicated. The actress plays an action heroine so she needs to be toned and strong and do round kicks with her hair down. I pretended I was her and I stayed in all those poses much longer than I knew I could. I'm still trembling right now as I type this. The result of challenging my body so intensely was the post-yoga flush. You know it from such things as sex and red wine, only it comes without the boozy haze of the latter. What should happen next but I walk into Starbucks and see a young woman who looks exactly like Jensen Ackles' real wife, Danneel Harris. It's dangerous when my mood is bouncy like this because my deepest urge was to smile giddy at her and say "You're soooo pretty." I restrained myself only because I know from previous incidents, things go swimmingly for about two seconds and then plumment downward irrevocably and someone ends up ON THE STREETS in the movie preview sense. I especially can't pull this kind of stunt on people I know, because the next time they see me and my bouncy mood has left, they feel all hurt and betrayed. "Hi Brittany!" They chirp, bright-eyed like stupid forest animals. "Do you like my blouse today?" Then they die inside when I mumble "Huh? Oh. . . yeah," distracted and reserved, and brush past them. It's just bad news for all parties involved.

3) That's all, you guys. This has to stop.


*I have been compensated for reviewing Julia Cameron's My Artist's Way Toolkit but all opinions are my own. You guys, I wouldn't like to you about a thing like this. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fire and Skies

A terrible forest fire is burning about 30 miles north of us, in the mountains just west of Ft. Collins. For days, my FC friends have been posting apocalyptic photos of skies filled with black smoke, too-orange sunsets, and dying red suns. Two days ago we could see the flames from the brewery's patio where we sat drinking pilsner. It was hazy all the way to Denver, but by evening the wind changed, granting us clear views and a flame-tinted sunset, marvelous and awe-striking to behold. Today I wake to the scent of the earth burned and ravaged like the end, the ground smoldering in the dawn. The smoke is thick enough in my backyard that the bees are hesitant to leave their hive. They dart nervously around the lip, those inside possibly gorging on honey by instinct. Over 41,000 acres have burned. My sister-in-law Sophie has been evacuated from her mountain home.

Yesterday Mr. V and I sat in downtown Denver drinking mojitos and talking about god. I care about things that happen in the world, but I don't read the news. I don't assign the divine too much blame, nor too much credit. Cheryl Strayed writes in Wild that "god is not a granter of wishes", which both goes straight to the heart of what I believe and only skims the surface at once. It is in the same spirit I tell you that I wasn't too worried about this fire until I woke up and found it arriving in my own back yard. I tried to explain to my husband how I agree with what Cheryl wrote, but that there's more to it than that. I got teary, it might have been the rum. The fire burned, and I couldn't find the words. The winds will change. Everything will.

Monday, June 11, 2012

So Then We Were Cast On to the Streets and I Turned My Child Into a Busker

Just kidding, mostly.

I have lots to tell you guys but I'm on my way out the door to our second annual Birthday Double Feature. We do nothing for Mr. V's late May birthday and then we do double time for mine. Geminis forever, y'all! He doesn't need a celebration because I'm his Gemini twin and everything that's mine is his. (Except today's celebration. Like I'm actually gonna SHARE my birthday, haha. Sucker!)

We're going to see Prometheus and Moonrise Kingdom and then eat some kind of "Japanese-Mexican Fusion Sushi" which sounds suspicious, I know, and if you haven't heard from me by tomorrow morning just assume my husband had enough and killed me.

I'm sure he was totally  joking when he wanted to "try something new" with duct tape and see how "sensitive" I was to "chloroform". We joke like that all the time, he's all like, I've watched enough CSI now that I think I could pull off the perfect crime, here drink this arsenic. And I'm like, haha! So funny, how we joke! Then I check our browser history and I'm like, oh look, Mr.V has been googling "how to get away with murder" again to make me laugh! Ha!

But just in case.

Love you guys,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In My Mind I'm Going To Carolina and Also Yes In Real Life

Yesterday when two different people asked me, "So are you moving across the country or what?" I remembered how I've never really had a head for details.

(One of them was my mother).

So here it is. Mr. V came home and said unto me that it was official: they'd offered him a position in Brevard, he'd accepted it, and then instead of signing dotted lines they'd all drunk a pilsner on it because that is the kind of establishment we run, here.

Awesome! said I. Let's start packing for Carolina! but Mr. V said, No, you fool! They have no use for me in dixie until October and I'm sure you haven't forgotten how our lease here is up in three weeks. We have no where to go!

That was when I was like, oh look, how lovely. Some thoughtful person has placed this washing machine here so that I might lean on it while I cry. And Mr. V was like, that is not the direction I was hoping you would take this.

(Note to self: buy cheap champagne.)

The short of it is, we have a lot to do between now and June 30th at noon, when our landlord insists we must leave this house or be doomed forever. (Thanks for working with a family with two young children who are moving across the country, here! I totally understand how giving us one extra month would have literally killed you or made your legs turn into scissors and snakes grow out your nostrils, so no biggie!) Nobody get the impression that I'm freaking out, because I'm not freaking out at all. I just happen to like sleeping in my bathtub with a tube running directly from a box of wine to my mouth and the door taped shut and episode 5.4 of Supernatural, "The End", playing on a constant loop. Also I no longer have eyebrows but that is just how I choose to live!

Side note: When she was in college, my mom and her roommates had a really evil landlord and when they moved out, they left a dead fish tucked inside the walls, where it would slowly rot and he wouldn't be able to find the source of the stench. I WOULD NEVER DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

I'm excited. I'm really excited, and really happy, and I really don't know what we're going to do.

I wasn't joking about the champagne.

I'm unable to form too many complete sentences at once today, so I'm just going to leave you with some pictures of Brevard and Asheville my love, and call it a day.


First view of Brevard.

They have chocolate there, so I may survive our first winter.

Remember how I kept saying, "White Squirrel
Music Fest", and you were all like, well shit! I 
didn't know squirrels could play guitar! And I was like,
they don't, you idiots. They play the hurdy gurdy.

This keytar-playing squirrel was a real bastard, I could
just tell. Sometimes you can just tell.

Remember how I saw Joaquin Phoenix at the Square Root?
That's "him". He was on the phone with his agent and kept
yelling, "I told you not to make us follow the
squirrels. How the hell are we supposed to
beat that?"

Leaving Brevard to drive to the Atlanta airport, we came around
a corner and found this fellow. So there you have it.

Button your boots, Brevard.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Asheville Je T'aime

We were sitting in the Asheville Brewing Company when the doubts began to set in. A man with ear plugs and an easy friendliness had just served us a cast iron skillet balanced with samples of foamy beer and Mr. V was talking about possibilities but I couldn't hear a word he had to say. I was trying not to cry.

I had the Rockies on my mind. My people were prairie and mountain raised, pioneers moving ever westward and it's not a thing you soon forget. Your ancestral landscape gets into your blood and like it or not, in some ways you will always be the place you came from. Brevard was beautiful but it was a shock to my sensibilities and sitting in a bright, artsy city, I remembered where I was made. Craving one place and longing for the other, I never know where I might land.

We'd crossed the French Broad river, which I will never say without seeing a smoky-eyed woman pulling up her stockings, and made a right on a corner where The Thirsty Monk faced Jack In The Woods Public House. I might as well have been in Avalon or Paris. The Monk was a bright purple building, packed wall to wall on a string of similar tall facades, the streets loose brick that shifted beneath our feet and meandered around courtyards and bright alleyways, each one brimming with drinking, dining folk facing streetward, a la Parisienne. Plenty of bookstores, plenty of earthy chicks with scarves in their hair like me and legs that go a long time between shavings, also like me. (Sorry, my Californian sisters, but it's true). There were specialty stores for everything from pastries to wine to cured meats to dog biscuits, and this is exactly what I love about Edinburgh and Manhattan and all the great old cities. Asheville is known as the Paris of the south, and now I know why.

In Asheville it seems that the culture is the counter-culture, but no one's feeling smug about it like they are in Boulder. Perhaps because you get the sense that Asheville isn't a place where rich pseudo-hippies have settled because it's beautiful and has a Whole Foods, but a place where eclectic people, people normally on the fringe, have congregated and they ain't smug but so damn happy to have found each other in all this mess, and who woulda thunk but they've made a home.

Driving in to Asheville we'd spotted an old man waving a confederate flag from a bridge, but inside the city there was no such nonsense. The brewery was running over with young families. Mr. V was talking mortgages and I was craving babies, the surest sign of trouble I know. I shook myself back into the present and shifted towards sunny as we walked up Patton, past traveling musicians to Hayward and Battery Park Avenue, where I was reminded that there is history in the south, history involving names like Grant and Lee and Stonewall Jackson. After standing quietly taking in the view of the hills from the portico of St. Lawrence Basilica, my husband decided to take me out for a French dinner and we found Bouchon almost by accident. "This city should be a good place to get French," I said to Mr. V. "Asheville has a lot of French influence." Since this is my blog and we're into being honest here, I'll admit that this is one of those things I say more by instinct than by actual knowledge. But steering by instinct is what landed us here in the first place, so I went with it.

Bouchon was at the end of hill where we'd spotted a Japanese chef plucking herbs from his garden to use in whatever culinary mischief he was up to. We sat in the cobblestoned alley, filled with greenery and umbrellas and summer soiree lights. I ordered my first pate and my first Kir Royal and thought, if I can't have Paris yet, at least I have this. Mr. V ordered the canard a l'orange rubbed with cocoa nibs and I stuck to moules-frites. They tasted of the ocean and I sucked them down, happy as any sea star nestled in its proper bed.

We left Bouchon and were headed up the hill when the skies just broke right open, faster than a prairie thunderstorm. Look at that cute little cloud, I thought, and then suddenly the rain was too torrential to see in. We were standing just in front of a brewery, so having one more drink was the only thing to do. There was a deep covered patio, perfect for sipping and breathing in the scent of rain, the bright light on the art deco buildings just across the street, and smiling like we'd won the lottery. This is my favorite thing about traveling. You're just going along in your life and suddenly serendipity blesses you so certain you know there is good in all this limping, stuttering earth. I grinned wildy at Mr. V over a salty margarita and told him how I loved it when this happens. That's when it struck me that I've always said I want to live in a lively city and in the middle of nowhere, and that maybe in this part of North Carolina I could have both.

There are things I haven't told you: there is a Starbucks in Brevard, but it's inside a grocery store and while the local coffee spot makes a creamy, nutty latte, it has the ambiance of a Furr's in foreclosure. Mr. V says that when I saw his first paycheck from the brewery, I cried. I have no memory of this but I don't doubt it. What I know is that in the end, anywhere I go is going to become one more place I want to leave.

The next day it was time to head home. We traveled over four hours in the rain from Brevard back to Atlanta and when we got to the gate at 2:35, after running faster and farther than I have since college, our 2:40 departure had already left. We sat half the day in the Atlanta airport, so overstimulating I curled up on the floor with headphones in my ears and closed my eyes. I stayed that way until Mr. V brought me a frozen yogurt and it was time to board the plane and fly west, west over prarie, west toward home. We passed over a spectacular lightnight storm and watched great thunderheads light up rhythmically from the top side, clearer now than ever the way those clouds answer each other, a nebular call and response. Departure was at the tail-end of evening and a strip of electric blue sunset hung stubborn in the sky. We chased that last light of sun all the way home. We never did catch it.

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