The priority for our Saturday in Asheville was to find and admire more art in the area. Aunt Roanna had found a map of the best places to window shop for such things, and designed the perfect itinerary for our day.
We visited several places showcasing pottery. I’m not in a position right now, with my and Ethan’s traveling, to purchase any sets of dishes, but once we settle down, pottery is where it’s at. I’d much rather a unique, handcrafted piece of loveliness than anything mass produced on an assembly line.
Accidentally, the majority of our afternoon wound up being spent at one home décor showroom called New Morning Gallery. We probably walked around there for two or three hours and it still felt like we didn’t see it all. Martha found several treasures there, she definitely had to hold herself back. Mostly anything in that place seemed her style.
I had no idea how full of shops and culture the downtown region of Asheville is. I didn’t imagine such an arrangement existing in North Carolina, it just seems out of character for the area. I totally loved it. I swear, I’m one of the happiest window shoppers in the whole world, which I understand is rare. I think I wanted to spend more time exploring there than my aunts did. I’m cooperative though, so we left when everyone was ready for dinner.
Prior to eating, we stopped by the cottage to change clothes. Additionally, Martha and I had a glass or so of our wine from the Biltmore Winery. That made most aspects of dinner a tad bit funnier than it should have been.
We dined at El Lemon, which had a unique salsa bar. I don’t remember eating much at the good ol’ lemon, just remember giggling in a booth with Ma. Afterwards, we decided ice cream was a must. This urge was fulfilled by Eye Scream Parlor. We watched the movie Red when we got home. It was a day well spent as the finale of our girl’s weekend.
Roanna and Annette left early Sunday morning to travel back to Wisconsin and Georgia, respectively. Martha and I had a more leisurely morning, sipping coffee and making sure we left the Airbnb how we found it. On Saturday, at New Morning Gallery, Martha had purchased a piece that we couldn’t pick up until this afternoon. While we waited for the gallery to open, we sat in a nearby Starbucks and made to-do lists for our upcoming weeks.
The drive back to Seymour was supposed to take six hours, maybe seven with a lunch stop and bathroom breaks. We hit traffic, though, pretty hard. It took ten hours to get from Asheville, North Carolina to Seymour, Indiana. It felt rough.
I don’t think returning to the Seymour area will ever not feel like “coming home”. It is familiarity to the very definition, and one doesn’t shake that in life. Papa Rans was waiting in the driveway when Martha and I pulled up. I was weary from our day’s travels and from finishing the last leg of the drive myself, and I blame those reasons for basically falling into his arms when he went to hug me. I don’t even think I had the strength to move my arms and hug him back. I was tired. I went straight upstairs and fell asleep immediately.
With Martha and Randy planning to move out of the Seymour house and into their lake house by midsummer, cleaning and repairing things at the Seymour house is a constant for them right now. I worked the entire day on Monday, gladly. I believe God places us precisely where we need to be some days. I was actually helpful to Martha today, and it was fulfilling. I cleaned a particularly difficult room of the house for hours, ran errands all over town, and did some painting. I like to think I have a good focus when I work, and I think Martha appreciates that as she’s more susceptible to distractions.
On Tuesdays, Martha babysits my niece, Raegan. Some cleaning was still on the to-do list Tuesday morning, but I suppose I was the one susceptible to distractions today, as I found myself just holding Raegan for the better part of an hour while Martha worked around me.
It was my brother, Joey’s, duty to drive me to the airport Tuesday afternoon. He showed up to the Seymour house a while before lunch to be my transportation.
Leaving with him that day, I felt lonely. Everyone I spent time with this week is impermanent in my everyday life and their lives keep moving after I leave. I’m a moving piece, which makes me feel free and versatile and like a novelty, but at the same time it makes me feel unnecessary. A moving piece doesn’t have to be unique or required, its position can be filled by other pieces. Most pieces need to be permanent anyways. Versatility isn’t always a commodity. I’ll be coming back to Seymour only four days from now, but I still nearly cried saying my goodbyes to Martha and Randy. I’m not sure that will ever go away.
Joey and I made two special stops on the way to Louisville. We had lunch with our grandparents, spontaneously. It slipped our minds to call them before we arrived. But they rolled with our lack of planning and fed us more than we needed (that’s what grandparents are for, after all). We also stopped to see our mom. Again, we neglected to warn her. It’s just a trait of ours, I guess. She was elated to see us walk into her work building. It was fun getting to see so many smiles before I hopped back on a plane.
Airports feel like coming home to me. They are a gateway to, well, anywhere. There are crowds of people that could be traveling to the same place as me or to a place across the globe. But for a moment, me and these people are in the exact same spot, for the purpose of traveling to somewhere simply “away” from where we are.
I rarely feel more relaxed than I do on an airplane. It’s the one place on the planet, or rather, above the planet, where absolutely nothing is expected of me. I mean, I bring journals to write in and books to read, but honestly, if I slept or stared out the window or zoned out for the entirety of the flight, no one would care. I physically can’t do anything that would be expected of me back on the ground.
My favorite part of flying is the moment during descent when the plane breaks through the clouds and I can see the houses, neighborhoods, and geography below. Looking down at hundreds, possibly, thousands of houses, I can see people’s total lives at play without them ever being aware of my existence. Descending into Shreveport at dusk, I imagine parents getting their kiddos ready for bed, teenagers wrapping up homework, high school athelets finishing their sports practices at the end of a long day, dads coming home from selling insurance to prop their feet up and watch some Jeopardy before passing out. I don’t know. It’s fun to imagine.
Being back in Shreveport was strange. It was great to see Ethan and Ralphie, but I’d already said goodbye to this city, so I didn’t like the feeling of returning. Also, we no longer had our apartment. We were staying in a large Airbnb house where two other women were living with us. It was sort of the only option we had after Ethan’s contract was unexpectedly extended last month.
On our way back to the house, we went through a drive-thru, where I could find dinner. I didn’t exactly want my first impression to my new roommates to be me with a McDonald’s sack in my hand, so we went to a nearby park. I sat on a bench at 9pm and ate my chicken and fries there. Ethan played fetch with Ralphie near me while we discussed what we’d missed in each other’s lives while I was gone. Our life is weird sometimes.
When I finally did make it to the Airbnb, I immediately clicked with our host. She’s a French, French professor in her early 70s. Been divorced twice and has lots of American political opinions. No sooner had I introduced myself did she offer me a glass of wine and declare that she despised having to drink alone. She and I stayed up talking for at least an hour and a half before I realized I should probably go upstairs and see my husband, who I’d been away from for the past week.
For the next three days I was in Shreveport, before I took the dog and truck and drove back to Indiana (in route of my drive to our next contract), I walked many miles. One of those days alone, Ralphie and I walked over 13 miles. It didn’t feel homey to be in the house with two strangers, although I didn’t mind them, per se. Just wasn’t homey. I felt like I needed to control every move Ralphie made so he didn’t disturb them, and I didn’t want to spend any time in the kitchen, as most women can be particular about how things are done in their’s. Walking seemed like a safe way to spend my time.
On Friday night, after Ethan got off work, we took one last walk together, for the next few weeks, anyways. We found ourselves at the local university in the middle of the night. At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I admire my and Ethan’s ability to adapt. We’ve found the skill of taking things for what they are and living with peculiar conditions that others may not be able to. What’s that verse in Philipians? “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.”
Liv – Authentically