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Notes from the Coast

Well, I up and did it.

After twenty years in Nashville and sixteen up on the hill I picked up stakes and headed to the coast. Otherwise known in some circles as North Carolina. The general area referred to as the Cape Fear Coast. I think low country is officially south down South Carolina way but trust me it’s low country because the elevation on North Tops’l Island is 0’. That’s sand level. I grew up on the Gulf Coast so sand is something I’m used to in a native kind of way. The kind of person who flops down on the beach with no towel or blanket. I don’t care. Feels like home.

I could write a very, long list of things I will always miss about Nashville. Matter of fact that list would be so long it would turn into a book. In the most excellent memoir - West With The Night. (one of my fav books of all time) the author writes these words and I paraphrase because my copy is still somewhere in a box -

"If you ever leave a place where you have lived and loved leave it the fastest way you can and don't look back. The future appears like a dark and formidable cloud in the distance but the cloud clears as you enter it."

I left Nashville with my eyes in the rear view mirror glancing back until the skyline was lost and only the open road lay ahead of me.

Certainly, my family members now rooted there is at the top of the list. The Ryman on any given night of the year where ever event and concert is the absolute best. It’s my favorite concert venue in the world. (But the new amphitheater in Franklin where I attended a Santana concert last year is divine.) My post office under the Frist Museum. Yes, it’s mine. And the post people became precious additions and friends in my life. My Parnassus Books family and all the books within her excellently curated walls. The Nashville airport where you can catch a direct flight to the UK and venture forth from there on a wing and prayer and Ryan Air to anywhere. The view from my hill throughout the seasons. My ramshackle house I adored. My favorite Turkish restaurant (Anatolia). The library – oh, Lord – the library! (I took people who came to visit there like it was a tourist attraction.)

But when the go bug says git on down the road it’s officially time to go. I had absolutely no plan of moving. Figured I’d plan to die on my hill. Not that metaphorical hill we all die on every day. The actual hill that looked out over the little valley. But there I was sitting on my porch one day where I was enjoying the view, the birds, the huge, old trees surrounding me – and something kicked off in me that said it was time to go. I used to move frequently – just ask my boys. But it was more a craving for the newness of seeing dawn in a new place. Discovering new places, living the life of adventure. (For those who might be concerned - the Magic Door that is over 100 years old came with me.)

So those sporadic News from the Hill posts now roll into Notes from the Coast. I am enjoying being with family here where my oldest son lives. I haven’t lived near this ‘boy’ since he was eighteen and joined the Marines. Leaving one son who lived down the street to come live down the street from my other son is – well, a bit like the Mom who had a son playing for KC Chiefs and one playing for the Eagles in Superbowl showdown. No matter who wins that Mom isn’t going to be 100 percent happy because one son won. She’s gonna be half-way happy because one son lost.

Being older now I understand why my Mom and Dad were never over the moon about me moving to South Florida or Kansas City, Mo. or Taos, New Mexico. They were happiest when I was living down the street from them. Or, actually, they were only half-way happy until my sister moved back to PC which we both did at the same time when our Daddy got bad sick. And when we did that he miraculously recovered for many years.

So, in the midst of everything that the move entailed – one wild cat that had never been out of the house, a wild rescue dog who had never lived off the hill a day in his life, and fifty years of Mom’s things I had moved into the house with me that needed to be shared, I ventured forth on the road with these animals in tow who had never even cohabitated in a house much less a car or a hotel room. Seven hotels and air-bnb’s later I made my way to North Carolina. There were memorable late nights on the road including when the dog’s travel anxiety medicine didn’t kick in until midnight in the middle of nowhere when I stopped at a rest stop and he passed out by the car because he couldn’t get back in the car. I have pictures to prove this is no exaggeration. The dog weighs one hundred pounds. Being totally zonked out on meds is more like two hundred pounds which I haven’t dead-lifted lately. And I hate to tell you this without including some details but it finally involved a 911 call to say, HEY this is not an emergency but I have a situation on my hand- it’s almost 1 am and I am in the middle of nowhere with a cat in a cage and a drugged up dog and I sure could use some help. PS – send two, big strong guys – two, two, send two, for assistance. A little while later Barney Fife pulled up alone. Again, I do not exaggerate because I don’t need to. Stories find me and follow me. My youngest believes I am an agent of chaos. Not that I create these things of my own making but that my arrival will be cause for all the energy in the world to create a situation where I have a story. I have enough stories for life. I will never be able to write them all down. But I will try. And, try again.

So, here I am. A stone’s throw from Top’l Island which is just three miles away over the bridge. The dog and cat are now cohabiting- ish. The wooly bully Kevin will not tolerate the cat trying to cozy up to him. My office is upstairs and I can see the little pond from my desk. Better yet – I can see the first star of the evening emerge at twilight when I know it’s time to shut down it down and attempt to have a little balance in this life. But sometimes I drop whatever I’m doing and walk right out the door and head to the beach because it’s there. And although I think the Atlantic Ocean will try to kill you (while the Gulf is like resting in the bathtub) the wide-open skies have been a thrill. Stars at night. Mars glowing bright. The horizon that goes on forever so that on a clear day I think I’m staring at Italy. Or maybe Africa. Wild and wonderful places just beyond the horizon.

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Love you and love this. Fran Felix, cousin from Northwest Florida..And Jim R Register,s

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