Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Ex-Factor

Following suit with the inspiration behind my last blog, I’m still writing from Mayberry; although, while the location remains unchanged, the topic a far cry from the last. As I expressed in the previous entry, my return home has been the soothing getaway I unknowingly needed. My homecoming, while rare, typically unfolds in the same manner each time. You see, as my hometown is gushing with the wedded bliss of my peers, I myself find the return to this country haven enticing for another reason.

There seems to be some truth behind the theory that every guy has “the one who got away,” but for girls, we have the one we can’t quite shake. The ex we keep waiting on deck, just in case; and no matter how much we debate the premise—who doesn’t have a former flame in the crosshairs of failed new relationships, or boredom (what have you). Once upon a time I ran these streets of Mayberry, and when I wasn’t hanging around bonfires and participating in the rolling of houses, even I had a dating life. So who is this guy I can’t quite shake?

As a teenage girl growing up in Mayberry I had the one guy I pursed consistently, and although life happened and took us in very different directions, our contact has never ceased. If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that you don’t have a past suitor with which whom you maintain contact—well, this girls not buying it.

We’re are living, breathing, bleeding, feeling humans, and the underlying truth: we don’t want to be alone. Sure it’s easy to revel in solitude from time to time, we all need it, but the affection of a previous companion does tend to ease the blow. So we keep them around, it’s simply human nature to hold on to what feels comfortable, rather than what feels right. The dating culture can leave you shaking in your cute little boots at times, who doesn’t crave the undeniable and never-failing attention of an ex?

This morning I opened my eyes to find myself in the room I woke in each morning in high school. Moments like these make me nostalgic for all those past elements and the ex boyfriend is no exception. As it turns out, the visit between he and I over all major holidays is about as predictable as Christmas Day itself. Rest assured this isn’t a story of “guy gets girl” or even the true love/happily ever after fairy tale most small town stories end with. Our relationship didn’t end sour- it just ended, making the rendezvous over the last few years effortless. So why do we refrain from getting back together?

Simple, it’s not meant to be. Our ill-fated relationship is the connection to a past life, one that I often find myself slipping into from time and time. Who am I kidding—I still get my mail there.

So this then raises the question of why do we do it? In my case, the road to my former days goes through one particular ex. The re-hatching of the old is never a good idea, and yet, in my world it’s become a guilty pleasure. However, over time my mindset after each visitation has shifted from the “maybe one day..” to the remembering why and acceptance that it will never work. We’ve all heard if it didn’t work before, why would it work now, but if you’re like me and desperately hold on to the theory that sometimes people and situations change—wake up.

The truth, as I’ve come to find, is that people and situations do change. We grow apart. For me, I left my small town and I adjusted. It happens to all of us, and for him and I, our transformations pushed us even further apart. You see, while I was high-tailing it out of Mayberry he stuck around, and in a short time frame I’ve met new people and experimented with new things and new places. To say we are worlds apart does seem a bit melodramatic, and yet, there is some accuracy to it; and inside all this long ago talk thrives the infamous query of: when does one hold on and when does one let go?

This examination doesn’t stop at the reoccurring ex-relationships, either. It’s relevant in the present tense, as well. It’s a concept I’ve yet to master, although there have been moments I thought myself close. So we like the cozy feeling of latching on to someone we’re already comfortable with. It’s not new or exciting, but it is familiar. It’s safe, but come on, we only live once-why not embrace something unexplored. Sure it seems kind of scary, but what’s to gain by holding on to the old?

At the end of the day, no matter how many times I attempt to justify it to myself, until letting go becomes a definite, rather than merely an option, I’ll never move forward. Therefore, not only am I refraining from giving someone else a chance—I’m not giving myself one. Life is, after all, about advancing, looking in front of you instead of behind. We’ve all heard it before, and yet when will I give up the good fight, and cut the ties to the former love?

It’s almost 2011 people; I’m getting back to the basics-anyone with me?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

...the little things.

A warm welcome back to the Holiday Season, after all, tis the season of good tidings and good cheer. Along with the Christmas season comes festive lights, gift-giving, and my assured annual return to my small home town.

If you didn’t already observe, I’m originally from the real-life town of Mayberry. True Story, born and bred on the same streets Andy Griffith once ran. My emergence from Mayberry is quite the conversation starter. However, while Andy was running wild in Mayberry (or Mount Airy, as it’s properly called), my own stomping grounds lie more one town over, Mt. Pilot (Pilot Mountain).

My baby sister is also a current Charlotte resident, and while she and I are similar in all sorts of ways we differ in our feelings toward our hometown. While I love the hustle and bustle of this vivacious city of ours, she relishes in the simple and quiet return to Mayberry. So naturally, she high-tailed it home a week before I made my way up I-77.

My sister, like my mother, fell head over heels for her high school sweetheart. Two years into college and they hold strong; so when on day two of her holiday break she ventured out to visit him and his, she came across a rather shocking, and yet customary event. The fence around the farm directly across from our parent’s home had been torn down, allowing everything it kept in- an easy escape route; and as my sister walked down our long driveway to her car she was passed by a cow, just out for a morning stroll.

Yes, this is also a true story.

You see, in a town so small these odd occurrences are anything but rare, and when you get inside county lines you step outside your present life and immerse yourself into what some would call a new world. Sounds pretty dramatic, right?

So I’ve been home for not even twenty-four hours, and already I feel it, Mayberry sort of just does that to you. Christmas Day opened with the fall of snow. It’s your perfect storybook White Christmas. Underneath a thick blanket of snow my mother and I curled up on the couch; she with a copy of the Mount Airy News and me with my laptop lounging in my lap. On Tuesday I’ll be Charlotte bound and back to a hectic routine. Back in Charlotte, I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate breakfast in the morning before work or the last time I took a nap in the middle of the day. Truth be told, I can’t recall the last time I dried my hair before walking out the door, but back in this small town from which I came, time just moves slower. The youth married away young, and the nightlife: nonexistent.

So nonexistent that the things we found to entertain ourselves in high school would probably shock some of you. In high school on those Saturday nights when we had nothing to do, a group of us ventured to the grocery stores before they closed (at ten) to purchase 12 packs of RC Cola or store brand soda-curious as to why?

..Because “canning” was the house favorite and the chosen pastime of all us small town radicals, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the activity of “canning,” use your imagination.

In our Jeep Wranglers or our pick-up trucks we drove at high speeds down country roads and took turns hurling full cans of soda at street signs. Not as easy as it sounds by the way, and if you so much as nicked a stop sign you were deemed the winner. These sporting events were, of course, saved for Saturday night because the entire town flocked to the high school’s football games on Fridays. This is the world I was brought up in, and the world I was ready to leave behind. So why does this homecoming bring assorted feelings?

With the loss of our power came the slow death to all our electronic devices, no matter how previously charged. My sister was forced to put down her Nook, my other sister her Wii, and my brother had to retire his text conversation with the girlfriend; and when my laptop finally bit the dust there we were, together as a family—technological barriers lifted.

This Christmas break I felt myself slip into a previous life with my mom’s homemade candy and a Christmas tree still decorated with ornaments I made in grade school. With a computer and phone dead I had lost touch with Charlotte and all the people I would have been spending NFL Sunday with. The roads were far too rough to trek on, and so with blankets and the company of each other my family and I savored the peace and quiet of Sunday. No plans were made, no stressing about the upcoming first of the month and all the bills it brings with. No concern for deadlines and work, only sweats and thermals with good conversation.

It occurred to me that these are the simple pleasures I’m missing in Charlotte. Could it be that the very simplicity of Mayberry, which I’ve spent my adult years bolting from, was exactly what I needed?

Life is messy and life is loud, and in this short break from the lively urban society, which currently has my heart, I let go of all the pressure and just existed. When the power came on, all I wanted to do was read by our lit Christmas tree. I watched my sister and her boyfriend exchange Christmas gifts and it brought such a smile to my face. I’m quite grateful for the people in my life, but why is it that in all the chaos of life it takes being snowed in and stuck in a small town to notice it?

When do we take a break from life to remember the little things? The little things like a “goodnight” phone call, a handwritten letter, or the simple “hello” from a stranger you ride the elevator up with in the morning. These are what living really is-embracing each other; and while technology is a god-send at times, could it truly be a catch-22? Now that we have such advanced tools are we losing touch with humanity? We text, we IM, we e-mail, we tweet, we facebook; are we solely communicating through technology? Will we ever put down the Blackberry for the real, face to face conversation for which we may be starved?

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My mother met my father at the young age of sixteen. She was your typical high school sophomore: lively, erratic, and pleasant. It was your classic story of cheerleader meets jock. Only it was much, much more.

Thirty years and four children later, my mother and father have one of the more compelling relationships I’ve ever known. In my own twenty-three years of life I’ve met my own partnerships head on, and the ride has been a far cry from subtle. I have often considered the relationship my parents have with one another in correlation with my own relationships and those of the people which surround me, and the comparison is not kind.

The present-day couples, (sorry Mom and Dad) are cultivating in a much different time and a much different world. I know this is one of the more cliché things to write about; however, criticize if you will, recent events have made the issue re-surface. What is a blog, if not a chance to write it out of one’s system—am I right?

In the dating saga of my mother and father there were proper dates, love letters, goodnight phone calls, hell, there were curfews. Today we filter through drunken text messages, meet for drinks late night, and rely on facebook to update us on the objects of our affection. Don’t get me wrong, I myself, am notorious for the “why don’t we just meet for a drink after work,” idea. It seems easier and the pressure, non-existent. Maybe pressure is exactly what we need; perhaps it is the very lack of pressure which is currently sabotaging the dating culture.

So society tells us to watch how often we contact someone, watch how often we see someone, to refrain from laying all our cards on the table in order to express, and simultaneously, achieve affection. The word “vulnerable,” chills the spine of even the more undaunted twenty-something’s, and with all these unspoken, and spoken, rules and guidelines no wonder a girl can’t figure this “love” concept out. Yet this topic begs one very obvious question. Who cares?

All the questions, the concerns permeating in our minds are utterly diminishing precious time in our daily routines. So as it happens, all is not fair in love and war, but if the battlefield of love really does leave you with scars, why not accept it for what it actually is: a learning process. Someone very close to me once reminded me that the world is such a big place, and if you really believe in the concept of “the one,” what are the odds that he or she actually exists here in Charlotte, NC? While this borders the more pessimistic thought process, it sure seems rational.

My small hometown is saturated with my peers who went the marriage and family route at a young age. While it must be incredible to have found that connection with another person so early in life, it just is not in the cards for everyone; and instead of waning away our youth by fretting about finding and maintaining intimacy why not utilize the era? These do seem to be the more prominent, and remarkable, years of one’s lifetime. Is it totally selfish to embrace this time as self-discovery?

At some point should we accept that what is “right,” doesn’t necessarily have to be the “right now?” The truth of it all, there should be some sort of rule book for romance, something to turn to when you’re not quite sure what play to go with when it counts; or at least a guide to throw a flag on the play when you’ve crossed a line. Then would we all be on the same page somehow? Until someone pieces that bizarre work together, rest assured that we aren’t alone in this. We are all just preparing for the combat, and taking each battle in stride.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Modern Day Aspiring Artist

Last night over dinner and drinks at the soft opening of the new restaurant nestled in Uptown Charlotte, Bask on Seaboard, I had what one might call a revelation. Joined at the table by three of the more stimulating individuals I’ve met in quite a while, I began to consider our current situations and lifestyles. In present company: a writer, an artist, and a teacher.

The other three were very much acquainted with one another, I myself, the outsider to the group. Yet, despite my unfamiliarity with each I found the conversation engrossing. At face value, we have dissimilar taste in music, books, food and beverages. We each view the world in a very diverse manner. Some of us make sense of the world with words, seeing the hidden poetry inside even the more mundane aspects of life. Another perceiving the world through an abundance of colors and design, while the third viewing life through the eyes of young pupils.  So why are we all having dinner together?

Our differences, while vast, made for interesting conversation; each of us vying for our own special place for input; and yet, one large similarity connected us. The writer, the artist, the teacher, and I are currently committed to a two-job lifestyle; and our second position: Server.

It occurred to me, while enjoying a night out with these new friends, that I don’t think I’ve made a friend in Charlotte who was not currently or had previously been employed by the service industry, in some form or fashion. It is this industry which is presently paving the way for the contemporary “starving artist.”

This then poses the question, is the service industry helping, or is it harming those employed within?
Charlotte is flooded by bars, restaurants, venues, and more. It’s the city of possibility for a girl coming into her own from the small town of “Mt. Pilot.” The nightlife is crawling with people of all ages, the city rarely sleeps, and yet in order to be cozy with the nightlife scene, a steady pay check--or in our case, cash flow is vital. So we work, picking up shifts as often as we can all to provide the backbone for our artistic careers. The service industry, if you’ve never been involved, is quicksand.

Under the table at dinner I held the hand of another writer who creates in a much different manner than I do. Hence the beauty in the world of art, individually we are unique; therefore our creations have the ability to speak for us. Inspiration can’t be predetermined or forced, as any who have tried and failed can tell you. The truth of it all, creativity just hits and must be captured; yet, after a night of frustration at work retreating to the next open bar or hip scene almost always just feels right.

So when do the musicians, the writers, the artists embrace these lightning bolts of ideas? At what point do we in the service industry retire our aprons for the pen or the paint brush, and why is this Queen City of ours so hell-bent on drinking away the very art that once made us fall head over heels in love?
...I guess we just start a blog.