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I choose to remember the days of light. 

I choose to remember the sun shining off silver.

I could remember the confusion, horror, fascination, and fear.  I could remember the devastation that an empath feels on such a day.  And of course, I do remember those things. I remember them viscerally.  They are likely contributing to my bout of depression.

But today, I will choose to remember a day, years and years ago, when I emerged from a subway station I had never been in before – one of my rare forays into the New York City subway system – and looked up.  It was a bright and beautiful day, full of sun.  And I looked up. And up. And up. Yes, I knew I looked just like a tourist, craning my neck, bending half backwards, trying to see the top of those silver pillars playing with the brightness of the day.  But I didn’t care.  I was amazed and wonderous. And oh-so-touched with joy that I was finally standing at the feet of this sterling place that I had only before seen from the air or a distance. I just stood there, letting people bump around me, with a goofy smile on my face. A goofy smile that carried to my eyes and exuded childlike joy and  light itself and that made all the rushing bumpy New Yorkers who had to interrupt their steps soften just a touch and not mind quite so much having to rearrange their hurried pace.

I remember going across the street to the old church, St. Paul’s Chapel.  It was closed, but I wandered around the graveyard, as graveyards are favorite places of mine, examining the headstones, and soaking in the peace of the place.  I was amused by the incongruity of something so historic in the shadow of something so modern – these crumbling, weather-worn stones side-by-side with the sleek, silver, glassy skyscrapers. I remember how hot the afternoon was, and how I sought shade and shelter in the cemetery. I was not taking many pictures in those days, so the pictures are only captured in my mind’s eye.  I wish that were otherwise.

Today, the interior of my body aches and weeps and quietly wails in memory of losses. It is how my spirit works. But I am going to choose to remember the sunshine of that day, and other days, and days to come.

Image credit: mikesierra

Having a teenage daughter makes you walk back into your own past. You see the things that she is going through and, if you are open, you can remember how you felt at that age, what you were feeling, how you reacted.  I was going to say “if you are lucky”, but I must admit that revisiting my teenage years, even in my mind, is sometimes a painful thing. Adolescence isn’t something that most of us would want to go through twice, at least not without the benefit of the wisdom we gain in our futures – and now, I WILL say “if we are lucky”.

I was a late bloomer. I didn’t have my first date until I was almost 16, didn’t have my first kiss until I was actually 16. (You don’t get any more details past that point, sorry.)  I was a miserable 14- and 15-year-old. I didn’t know why no one was interested in me. I wanted to believe that I was so pretty that I scared boys off, but my Mother told me that was not the case – she did it gently, but I still remember that conversation – exactly where we were and everything.  My best friend Sarah and I felt like we were wearing some sort of sign that said “Never been kissed.” And just like a lot of other things in life, if you didn’t have experience, no one seemed to want to take a chance on you. Sounds like trying to find a job, doesn’t it? Of course, the corollary is rather true as well – if you had too much experience, people weren’t really interested in you either.  Strangely enough, also like it is in the business world.

Anyway, as I said, I was a grumpy, bad-tempered teenager (until I could drive and then the world literally opened up before me. I became much nicer once I found my wings.) I didn’t want to be seen with my parents. I stayed in my room almost all the time that I was home, entertaining romantic notions of escape, and what my life would be like. I spent a lot of time in a dreamworld. The scarring experience of my pre-teen years likely played a role in this confused isolationism, and while I remember that, I don’t add it into the equation when I think about my teenage years in the grand scope of things. I guess I remember being a typical teenager.

Well, bloom I did, robustly and delightfully. I think most of us do, even though we think it will never happen. And once I came into my power, I felt invincible.  Sometimes I still feel that way. Invincible, yes. Loveable is a little harder to believe, but I’m making good progress on it.

As I watch my girl and her friends go through their teenage years, I compare my own experience to theirs, and draw up from the depths of my soul the turbulent emotions surrounding change, acceptance, love, hormones, justice, freedom, adulthood, social quandaries, sexuality, school, frustrations, and delights. I don’t know if I’m right in applying my own perspective to their situations, now some 35 years later.

But on some level, I think that young women are young women (even if those of my daughter’s age are a bit more worldly than most girls of that age were in the late 1970s), and that the emotions that swirl around aging haven’t changed. In fact, as I find my half-century mark rushing up to meet me squarely in the chin, I realize that I am still experiencing a myriad of emotions around love, escape, freedom, satisfaction, work, frustrations, justice, time demands, acceptance, and delights.  I don’t think of myself as much older than Kelsea or her friends at heart. I still feel things just as fully, innocently, and honestly as they do, as I did back then.

I was a late bloomer back then. Perhaps I’m a late bloomer now. Perhaps I am just eternally in bloom. But I am reminded of those lovely roses that bloom until early in the fall, their petals full and lush, their fragrance sweet. And when it is time for them to go, those petals fall like velvet tears, their scent still lingers in the air.

Photo of the day for January 30, 2012: Late Bloomer

San Francisco, California.

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely weekend
MKL
The man who leaves walks down Wynkoop every day playing his mandolin at 5:00 pm
Cases of San Pellegrino
Silliness

Instead of a quote of the day, I have a request: Please send prayers to Sarah Bennett, one of Kelsea’s friends who was seriously injured in a car accident during the weekend.

Having finished Natalie Goldberg’s first book, Writing Down the Bones, I am looking at her second book.  I say looking because that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Thumbing through, reading snippets and trying to re-mobilize my writing self.

One of the things that struck me last night that I read was an exercise she suggested about writing down what you would miss when you died.  Last night, I was thinking about the big things, like Kelsea.  I suppose in some ways I don’t think I will miss anything because once I die, I sense that I will have access to everything, just in a different way.  Though will I still be ME thinking, knowing, feeling, sensing it all?  That I of course cannot say.

So what will be missed?  Instead of thinking about my own memories, I started thinking about how the world has changed in the last fifty years.

Then I got to thinking about how people used to dress up for air travel.  I admit that I started flying very shortly after this era ended.  But back then, flying was an event, an occasion, something special, and they treated you as if it was.  Men wore suits.  Women wore suits and gloves and hats and stockings and heels.  Stewardesses wore little hats and were solicitous, giving you pillows, blankets, food, drink, whatever they could do for your comfort.  Now the message is literally stated on the PA, “Our flight attendants are here for your comfort but are PRIMARILY here for your safety.”  Meaning comfort can go down those little metal toilets as far as the flight attendants are (instructed to be) concerned.  And people show up looking like they’re ready for bed.  Literally. 

On my last flight, I was reaching for a pillow in the overhead bin next to my seat, when the flight attendant reached ahead of me and snatched it out.  “That’s not supposed to be here,” she said.  “Well, can I use it?” I asked her nicely as she held it pinioned to her chest.  “No,” she replied, “People in coach aren’t allowed to get pillows.”  I didn’t bother to reply to this, and I’m sure the pillow sat unused for the duration of the flight.  Coach.  Doesn’t it sound like a rich thing?  Royalty ride in coaches.  They should call it cattle class or steerage or peon class or mass class.  Something else.  I’ll work on it.  And then of course, there’s business class.  Excuse me?  5 inches of legroom for the business man or woman.  And that implies that the rest of us are just bums.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to rant about the airlines here – although it is a good idea for a post and will likely emerge from my fingertips someday.

What I was thinking about is how the past dies.  Think about the bombing of London by the Nazis in World War II.  Few remember it.  There are books and movies but you could literally count them.  People Kelsea’s age will never hear someone tell a story about it.  But there are those few who do remember it, who can recall the blackout drapes, the sound of the sirens or the planes, their fear, their parents responses, the smell after a bombing.

To take a less dramatic example, no one remembers what the air smelled like before cars and other pollutants started contaminating the atmosphere.  When you could drink from a stream without having to purify the water.  What the plains looked like when there were millions of buffalo roaming.  What it felt like to wear 20 pounds of dresses during a hot Georgia summer – and how you didn’t complain.

When Kelsea and I took the EAR and she wanted me to give her a tour of my life in Durham, I told her stories about school, work, growing up.  Things I might not have remembered had we not been right there.  I’m glad I did this.  Someone knows some of my stories now.  (Not that I am ever shy about telling her anything.)  She, like E-Bro (and like me, once upon a time) has the memory of an elephant, and I know she will remember.  Maybe she’ll tell her daughter my stories someday, as I have told her some of my Mother’s.  Writing them down in a way that evokes a sense of place, of time, of feeling, is a great start – and sometimes the only option.  But the verbal telling of a tale holds so much more power than the written word – your voice as you share your story imbues it with an emotion that is richer than any printed page could ever convey.

There are so many stories we have that we do not recall except in flashes and that we never share, perhaps because they would really mean nothing to someone else.  They are memories more than stories, snippets of our lives.  I think we remember everything that has ever happened to us, we just don’t have access to all those thoughts, images and memories with the x% of our brain that we actually use.  But that y% of our brain must be doing something back in there.  I choose to believe that storing all our lives (and perhaps beyond) is what it’s doing.

But no one will remember the things I do in the ways I do, even if someone else was present at the time.  That person will remember it through their own eyes.  So I suppose what I will miss when I am gone is the ability to share those memories.  Or perhaps I will miss the memories themselves.

Sounds like kind of a morbid topic, doesn’t it?  Well, I don’t intend for it to be.

I recall my Dad telling me long ago that the New York Times wrote obituaries in advance for famous people.  It makes sense – it saves the time it takes to do the research when someone dies, and in these days of instant media, it’s essential that accurate information is published immediately.  It would be a lot easier just to update an obituary with the latest highlights of someone’s life than it would be to compose it from scratch when they died.  I always had the impression that you knew you’d really “made it”, that you were really “someone”, when the New York Times had your obituary on file before your passing.

My friend Andrew had two different obituaries – one for the Minneapolis/Fridley paper, where he was living when he died, and one for the Boulder paper, where he had lived for so many years.  The two pieces had different qualities to them, with the Boulder piece feeling slightly more personal, and the Minneapolis piece feeling more tailored to his “current” life, as would be expected.  I don’t know who wrote either piece, but both did a fine job of expressing the elements of the man we knew and loved.

On one of my last visits to my Mother, she and I wrote her obituary together.  I can’t quite remember how the subject came up – I think I had asked her what she’d like it to say, and we decided it would make sense for us to do this exercise, so she could make sure it included what she wanted.  We actually had fun with it.  It was amusing and good mental exercise for her to think back about her life chronologically, and it required us to delve into her decades worth of journals to answer some of the questions. 

Thinking chronologically about her 80 years helped her appreciate what she’d accomplished, and helped her remember things that were important to her, things that weren’t at the forefront of her mind as she battled her cancers.  She wanted it known that she had learned 10 languages over her lifetime.  She wanted her education known.  She wanted her work history told.  She wanted her family achievements highlighted – her husband, children, grandchildren, brother, sister, parents, birthplace.

My parents were both avid readers of the New York Times, and like the Grey Lady’s  famed obituarties, my mother’s highlighted the unusual, precious and obscure facts that made her who she was.  (And if you’re interested, there are several books of New York Times obituaries, the most recent of which is  The Last Word – The New York Times Book of Obituaries and Farewells: A Celebration of Unusual Lives by Marvin Siegel (ed.), available at www.amazon.com.)

I typed the whole thing up on the computer, adding a last line about how much light and love she brought to the world and how much she’d be missed.  She approved.  It felt good to her to have written it.  It was a loving closure, and it was one less thing for grieving family to do – she’d been very diligent about making sure we didn’t have to futz with “arrangements”.

I don’t know why I was thinking of this today.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been a bit under the weather with some flu-like bug, and that always makes me feel uneasy, and yes, slightly morbid.  Perhaps moribund is the word?

How would YOUR obituary read if you had the chance to write it?  It might be an interesting exercise for a chilly winter’s day.

Our time here at Topsail is halfway up, and we’ll be facing the interesting drive back to Colorado.  Our planned route will take us through Atlanta, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and along old Route 66 to Santa Fe, then up through Taos to Colorado.  It’s still a little too early to think real hard about that, but not so early that I can’t pull out Daniel and the Atlas, and make a few hotel reservations.  Perhaps tonight.

Yesterday was off-again on-again stormy and I was under the weather with a sore throat, malaise, and bad-monkey stomach.  Better this morning, but I took TWO naps yesterday, which is huge – anyone who knows me knows I don’t nap, except under very specific circumstances.

This morning, the air has the haze that spells heat, and the sea is sparkling in the early sun.  A cup of tea on the porch as I listen to the waves sounds like a fine idea.  My girl is still sleeping and likely will continue to do so for another hour.  Then, a trip to the Post Office and who knows what else?

It is good to be here, which I now think of as my last childhood home, since the other is no longer available to me.  I feel like I haven’t slept in years, and like I could sleep forever.  I suspect there is some healing taking place, as I have no reason to be so exhausted.  It may just be years of built-up shit, burning itself off in the sun, so I can get back to the true me and get on with things.

I do miss my Mother this morning though.

I am always happiest when I am by the sea.  Its lure never pales.  Days stretch in and out of time.  Shells line the edge of the surf like tempting pastries in a bakery – I have collected so many over the years that now I can only afford to take away those that seem most perfect and special. 

I have walked hundreds of miles, just up and down this beach over the past 40 years.  I have grown from child, to teenager, to woman, to mother.  I have watched shooting stars fall to the water, made out in the dunes, nursed my baby at dawn, cried on my father’s shoulder – all here at this house, at this beach.  It was here that a long-ago boy first said “I love you” to me when I was 17.  I have quaked through three hurricanes here, watching the waves lick the bottom of the fishing pier 30 feet in the air.  If I were to really concentrate, really think, I would be able to remember my thoughts, be able to see them and to see myself evolve over all these years, bringing me to the person I am now.

Even though I have had bad-monkey stomach today, it has been a good day.  Finished another book – I find myself on the book-a-day pace now that the final Harry Potter is done.   We did normal life things, like getting the oil changed in the truck, refilling prescriptions, and going to the grocery store, all of which we could do in Porter’s Neck.  Dinner at E-Bros house. 

The ceaseless sound of the waves hitting the shore lulls me into a state of peace.  I feel as if I am recovering.  Yes, I shed a few tears for my failed marriage since I’ve been here, but that’s normal still.  It has been  6 months and 24 days, and I wonder when I will stop counting.

I caution myself about thinking that my new life hasn’t begun yet.  My new life has begun.  I just haven’t embraced the opportunity to shape it yet.  I’ve been taking some mental time off.  And I’ve discovered that I’m pretty happy.  Come Fall, I will get serious about writing and networking, and will even feel excited about it.  But it’s been so many years since I’ve had the summer off that I think it has been good for me to at least feel like I’ve had that break this year.

Just as the sea shapes the shore, though, I have the power to design and direct my life into the form I most wish.  The only thing that can stop me is…me.

We moved from Asheville to Durham yesterday via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was an emotional rollercoaster for me, going back to Durham, as I hadn’t been here since my Mother’s funeral.   And I haven’t been on the Blue Ridge Parkway since my childhood, which is a rollercoaster road itself.

So I was weepy, full of self-doubt, feeling all ages, having that sense of tiredness of spirit that has been so familiar off and on since the loss of my parents, my best friend, my marriage.  Feeling like I have everything ahead of me, and like I am not the same person I was two years ago, feeling like I’ve lost my confidence in my self, like I apologize for living, like I take responsibility for everything, regardless of whether or not its my fault.  And my not-so-little girl held my hand and just quietly let me feel what I needed to feel.

We stopped at a couple of beautiful scenic overlooks – at one, there were so many butterflies that they simply flew into our faces.  In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway has very little roadkill, except for the suicidal butterflies.  We took a quick hike up to Linville Falls.

Kelsea had the rare opportunity stand in a tree and sit on a tree on the same hike.

Otherwise, our trip through the mountains to the Piedmont was uneventful, with the exception of the car in front of us running off the road onto the grassy median doing 75 mph – I was sure he was going to flip, as he was fishtailing and spitting dirt, but he regained control and stopped.

Arriving at the King’s Daughter’s Inn in Durham was a dream come true for me. 

I’d always wanted to live there when I retired (it used to be a home for little old ladies).  The innkeepers have turned it into a lovely retreat, and have made a point of keeping a lot of the original character of the house.  The solarium is a soothing haven of green.

The kitchen is separated from the breakfast room by heavy green velvet poitiers, and the bathroom door had a lock on it like the one in my bathroom growing up.  And funny thing, I discovered I could still lock myself in and have great difficulty getting out.  I almost had to call Kelsea on her cell phone to come open the bathroom door.

We walked around East Campus last night, and I told her tales of growing up there; we sat on one of the fraternity benches watching some ultimate players until the biting flies drove us half mad. 

We took a sunset drive downtown for more tale-telling about my restaurant days, and headed back to the Inn to snuggle up in our cushy bed.

This morning after breakfast, we said goodbye to the King’s Daughters Inn and her stressed-out owners, who were preparing for a house full of wedding party guests.  With a day to devote to Durham, we started out by finding the house I lived in the summer before I moved to Colorado – a very faded blue two-story on Lynch Street that we who lived there named the “L.O.P.S.I.D.E.D. P.E.N.G.U.I.N.”.  I can’t remember what it stood for, but I’m sure it’s buried in a journal from those days.

We then circled around Northgate (I described the luxurious experience of buying shoes in the early 1960s in great detail), and parked by the house I grew up in.  I was only a little weepy looking around the backyard and the front yard.  Kelsea was amazed at how much I could tell her about our neighbors from 40 years ago. 

We went by my old friend Harriet’s house at 6 Sylvan Place, and I told her about what that great friendship was like.  We then headed onto West Campus and spent some time in Duke Chapel, meditating, remembering.  I left a single tear behind.

Our next stop was the Divinity School Library and where we said hello to the librarian who took my Dad’s place, and wandered around the stacks looking at old books that my Dad acquired during his almost-50 years there.  So much had changed, but a few things were still the same, and that made me feel loved.

And there’s still a fainting couch in the downstairs ladies restroom.

We walked down to the Biology building to say hello to the petrified wood.  The big green hill that was perfect for rolling down, and the huge willow tree are gone, replaced by a building (as were some streets that I used to drive through).  But there is the delightful addition of the Man and Camel Statue.

Having restocked on sweatshirts and water in the Student Union, we drove off for a tour of my lower/middle school campus at Durham Academy, which was also remarkably unchanged, a drive-by of my friend Martha’s house in Hope Valley, and then back to my old High School campus.  Kelsea was delighted by the tale of Mrs. Schuster driving the school van through the wall of the gymnasium.

We felt a bit out of place checking into the Washington Duke – we’re much more like the doorman than the other guests.  But we’ll survive the interesting combination of posh and preppie.  Starving, we went on a foodquest. 

Ninth Street in Durham has been revitalized since I was little, and is now a happening street full of shops and restaurants – we had dinner at Dain’s Diner, which was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food”‘s Durham episode, then bought a couple of presents at my favorite store ever, Vaguely Reminiscent, and the ever-popular Regulator Bookstore.

We are now embedded in the Washington Duke again – and by the way, the beds are made up as tight as straightjackets.  Kelsea had to unmake hers prior to getting in. 

Tomorrow, we end Cycle 1 of the EAR by finally making it to Topsail – 10 days in the Beach House will be bliss before we hit the road again.  We have alternated between never wanting our EAR to end and being ready to stop driving for a little while. 

The past two days have left me contemplative.  You can’t go home again, but then again, the part of you that called a place home can discover that it has never truly left, and that the place has not truly changed.  It’s amazing how many memories are stored in your head, how many emotions.  As I have said before, I believe that in your spirit, you are still every age you have ever been.  Today, the touch of a window latch, the sight of a cardinal in flight, the cool of the trees enveloping us as we drove the old route to school, just confirmed it.

Tobacco is the second largest cash crop in North Carolina.  (Marijuana is the first – similar growing conditions.)  My home state is the largest producer of tobacco in the USA.  Brightleaf tobacco, sweeter and milder than other available tobaccos, was a favorite of Civil War soldiers.  In fact, its popularity was a major contributing factor in the growth and development of the city of Durham, where I was born, with the Bull Durham Tobacco Factory being the first major factory in town in 1874. 

Bull Durham was a consolidation of rival tobacco producers, with the merger being initiated by the Duke family.  (Yes, THAT Duke family.)  This company morphed into American Tobacco, which was split by federal anti-trust laws into five separate companies in 1911.  By the time I came along, three were surviving and thriving in Durham: American Tobacco, Liggett & Myers, and R.J. Reynolds.

When I was very small, my parents took me to the tobacco auction.  I think we went for two years in a row – I must have been two or three for the first one.  I don’t recall that first auction at all, but my Mother told me that they put me up to sit on one of the high bales, and I cried because I was afraid I was going to get cancer from the tobacco.  Now, how bizarre is that, that a child of three would know that tobacco is a cause of cancer?  The second time we went, I remember enjoying myself, and I remember how strong the smell was. I always wanted to go back, but it seemed we couldn’t after that.  I don’t know if they stopped holding the auctions or if they just stopped being open to the public.  It’s funny to see the black and white photos, because my memories of the auction are in color.  Everything seemed sepia-tinged, the color of teeth stained from smoking for fifty years.

Driving to the beach, we would pass miles and miles of tobacco fields.  The leaves were indeed bright and lush and seemed as if they went on forever.  I was always amazed at the endless rows, stretching to the horizon.  I never saw anyone working the fields and wondered how they were tended, how they were harvested.  Tobacco was the first crop I could identify by sight.

In downtown Durham, that scent of tobacco was amazingly rich.  Pungent, sweet, smokey, fresh, it smelled like the color of spring green in the Crayola crayon box.  The yellow-green color of the tobacco in the fields was the color of the smell.  Driving under the L&M bridge walkway on Main Street, there were days when I would hold my nose until the smell was gone.  However, as a teenager, I found I loved the smell, practically basked in it when I was driving to work at the restaurant.

Most of the tobacco factories closed down before I left town.  American Tobacco was still open, and when I headed downtown for work after school, I had to be sure to avoid one particular street during shift change at the factory – so many people were crossing that it delayed me for ten minutes. 

That factory closed in the late 1980s, and was redesigned into offices and shops.  From a distance, I lamented the passing of this industry that gave birth to the town.  On the positive side, several organizations in Durham (and several developers – pardon me while I spit) have been dedicated to keeping the historic facades of the factories and warehouses alive, so that the character of certain parts of downtown have remained the same for nearly a century.  Old Liggett and Myers warehouses were turned into trendy condos, and old American Tobacco warehouses have been developed into Brightleaf Square, a mixed-use complex. 

The South’s devotion to retaining its architectural history is both impressive and pleasing.  Unlike many other areas of the county (the West in particular), the fact that a building is old does not necessarily mean that it needs to be torn down and replaced with something new.  No where else in the country have I seen so many hand-hewn barns and sheds, some canted crazily to one side or another, unused except as a support for rampant kudzu, but still revered for the significance of their past. 

(I suppose some could argue that the owners are just too lazy to tear them down, but I choose not to subscribe to that theory – I like my own better.)

I was living in Colorado by the time the movie “Bull Durham” came out, and I loved it.  I watched wistfully as Kevin Costner walked down Morgan Street in the dark, past the old tobacco barns turned into condos.  Parts of the movie were filmed at the old Durham Bulls Ballpark, which I’ll write about someday.  Talk about a ballpark with character.

Although it seemed as if almost everyone smoked in North Carolina, my parents didn’t.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  My Mother did for a short while before she met my Father, and again during a stressful period when she was in graduate school.  I never saw her smoke, but I discovered cigarettes in her purse one day when I was looking for change or gum or kleenex or something.  I felt as if I had discovered a betraying secret and it disturbed me terribly, so I had to ask her about it.  She wasn’t angry – she was open, but I think she asked me not to tell anyone.  It had been drilled into us that smoking was bad for you and a stupid idea.

I didn’t have my first cigarette until the night I graduated from college.  I smoked a couple of Marlboros as a peace-offering with a woman who had been cheating with my boyfriend.  I actually liked the taste, but I never felt the addictive elements.  (E-Bro is the same way.  He likes the taste, but could take or leave the whole smoking thing.  No nicotine addiction.  I wonder why?)  After that, I would have an occasional bummed cigarette when I was out in a bar.  I only bought one pack in my entire life and my cheating boyfriend smoked most of that.  I still have a pack that I found unopened at a catering event some 10 years ago.  Pat was a respiratory therapist in his youth, and so was an avid anti-smoker, but he would, on very rare occasions, have a puff of a cigarette to cure a severe case of the hiccups.  I have found that a teaspoon of sugar is a better and tastier cure. 

(I did smoke herbal cigarettes in college for a month or so, until I discovered that they were worse for you than regular cigarettes and I was asked to leave the student union because they thought I was smoking pot.)

I can’t remember the last time I smoked a cigarette.  Maybe it was a hit off of Bubba Sue’s a year or two ago.  But my last whole one?  Long, long before Kelsea was born.  I don’t miss it.  The Captain smoked, but that scent was just part of who he was, and I was never tempted when I was with him. 

Now, the occasional cigar…well, it’s been a long time since I had one of those either – mostly because I didn’t like tasting it for two days.  But in my business travelling days, Davidoff was my favorite brand, and I could only find them in a little cigar shop near Rockefeller Center in New York City.  I remember my first cigar.  But that too is a story for another time.

I’ve had North Carolina and Durham at the forefront of my mind lately, so I expect I’ll be writing more about growing up Southern.  It feels good.  And I like things that feel good these days.

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