It is funny how life’s curveballs can turn out to be the most amazing happenstances in your life. Take North Carolina for instance. I never even thought about North Carolina. I vacationed in the Outer Banks some years ago. I enjoyed myself but once NC was in the rear view I did not give it much thought.
On my epic journey I dreamt of amazing places like Wyoming, California, Oregon and the like. Wild places, so I thought, full of awe and wonder. 90% of my memories revolved around Ohio and I was ready to make some new incredible memories in a land far away from the North Coast of Ohio.
Readers of this blog know that the epic journey turned out to be a different beast than what I thought it would be. I loved what I saw but that indescribable feeling I was looking for never made an appearance to me. I was waiting to be totally transformed into the person I always wanted to be as if by magic. Travel, I heard, changes you. I waited for the change to wash over me to no avail.
Then I end up in the mountains of NC. All I could see at first were horrible winding roads, no cell reception and brown trees everywhere. It was December and I guess I was expecting something else. I came to NC expecting to not like it. I was going to put my time in and then go to a magical place….somewhere else.
Then a funny thing happened. Winter, which was no where near winter in Ohio, turned to spring. The brown lonely looking mountains started to turn a million shades of green. The rivers started to flow and show off their white caps. The air warmed up. Flowers and plants began to bloom. The smokiness of the Blue Ridge Mountains went from a dreary appearance to one of awe and splendor.
Unbeknownst to me, the mountains were healing me. Slowly I started to shed the depression that always accompanied me. My anxiety was replaced with excitable anticipation of what the day would bring. I used to shed tears of self-pity, now the tears flow as I look at the splendor that is North Carolina. When I ride the train to the Nantahala Gorge, the landscape changes every day. The beauty is breathtaking. Like a lover you could not stand at first, but then came to know and love, that is North Carolina to me.
As I sit in my apartment with the French doors open listening to birds sing and train whistles in the distance, I have come to realize the thing I never considered has become the thing I was aching for. Thank you Smoky Mountains for opening my eyes and my heart to the possibilities. North Carolina….who would have guessed?