(I wrote this a while ago but kept it as a draft until I could add photos. Then I procrastinated on that for a ridiculous amount of time. I am consistent, if not reliable).
After a wedding we attended in June, we continued north and vacationed in the mountains.
It was wonderful. The cabin was perfect for our family, the area was beautiful, there was an orchard down the street where we enjoyed breakfast and delicious jellies and butters and pies. It was all very quaint.
Quaint can be borderline maddening though when you're not used to it. I can appreciate the slow, laid back way of life--as long as I don't need something. We ended up in a dry county (I didn't even know that this was still a thing) and despite not being a huge drinker (I talk about it more than I do it), I really needed a beverage or two to begin my vacation after all of the traveling and excitement of the wedding. After a few inquiries, we ended up at the next non-dry town where there was a small selection of Boone's Farm for wine and a clerk who was confounded that out of the wide variety of available flavors, none would meet my needs. He advised us to go to a package store, with a slow, heavy southern drawl.
"A liquor store?" Mr. Ashley asked, because we don't call them that here.
"Ah said a paaaaaaaaaaaaaaackage stooooooooore," he said, more slowly and loudly.
When he asked if there was a Bank of America nearby, a female employee with big bangs and acrylic nails guffawed at the thought, slapping her hand to her thigh and laughing as she repeated, "A Bank of Ahh-mair-ah-cuh?" as if this was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. She laughed some more at the thought, as if he had asked for Plutonium. "Honey, this ain't no big city. You'd probably hafta go to At-lan-ta for one of them."
Seriously? Atlanta was two hours away.
At a Mexican restaurant in a different small town, I asked if they had Pinot Grigio and the waiter assured me that they did. "Yes," he said, without a trace of doubt.
"Okay," I said, delighted, "I will have a Pinot Grigio, please."
"A Pillow Whattio?" he asked. "We don't have a lot of them fancy beers," he explained apologetically. I cleared up the confusion and he promised he did have that and brought me Chardonnay...but it was close enough.
Every time Mr. Ashley left the cabin to run an errand, he'd be gone for what seemed like an impossibly long time and I would impatiently ask, "WHERE WERE YOU?" when he came back (because our phones were worthless there) and genuinely exasperated with them (and maybe with me), he would say, "I was out THERE. Everything takes forEVER out THERE. It is just how they are, there's nothing I can do about it." And I knew he was right.
Don't get me wrong, overall a charming group. That dry county business is bullshit though.
But the vacation was fantastic. There was a big creek in the backyard and I spent hours staring at it from a porch swing. We flipped every rock in it searching for salamanders and craw fish with little kid. We had fires in the fire pit in the backyard and roasted marshmallows and listened to music while chasing fireflies around in the dark. We played on waterfalls and hiked, swam in a lake, and played checkers and air hockey and pool and video games.
One day I was sitting on the porch swing watching the creek rush over the rocks and I thought of how lucky I was to be there, and how 5 years ago I was so sure I would never be happy again, and how everything worked out for the best. I was perfectly warm but not hot, rocking back and forth without effort, watching how the water slid over the stones and listening to a song I really liked. Some clouds shifted and a sunbeam cut through the trees to land on me and right then the song said, "Open up your heart and let it shine the brightest," and I thought it was the perfect moment, that little bit of synchronicity.
And then I thought to myself that that was a significant moment, maybe one of the most significant of my life because I had slowed down enough to recognize and appreciate it, and felt so good and grateful for everything that I have. The wind chimes rang just one short time as if punctuating the thought, the only sound I heard them make in all of the time that we were there. Maybe it was all a coincidence or maybe it was a sign or maybe it was my imagination, but it was simple and wonderful and would've been easily missed by the old Ashley. I want to make sure I never forget it, so there it is.
I am aware that cheesy feel good memory may seem out of place beneath my rant about slow people and dry counties. I am not perfect. I'm still working on things. Sometimes.
But vacation was wonderful. Even without the Pillow Whattio.
(and I never did add the photos to this post, but at least I finally published it.)