“If you want to design your own world, it’s out there for you to design.”-abk
I love my small hometown of Wingate, North Carolina. I hope to be there in a week or two. I love the town, the university, and the people. I love the bacon cheddar chicken sub (add pickles) at Gino’s/Jim and Judy’s, the local eating joint. But at some point, the world came calling.
I spent my four years in college in an even tinier town, Mars Hill, North Carolina. In retrospect, I had the opportunity to make that tiny town huge, as it lay smack in the middle of the Appalachian mountains and 15 minutes from the world class, eclectic city of Asheville. But between multiple soccer injuries and a general lack of appreciation for where I was (and who I was), it was a complicated four years. I made a handful of wonderful, wonderful friends, and though it doesn’t happen frequently enough, I love to return to the area and visit. As it happens when college ends, the world came calling.
I made a brief pit stop in Monroe, North Carolina, a town that evokes limited thoughts and emotions on either side of my story. To me, it’s where you go to either Wal-Mart or Target. I did have my first house there, but very quickly, the world came calling.
Charlotte, North Carolina was the next stop, about 15 minutes southwest of downtown in a yet to be developed area near the airport. As a small-town boy with a large-world spirit, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. I loved watching the airplanes come in and out every day, guessing where they might be headed next and who might be on them. My townhouse was in the direct flight path of the planes, and one day, Air Force One flew directly over my deck, so close I could literally read Air Force One as I stared upward. Then, of course, the world came calling.
After a stint back in Wingate (shout out Wingate) and then a stint back at the Charlotte townhouse, Uptown Charlotte came calling. The previously undeveloped area close to the airport had become a zoo, so it was time to get out. Enter this beautiful, gentle slope just outside of downtown that overlooked the city. It looked directly into Bank of America Stadium. Wanted some grub? Walk. Wanted to tailgate? Walk. Hell, I could have jogged to work if I wanted. It was a real vibe, but sadly/happily, the world came calling.
For a span of a year or two or four, I lived on the road. I crisscrossed America both East to West and South to North. I explored small town USA, the local food, drink and people, and the back roads that time had passed by. I also crossed the border a few times, experiencing the utter and complete vibes that were Mexico City, Mexico; Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland; and Bologna, Italy, to name a few. I was smitten, but then the world came calling.
Enter Ocean Springs, Mississippi, an artsy town I had literally never heard of. Hidden along Mississippi’s Secret Coast, I knew absolutely no one there and nothing about the place. Little did I know, it was about to come calling. (After almost 2 years of not sleeping in my own bed, my bones are ready for the call to finally be answered.). Interestingly enough, it’s a small town vibe that carries an infinitely big existence (for me) due to its proximity to The Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans, major thoroughfares, and nature in general.
Want literally some of the best food in the world? Want to jump on I-10 to Los Angeles or Jacksonville? Want the spiritual energy from beautiful sunrises and sunsets nearly every single day? Want to play outside, in shorts, 10 months out of the year?
Last Sunday, I looked forward, backward, left, and right, and all I saw were blue skies, blue water, and blue dolphins. In this tiny little place, the world had become gigantic. Shhh…The Secret Coast had come calling. Nature, and its wide open spaces, had come calling.
Have a great week.-Benj
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