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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

It’s good to be home.  It’s good to be 60 degrees and be home, I should say.  Fondly I remember those last couple of days, burning the last of our wood, purging the cabinets, and trying to dry laundry with a space heater and a woodstove.  I baked enough bread and prepared enough quinoa to fuel the three days down to the U.S. border and almost had enough to get us right back.  We spent five days in and out of the Johnson City medical center before driving off at midnight to Charlotte to make a 6:00 am international flight.  Three flights later we were in Chiapas, with perfect timing for respective bachelor/bachelorette parties that lasted until the wee hours of the next morning.  Plum tar’d out.

The two following weeks in Mexico we won’t recap, but I did eat grasshoppers and should report that they had the consistency of soggy popcorn and the flavor of socks.  In the face of opportunity, I just had to make myself.  In the event of necessity I won’t hesitate.  Don’t believe anything you hear about Mexico unless it comes from

We arrived back in Charlotte too late and too beat to drive.  You couldn’t have injected espresso into my neck to make me do it.  We opted for the accommodations of nearby American Value Travel Inn.  There was an Exon nearby and all their junk food was American, too.

Charlotte is home of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art as well as the Mint Museum, both of which are on the same membership reciprocal as our very own Knoxville Museum of Art, meaning we got to go for free.  The exhibits of these museums were so inspiring that Ashley said, and I quote, “You couldn’t have put a price on that motel room to make it worth today, because you can’t quantify the value of viewing art.”  That’s the same thing I said when we were watching HBO in the room.

We left Charlotte and headed ten miles south to South Carolina, just to get coffee and for me to pick up a rock.  If I may indulge for a moment, I can’t be sure I’ve ever been to S.C. despite having lived in nearby East Tennessee for some time.  Every other contiguous U.S. state I’ve visited on one road trip or another and I simply had to know if I knew my country or not.  Then at last we headed to Bristol, to see Ashley’s dad now nearly three weeks out of open heart surgery.

Highways 321 and 421 cross some of the most beautiful country of Appalachia.  Across the Blueridge Parkway, through Boone, N.C., then the Cherokee National Forest before the hills of Tennessee.  You want your arrival home to meet you with its own confidence, no matter where you’ve been or how long you’ve been gone.

Sunday afternoon, assured that Glen would soon be doing bench presses, we headed for Knoxville.  And like a month earlier, received another phone call.  Glen’s oldest brother was in the hospital in Bluefield, WV.  We turned around to get Glen and headed up to where the Addair family was filling the hallways in a small hospital high upon a shaved mountain top.  Ashley was born in that very facility.

You may have heard me tell of how the Addair’s induct a boyfriend into the family.  Here’s a shot of me and my foe, much more amicable today than those early visits of mine to Grandmother’s hill in Tazewell, Virginia.  This is Brian, which has one syllable like “Brine,” and to most he is also endearingly called Fathead.  We went two rounds in red gloves on the side of a mountain one day.  I won.  Sympathy, that is.

If you want to read, I told it before: “If you’re going to be stupid you’ve got to be tough”

We’re back in Knoxville, nearly two days now.  I’m trying to keep calm and be efficient.  We’re putting our heads down and getting to work, which means Ashley hasn’t unpacked but she’s spent fifteen hours in front of a canvas.  I put new strings on my guitars and am rehearsing for a show tomorrow night.  We don’t like to go this long without our brushes and instruments, even though we packed them.  Once we left the house a month ago, we just kept ourselves flexible and in between the ditches, as my Pappaw would say.

Old Paperville near Bristol, TN


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