Miss Lillian passed away early on the morning of September 6th. Yes, I was there. Yes...I was terrified, but I received abundant blessings at the same time... I'm still not in a place where I can accurately write about the experience. Maybe one day; there's just too much to chew on.
And so now I move on.
I am now a permanent resident of Johnson City, TN. A place where it appears that I am related to EVERYONE... I can't go anywhere without hearing "are you one if the Ryans' or the Fields'?" Thank God both families have great reputations, or I'd be really nervous. In one instance, one of my cousins (on Miss Lillian's side) married a distant cousin on my father's side. Soon there won't be a family tree...it'll all be one stump. It says a lot about how small the community here is - especially the black community, but that's a post for another day.
The JC in which I now reside is very different than the JC of my childhood, so it's a little like discovering it all over again. Finding my way around isn't a challenge, because everything and anything is only 10 minutes from wherever you are - 15 if there's a traffic jam. In LA I used to spend the hours on the road chatting on the phone, catching up with my friends; easy to do because I had the time. Here, I do all my catching up in parking lots because I've already arrived at my destination. The young lady at the Rite Aid now knows to wave at me from the store window.
What is there to do here? Well, you have to shift your expectations a bit...the excitement of LA is a thing of the past; though I never really had the time to avail myself of all that LA had to offer. But if you want a sweet, country festival...we've got them in spades! I attended the Apple Festival in historic Erwin this past weekend, and (keep in mind that Erwin has basically one road in and one road out) I was stunned at the sheer numbers of people that came to eat fried apple pies made famous by the Mennonites. It felt like New York on New Years Eve. The difference is that when people bumped into you, they'd turn, pat your arm and say "Oh honey, I'm so sorry!" which would then turn into a long dialogue about how many people there are.
Anyway, I didn't get to experience the apple pies - they had sold 6,000 of them by 2:30 pm and were sold out; not a fried apple pie in sight. And take note of the width of the street. That's downtown Erwin, virtually unchanged since 1875 (and thank you to the Erwin Historical Society for the photo, which was taken in 1916).
Kind of cool, isn't it? You have to love the "old timey-ness" of it, as indicated by this sign:
The Apple Festival happened to coincide with the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro (another 10 - 15 minutes down the road). Please take a moment to wander around their website; I can't even begin to describe the awesomeness of Jonesboro, nor can I do justice to the magic of storytelling. I'll just say this...I expect to see you all here next October, so that we can enjoy it together.
Well, it's getting chilly and I have to go turn the heat on before my fingers go numb...so until later...remember that I miss you all (of my personal peeps who are reading this).