I went home three weeks ago and I’m still reeling from happiness and the bittersweet feeling of being reunited with my home, my family, and a part of myself that I had been neglecting for far too long. I always wanted to go, on my own terms, and quietly revisit some of the places that defined my childhood in a good way. I finally had the opportunity to do so, and though some of you have seen these on Instagram or Facebook, it’s time to give them their proper spot on the blog, aka, my digital heart.
So, they’re a bit out of order and discombobulated. There aren’t really enough words for me to describe what all of these photos mean to me, but they sort of speak for themselves.
This spot of water is where I swam as a child. I often have dreams about it, and have even when I lived at home. All I wanted was to step in it again. I took the opportunity and it felt fantastic. This location is maybe a five minute drive from my house (which I didn’t have any photos of, really.) But now you can all see what I mean when I say I come from the woods.
The following photos were taken in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, by the Cherokee Indian Reservation. We traveled here constantly when I was a child, mostly to visit Ghost Town in the Sky. Going back was…difficult and rewarding. It was lonely, and quiet, and just like when I was a child I felt like the mountains were calling out to me.
I tried to ascend the chair lift (after unsuccessfully looking for the access road–after talking to my dad, it appears I looked on the wrong side of the mountain….now to plan trip attempt 2?) but only got about 80% of the way before realizing it would be dark soon, and also realizing I was being stalked by a bear. It was so hard to turn away from the summit and the theme park I knew so well growing up. After this winter I expect the ski lift supports will start to fall; the train tracks had already been wiped out, and usually the park ‘winterizes’ the ski lift and removes the chairs as they can’t withstand the freezing ice storms and strong Appalachian winds. With no maintenance crew to do so, I don’t see them lasting much longer on their own.
I don’t know why it was more sad to me seeing this place, rather than my own childhood home, suffer such neglect. They both look like they haven’t been touched by humanity since I left, but somehow I expected that from my home. I didn’t expect it at this bright, happy slice of memory pie where I vividly recall sitting on the long ride up the mountain next to my dad, looking forward to riding the Red Devil and watching the handsome long-haired fancy dancers in the Cherokee village. The ride was quiet, calm, and slow, like a meditation before a party. Walking it was a privilege of a pilgrimage. On the walk, it rained, and I cried, and remembered one of the best parts of my childhood.