Well we have completed our move to Chattanooga Tennessee this past weekend. We closed on the sale of our house, we settled our accounts around town, finished an Eagle Scout rank, and have turned the page on a significant chapter in our lives. I feel like my life is in three segments, youth, child rearing, and now time with Missy and our adult children. When we left Jacksonville closing out the chapter of our youth it was colored by the shame and humiliation of the failure of my business. We changed the focus of our priorities from social standing and wealth acquisition to raising our children and instilling sound values in them. Our departure from Richmond Hill wasn’t triumphant by any means but we left on our terms going toward something we wanted instead of running away like I did from Jacksonville. Our time in the “Hill” was good for the most part, we suffered some losses, namely political defeats but all in all I think we left the town on good terms and some might say better than we found it in other ways. There is no doubt the town has changed, and some might argue for the worse as the schools have deteriorated dramatically and the real estate catastrophe has crippled so many families. We were able to sell our house and not lose too much money on the sale though had we had a stronger real estate agent we might have had held on to more of the equity but c’est la vie!
As we look forward to our new lives I am reminded of the barber shop on the edge of town that was frequented by travelers. The men would sit in the chair and ask the barber about the town they were about to enter, what kind of people lived there questions. The barber would pause and ask the traveler what kind of people were in his home town. The traveler would describe the people sometimes in kind terms and others would describe their home town in less endearing adjectives. Either way the barber assured them they would find pretty much the same kind of people in this town. Needless to say we are excited about the new neighbors, and the folks we will meet once we find a church. We came from a town that had an awful lot of good folks, and a few real insipid jerks, and they know who they are. I am sure we will find the same kind of people here, but this chapter with the wisdom to not get engaged with the jerks and the patience to let the friendships grow and take their course. It isn’t so much that the town is different but that we are different. I know I am far more patient, far less likely to react and more likely to take my time to respond if I respond at all. But most of all Missy and I get to have time together again albeit with the phone ringing with the kids calling with all manner of questions, requests, and news.
Another interesting turn of events is that slowly, almost inexorably I have traveled back to the land of my dad’s dad’s family up here in the hills of east Tennessee. We will get up to Pell Mell to visit the York grits mill to see where Alvin was from. My mom and dad had visited there years ago and went through the cemetery seeing many familiar family names and after some consultation with the Yorks up there it was agreed that we are in fact part of that clan. I can remember my dad telling us stories about the rough and tumble Saturdays of the Tennessee Alabama football games in the forties and his uncles fighting during and after the game. I will remain a Gator, but I will embrace my Appalachian heritage in other ways as we turn the page for another chapter in our lives. The new chapter will be against the backdrop of the Scotts-Irish settlers who are my ancestors.