My Friends take my breath away. Otis has crafted an absolute masterpiece out of his song, Speaker put a touching spin on a song by a couple of my personal heroes, and here’s the picture Daddy painted for me. I’m pretty sure I’ve been on that hill with Daddy, or for damn sure one very much like it.
I guess I’ll never know what made me wait so long. I spent every day of my youth running through these fields and living in these woods. I told myself that I was sick of that lifestyle, and that deep down inside I was starving for city life. The allure of fifty thousand dollars a year and women in high heels will make a man do strange things I reckon.
Three marriages to high maintenance corporate women, and two marriages to poorly maintained corporations makes the thirty years I spent in Chicago feel like fifty. I traded Carhartt for Brooks Brothers, and I traded fishing with my brothers for a sports car and a high rise. After my third divorce I was left with just enough to buy back a lot on the wooded south end of the old family farm. My boss asked me as I was leaving my office what I planned to do while I was retired, and I told him “nothing in particular.”
I’m fifty-two years old now, and I can see my favorite fishin’ hole from my front porch. Coalmont, Indiana is where I grew up, and I can again proudly call it home. With a population that’s grown from five hundred to seven hundred since I left it thirty years ago, it’s hardly become a booming metropolis. Way up on old Mabry’s Hill is the General Store, the Fire Department, and the Post Office all located in one building. It’s also where we all meet up on Sunday for chili dinners and the monthly fish fry. Birthday parties, graduation parties, and weddings populate the calendar, so there’s always something going on it seems. Every other Saturday night we like to gather there for some pickin’ and grinnin’ too. Folks like to take their shoes off and “boogie” while the whiskey jugs get passed around ‘til sunrise. The building is always filled to capacity and our town fire marshal is too drunk to notice or care. The joy of living is evident in my hometown, and it’s something that’s been missing from my life ever since I left. There’s a love up on the hill that can’t be found in any city. It’s why I came back.
Sunrise marks my first Saturday home, and I’ve got a day full of nothing in particular to look forward to. It’s a new beginning, or a new chapter in my life. This is the chapter where the book gets interesting and everything starts to have meaning. Nothing can be accomplished by regretting decisions I’ve made in the past, and no good can come from feeling sorry for myself now. I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I can’t remember when. I think tonight I’ll take my shoes off.