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When did I become so averse to crowds?

That is what I texted my friend John Weeks yesterday afternoon. His response was it probably happened about the same time his greatest fear became hot cinder ash hitting him in the eye ball.

I took that to mean he was manning the grille.

In news I’m breaking here, yesterday was the Fourth of July. Jaimie and I spent the morning eating pancakes trying, deciding what to do, yet in the back of my head all I could think about was the heat and the crowds and the traffic.

To solve the heat problem, we were thinking about going up to Asheville. It was ten degrees cooler up in the mountains, which considering Greenville was sweltering, sounded amazing. Those ten degrees did nothing for the crowd problem, however, and crowds mean traffic, and when you hit your 40s being stuck in traffic becomes a fate worse than death.

Around 2pm, we were teetering. But then, all of a sudden, Jaimie decided she was getting ready to go. Inspired by her gusto, I nodded my head, said ok, and then proceeded to do nothing for the next hour because while it takes women two hours to get ready for the Fourth of July, it takes men all of 25 seconds.

At 4:30 we headed out the door. We chatted as we drove through Traveler’s Rest and up 25 North. We marveled at the amount of road side peach stands and make shift fire works stores. We passed this redneck confederate flag store that always makes me blind with rage and debated whether or not burning it down on the Fourth of July would count as a patriotic act.

We pulled into Asheville at about 5:30. There was zero traffic.

Asheville is an hour from Greenville. Every time I’m there part of me wonders if this place really exists, or if it’s like Brigadoon and appears out of the mist every thousand years. It’s kind of amazing having this weird little city so close to where we live. There are yarn stores and street musicians and drum circles. There are vegetarian restaurants and tea shops and people soaked in patchouli. After Jaimie and I grabbed a bite to eat we walked by a street festival and there was a dog jumping competition! That’s right. There was a big pool in the middle of the street and dogs were competing to see who could jump the farthest. It was exactly as incredible as it sounds.

After a black lab named Nico won the competition, Jaimie and I walked down to one of my favorite spots in the city. It’s a double decker bus that’s been turned into a coffee shop. They have this incredible back patio with ceramic flowers. There were lights hanging in the trees. They play perfect music.

For a moment I wished I didn’t have what I have. Would I have fully appreciated this moment before I got what I got? Not that I didn’t appreciate things before. What was I like before? Sometimes I can’t remember. If I didn’t have what I have would we have been on this patio in Asheville? I looked over at Jaimie and a firefly literally landed on her hand. Would we have missed that?

About 9pm we walked up to the park with the fire works. It felt like a Phish show. There were people wearing glow sticks and throwing glow in the dark mushrooms in the air. At 9:30 someone sang the star spangled banner and all the hippies and weirdos packing out this park stood up and sang along. With all the things happening in this country, singing that National Anthem felt all the more necessary. Like we were refusing to cede patriotism to that side of the aisle. For the next thirty minute Jaimie and I watched fireworks as cheesy America themed music played over the loud speakers. After fifteen minutes this couple behind us kept saying, “this is the grand finale. No this is the grand finale. No this is the grand finale. No this is the grand finale.” I was like are they here for the fireworks or just the grand finale? Is that how they live their lives? For the last thirty seconds?

The show was great. Afterwards Jaimie and I sat for five minutes and let the crowds go by. As we were leaving the Firecracker Jazz band was playing an impromptu concert. Rogue fireworks went off in the distance behind them. It was a perfect moment from a perfect night. We walked back to the car and hopped on the highway, and this Brigadoon little town melted in the distance.

There was zero traffic.

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