>I took a ride from New Bern to the edge of Jacksonville today, about a 32-miler that ended abruptly when I rode into torrential rainfall. The stretch of 17 between the two towns is nearly ideal for cycling, beautiful, smooth, and overall a lot like a mega River Road without all the developments and pygmy huts (No, there aren’t actually any of these on River Road, but wouldn’t it be freaking sweet if there were?). I had to conserve my cell phone battery and consequently couldn’t listen to its mp3 player, leaving me with a lot of open space in my head to think about some shit.
People who live in New Bern absolutely love it, those whom I have encountered anyway. I guess this would make sense to the casual observer, but after living in Wilmington for so long and A.) not being sure how anyone could like it there and B.) not giving a shit what any of those morons think (I think these two factors somehow work against each other, but oh well), this sort of struck me as a new feeling. I could actually like the place I live in, too. There is hope for me in my endeavor to be complacent with my home, something I have not felt since leaving Western New York. This was uplifting and made me pedal faster.
I foresee a change in the tone of my blogs in the future. Hopefully, they won’t be as downtrodden and cynical once I am no longer enveloped in a city which makes me flirt with abandoning all faith in American society. Make no mistake about it, Wilmington is the worst of the worst. I feel that when terrorists, China, France, and all other peoples cite Americans as – for the sake of wrapping up such an array of adjectives, I’ll use just this one – spoiled, the citizens of Wilmington and its surrounding towns are who they’re thinking of. Most people drive an SUV without so much as thinking about the potential backlash of doing so, very few actually care about the natural world God has given us, the vast majority are completely superficial, 80 percent (by my estimation) are religious fanatics and hypocrites, practically all of them believe a pill can make them skinny … and the list goes on. You want to talk about a population that is both lazy and completely wrapped up in itself (a terrible combination, if you think about it)? That’s Wilmington, North Carolina. Anyway, what I was saying is that I’m going to be all right once they’re all a distant memory to me. Every flippin’ one of them.
What I hope does not happen is that I don’t forget what Wilmington is like. I have many friends and relatives back home who think I’m nuts for getting so pissed off at the way of life in Wilmington, don’t think it’s that bad to see housing developments going up everywhere, and are disappointed to hear my political values have changed to ones which embody respect for the environment (I’ve gone from Republican to Democrat since moving to Wilmington). This is all, like I’ve told them, because they’ve never lived in a place like Wilmington and have instead thrived in an area that is just the opposite. Interstate 86, which runs through the heart of where I’m from, had to be built around and even under wetlands in order to preserve them since all the locals raised such a stink about it back in the day. They recycle because the state entices them to do so. There are thousands of acres of forests and undeveloped land that’s never been altered other than to put the occasional tree stand up for deer season. It’s easy for people to criticize those who fight for the land when they’ve never had to do so themselves. My best friend still buys into the “progress” argument when woods are devastated so a fat man from Raleigh can live with his fat wife and his two fat kids and their fat pets in a place called Whispering Pines. But I’d love to hear what my best friend would say if some development company offered his dad a couple million bucks for the endless acres of woods he owns across the road from their house and then proceeded to demolish it all. He’s never seen what the world looks like when practices such as this are so rampant as they are in Wilmington and now Pender and Brunswick counties. I secretly owe them a debt of gratitude, one which will always be held in by my pride and therefore never administered, and I hope the great breath of life I sense here in New Bern never overshadows the memory. It’s something worth fighting for, and if I’d ever given a shit about Wilmington, I would stay and do so. Through the selfishness of the people of Wilmington, I gained strength. Via their lack of concern for this Earth, they made me care. Their blindness opened my eyes. I really learned quite a bit from the Myrtle Beach of North Carolina and I hope life never gets so good that I forget it.