>Starting to Feel Like Home

This is going to be one of those “feel good” type of blogs – the kind where I have absolutely nothing to complain about, much to the relief of some of you out there. Regardless, it’s going to have the flavor of my more meaningless blogs to first-time visitors and loyalists alike, so for the sake of the former, let me say in my defense that if you want to read my take on more pertinent matters, please check the archives.

Speaking of “some of you out there,” what’s with all the hits I’ve been getting in Clayton, N.C., lately? Sign my damn guestbook!

As you can probably infer by the title of tonight’s entry, I am getting very comfortable at my new apartment, job and here in New Bern in general. The whole shebang feels kind of good – it’s the first time since moving to the state of North Carolina four and a half years ago that I feel like I am home. See? I told you it could happen.

I think I owe most of this new-found security to the city itself. When I drive to Jacksonville or Havelock – nearby towns, for those of you unfamiliar with the geography I’m talking about – to see Kalista, I get the sense that I’m leaving one populated area, traveling through desolate, nearly-untapped and preserved country, and heading to another. Those of you from/in my hometown can relate: it’s much like a trip into Olean from Portville. Thanks to the rustic, historic and moving (all at the same time) architecture of the downtown area of, there are nights I swear I’m in Olean with the boys at the intersection of Union and West State Streets, coming from Portville. Pa.’s to the left and over the Barnum Hill, downtown’s to the right and the bars are straight ahead. The possibilities were endless on a nightly basis when I lived there. Now I’m getting the same feeling here, just in a different, “more grown up” respect.

I rearranged my living room, moving my kitchen table into the kitchen (where it’s always belonged – why I was initially compelled to put it in the living room, I don’t know) and making room for my new couch that’s supposed to have been here days ago. There’s a space in front of my living room window now that’s going to be filled up by a Christmas tree come this weekend. Yep, that’s what I just said – it’s the only time of the year one can put a tree in the living room and not get accused of lunacy. Damn right I’m taking advantage of that.

Plus it’s going to make my place smell really cool – that’s mainly what I’m after.

Speaking of Christmas trees, I was thinking earlier tonight … what in the Hell induces people to buy an artificial Christmas tree? Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the whole tradition just a little bit, if not completely? This is one of those things where I’m going to one day launch a serious conversation with someone about it and find out (yet again) that I don’t think like mainstream America. I’ve always thought it was the thrill of maintaining a (partially) live piece of nature inside a house so all could enjoy it – not to mention doing what it takes to decorate the thing, like stringing popcorn and cranberries on fishing line, wrapping lights around it all and putting a star on top – that was the point of it all. Having to water it every couple days is a small price to pay if you ask me. Did I mention it makes your house smell like a forest?

Anyway, I’m in the process of looking up a tree farm on the internet that I can go to this weekend. There are a couple places in New Bern where they’ve already got them cut down and in neat little rows (seriously, all you have to do is pull your car up, get out and choose, pay, load and you’re off) but it never has been nor will it ever be tradition to partake in the commercialization of the Christmas tree. I saw one of the places where they were selling them for around $50 a pop … apparently they’ve never heard of a place up Promised Land Road where they sell ’em for 15 bucks. Better ones, too – ones you can cut yourself and get the sap all over your hands. I don’t care if I have to drive 50 miles this weekend, I will not stop until I find a reasonably-priced farm where I can cut my own damn tree. Then I’m going to bring it back to my place, put it up in the living room, string popcorn and cranberries on fishing line and wrap it around the tree with some lights. Then I’m going to put a star on top of the whole show and smell the sweet, tantalizing aroma of pine throughout my house when I wake up for work every morning. We’re talking through the middle of January here.

Yes, it feels good to finally feel like my old self again. I can’t believe the demoralizing, life-sucking effect Wilmington, N.C., had on me when I lived there. No wonder I was pissed off all the time – I had to face society’s sweaty ball sack every time I walked out my front door.

Gotta love Christ-mas. I sure do.

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