It’s nice to live where your word and hugs still count

Published 10:45 am Friday, August 16, 2013

“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something.”

– Eve Ensler 

This column nearly started to become a rant about more rain and how my basement and crawlspaces flooded, the ensuing mess and despair, with enough whine to compete with bloodthirsty mob of mosquitoes. How I wanted to say, “NO” to even looking underneath the house, let alone tackling a mopping job.

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Instead, after a night of tossing and turning, worrying and pacing, I got up and made coffee. River came over to get his morning ear rub; the sun peeped out. Filling the hummingbird feeder, we went outside to greet our bat friend peeping out from the porch eaves, inhaled the new morning. A shimmering spider web floating on magic wings promised things would be better.

For comfort, I thought about last Friday. A friend from Sarasota, Fla. stopped by on the way from Waynesville to Florida, so we headed to downtown Saluda for lunch and a 50th Anniversary Coon Dog Day T-shirt. I’d picked up a T-shirt at Thompson’s Store a couple weeks ago and asked Judy Ward if I could return it if my friend found it to be the wrong size. Sure, she said. So, in the store we went, the shirt in hand: no bag, no receipt.

Busy at the register, Judy smiled at us and I held the shirt up: need to exchange this for a different size I pointed. She nodded, and off we went to find the right size. My friend was amazed that there was no hassle, no argument, no problem. This is Saluda, I said: we know each other  — and like family, we put up with each other — look how everyone has put up with me. Judy knows I wouldn’t bring back a worn shirt or pull a fast one on her. Plus, she knows where I live for goodness sakes; I’ve got to be on good behavior around this town.

Down the street we went, speaking to folks, dropping by the library for a book that Pat at the front desk had saved for me; getting hugs. After seeing my friend’s utter surprise at this on-going friendliness and love, it made me see our town through someone else’s viewpoint. I realized how lucky we are to live in a small town, where you can walk in a store, be called by name, and exchange something without facing the Spanish Inquisition if you don’t have your receipt; where your word still counts and a handshake is good as gold. Where the library has a book saved just for you, and even if you have the great flood in your basement, things will be all right: someone’s going to give you a hug.