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

“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.

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.