Choosing a life in Tryon

Published 11:44 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When I auditioned for a commercial once in Los Angeles, the casting director asked me, “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” I was stumped by the question (and consequently blew the audition), because I thought that well, I can live anywhere in the world, and I chose to live in L.A.

I loved living in L.A., and stayed for 27 years, and part of what I loved about it was meeting so many other people who had moved there with a purpose. Most people I knew were in the entertainment business, as was I, and we’d all left our lives behind at some point and ventured to Los Angeles because we had an interest in the business and wanted to be there.

I recall hearing a rare “I hate it here” from someone in L.A. and the response from another person in the conversation was, “The borders are open.”

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Being among people who loved where they lived was a pleasure. And being here in Tryon is a pleasure for many reasons, and that’s definitely one.

I have met some native Tryonites as well as some whose families have been in the area for generations. But most of the people I’ve met came here with a purpose from someplace else. They came to Tryon because they love Tryon, and it’s wonderful to witness that kind of pride in a new-found home.

Many of my new Tryon friends are retired, and they carefully researched their options before choosing to live here. Some friends came and started businesses or bought one or brought their own. But I know of very few whose employers brought them here, and of those, their employers are in nearby towns and cities, and Tryon was still a deliberate choice for a home. Most of the people I’ve discussed this with came because they wanted to and not because they needed to.

I think that’s a big part of what makes Tryon so special.

I’m not implying that natives are less enamored with Tryon. In fact, those that have stayed often have an even bigger pride in their home than those of us who selected it and moved here.

When my husband and I took our Polk County History class at the Polk County Historical Museum in Columbus, we learned about many of the native families. In fact the class was taught by Anna Pack Connor whose family has been here in Polk County as far back as the 1700s.

Anna is a retired business teacher from Polk County High School, and will be the first to tell you she is not a trained historian, but her love for the history of this place shows in her teaching and in the books she has painstakingly researched and published, and her enthusiasm spread easily among her students.

Paul and I had already bought and read some of Anna’s books along with others on the region. Penny Padgett at The Book Shelf, who coincidentally was also a student in our class, has a well-stocked section in her shop on history of the area, and we’ve devoured quite a few of her books.

Paul and I are both from Western North Carolina, and our move here from Los Angeles blossomed from an idea to “go home.”

Paul was born in Brevard and I was born in Chattanooga, and we both grew up in Asheville, attending Asheville High School together in the mid-seventies. Twenty-eight years later, we re-met and married and started the conversation about getting back to North Carolina.

I can’t take credit for choosing Tryon in particular as I knew very little about it really. Paul did though, and fortunately, I listened to him when he promised we’d have a good life here.

So we came and became what I’ve heard a friend call “the offs”—people who came from off somewhere else. This same friend who grew up nearby said he’d always heard Tryon was full of them. Apparently it was, and it still is.

In this case, I’m happy to be a little off.