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Catching a surprise glimpse of my favorite town

I popped in and out of Tryon like Agnes Moorehead in a “Bewitched” episode. At least that’s how it felt. An unexpected family medical situation had me on a plane from Phoenix to Asheville faster than you can say “frequent flyer miles.”

I’m happy to report that the patient (my mother) is doing well (thank you, Mission Hospital), and likely sitting at home reading this just as you are.

It was important to be with family during this brief visit, but the bonus of my trip was spending a few unplanned days in Tryon. It has been six months to the day since Paul and I left Tryon to move to Arizona for his new job, and we have missed it every day.

First of all, thank you so much to the friends I was able to see while I was in town, even if briefly. I dined with some — hitting Lavender Bistro, Huckleberry’s, 10 North Trade and Nana’s in less than three days, but most encounters were on the street or in shops or at the Coffeehouse Co-op — quick hugs and hurried chats, and sometimes just a wave and a happy grin from a car. To those friends I didn’t get to see or call or text, I am sorry, but please know you were on my mind many times, and I hope to catch up with you soon.

The town looked as quaint and beautiful as ever. I was sorry to see Skyuka Gallery gone and to hear of Cowan’s Hardware’s impending closing, but I perked up at the sight of freshly restored building fronts on Trade Street. Missildine’s is coming right along and promises to be quite grand.

There were some heartbreaking tales of bad things that have happened to good people, but there were also many happy stories to hear — new jobs, new adventures, upcoming events.

I spotted my favorite 90-something hitchhiker at the Coffeehouse looking the picture of health. Some friends have been elected to positions in local government since I left, and others are running for office. I’m very excited that Tryon’s own Andy Millard is running for Congress, and am confident he will make a great public servant.

I stopped in The Book Shelf — the only bookstore in the world that can call my book, The Complete Tryon Diary, a bestseller. (It’s also the only bookstore that carries it. Ha!) I caught up with owner Penny Padgett, hopefully soon to be a Polk County Commissioner.

I heard about the recent and current kerfuffels between folks that should be able to get along but don’t. That made me sad, but I did enjoy hearing the word “kerfuffle” used. Conflict is as inevitable as change, I suppose, but I will say that is something I don’t miss about small-town life. Come on, kids, play nice.

I took a moment to drool over this year’s hearts at the Have a HeArt show and fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Polk County and Landrum at Upstairs Artspace (final bids and reception on February 13, 4-7 p.m.). The artists out-do themselves every year.

I stopped into La Bouteille to pick up adult beverages on my way to meet friends at Huckleberry’s. When I couldn’t recall what one particular friend preferred to drink, I pondered what she’d want out loud and got the answer quickly from more than one person. I can promise you that wouldn’t have happened in Phoenix.

My apologies to clay artist and instructor, Gary Huntoon, whose class I interrupted at Tryon Arts and Crafts School when I ran in to quickly say “hi” to my fellow potters and students. (No hugging though as they were covered in clay and I was already dressed for the plane ride back to Arizona.)

Breathing in the essence of Tryon in my whirlwind visit felt as therapeutic as spending weeks on a beach sipping tropical fruit drinks. I just love this town.

I’m telling you this not to impress you with how many friends I have or books I’ve sold or frequent flyer miles I’d accumulated (actually, I swiped them from my husband), but to remind you all to take a step back and see Tryon through my eyes again. It is special, and you are lucky to call it home.

Take care of it and of each other until I can get back again. I’m already looking forward to it.