Hannah and I have come to the American South for the wedding of the son of my Arizona State University roommate, Big Steve, and his wife Amelia. We see this trip as a golden opportunity to hike and pickle away down south in the land of cotton (and by that I mean Dixie).
Before we head north to Asheville for the wedding weekend, Becky takes us to the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in her new hometown of Tryon. Not fifteen minutes from their small village downtown, we have trails that are over the river and through the woods; I believe I did see grandmother’s house.
Leaving our Tar Heel family, we drive an hour north to Asheville to meet up another Sun Devil roommate of mine, Rich and his wife Mary. Given access to the grounds at the Biltmore Estate as wedding photographers, they drive us around the fields and venues on the palatial estate.
With the wedding party and family rehearsing the evening before, Hannah and I explore the campus of the University of North Carolina – Asheville. On a showery Friday afternoon in late October, the campus is quiet except for engineering students in a 5P class! What grad teaching assistant drew that short straw?!
Walking on campus, I am taken back to my first three years as an undergrad at the College of Wooster (1966-1969). I just couldn’t make all their rules and my self-imposed pressure work for me. Daring more than I ever had in my first twenty-one years of life, I escaped (i.e. transferred) to the Wild, Wild West and the freedom of Arizona State University. Though I am forever grateful for meeting Hannah Kraai at Wooster, enrolling at ASU for my senior year set in motion the belief that my life could be the adventure I saw others having.
Without family or friends in Arizona, I took my first baby steps into the unknown and its possibilities. Then it was teaching Latino, Afro-American, and Anglo fifth and sixth graders in Anaheim, California; living in to Arizona, far from family, with Hannah for the first ten years of our marriage; then moving to New England with no job and two daughters under the age of three; later quitting a public school teaching career after twenty plus years to go to the University of New Hampshire to seek my dream job (i.e. teaching at the college level), I became a more courageous soul than I ever imagined I would be.
I now appreciate Wooster for the dissonance that propelled me to find my dharma (i.e. my journey and my path).