I packed up from Lake Powhatan this morning. My travels today will take me to one of my very favorite mountain meccas, Blowing Rock, NC. One issue with camping, though, is the lack of access to electrical power. If I’m gone for a weekend, it’s usually not difficult to keep my electronics charged, but the longer I stay in the woods the less time I have to power up. So, part of my agenda today was to find a place to ‘plug in’ and write.
I stopped at a Visitor Information Center this morning and saw a brochure for the Crooked Door Coffee Shop. I checked out their website, and it looked like a happening place with movies every weekend and open mic on a regular basis. Marion was not on my route, but, when I saw the sign that it was close, I made a right, and I ended up on Main Street in Marion NC. It’s a quaint little town with some cute shops, but I couldn’t for the life of me find the coffee shop even though my GPS said it was right here.
I got out and found this sign pointing the way.
I could literally hear my friend Michael’s voice saying ‘upstairs darling’, and I knew I had to check this place out.
The Crooked Door has been here about 16 years in Marion. It is the hub of community activity. Jacob, the barista, prepared me their Toddy – a cold brew specialty – made with the coffee beans roasted by Ingenious Coffee Roasters downstairs. I’ll stop in there on my way out. I thought it would be crazy if the coffeehouse didn’t use the neighbor’s coffee beans. Jacob confirmed they did after the owner of Ingenious stopped by to say hi.
Jacob grew up in Marion and describes it as a ‘hole’. I laughed and asked if I could quote him, and he said yes. But, hole that it may be, he’s lived his entire life here, so there must be a draw. He said the coffee shop has mostly local patrons, but there are a few people like me who drift through and find them. Ashok scored a cup of whipped cream for her coffee treat, and had a nice long petting session with Jacob who is worried now that he’s going to have to get a dog. I’m glad she has that effect on people.
I found a coffee table book titled The Crooked Door, and I thought maybe it was a history of the place, so I cracked it open. It was even better. The book was filled with drawings, poetry and quotes from customers. In fact, I noticed that there were several filled books sitting around. Apparently, this idea was Jacob’s, and it seems to have really taken off. Now, it’s going to be featured in a Louisiana gypsy gal’s homegrown blog.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
― Hunter S. Thompson,
Hunter Thompson’s words were scrawled on a page next to Sophie’s colorful drawing. I’m not sure if they were words that haunted her, but they sure haunted me. This week I’ve been traveling alone. I have only felt lonely for a few moments here and there. But, loneliness has been at the top of my mind every now and again. Right now, I’m noodling whether or not I want to be in a relationship. I don’t have any options in that direction anyway, so it’s not an emergency decision, but I’ve been really wondering if I’m ‘in’ or ‘out’ on the whole relationship idea at this point in my life. Perhaps if I found someone that was as comfortable being alone as I am, it might work. But, I don’t desire the kind of relationship I had in the past where we were each others ‘all.’ It didn’t work for either of us, and I don’t think it’s realistic for me – ever.
This quote resonates with me on many levels. First of all, it took me a long time to gain my own self-respect. I do believe it’s why I’m much more comfortable being alone than I ever was before. There are times when I get lonely – really heartsick lonely – and I force myself to re-frame my longing for another by reminding myself that I am good company. And I am good company. I am gentle, inquisitive, curious, innovative, creative, funny and hard-headed. I have my faults, too, but I’m probably more comfortable with my faults than someone else might be that had to share space with me. I have a habit of never turning lights off in the house. My ex used to get so irritated with me. I asked him once if he could re-frame it and just think of it as one of my quirks. But, he couldn’t. I can. “There I go again,” I’ll say with a giggle as I notice every light in the house is on.
Sarah Kay urges us not to be afraid to taste the world because it is made of sugar. What a sweet way to frame our journey through this lifetime! And, if Hunter is right, part of being here on this earth is our journey where we are alone – no matter if we are coupled up, surrounded by people or single. We are all traveling alone. We were born alone and will ultimately die alone. Life is a soul’s journey. If I hadn’t been alone today, I don’t know if I would have found the Crooked Door, heard my friend Michael’s voice in my ear, met Jacob from Marion NC, read Sarah Kay’s quote or even been driving the hills of North Carolina. For right now, this lovely sofa is a sweet respite, the Toddy is yummy and I’m enjoying the sweetness of it all.