On a recent road trip to North Carolina we stopped in Knoxville for a new tire or four, not because Tennessee is known for their steel belted radials, but because we had a flat and did not fancy the idea of becoming a Mac truck hood ornament farther down I 40. When a nice hostess in a nearby restaurant got out the three-inch thick Knoxville area Yellow Pages to look up a tire shop for us, my wide-eyed seven year old asked in a sweet Gomer Pyle sort of way, “Is that the phone book for the whole world?”
This was Dollywood not Hollywood but I still felt a little Beverly Hillbillies come to town, so I explained to our amused hostess that we were from a small town in North Mississippi where the phone book was about the size of their menu. My husband and I exchanged looks on the way out and said at the same time, “We need to get these kids out of town more.”
By the time our newly treaded mini-van hit the patchouli- scented streets of my old stomping grounds of Asheville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, our boys were ready to pull up stakes and never look back. The same 7 and 12 year olds who informed us just last year that they were going to college at Ole Miss so that they could still live at home and get their laundry done, were now planning their move to the Tar Heel state. I’m not sure if it was the dread-locked “Trustafarian” musicians on every corner or the spiked hair skate punks weaving through the Asheville streets, but suddenly the boy’s world views expanded to the point that clean clothes for college was no longer a high priority.
I am grateful that our children’s life here in Oxford is pretty insular, especially compared to large southern cities like Atlanta and Jackson where ten is the new twenty. We quite prefer “Mayberry” to Madison, and Sno-Biz to Starbucks. Okay, I would trade my pets for a Target or IKEA within thirty miles but a few less consumer options is a small price to pay for the opportunity to raise your kids in a great small town.
So now that my fledglings have ventured out of their nest and liked the view, it’s just a matter of navigating the teen years until they are beating a path to greener more exciting pastures. Sure, it’s a big relief that my kids no longer think that living in our basement playing Halo into their twenties while I cook their dinner is a good idea, but a part of me feels a little sad knowing that this is just the beginning of letting them go.
We are planning a new trip now to meet and bring home our daughter. I can’t wait to see what my son thinks of the phone books in Beijing!