Showing posts with label villa rica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label villa rica. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Connections and Coincidence

Courtesy PDPhoto.org
Don’t you just love life and all its twists and turns? Today I find myself seated at a familiar booth in Johnny’s, munching a slice of pizza and indulging a Coke addiction that, when I take it out to look, has its roots in this town, the town that Asa Candler was born in and left: thirty-five miles and aeons west of Atlanta, in the rolling hills of northwest Georgia.

It molded him, this place, nurtured him until he could strike out for the big city to meet Pemberton and build an empire that still dominates the world. When I think about Peace Makers (a novel that’s been in-process for the last four years) in this context, I get goose bumps. Much of it has been written just blocks from where he would've lived. Will I, like Asa, have to leave to find my happy ending?

Oddly enough, there are other connections. By happenstance, the novel is set in Druid Hills, an Atlanta community that Candler helped build, featuring tree-lined streets and delightful linear parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Emory University, to which the Coke magnate donated land and monies is the backdrop for at least one chapter and rates mention in several others. The Candler Building, a marvel of fantastical design, appears as the locale for another scene in downtown Atlanta.

Mere coincidence? A twist of fate? Maybe. But maybe not. Whatever the answer, it's something to ponder on a fine day in October in these red-clay hills of Georgia.
October 18, 2014
~ Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Returning the Cinnamon

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my cousin/friend Shann. She arrived at the house and waited for me in the car. Bounding out the front door, I greeted her and stepped to her open window.

Morning Sun Through Villa Rica Pines
We exchanged compliments, each finding something worth a shout-out, the norm between us two. Then she followed hers up with an "I'm so glad you're back here, and that you're my friend!"

To which I heartily agreed, saying, "And I return the cinnamon."

Giggling, I corrected myself. "Sentiment, I mean. I return the sentiment."

Driving to Phat Phil's (me in my car, she following), I felt a surge of love and connection. It was one of those perfect spring days in Northwest Georgia, sunny and warm, but not too warm. A perfect, low-humidity type day.
Villa Rica Main Street at Sunset

We drove down North Avenue, past the site of the old hospital (now a parking lot for the new), past Junior Food Store and through the 'projects' that have been there for as long as I remember. A family friend lived there growing up and, with pride I noted that it is still as well-kept as it was back then.

The Old VR Movie Theater, Now Cinema Tavern
On to Old Town Road through Fullerville, past my friend Shelia's mama's house and the baseball park. I spent countless hours in both places as a youth: hanging out, sleeping over, inventing things in the kitchen. In my mind's eye I see little usses jumping the ditch playing follow-the-leader. My mouth waters remembering green plums plucked straight from the tree.

By the time I made the outskirts of Villa Rica, I was bursting with it. It welled up inside and I watched myself with awe and wonder as all those feelings tumbled out in a shouted, "I LOVE YOU, VILLA RICA!!!!"

What has changed? Everything. And yet nothing.

Bugsy, At Home in Villa Rica
Only me. Well, not so much me as my mind. My mind has changed. I now see a place of beauty, love and community. I see a place where I belong, a place I want to belong. That is what has changed.

So. Villa Rica. Thank you for giving me a beautiful life, both then and now. I am home.

And this time, I can return the cinnamon.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, April 28, 2011

V is for Villa Rica (aka Welcome Home)

“In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all.
He used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance
to the wall, Lord I recall
My little town...” ~ Paul Simon

Over the years I’ve found much meaning in song, prose written by kindred spirits expressing my heart. Paul Simon is one such author.

His song goes on to say, “…in my little town I never meant nothin' I was just my father's son. Saving my money. Dreaming of glory. Twitching like a finger on the trigger of a gun..."



I could relate.

Why? Because my mama told me that there was nothing in my little town for me. She often called it a one-horse town, and not in a fond, off-hand manner. More like disgust. Anger even. Of course, back then I didn’t get that. It was my mother after all, the woman whose job it was to look out for my best interest.

There is a law in life: that which we dwell upon, we create. Over time, the evidence mounted. Convinced she was right, Mama’s words became my own. And I left.

This coming June I’ll turn fifty-four. For fifty-three of those years the belief, deeply rooted, remained. I stayed far away.

Last year, I began making forays back home with cousin Kek, drawn to this kin who became my best friend.

One day while here, I realized I was happy. Delightfully so. I had family that loved me and a town full of classmates and their children’s children. It was nice knowing I had a history, people who knew me and loved me anyway.

Now that I am officially back, I see with different eyes and hear with different ears. I have come to understand. My mother had no reason to like Villa Rica. She was a foster kid from New York who met my father in Texas, a sailor in uniform who won her heart.

She came home with him to Villa Rica for love. She found resentment, maybe worse. My grandmother didn’t want Daddy to marry. He was to go back to college, after all. A wife and kids ruined her dreams. Did it ruin his too?

No, Villa Rica wasn’t kind to my mama. I understand why she was bitter. I understand why I was branded by it. She was a powerful woman and she was, after all, my mother.

But Villa Rica is my town.

As an adult with nothing left to prove, I am home. Mama’s gone. No longer do I have to live her words. I drive the streets of my childhood, see the houses I remember, and pride blooms in my heart.

My town.

I like the sound of that, the feel as it rolls off my tongue.

My town. Villa Rica.

Welcome home, Roaming Rebel. Welcome home.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This, That and the Other

I give up. Since I can't seem to put together a real post, here's a list of what's been happening in Rebel Land.
  1. I'm spending a lot of time in Villa Rica (aka VR), the home town I left thirtysomething years ago. The plan at that time was to leave and never, ever, not in a million years, go back. Not to live, anyway.
  2. I now have an 'office' upstairs in Lola Salon (friend us on Facebook) in said home town and so far have two official paying patients. Thanks, guys! If you're looking for a new chiropractor on the west side of Atlanta, I'm your gal.
  3. I pet-sat for my sister-in-law this weekend. Carolyn, if you're reading, I love you and, oh my god, HOW do you manage all those critters every day? They wore me out. Please don't go anywhere again. Ever.
  4. Bugsy has officially boycotted the house in Dahlonega while I'm in VR. He refuses to come in for my roommate. At all. Which means he is sleeping outside. At night. (Later I'll share a picture of him in a box in my back seat as I tried to leave for VR the other day.)
  5. This distresses me BIG TIME. So I came back to Dahlonega two days early. He now sleeps peacefully curled up against me, under my arm on the chair.
  6. Tomorrow I will plead his case once more with my aunt, who has graciously given me a home in Villa Rica until I make enough bucks to rent a place of my own.
  7. Yes, I'm starting over again. But you know this about me already.
  8. The depression is gone. Totally. Completely. Vanished. Thank God for prozac.
  9. I've re-discovered a book I ordered two years ago and wasn't ready for. Till now. The title? Potatoes Not Prozac (PNP). I'm doing the first step (eating a balanced breakfast within the first hour of rising in the a.m.) and have cheated a bit by experimenting with the third step.
  10. I will tell you that for two mornings in a row while doing this I was flooded with serotonin and beta-endorphins (what the eating plan is designed to do and why you won't want sugar anymore) and literally SINGING in happiness. Seriously. Keep this up and bye-bye prozac!
  11. I found Healthy Choice Steamers, courtesy of my roommate. The first was so-so. The second (Steak Merlot) was yummy. Sold me. For only $2 on sale and several minutes later I've got a tasty, less than 300-calorie meal with plenty of complex carbs (the good kind) and protein.
  12. My favorite, however, is Kashi. The Lemongrass Coconut Chicken and the Southwestern Chicken are both SUPERB. The Sweet and Sour Chicken was a little too sweet for me.
  13. And don't ask me about the Health Valley F-Factor Skinnys. Laudy mercy get out of the way in the morning!
  14. I now fit in to my fat jeans (woohoo) and will have my first monthly weigh-in on the 1st (in two days). I'm on target for Minus 35 by 6/30. Remember, that was only 1 1/2 pounds a week.
  15. I slid backwards in a love relationship last week. Call me weak. Go ahead. I believed again for a moment. Dang.
  16. The pesky sugar cravings are gone. That is, by the way, only one point of the Potatoes Not Prozac program.
  17. Confession. I felt crummy yesterday afternoon (that whole love thing and the Bugsy thing) and ran screaming to a movie where I, with little guilt, ate popcorn and (I'm happy to report) only HALF of the very-sweet Cherry Coke. But yes, I ate all the popcorn. No extra butter.
  18. After the movie I wandered in to Marshall's, somewhat mollified by Jack Gulliver Black and Jason Segal, but still feeling the edge of the blade. Wandering the aisles I came across a $2 water bottle, stainless steel. I eyed and coveted a hand mirror, but resisted. Then an idea hatched. I would treat myself to something. The relief was palpable and immediate.
  19. Almost like this, but way cuter.
  20. That gold leather (and out-of-my-budget) purse I spied last weekend was gone, a bargain snatched up by another lucky Marshalls' shopper. But there, on the last rack, behind the other red purses, a ruby (think bright cherry) red Billion Bucks Kathy Van Zeeland. On sale for $15. No f'g way. Yes I bought it. I had to.
  21. Retail therapy complete, I played eScrabble (my latest addiction), jiggered with my nephew's blog template, watched How the Earth Was Made on History Channel and had an otherwise unnoteworthy Saturday evening. But that red purse sat by me the whole time and I petted it now and again.
  22. This morning it was time to switch purses. I removed the requisite wad of paper stuffing, unzipped the back compartment and stuck my hand in to remove a piece of paper.
  23. It was a $2 bill, folded in two. No lie. A real one. I got chills. Why was there a $2 bill in the zippered compartment of my Kathy Van Zeeland bag? I have two other Kathy bags and THOSE didn't have $2 bills inside.
  24. I googled all manner of combinations to find some promotion I imagined MUST be going on, in which the person who ends up with THAT particular Kathy bag wins some incredible prize. But no such google results. If you hear or read of this super contest, let me know will ya? I'll split the spoils.
  25. What about the hand mirror, you asked? Yeah. That ole' hand mirror. I couldn't seem to get it out of my head. I swung by Marshall's on the way to Dahlonega and I'm now looking at it. I will feel rich and beautiful every time I gaze within and that indeed is worth one or two sheckels.
  26. Another old book belonging to the 'purchased and neglected' category found its way to my attention last week. The simplicity of The Richest Man in Babylon eluded me the first time around and I lost everything. Think I'll heed George's wisdom this time.
  27. "A part of all I earn is mine to keep."
  28. Can it just be that? He says so. Time to try it his way. It worked for plenty of others. Why not me? Or you, for that matter?
  29. Thank you for sticking it out for this very long post. You just witnessed me getting unstuck.
  30. Tomorrow is the first day of many to come in which I spend AT LEAST two hours of butt-in-chair recording William's story. It is leaking out of my every pore. Time to pour it on to the pages.
  31. THAT is my commitment. To William. And to me. A commitment I intend to keep.
  32. But first, I needed to dump this stuff to get the clutter out of my head. There is more, believe me. But I'll spare you. For now.
  33. Sorry for the list. It seemed to be the only way to get it out.
  34. So thank you. Thank you very much. (Why do I hear Elvis?)
If you stuck with my dish session all the way to the end, make sure to leave a comment so I can give you some well-deserved link love.

Rebel Yell! Olivia J. Herrell
P.S. It's time for my evening complex carb, Ezekiel's Cinnamon Raisin Bread, toasted with unsalted butter. Mmmm. Night ya'll!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goldenrod Reunion


Sign at Rock Creek Park in Dawsonville, GA with Goldenrod.
 It's that time of the year. The children have returned to school. Football season is in full swing and the boys of summer are wrapping it up.

October is upon us. Sweater weather. Crystal clear days. Fall winds that rattle the dried leaves from trees not quite ready to say goodbye.

The hay fields are mown and brown. The kudzu blooms, great purple clusters that look like wisteria and smell like grapes.

The temperature highs have plunged from the 90's to the 70's, the lows from the 60's to 49.

It's a fitting time for a reunion. Classmates meet again. It's been thirty-five years. Villa Rica Class of 1975. Here's to you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

About a Boy

It occurred to me at 3 in the morning, after waking way too early, that a good story must have more than goodbyes and a general thread of anxiety running through it to be interesting. This one is no different. You know that I'm leaving California, the land that I love. And that I am returning to Georgia, where I grew up.

What you don't know is this: there is a boy.

Or rather, a man. In my memory, we're 36 years younger, and he's 17. I have golfed only one time in my life, when I was 16. Over the years, when relating the story, I never thought about who I had been with. Or why there was no second date. I just remembered being awful at it. And not wanting to repeat the experience. I also remembered laughing hysterically at my amazing ability to swing and never hit the ball. Turns out, he was the unfortunate guy.

It is true that I'm going back to Georgia for economic reasons. I've been pushed in to a corner, financially, over the last three years. And that lately, push has become shove. I've pared my expenses down to the bone, got rid of the expensive car, office and so much more. Yet still, I struggle.

But, the real reason I'm leaving, the thing that makes leaving actually palatable, is the boy.We re-met on Facebook. Totally innocently, I might add. I sure wasn't looking for a heart connection.

When I saw his comment on someone else's post, I thought, "hmm, I remember that name." But not the man. Not even after looking at his pictures. I sent him a friend request anyway.

Once done, my subconscious mind began sifting though the "52 Years of Lost and Discarded Memories" file and the first memory that popped up was the infamous golf outting. When I tried to grab hold of the memory, to flesh it out, I got nada. Till I got home and he had confirmed our Facebook friendship with a message that simply said, "What are you doing on the West Coast? How can I take you golfing if you're all the way out there?"

Lightning bolt. Over the ensuing days of messages sent with increasing fervor and frequency, my subconscious ran nonstop. Even at night when I was trying to sleep it continued, churning, turning, searching for memories of this boy. Occasionally, it brought back fleeting ones. Isolated snatches of an impish, adorable face, very young. Later on, a little older, at the store where he worked, ignoring me. Not much more.

But I know, I feel, there was more. After all, there were eleven-plus years of football games, practice, parades, pep rallies, school hallways. Was my desk in Mrs. Lawson's first-grade class his, from the year before?

Amazingly, he remembers me. He is, in fact, a veritable repository of carefully-catalogued information, including, it seems, my missing memories.

He remembers our "date". And other times. He remembers me. And apparently saw me, at a time when I thought no one did. Or could. I was so busy getting out of Villa Rica, you see. It was too small, and I wanted the whole world. My big dreams seemed too big for one tiny town. (Then, there was the not-so-small voice of my mother saying "run, run away, as fast as you can!")

Why am I sharing this with you, my friends? Because I can no longer hold it inside. It colors everything that I think, do and say. And there's an honesty within me that will not be denied. Because I'm happy, and I want to share my happiness with you.

And because the world can always use another love story.

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