Sunday, June 4, 2017

Take Me Deeper than my Feet could Ever Wander


I am the first to arrive at the cabins and I'm immediately drawn to a bench swing facing the river. Swaying back and forth in the cool breeze, a contrast to the concentrated warmth coming from the filtering light. I drift away in the rhythm listening to the birds compete with the sounds of the river.


I think of you and how you'd look in this light. Which features would the sun highlight as it found its way through the leaves to your face?

Everything is more beautiful when your heart swells. I find myself staring at the tree bark and getting lost in the patterns. I watch the big black ants crawl down the chainlink to the bench I rest on. A heightened sense side effect of being lovesick.
Along with the less than desirable side effects of the last couple of months...longing, confusion and tear stained pillows. But even stacked on top of each other they are but a skipping stone in the raging river of devotion my emotional self takes me on.

Running along side this river was the ever present signage, "so what are you doing with your life?".  I thought I had some aspects figured out but the drowning of my semi-pro camera last week which was intricate in most of my projects, had left me with a "now what" blockade. I was traveling to postcard places with a camera phone.

photographer Sarah Bello

How does one reach this point in life? I swear I am broadsided by every event.
It seems like so much work when you think about all the little details and steps that had to happen at just the right time for you to meet someone new. Nature makes it seem effortless.

We fall apart when it doesn't work out because we know we had almost nothing to do with it. We can't make it happen and we have no idea when or if it will ever happen again.

photographer Sarah Bello

I'm in the waiting phase. The phase when all your girlfriends tell you to play hard to get. You don't want to appear desperate or too eager. But I may be a little desperate and I'm absolutely positive I'm eager.  Something insides me listens and tries to the best of my ability. Maybe because I've always pursued what I wanted and it's always ended in horrendous heartache. My outlook on this has changed recently though. A revelation when I heard this line...

"Every love story ends in heartache if it lasts long enough".

So if its inevitable....what are we afraid of?


Expressing my feelings is like breathing.
Holding anything back is suffocating. If I'm not able to fully get across everything I want another to realize, it wounds me. I can not rest until they know, really know.
I want to understand all their whys, what ifs and maybes. Nothing is too weird, too dark, too complicated. This is where I thrive.
My personality type is a counselor. At first thought I laugh, so the blind leading the blind? But its true because I have and always will want to get down to the bottom of things. I don't want to skate over the surface, I want to know whats beneath it.


Back to reality... I'm in the woods. I am now out of my head and wandering through everyone's conversations. I feel fully welcomed but play the part of the silent observer. This group has known each other for years. Most of their great life experiences were experienced together. Different personalities weaved through commonalities and the acceptance of youth.

I soon become numb with a red wine/jacuzzi combo. This alone was worth the drive.

A delayed arrival of a group of 4 and my cot/or sofa was upgraded to my own suite for the night.
I opened the balcony door and crawled into bed. In the cold mountain air and sound of the river, the perfection of this mini break had reached its awe moment. Yet I lay here alone wanting someone to experience it with. My independent woman is annoyed and fights this yearning, but my hopeless romantic self wins the night.


The dropping temperature wakes me up before the sun rises. But instead of closing the balcony door I continue to endure and tightly wrap the quilt around me. I'm a butterfly in a cocoon.
As the sun begins to wake up the forest, I crawl out of bed and stand on the balcony. The beauty of this moment is bliss and I attempt to capture it in a panoramic view.


Coffee is calling and as quietly as humanly possible I walk downstairs and boil water on the stove for my french press. I toast some GF raisin bread, smear on some sunflower seed butter and sliced bananas and cut an avocado. I carry my breakfast out to the picnic bench by the river. Everyone is still asleep and nature is the only sound.

I write down everything you just read. 



As the group awakes, we break into two groups of strong contrast...
one going to Waffle House
one going to the Farmers Market.
The quaint farmers market is in historic downtown Murphy. I buy some rainbow chard that is so stunningly vivid I want to wear it in some way.

 Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

On the way back from the farmers market we stop to buy a couple more inner tubes for the group float down the river. They buy the already filled ones thinking they'd save a step but the misconception of the size of them against the size of the PT Cruiser Convertible is comical as we hold on to them for dear life going down the highway.



The clouds start to roll in and I immediately remember how cold the water was when I arrived yesterday eager to touch it after driving all day. We line up one by one and get into the river with our array of flotation devices. Fortunately, the icy waters quickly numb any skin it touches so you soon get over the shock. I was thankful for wearing long sleeves over my bathing suit.


Without oars, most of the float is out of your control. Your arms can only do so much with the flow. Your mind forgets that at any moment you could just slip out of the donut and stand up. It's a shallow river. No, you are at the will of the river and where it takes you, you will go.

With recent snake sightings, we are all terrified of the overhanging tree shoreline. Every time the current takes someone near the trees, there is screaming and laughing as someone yells...SNAKES!
A gaggle of geese land just ahead of us and seem very annoyed that they have to continue to move further downstream to get away from us.

photographer Sarah Bello

I've now spent 24 hours surrounded by people. I begin slowly retreating...taking walks, laying in the grass by myself. Dogs always gravitate to the introverts, sitting next to them in wordless acceptance that they too need a break to recharge. Dude, I feel ya.


The smell of meat fills the air as more people arrive. I quietly prepare my vegetables on the grill as small talk attempts are made to me, the newcomer singleton. I make it a few sentences in before they are distracted by a child, animal, food smell, or louder person. Sarah, you need to join the group! This sentence is both sweet and inviting and tormenting and annoying at the same time. I walk outside with my roasted corn on the cob and zucchini and mug of wine.
The sound of the river soon drowns out the various conversations going on at once that I am not contributing too.

photographer Sarah Bello

I get a second awakening after smores. I brought vegan marshmallows. Toasted and smothered in sunflower seed butter is so fantastic that I have too many and get a slight stomach ache.
The children have now retreated to DVDs or bed and most of the adults are back in the jacuzzis. A storm is rolling in and we watch the lighting from the porch as we all indulge in various libations.

I roll into my sleeping bag on the sofa and quickly fall asleep. I'm the first to wake up in the morning. The cabin dark and quiet. It continues to rain and I decide to spend the day traveling on down the road. I make one last breakfast to eat outside on the porch, enjoying this beautiful haven I was lucky enough to be invited to. It came at just the right moment, a little break from reality surrounded by the beauty of nature's retreat from your worries.

photographer Sarah Bello

I load up my car and I'm off.
The sun comes out as I drive through the Smokey Mountains. The inspiring wonder of the landscape leaves my jaw dropped for most of the journey.

photographer Sarah Bello

I open the windows and roll back the sunroof. The winding road along the river offers deep breaths and soothing sounds. The breeze through the mountains embraces my skin and forgives all my faults.

photographer Sarah Bello

Poppy Field
Or maybe its just that I'm the pink poppy!
I find a pink poppy in a field of red and I'm captivated by it as if its speaking to my soul. 
"You have always loved whats different, why conform now?"
photographer Sarah Bello

I stop in Asheville for lunch deciding on Laughing Seed Cafe on Wall St. I sat on the patio and ordered the breakfast bowl with kale, sweet potatoes, golden potatoes and "bacon" carrots.

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

I watched the tourists walk by taking pictures next to the array of yarn bombs. A homeless elderly man also watched them. His long gray beard and weathered skin held my gaze for awhile. He was almost highlighted in his dramatic appearance like a thought provoking art piece and yet seemed fully hidden from everyone that passed him by. After lunch, I was also briefly distracted by the yarn bombs.

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

Before getting back on the highway I grabbed a coffee from Trade and Lore Coffee. They make their own syrups and offered almond milk though it wasn't on the menu. I was craving the pistachio/rosewater combo. They also purchase 90% of their product locally and work alongside local non-profits supporting inclusiveness and equality.




I didn't really have the money for coffee shop coffee but I was justifying the purchase because I was able to stumble upon free street parking two blocks away. Lunch would be my only meal of the day. I had apples and filtered water in my car.



My next stop was the Pisgah National Forest. I wanted to drive down part of the Blue Ridge Parkway but I kept getting turned around. The sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds. It was still warm enough for my sun dress and I stopped along the river on my way to Looking Glass Falls.

photographer Sarah Bello

I was expecting a trail to the Falls but you can see it from the road. The sides of the road lined with cars as people walk to the staircase for selfies and some brave enough to wade in the cold waters at the base. It's picturesque, right out of a storybook and so loud it drowns out the crowd of people.

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

Water is an amazing artist, shaping the rocks and land around it to its desired form. Nothing can stand against it, it will always find a way to overcome.

photographer Sarah Bello
Amen!

Further down Highway 276 .... you start to feel the incline. The winding road through the trees along the river and over small cobblestone bridges takes you to the clouds. Then near the top, I see a small sign on the right side of the road. 
Blue Ridge Parkway.
I smile from ear to ear as tears cracked the surface.
I wandered into exactly where I wanted to be.

photographer Sarah Bello

It's colder now with the elevation and I search through my trunk for more clothes. I throw on some jeans and a hoodie over my dress in the parking lot of the next overlook. 



photographer Sarah Bello

The song "Oceans" comes on the stereo as I'm driving the gorgeous curves at the top. I play it 3 times, singing at the top of my lungs before I stop at the next hiking area. 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever Wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior


Hillsong United "Oceans"

photographer Sarah Bello

I'm reminded of Alice in Wonderland when I see these steps. Perhaps it's fresh on my mind from Looking Glass Falls. I run up them when a memory stops me dead in my tracks. I've been here before. I was here with my then two dogs and we ran up these steps. 

photographer Sarah Bello

I can hear my breath as I look around this fairytale landscape. I miss my dog, and I'm standing in the same spot years later, alone on a mountaintop. Every emotion hits me at once and knocks out my breath. Then a black and white dog runs down the path. It stops and looks at me but doesn't approach. We just stare at each other. It's surreal as I start to breathe normally again. Its owner jogs past me and the dog continues on with her.

photographer Sarah Bello

I turn to my left and it's like waking from a trance. 
My eyes are overwhelmed.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. 

Maybe the purpose of this weekend was not to figure it all out but to realize that I didn't have to. 

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello

photographer Sarah Bello





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