In My Mind, I’m Gone To…

Where do you go in your mind? When you need a moment of peace or comfort or happiness or clarity, what scene does your mind’s eye play for you? Even as adults, our imaginations can help us–if we exercise it.

Hold up. Wait a second. I have an announcement to make. A big one.

The other day, out of nowhere, the famous and feral mustache cat jumped on my lap! I couldn’t believe it. I know many of you told me it was only a matter of time, but I couldn’t imagine that cat would ever trust humans enough.

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He didn’t stay long. Just testing it out. Look at his little face, so uncomfortable.

So, yes, I guess one can tame a feral cat. Patience, kindness, love. Mustache Cat is definitely still wild, but loving and sweet. That’s my BIG news.

In other news, I’ve got a daughter starting to look at colleges. I recently took her to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. We have somehow, some way reached that period in time. Not sure how that happened.

At the restaurant in Chapel Hill:

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She spent the day at the school, touring and attending some classes. I had planned to go to a parent program; I really did. The university was offering us parents a chance to learn about admissions, loans, acceptance rates and everything else a parent might need to know.

But. You see.

When we looked at my phone to find a place to eat the night before the program, local interesting places kept popping up. One place was the Chapel Hill Museum. They had a James Taylor display! JAMES! James Taylor’s father was a professor, then Dean of the Medical School at UNC, so James spent much of his childhood in Chapel Hill, NC.

From the museum’s website: “Carolina On My Mind: The James Taylor Story: A comprehensive exhibition of the life and work of James Taylor, one of Chapel Hill’s favorite sons, the exhibit includes his actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy, the Grammy for the Hourglass album, photographs and documents from his early life in Chapel Hill and a video documentary theater.” http://www.chapelhillmuseum.org/Exhibits/Ongoing/JamesTaylorExhibit/

I had no choice. I would be going to see the JT collection while other parents sat in an auditorium. My daughter knows my love for James’ music, so she supported my “skip.”

The next day, I dropped my daughter off at the college campus and followed my google map to the museum. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Well, this was just crazy. How could an address be missing?

I took out my phone and checked the photo of the museum. I had driven right by that building. Problem was that it was no longer a museum. Where could the museum have moved?

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So I went to the Chapel Hill Visitor’s Center to find out where the museum was.

The woman working there looked at me with a funny look on her face, “Um. It closed years ago.” My heart sank.

She pulled up the website on her computer and said, “Did you not see the note at the top of the screen?” She read it out loud to me: “The museum has closed, but please enjoy our website.”

No, I most certainly did not NOTICE that NOTICE.

“So, where’s all the James Taylor stuff now? Where’s his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy? And his Grammy? Where are the photographs and documents from his life in Chapel Hill?” I pleaded with the woman.

“Wow, you must be a big fan! I’m sorry, but I don’t know what happened to all that,” she said, “It’s been years since that museum was open. But I do know where you can get some fantastic Indian food.”

That sounded pretty good. I mean, if I can’t delve into James’ life, then I might as well eat. I followed her directions and wound up at a superb Indian restaurant, Curry Blossoms Cafe.

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As I enjoyed my lunch,

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I returned to the museum’s website to see what all I was missing. I noticed a James Taylor quote that spoke to my heart and soul:

“What I remember most about Chapel Hill is the landscape. I tell my kids that we were pre-TV and there was a lot of empty time there, slow weekends when you just walked in the woods and found whatever you could to kill time. There was this long, uninterrupted time to let your imagination grow. I believe that was an important part of whatever creative life I’ve had.”

I mulled his words over in my mind. I recalled similar times in my own childhood.

  • empty time when I played in the woods or the creek beside our house
  • slow weekends when we’d hang out at a friend’s house and talk for hours on end
    • walks in the woods at the end of our street–where the older kids in the neighborhood said the “pig man” lived
  • killing time on nothing much
  • uninterrupted time where you can hear your heart beat and your mind think

These things help your imagination grow. They help you lead a creative life.

Exactly. These days I long for that. I missed SLOW, EMPTY, UNINTERRUPTED TIME.

I was having that now. Slow, empty, uninterrupted time. I drank my chai and chilled.

IMG_5647And then I got an idea: I was going to find James Taylor’s childhood home. I was going to find the place that he sang about, the place that formed him, the place where he played with his dog, Hercules. I wanted to experience and see where where he was talking about when he sang, “I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.” I wanted to find Morgan Creek he sang about in “Copperline.” (btw, here’s a link to my favorite version of that song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAaAhi37IHg.) James’ parents built the home in 1952- (James was born in 1948.) They sold it in 1974 when they divorced.

I wondered how I could find the address for his old house? Some quick googling on my phone led me to the address, 618 Morgan Creek Road. It was listed on the real estate site Zillow. It sold in 2016 for $1.66 million. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/618-Morgan-Creek-Rd-Chapel-Hill-NC-27517/50036243_zpid/.

I finished up my chai and headed out. Google directions took me to the neighborhood, but I had a heck of a time finding the house. I drove around and drove around, determined to find it. I cranked up the JT tunes and enjoyed the experience.

Found the right road long before I found the house.

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His house shares a old drive. The yard was expansive.

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When I made my way down it, I recognized the house from the real estate website I had seen. Holy ground, My Friends, holy ground.

Now, if you’ve known me for any period of time, you know that I’m a rule-follower. The driveway was blocked by a sign on a cord that read in LARGE NOTICE, “Private Property.”

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I stood in the driveway on my side of the cord and gazed. What a great place to grow up. Or grow down.

The yard was vast, bamboo and pine trees, wide open spaces and woods, a creek somewhere. 24 acres of space to grow an imagination.

“Can’t you see the sunshine? Can’t you just feel the moonshine?”

I got back in my car and turned back on my favorite James Taylor tunes. My all-time favorite is “The Secret ‘O Life.” “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it. There ain’t nothing to it…” Can they? Can any fool enjoy life? Is it that easy?

So, no, I didn’t see James’ or his 7th grade report card, but I experienced James maybe even more deeply. The ambiance of his childhood home moved me. I was glad I came.

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

 

 

Some interesting links:

http://www.countryliving.com/real-estate/a39014/james-taylor-childhood-home-for-sale/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQH_OycMM3k (a video of the property. What I would have seen if I hadn’t stopped at the sign.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHWHPPHpAj8

An article I read (@http://www.justluxe.com/travel/charlotte-news__1964225.php) says that these two purchased it. I wonder what they’ll do with it. I wonder if they’ll be my friends and let me visit. http://www.artnews.com/top200/james-keith-jk-brown-and-eric-diefenbach/

 

Leave a comment 16 Comments

  1. Ramona Puckett says:

    I had all of his albums when I was in high school, my friends and I spent hours listening. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Ann Riddle says:

    Loved reading your story…in the dark…propped up in bed…sipping hot milk with Vanilla, and tv playing Criminal Minds. It’s after 11 and this is my quiet time before sleep. I love James Taylor, too, and your story touched my heart. Thank you for sharing. I shall dream his music this night…wonderful rest! Sweet dreams to you!

  3. Mary Rauch says:

    I swear you must be my sister from another mother. Everything you just posted, especially the James Taylor part absolutely resonated with my thinking and dreams.

  4. Carol says:

    What an adventure! I must say that you are a little more adventurous than I am. I probably would have quit after the museum was closed. I am thankful that you continued on. I personally think that James Taylor is one of the best musicians that I have ever heard. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

  5. Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does stuff like that when we’re in the presence of the spirits of our heroes! I walked the grounds of the home where Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote her poetry. I hung out in Central Park where John Lennon used to walk. I visited the Algonquin Hotel where members of the Algonquin Round Table (famous writers, play writes and artists from the 50’s and 60’s) used to gather. Their spirits linger and if we’re really lucky, and stand very still, we can feel it! So glad you got the chance to do that … and good luck with the college thing. My daughter just went through it with my oldest grandson and she is still suffering separation anxiety after 3 months!

  6. Irene says:

    Rebekah you are so lucky to have Mustache Cat. Our 17 year old cat died the Monday before Thanksgiving. He was more like a kid. It has been really hard. I guess that sounds strange to some but as you know we really get attached to our pets.

  7. Rebecca M. says:

    I laughed out loud at your “might as well eat”. If you can’t do what you really want…. Seriously I loved the post and I love James Taylor. It seems that your experience actually turned out better than you’d planned. So you didn’t see the museum, but you saw the place where he lived and grew! How wonderful. Your daughter is beautiful, by the way. And isn’t it exciting that she’s looking at colleges? Good for her; she has lots of excitement ahead.

  8. Jennifer says:

    That’s wonderful! I am a big JT fan, too! I was planning that museum trip right along with you, til you said it was closed.

  9. Joan says:

    I go to Vermont, a place I called home when I as in college. I go to my friends, alive and deceased, and I pray to the God of my youth.

  10. Kimberly Diener says:

    That is wonderful news about Mustache cat! His first time on you lap may have been uncomfortable to him, but he will soon try again and each time stay longer. I have a feral cat you can’t pick her up but she will jump on my lap and stay there for hours having me rub her belly, it has to be her idea.

    You ask where do you go in your imagination…I go to the beach of Lake Huron, we went to the beach in the summer time as a kid and later when I could drive my friends and I would pile into my car and off we went to the beach. I lived out west for a few years and I did love the mountains but when I moved back to Michigan and the lakes got warm enough I had to go to the beach and get into the water and boy it felt like it gave strength back to me.

  11. Dianne says:

    Rebekah: You lucky girl. To have the chance to find his childhood home. WOW I am also an obsessed lover of all things James Taylor. I have the songs and know them by heart. I even go to his web site to get updates. The Secret of Life is also my favorite. Years ago I had a chance to go to his concert at a local college. It was a beautiful night as we all sat on the hill around the ampi theatre. His voice was crystal clear. I love that about his great music. You can hear the words so well. I saw that his son and daughter from his first marriage to Carly are also musicians. Thank again so much for sharing your visit. I always look forward to the wonderful things you give us to ponder.

  12. Krista says:

    That house is stunning! Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to open all those doors and enjoy the fresh breeze. They really loved windows and weren’t concerned about any privacy. I would hate to clean all those windows and I would have massive toddler finger prints all over them. His home definitely feels very peaceful. I could relax and let loose there! What a fun adventure for you. Good luck to your daughter in her college adventures. It’s such a fun time in life.

  13. Elizabeth Brewer says:

    I grew up on James Taylor music. My parents always listened to his and now I do. My place is the beach house my grandparents rent every summer. I close my eyes and think about all the good times. If I am anxious or mad, it will make me feel better.

  14. maureen bruner says:

    some of the best concerts I have ever attended; outdoor venue, under the stars. Yes, I am a JT junkie too!

  15. l bryant says:

    So glad to see that your feral friend has started to trust. We now have “Old Gent” as a part of our household. For several years we saw this solid white cat in the distance that would run for his life if you even glanced at him. After nine months of slowly baiting him in with daily food “meetups” he let me actually touch him. It took an additional 3 months and he let me pet him. Shortly after that he disappeared for 5 days. When he reappeared he was badly injured. I took advantage of his trust and used food to bait him into a cage. He freaked out but I got him to the vet and had him treated, vaccinated and neutered. Today he comes into our home and interacts with all of our cats and dogs. He sleeps on the beds and has learned how to beg just like all the pets. When he sits in my lap and purrs or wants to rub against my leg I know it’s because he loves and trusts us.

  16. carleen says:

    Mustache came to you because he knew you needed comforting…animals know when we are hurting..im so sorry to read about your passing..

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