This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

The Lure of the Undefined ( #BOTB Results )


    There's a town--a place that exists in my dreams and yet is as real to those who live there as my current home is to me.  I wonder if anyone in my dream town dreams of being where I am...


Downtown Marion Virginia  (http://www.marionva.org/business.


       Undoubtedly, you might think of stories you've heard about someone feeling the urge, the absolute draw, to go somewhere to see or even live.  Our BOTB host Stephen T, McCarthy mentioned it in a comment to me.  After having moved to Reno Nevada a few years back, he made another move which he explained in his comment:
...for now, Carson City, Nevada ("Willoughberry"), is home. I love it here, and I am convinced that God Himself directed me here. It's the place I'd been looking for since 1992. It's 30 miles and 50 years away from Reno.
      I've heard similar stories from others and I've felt that draw within myself.  For many years I had felt the draw to California.  In the end I found that draw was more of a Beverly Hillbillies revelation from an economic standpoint mostly, but it was not a lasting compulsion.  California is a nice place in many respects, but ultimately this place is feeling more like a hellhole than heaven on Earth. 

      Now I feel a lure pulling me to Marion Virginia--a small community in Southwestern Virginia nestled along Interstate 81 in the mountainous Appalachian region.  It's a couple thousand miles from Los Angeles, but it seems like a universe away in many respects. Size and traffic are the most obvious differences.  There's no shopping mall there which is fine since I can't afford to do much shopping and don't want much these days anyway.  They've got a Walmart and that provides me about as much as I need.  Besides, being on the 81 corridor puts me in convenient access to larger cities as well as putting me closer my family.

      Why Marion?  That's what I've been pondering for a couple years now.  This town first caught my attention in 1977 when I looked down upon it while passing by on I-81 as I was heading to Richmond Virginia.  Over the next couple decades I frequently made that trip.  Every time I would pass by Marion I would go into a brief fantasy about living there.  At other times when I was not on the road my mind might return to reflecting about the town.

        Aside from pulling off for gas a few times at one of the Marion off-ramps, I never actually went into the town until December of 2017.  It was very cold that day so I only spent a brief time walking downtown where I was staying at the venerable Francis Marion Hotel.  Then, last summer, I spent another night in Marion and was able to explore the surrounding area countryside as well as walk again downtown--this time far more comfortably.  The place had a feel that felt right to me. Certainly not what everyone might want, but it somehow seems like home to me.

        Marion is a pretty little place and I still don't know what it would really be like to live there. I've read some negative things as well as positive, but I'd say that Los Angeles far outweighs any bad things that Marion has to offer and the "good" things in L.A. are probably not as good to me as they might be for some other folks.

         But let me cite a few things that I've discovered over the past few months about Marion that I find interesting in respect to me:

  • Marion was named after Francis Marion, a revolutionary war hero who was immortalized in the Disney series "The Swamp Fox"--one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid in the 1950's.  Francis Marion was also the inspiration for the Mel Gibson role in the 2000 film The Patriot (among my favorite films).
  • Marion is the jumping off point for "The Back of the Dragon" which is a curvy mountain highway well-known to bikers.  Near Maryville Tennessee (another of my favorite towns that I dream of  settling down and where I had lived before moving to L.A.) is the jumping off point for another famed biker destination--"The Tail of the Dragon".  
  • In my absolute favorite film--yes, The Greatest Showman--one of the main characters is the Bearded Lady Lettie Lutz.  The real life Bearded Lady who had gained famed in Barnum's attraction of the 19th century was Annie Jones, who had been born in Marion Virginia. 
  • One of my best friends from church came from the Southwestern Virginia region and is well aware of Marion since he has cousins living there and has often visited the town.  This connection is part of what drew us together.
  • Real estate seems to be very reasonable.  If we sold our California house right now we would probably have enough to buy a very nice house on a decent plot of land and still have a whole lot of money left over.
  • And though I could probably think of many more things about Marion that seem to somehow connect to me, my final entry on this list is the fact that I've been following an excellent young Christian band called Forsaken Hero and they are from Marion Virginia,       


      Call it what you will, but to me some of this seems a bit more than coincidence.  Maybe I'm forcing pieces into a jigsaw puzzle.  Maybe I'm just dreaming.  I probably am, but I can dream can't I?   Sometimes the dreams are what keeps us going.  While at other times dreams inspire a Battle of the Bands like my last one...

Battle of the Bands Results


      My most recent Battle was between Christian themed versions of the song "From Now On" which comes from the movie musical The Greatest Showman. The versions I offered were from Susan Shiebler & Company from New York and Forsaken Hero from Marion Virginia.  I think both versions are outstanding, but I think I've demonstrated my bias in statements previously made.

      So there's probably no secret to how I voted, but if you haven't figured it out my vote goes to Forsaken Hero from Marion Virginia.  When I first watched their video I was moved to the point of tears.  Later I showed the video to my wife--no fan of most rock music, but like me a big fan of Greatest Showman--and when I looked at her at the end of the video I could see by her face that she was also moved.

       Thankfully I didn't have the lopsided outcome as my previous Battle though it was still a decisive outcome.  I'm happy that my pick was the winner, but my commendations go to the other group of artists who are also winners from my perspective.


Final Vote Tally

Susan Shiebler & Company       6 votes

Forsaken Hero                              12 votes



Next Battle on Monday July 1st

        Summer is taking it's blogging toll on all of us from the appearances of things.  Bloggers are dropping like flies as real flies are probably annoying some of you.  I'm kind of lucky where I am since I rarely see any flies around my house.  Maybe the lizards eat them.  I'm okay with lizards in my yard, but I sure hope those rats from downtown L.A. stay there and don't migrate to our neighborhood.  Hope the homeless folks stay there too.  Our local removed a bunch from our community last year to the chagrin of the city of L.A. officials.

         By the way, if you've seen TV reports about the homeless in Los Angeles, believe me it's not a hyped story.  I avoid downtown these days other than passing through on the freeway, but you can still see the encampments as you pass by.  It is disturbing.  I've got a solution, but our spineless local and state government would never put that plan into action.  It's a sad state of affairs.

       It's also another reason that I would be lured to Marion Virginia.

       I'm looking for feedback:  Do you know anything about Marion Virginia?   (Thank you Cathy for your input on this in my last post)   Would you feel content in a small town?  What would be your solution to fixing the homeless problem?
     
















26 comments:

  1. That was a decisive battle! ☺ I went with the losers, but also enjoyed the winning entry.

    A rural town is bound to be much cheaper (not to mention quieter and cleaner) than a big city. Sounds like Marion, Virginia would be ideal for you, Lee. Wouldn't it be a bit difficult to adjust to colder winters, though? L.A. might have it faults, but it sure has better weather than most places.

    As for your questions, I would be bored living in a small town. Our suburb is big enough to offer all the conveniences of the big city, without the grime and crime, Plus, we are close enough to Toronto to go there anytime we want.

    Sadly, nobody has succeeded in solving the homeless problem, so far. Many on the streets here suffer from addictions and/or mental illness. More treatment and counselling centres might help...Also, some people would rather be homeless than conform to society and you can't help those who don't want to be helped.

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    1. Debbie D, I guess I'd adapt to the colder winter weather--I've lived in it before though now that I'm getting older the cold is more difficult for me. Since I don't do all that much anyway I think the small town life would be fine for me.

      True, it's difficult to help some who don't want to be helped, but they need conform to a certain extent just like all the rest of us.

      Lee

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  2. It's always nice when a BOTB works out and is not too lopsided. I don't know a thing about this town but I looked it up and I can see why it is so attractive. I love small towns and feel they often have a lot to offer. I love a good ole downtown where the stores are thriving despite walmart's attempts to suck them dry. I sometimes wonder if, in a previous life, we didn't live in a place that we now, in present day, feel a kinship to. I am drawn to Austria-the mountains, the look of it..it feels like home to me. I never feel great in the big cities-always smaller towns. As for the homeless? Vancouver has a big issue as well because of the weather mainly. There are some who know all the places to go to to stay off the streets but refuse. Others are mentally ill and can't think properly while others are druggies. That being said, I watched a program a few years back, where a woman bought an old hotel, fixed it up and got many people off the streets. they had one room with a bathroom but it was theirs. She had programs in place with other agencies to get help for the druggies and mentally ill plus they had to earn their keep. they had to clean the hotel lobbies and work in the kitchen. She did get some financial help but not much. I am not sure how she was able to keep it going but she did. I wonder if there couldn't be something similar and take some of the run down buildings and put them to use.

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    1. Birgit, Marion doesn't have many businesses downtown, but there's not much that I require these days that can't be found at a Walmart or a supermarket.

      Private solutions to homelessness might be the better way to go with helping out. The places are out there and they just need to be fixed up to accommodate low to no-income housing.

      Lee

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  3. A few years back I experienced similar feelings -- wanting to relocate in tiny Wetumpka, AL. Things didn't work out as I'd hoped, but we're only 20 minutes down the road.
    Funny! My DIL was born and raised in Marion, AL and graduated from Francis Marion High School.

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    1. Myra, there are a lot of towns in the U.S. named Marion and I guess they were likely named after The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion.

      Lee

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  4. The cost of living there would be so radically different, you'd feel like millionaires. Outside of the humidity, I can't see any reason why you wouldn't want to settle there. I grew up on the West coast but I wouln't move back for anything in the world.

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    1. L.Diane, I especially like the mountains around Marion. A lot of costs like food would probably be similar to my expense now, but housing and gas would definitely be cheaper.

      Lee

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  5. I wouldn't call it coincidence, I'd call it serendipity.

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    1. Patricia, I always prefer serendipity to coincidence. Good call.

      Lee

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  6. LEE ~
    I was watching a video the other day which included some shots of downtown L.A. and it was unbelievable! There'd always been an element of "homelessness" down there, but NOTHING like it is today! I used to enjoy going downtown to spend a day and soak up a completely different mood and style of the city, but I would not be the least bit interested in hanging around down there these days.

    The L.A. area was a pretty terrific place to grow up in the 1960s and '70s. I am grateful to God that He put me there then, and I have so many wonderful memories of childhood and early adulthood. In all honesty, I wouldn't change that for anything.

    But the people just kept on coming from across the country and from other countries. They kept coming, pouring into the L.A. area year after year after year because of the fantastic weather and financial opportunities.

    It was in 1986 when I first became cognizant of the fact that L.A. was changing and NOT for the better. By 1992, the party was definitely over. And for me, the Rodney King Riots was the final straw. By October of that year, I was gone. Went to Podunk, Arizona. Four moves later, I finally wound up in Carson City, and this is the place I'd been looking for since that first move outta L.A. in '92.

    You probably would have loved L.A. in your youth. It was definitely "the pLAce" to be (as the Chamber of Commerce advertised it), but your timing was way off. I can scarcely even believe that people were still considering moving to L.A. after they'd seen the Rodney King Riots on TV! UHP!!...

    I hope you can get to Marion and that it's everything you're dreaming it would be. The population there is about 6,000, and that would be way too small for me. I love the small town feeling, but would want more activities, more choices. And that's why "Willoughberry" seems like the perfect fit for me. We have a population of roughly 57,000, so there are plenty enough options, and yet I can drive from one end of town to the other in 10-12 minutes, all on surface streets with little to no traffic congestion. I've got hills to hike on either side of me, and this is unquestionably the friendliest place I've ever lived.

    I have no doubt this was God's doing. And just the other day, I got hired at the very place I'd been wishing I could work. It's the exact days and hours I'd have wanted, and the job site is about a 3 or 4 minute walk from my front door. Again, God's Fingerprints have been ALL OVER this move!!

    I think we've only got 10 more years until all the Biblical prophecies are fulfilled. But in the meantime, I feel God has placed me right where He and I want me to be.

    I hope you can get where you want to be, too!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents BATTLE OF THE BANDS

    POSTSCRIPT:
    Incidentally, my nickname for Carson City, "Willoughberry", is a combination of Willoughby (from the Twilight Zone episode 'A Stop At Willoughby') and Mayberry, from 'The Andy Griffith Show', which I grew up loving and which is still my all-time favorite TV series. Carson City really does feel, to me, like a trip back in time. I get this 1960s Orange County, California, feeling from it.

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    1. STMcC, Yes, I'm familiar with the "Willoughberry" reference. That TZ episode was one that I remember most from seeing this show in my childhood and I've seen it many times in recent years.

      L.A. isn't so much the American Dream anymore than it is a patchwork nightmare of the dark underbelly of what this country is becoming.

      Take me back to my roots. Love those verdant mountains of the Appalachia.

      Lee

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  7. Lee,

    You shared a lot of interesting things about Marion that I didn't know like 'The Back of the Dragon' which was cool to learn about. I don't like driving 'The Tail of the Dragon' and this comes from someone who was raised along the curvy mountains roads of southern WV. You're so right about selling your property in California that you'd have enough and more to buy to a nice place in this part of the country. I think this is a big appeal to many from the west coast to make the move eastward. The influx is driving Real Estate costs up which makes it difficult for someone like us. I think since you spent your high school years in Maryville that you enjoy life in Marion. Well...I came up on the winning team for this BoTB. :) My first 17 years was spent in small town lifestyle. I would not be content unless it's very close to Knoxville and we're actually considering small towns just outside the city. The homeless is a crisis. I'm not sure what the answer is for this problem. A lot of them, not all, have addiction issues and this is why their homeless. It's complex and needs great deal of thought. Thanks for sharing the results. Have a good weekend, my friend!

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  8. Cathy, those winding roads can be unnerving especially when there are a lot of bikers on them. I do enjoy driving on them though.

    Looking at the housing prices in the Maryville area I can see that they are getting rather high. The town has gotten so busy as well. It's a great place in a great locale so I can understand why folks want to go there.

    Homelessness can certainly be a result of bad luck, but I think more often than not that the main cause is people making lousy decisions (like drug abuse).

    Lee

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    1. Lee,

      We've been looking at home in the Maryville area. We both love how the mountains practically surround you in the city. Unfortunately, we haven't found anything that makes us jump for joy that's in our price range.

      I agree the biggest problem to homelessness has to do with bad choices such as drugs. It's really sad how some allow themselves to fall into this trap. :(

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  9. sound interesting place to live...

    sure, small town is more advantages than big city in term of clean air, rush hour and may be living cost...

    Have a wonderful day

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    1. Tanza, I'd like to go for a few days to get a better feel for the place.

      Lee

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  10. I loved living in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is a fairly small town. It has a small Jewish community, but it's close-knit, and not everyone in the community is a student or professor. I'd love to move back to the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley, as much as I love big cities. It's nice to be able to walk most of the places you frequently go, and take a short bus ride to the rest. There are also lots of charming little stores and boutiques, and great places to eat.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, I do like the look and feel of those northeastern towns. I played a few when I was on the road. I'm not sure about dealing with the cold winters though.

      Lee

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  11. Marion, VA. It sounds like a town I wish we could see. My old hometown was much like this, as were other rural towns around us. Now they are gone.
    But Marion still lives. Would love to be there.

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    1. Susan K, sadly Marion seems to be dying since pre-1970's--or perhaps in stasis. There is a lot of potential that I can see.

      Lee

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  12. Have to say, I don't get out of the western United States much to know about Marion, VA. Sounds like you found some cool facts about it, though!

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    1. Loni, facts from the internet are no substitute for actually being someplace for a while, but the research helps a lot.

      Lee

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  13. I've never been there. Gotta go where you feel you belong, I suppose. (Assuming you have a way to be where you feel you belong, which not everyone does.)

    Homeless is an odd concept that was brought here long ago. Some people have an ability to live off the land and prefer it that way. They generally don't land in cities though. There isn't and will never be a "good" solution that could be agreed upon by those in power. Human life isn't profitable. (And the times that it is are always illegal.) The root cause is that most people aren't interested in caring for other people as it doesn't immediately benefit them enough. Foster children, also known as orphans, turn 18 and are homeless. Can't get a job without an address, can't get an address without a job. Throw in that you've had 10 addresses in the last 4 years and employers are already saying no. If you don't have parents or were taken from them, the assumption is that you can't possibly become a productive member of society. If, by some miracle, you get out of the loop against all odds, you'll spend the rest of your life trying not to tell people where you came from because they'll turn on you. Every time. The feeling of being an outsider, an outcast, will never go away. And since mental healthcare is both expensive and comes with a stigma, the odds are good that you'll land back on the streets. The drugs and drinking to try to dull the pain of existence? It happens. You'll watch friends die from fully preventable causes. And people who have never spent twenty-four winter hours on the street will tell you how you, a problem, could be solved. Eventually you see yourself as something that is a problem. Society is *hard.* And the longer you're away from it, the more difficult it is to blend into it. But that's just my take.

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  14. J, yeah, things can be tough, but I think breaks are always out there for those who are willing to play along. In society we all need to be considerate of others. Things aren't perfect for me, but I keep on going like so many other people. Attitude can have a big bearing on how we end up. Fortunately I've been blessed despite having a somewhat bad attitude at certain times in my life.

    Lee

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    1. I think we could create an interesting post on the topic of homelessness.

      Playing along, in my experience, has always meant others weren't considerate of who I was or where I came from or that I was a human. I've been blessed to survive despite circumstances beyond my control. I'm grateful to be alive.

      Delete

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Lee