Folk School – Part Five: Leaving

The whole experience at the John C. Campbell Folk School was so great, I didn’t want to leave.

So I didn’t.

Okay, I admit I was already booked to stay an extra night to avoid having to pack up and move back to the Holiday Inn before my Sunday flight out of Chattanooga, but still. I was delighted to prolong the Folk School high. I just didn’t expect it to be so lonely.

I had spent some time Saturday with Mom in Murphy, dodging raindrops and browsing galleries and shops, but then I drove back to the Folk School to start packing and to take advantage of a pause in the rain to shoot a few final photos.

The sudden quiet was a little unnerving after the bustle of the week, and I wasn’t sure what I would do with myself in the evening after I got back from one last dinner with Mom and Dick. My wine buddies had all gone home. But then I noticed a flyer that there was to be contra dancing that night in the Community Room. I decided to go watch.

Well. That’s not really how they do things at JCCFS. You don’t watch. You do. So next thing I knew, people were introducing themselves and teaching me the steps, and I danced until I begged for a pause to get a drink of water. It wasn’t hard to pick up, although I had a few random lurches in odd directions. But as the caller said, if you didn’t do what he called, it wasn’t wrong. It was different. So much fun, and I’m glad I went, but I ducked out early to finish packing up.

Sunday morning, the sun was breaking through as I loaded the rental car and drove down the hill to Keith House to make myself a cup of tea and bid the place farewell.

At some point during the week, digging through the heavy bag I carried to and from the painting studio, I noticed in the bottom a small, smooth, black rock, the perfect size to fit in the palm of my hand. It startled me at first, seeing it there, but I knew what it was. It was a grief rock, given to me during my earliest grief counseling in a group for the newly bereaved. It was meant to be something solid to hang onto, something smooth to soothe the ache. But it also had a little weight to it. I had another one at home on David’s dresser. That one was not going anywhere. Not anytime soon. But this one? Did I really want to continue carrying a memento of grief with me everywhere I went? No, I decided. I was ready to let it go.

So in the freshness of a glorious sunny Sunday morning after a week of rain, before I got in my car to drive away, I held it in my hand for a moment, then I left that stone among the daffodils just beginning in earnest to raise their heads and shine with gold.

I left something behind that needed leaving, but I brought home so much more. And I’ll be back. I hope to see you there with me someday.

10 thoughts on “Folk School – Part Five: Leaving”

  1. Oh I LOVE part 5!!! If you Contra danced until you were parched, you can definitely play pickleball! LOL! You are healing in so many ways Sunny. You are an amazing example my friend! I saw a little comic strip the other day, with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I can’t remember which one of them said, “You only live once“ and the other one said, “No, you only die once. You live every day.” I loved that! David would be so proud of your adventuring and LIVING every day. I love you lady!!!

  2. I hope for you Sunny, that every day, a little more of your grief will leak out and fade and be put aside as you did with that little stone. It served a purpose and you knew when to let it go……..every new day will be a tiny bit better, you’ll see…. Especially with spring just around the corner!

    1. Bien sûr, que oui ! Not until mid-May, but it will be here before I know it. I’m determined to travel light this time, so we’ll see how that goes! I promise to write lots of posts from there, so everyone can have another vicarious trip to Paris, La Rochelle and wherever else the adventure takes me.

  3. Sunny, I am so glad we got to paint together and enjoy the Folk School for the week. I am really fortunate that I am only 1 mile from the school! Sometimes I just go and walk the trails and think about all of my former students I have met over the many years that I have taught there. And sometimes I will go to the garden area to paint. I have made so many great friends (your Mom is one of them). I was so happy when you sold your painting! I bet David was too!! Proof that you should find some time to paint a little ever day. It is such wonderful therapy. Use your watercolor paints and gouache together. You will learn something each time you paint. Hope you get to come back very soon. Thanks for taking the class!! And today, it is pouring rain again!! Love you Kathy (do lots of watercolor sketches while you are in France)

    1. It was truly a joy to be there, especially in your class. I actually painted a tiny 4 x 6 last night that I rather like. I’ll email a photo to you and Mom (if it doesn’t end up in this blog). I’m hoping to pack light for France with only carry-on, but I’ll take at least a travel set. Plus, the couple who own the little house I will be renting are painters and run an art school in La Rochelle, so maybe the atmosphere of the house will inspire me! You’re right that painting is therapy. I have found the creative things I’m doing–writing, piano, photography, fused glass, painting–all of them have been a healing balm for my wounded heart. Fortunately, my level of expertise doesn’t even seem to have anything to do with it. So thanks again, Kathy, for everything!

  4. Being in class with you was a treasure I’ll hold on to. So, until we’re both in Brasstown again, Lillian

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