Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jonesborough, Tennessee

The only thing missing here is Marty McFly and Doc.

My friend Maggie gave me a tour of historic Jonesborough, a small town just "five minutes away" (because everything is five minutes away) from Johnson City. It is the oldest city in Tennessee. Like my home town of Tipp City, it's like driving onto a movie studio backlot, complete with old brick buildings, quaint street lights, and folks that say "How are ya?'" when you pass by.

There are a variety of restaurants, speciality shops, and seasonal displays all around as you wander up and down the main street unable to relax the goofy ear-to-ear grin that seems to land on your face the moment you drive into town.

That last one says "cut fresh from the loaf".

Insert Beevis and Butthead laugh here.

This is the Christopher Taylor house, which is the oldest home in the city. Andrew Jackson lived here in 1788-89 when he was practicing law in Jonesborough. It looks a little "Blair-witchey" when you first approach it, so I kept a safe distance with my camera and avoided any desire to head into its non-existent basement to see if there was anyone standing alone in the corner.

Jonesborough is also known for its annual storytelling festival (one of the Top 100 events in North America). Each year, people come from all over the globe come into town to tell tales from their lives to hundreds of people packing the streets and sidewalks throughout the event. They even have a beautiful new Storytelling Center in town that continues this tradition with guest-speakers and storytellers year-around.

Of course, what I enjoy most, is just wandering around old towns like this and looking at the incredible architecture and landscaping that gives each place its unique sense of charm and beauty.

After being in California for so many years, I often forget that there are parts of the world where people do make direct eye-contact, smile and ask how you are...and they don't even want anything from you like spare change, a ride to the airport, or your friend's agent's contact information.

They really just wanna find out where you're from, what brought you out here, and whether you've tried the Pot Roast sandwich, sweet tea, or the caramel cake at the Cranberry Thistle cafe (which I did and, boy, are they tasty!).

Even the folks at Kmart, Chick-fil-A and the local liquor store (often places filled with bitter employees teetering on the edge of going postal at any moment) seem calmer and happier, often ending your transaction with "Thanks for stoppin' by" or, my new favorite "We appreciate you".

And, honestly, it really sounds like they do.

It's easy to forget that sometimes a smile, a wave, or a kind word can really make a difference to people we encounter each day along our journeys through life.

We should all make a mental Post-it note to try that a little more often each day.

It's really much easier to do and far more appreciated by folks than you might think.

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