“American Pie” was the fourth track from the soundtrack, The Next Best Thing. (February 22, 2000). “And the three men I admire the most The father, son, and the holy ghost They caught the last train for the coast.”
I grew up in Burlington, North Carolina. After living in Greensboro, Winston Salem, Durham, and Chapel Hill I left North Carolina in March 1995, at the age of 33 1/2 years old. Eight states, 28 years and 6 months later my journey brought me back to the coast of North Carolina, to Wilmington which was just 17 miles north of the 33rd Parallel.
I hit the ground running. It only took me a few days to find my bearings.
Wilmington had changed a great deal since my last visit, but I was able to get around with no issues. I spent the first ten days cleaning, reorganizing, searching for used furniture, hanging window treatments, and filling the walls with native american items that I had collected on my adventure. I felt very much at home in no time flat.
On the eleventh day, my niece and I took a road trip to Tabor City, North Carolina, to visit the place where my parents grew up. We visited cousins we had not seen in a very long time and gravesites of relatives who had passed away over the years, and I made sure to drive down Ken Ray Drive, which was apparently named after one of my fathers.
After spending a lot of time here we headed to Little River, South Carolina to visit my oldest brother and then circled back around towards Wilmington to visit my niece’s father, my second oldest brother.
We left at 10:00 o’clock that morning and didn’t get back home until 11:15 that night. All in all, we had a great day.
It was during this trip that I learned more about the things that had taken place in the past and confirmed to me that I had made the right decision to leave North Carolina in 1995.
But that was then and this was now. Things had changed. I had changed. My enemies no longer threatened me. I no longer had to live out those dark memories of the past. It was time to let the past go once and for all and create a new life for myself in the state where I was conceived, born, and raised.
Aside from having to reacclimate to the humidity and the fact that I had to start completely over at the age of 62, it felt great to be back.