A few weeks ago I came home from a night class only to be greeted by my husband who had a ‘surprise’ for me. Now our surprises tend to be understated: “look, i bought you your favorite peanut butter” or “i fixed your bike”. My last surprise from him was a tooth flosser with a handle and replaceable head (I don’t even know what they are really called). I wasn’t expecting anything grand when my husband handed me a piece of paper. It was folded in half and on the outside was a note… and on the inside was my plane itinerary to go see a best friend in Kentucky. He had arranged the whole trip and bought me the ticket.
A week later I left for my 4-day weekend in Kentucky. My friend, Lindsey, and I spent most of our time in Berea, a small(ish) town south of Lexington. This little-known place is now one of my favorite places in the country for one reason: it’s got some culture. Known as the “arts and crafts capital of Kentucky” it is home to many artisans and crafts-persons. Downtown you can visit shops of weavers, glass-blowers, potters, woodworkers, and jewelers. Their shops are their workshops and you can see them in action. They love to tell you what they are up to and explain their work. The little town has also done an amazing job zoning, so the downtown area doesn’t have any chain stores. There are a few independent coffee shops where you can catch live bluegrass, a fair trade shop, some local-food cafes, and an eco-village. Plus, Berea is home to Berea college, a place where most students go to school for free but work their way through college by learning a craft, like pottery. It’s a surprising little place in the middle of rural Kentucky.
My time with Lindsey was precious and too fast. There is something amazing about catching up with old friends in the midst of their lives. Although phone calls, emails, and meeting up at “home” together sustains it, visiting someone in their day-to-day is irreplaceable. The weekend in Kentucky made me realize that although I’m not a fan of flying (cost, resources, the environment… etc) I do need to make a commitment to visit those few friends I know will last a lifetime.