As my family and I drove to Disney World, we stopped for the night in Beaufort South Carolina where my wife’s relative lives in an antebellum home overlooking the waterfront. Its architect owner meticulously cares for the home, but the home is old. Repairs are always needed and nothing is ever “just right,” I'm sure. I fell in love with the place when I first saw it, and as I sat with my coffee on the column-framed front porch, I wanted to stay rather than travel to Disney.
The first time I went to Disney, I was taken by how perfect everything was. The streets were litter-free, architecture perfect, and flowers exceptional. Returning years later, I realized that the entire world was a creation of appearance, much like a Hollywood set. Things that looked like wood were plastic. Windows that looked so inviting from the street were hiding an empty shell. Even one of the trees was make believe!
Looking at the faces of the children seeing Disney for the first time, I could see that the kingdom was still magic, but, for me, the magic is gone. Now I find myself entranced by the real. Whether an old house, or weathered friend, I am drawn to those who cannot only tell a story but have lived through one as well.
Give me a place with a filled, dusty attic full of memories, rather than a neatly designed storage space with track lighting and designed storage compartments. Give me a man with a wrinkled shirt, unkempt hair, and genuine smile on his face, rather than the stuffed blue blazer, white shirt, red tie and hair cut every Saturday without fail. Give me a skinned knee at the dinner table, rather than a pristine, shiny one.
In the Library of the Greensboro School of Creativity is a ragged, old coffee table that once served as a butcher’s table in England. It has cuts and scrapes on its surface and is falling apart in places, but it's as strong and heavy as any I've seen. One can stand on it without fear, put his or her feet up on it without care. Yes, we could have gone to an outlet and found a new table that smelled like the box in which it arrived, but that isn’t what our community is about. This place is about having cuts and scrapes, just as it is about strength and comfort. We are a rugged imperfect community, not a neat and tidy fabrication.
May we, as individuals, be the same.