Bluegrass

I am on my way to Kentucky. I can see mountains in the distance.

My uncle always told me the Bluegrass State was a beautiful place, but his words didn’t do it justice.

I remember him telling me about his visit to Fort Knox:

“Gah-lee,” he said. “I wish I had just one of them gold bricks, then I could finally pay off my above-ground swimming pool.”

Well, I’ve never been to Fort Knox, or seen any gold bricks. But then, I’ve never been to Kentucky before today.

I’m driving, on my way to tell a few stories, play music, and God-willing, entertain some people in the microscopic community of Grand Rivers—a town about the size of a walk-in closet.

My blinker makes a clicking sound.

I exit the interstate. I pull over at a rest area to stretch my legs. My lower back is complaining. My wife and I have been in four states today.

I am feeling excited. I can’t put my finger on why I’m so giddy, but I am. Maybe it’s because Fort Knox is close, and there are enough gold bricks in this state to pay for a million above-ground pools.

Or maybe it’s because I don’t actually belong here.

You see, I’m underqualified. I am so average it would startle you. I never thought I would travel anywhere beyond, say, the outer limits of Paxton, Florida.

I was a quiet kid. The kid who enjoyed music, books, and sarcasm. I was the young man who drove an ugly truck with multicolored Christmas lights wrapped around his bumper because he loved Christmas.

I was the fella voted most likely to play the accordion. The kid voted most likely to never leave town.

And I never have. When I was in my late teens, my friends were all graduating high school, going on senior trips, applying to colleges, doing exciting things.

But I did none of these things. I had a broken family, and I was too busy learning how to read a tape measure.

By eighteen, none of my friends were left, they had all moved to big cities to live the good life and spread their wings.

And I felt like a lonely fool. I figured my wings weren’t big enough to need spreading.

“There’s a whole world out there,” my friend said once. “Don’t you wanna experience the world? Get outta here? Travel a little?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I wouldn’t mind going to Vegas one day.”

“Vegas? What about the rest of the world? Don’t you have any ambition? What about Paris?”

“I don’t like escargot.”

“How about Italy?”

“I’m not Catholic.”

“Canada?”

“Eh?”

So life went on. All my friends started having weddings, big ceremonies, usually in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Nashville, or Atlanta.

I would make day-trips to visit them. I would wear my one-and-only necktie to the ceremony, I would dance the Electric Slide with someone’s kid sister at the reception, and I would eat too many Swedish meatballs. Then, I’d drive home.

And this was the extent of my traveling.

Soon, my friends started having babies. Then buying houses. And I realized they were all growing up without me.

They were signing thirty-year mortgages, taking vacations with in-laws, carpooling for soccer practice, and they were all suddenly concerned with eating plenty of fiber.

And I was still in the same place doing the same thing. I was still laying tile, still playing music in ugly waterholes, still serving as a church pianist on Sunday mornings, still the youngest person in the church potluck line.

And I still had Christmas lights on my bumper.

But today it’s different. Sure, I know it’s a little late in life to start blooming. I’m middle-aged, with a back surgery beneath my belt and two totalled trucks. I’m childless, I live in a twenty-eight-foot trailer, and I don’t eat enough fiber.

But I have the love of a woman who means everything to me, and two dogs who come when I call their names.

I’m lucky. I’ve watched a sunrise over Lake Martin, sipped beer with an Episcopal bishop, and I have kissed the last remaining cast member of the Andy Griffith Show.

I have seen it snow on my father’s grave, I have picked daisies on my ancestor’s farm.

I have helped my uncle install an above-ground pool on a downward slope behind a parked RV.

And this year for Christmas, I placed multicolored lights on my truck bumper for old time’s sake.

I have not been to Paris or London, I can’t spell “hydrangea” without looking it up, and chances are I will never shake hands with anyone famous.

But it’s okay by me.

Because I have been to Kentucky.

30 comments

  1. Rebecca Kinard - January 14, 2019 6:55 am

    I think you are amazing, I feel bad for you when you sale yourself short. I finally got to see you in Marianna, Florida several months ago. Gosh, I was so excited and you sure didn’t let me down. Oh you made me laugh and cry and you promised to send me that t-shirt from the billboard on the Montgomery highway that ” the devil’s gonna get you if you don’t go to church” your probably wondering whose name & address is on that business card and what is it doing there 🤣🤣🤣
    You take care Sean & Jamie too. Not everything needs a explanation and what you do works 💖

    Reply
  2. Greg - January 14, 2019 10:51 am

    Sean, you have a great mind and a wonderful talent for writing and telling stories about people and what is really important in life. Thank you for being who you are and sharing yourself with others. You will love Grand Rivers, it was our 2nd home for 10 exciting years.

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  3. Jean - January 14, 2019 11:23 am

    And you drove thru Tennessee….my state!! Just because you haven’t’ been all over the world doesn’t make you any different than most of us. I have been to one very far flung place….and let me tell you…..there is no place like home! Enjoy Kentucky….I bet they enjoyed listening to you!

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  4. Jones - January 14, 2019 12:01 pm

    The folks in Kentucky will have a treat getting to hear you! Kentucky is beautiful—and if you have time, try to drive through the Lexington area to see amazing horse country. You know, Paris Kentucky is a small town near Lexington, and then you *could say you’ve been to Paris! Kentucky also has a Frankfort, Versailles, and London all nearby so you could check them *all off your bucket list!! Have fun! Keep writing, speaking, and singing!

    Reply
  5. Howard Humphreys - January 14, 2019 12:03 pm

    Growing up in Ashland Kentucky I know you had a great visit with the people. The bluegrass area of Lexington is beautiful horse farm countryside…

    Reply
  6. Connie Havard Ryland - January 14, 2019 12:17 pm

    When I was young and foolish, I dreamed about getting away from Alabama. Traveling to Greece and Italy and Ireland. I still see other people going to those places and know I never will and my heart hurts. But I’m okay. I’ve traveled most of our 50 states. I’ve raised 3 great children and an amazing granddaughter. I have a job I like and work with people I care about. I am richly blessed and so are you. All of your hardships growing up prepared you for the life you have now. Have a great trip. Kentucky is beautiful. Love and hugs.

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  7. Jonathan Byrd - January 14, 2019 12:54 pm

    You’ve kissed the last remaining member of the cast of Andy Griffith? Is that Ron Howard? I’ve been to Paris, it’s like New Orleans without the urine smell. Also been to London and Las Vegas, but haven’t ever been to Kentucky. Being well traveled is a relative state, enjoy a new experience.

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  8. Johnny Parker - January 14, 2019 1:54 pm

    Sean,
    You are exactly in a place and circumstances where all good ole Southern boys would love to be. Only thing is, most of us didn’t have the wisdom or courage to stay there. Thanks for reminding us of what’s really important.

    Reply
  9. Jess in Athens, GA - January 14, 2019 1:57 pm

    Sean, you and I are alike in several ways. I was a quiet kid in school, I didn’t think I’d ever leave my hometown of Sarasota, FL. I figured I’d live and die right there. But then the Vietnam War made me decide to enlist in the Army to avoid getting drafted. I served twenty-six years in the Army and did a lot of growing up then. I, too, have the love of a fantastic woman and we had three kids together. And, get this, I’ve not only been to Fort Knox, KY, I was stationed there for three years!!! I enjoy your writing and look forward to reading it every day.

    Reply
  10. Debbie Britt - January 14, 2019 2:25 pm

    You may not have the fancy house, drive an expensive car, have a prestigious job but you have riches beyond measure because you have the love of a good woman who loves you for you instead of the “ worldly stuff”, and you see the beauty in God’s “everyday “ miracles! YOU are blessed! And the rest are of us get to enjoy it through your writing!😍

    Reply
  11. Jeff Corkran - January 14, 2019 2:30 pm

    It sounds like you had a good visit to Kentucky! I’m happy to hear it. Yes, it is a beautiful state. I live at Fort Knox, and am from Alabama, so it’s always nice to hear that someone had a good visit to the Bluegrass.

    Reply
  12. Carol - January 14, 2019 2:53 pm

    Did anyone ever tell you “You’ve got the world in your hands”” Right there where you are!!
    Your not looking for anything cause you have it at your fingertips!!
    God Bless you and Yours!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  13. Steve Winfield - January 14, 2019 2:55 pm

    I love you.

    Reply
  14. Joyce Barrett - January 14, 2019 3:12 pm

    Awww, Sean, there’s such a parade of people you’ve never met who love you, me among them. One day maybe I will, and I can say I met someone famous. Actually I’ve shaken the hands and even hugged the necks of some people whose names you and the rest of the world might know, but yours would be my favorite on the list so far.

    Reply
  15. Steve Lancaster - January 14, 2019 3:29 pm

    Sean, I love your stories, because I can usually relate to something in the stories and remember the “Good Old Days”. Your stories are uplifting and I’m honored to know someone who has kissed Opie.

    Reply
  16. Pat - January 14, 2019 3:30 pm

    Reminds me of a bible study one Wednesday night when the minister asked us where all we had traveled. Living near an AFB, there are of course a lot of military who traveled A LOT! I do not like to fly, thus the only foreign country I have visited was either by car or cruise liner. Most everyone there had traveled to places I have not. But the thought came to me quickly…I just shared that I had not been to the places the others had been, but, I have been to Helen Keller’s home. When I touched the pump in the back yard, the pump where this poor blind and deaf child learned to communicate, something just went through me…so hard to explain the feeling. But I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world to have touched the SAME pump! And also a quote from Helen Keller in a devotional booklet…”I always knew he was there, but didn’t know his name”. Awesome!

    Reply
  17. Lindsey - January 14, 2019 3:38 pm

    Swing by Paris, KY while you are there and then you can say you have been to Paris! Thank you for always being a bright spot in my day!

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  18. Mary - January 14, 2019 4:24 pm

    Sometimes when I hear church members talk about their trips I get a little envious. Then it reminds me how much I love being here and not always packing, unpacking, washing clothes and getting ready for the next “get away”. Home is where the heart is.

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  19. Terry newsome - January 14, 2019 4:52 pm

    Sean
    How do I pay you for all your good emails.

    Reply
  20. Edna B. - January 14, 2019 4:56 pm

    You miss nothing by not travelling to far away places. I’ve been to a few, but home is best by far. I am very Blessed, and so are you. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  21. Ann - January 14, 2019 4:59 pm

    I am hoping to get to shake your hand one day. And you kissed Thelma Lou! That’s way better than.a handshake and how much more famous can you get than her? Plus, no Cracker Barrel in Europe! You lead a pretty awesome life my friend.

    Reply
  22. Eleanor - January 14, 2019 5:07 pm

    If you hadn’t grown up the way you did, you wouldn’t be able to write the way we look forward to every morning! You understand compassion, kindness and humor, and perhaps value these qualities more because of what you have been through. And having recently heard your performance, I was so impressed with your singing and playing! Plus, I’m sure Jamie knows just what she has in you 🙂

    Reply
  23. Vickie - January 14, 2019 5:42 pm

    I eagerly anticipate reading your post every morning. I fail to follow through with my intentions of commenting on the gratitude & appreciation I feel after I finish reading, each and every one! Today, however, I had to follow through & comment because Kentucky is my state! I currently don’t reside there but my heart longs everyday for “home” . Yes, indeed, Kentucky is beautiful place!

    Reply
  24. Peggy Savage - January 14, 2019 7:01 pm

    You are a blessed man……and you know it. Thanks for sharing….

    Reply
  25. Cathy Moss - January 14, 2019 9:56 pm

    Sean, I hope you realize how many of your followers wake up each morning and can’t wait to read what have for our day. I think you are pretty cool and also that you have your act together. Love and blessings from B’ham. Cathy

    Reply
  26. Kathleen Jun Magyar - January 14, 2019 10:37 pm

    Nice piece of prose.

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  27. Jack Darnell - January 15, 2019 12:58 am

    I gotta tell you something. We have saw a lot of the world and visited every state, BUT I still remember the first time I saw Kentucky and i can remember the last time we drove thru it, and i love the state. Good call, I know the folks enjoyed your visit. I enjoyed the trip there with you myownself.
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  28. Judy Riley - January 15, 2019 1:50 am

    Yep! You have arrived Mr. Sean! I grew up in Kentucky on the Ohio River….and no, no need to go anywhere else…unless you you have to…..Sorry I missed you at Chipola in Marianna, but too sick, and already had my ticket….bummer!!

    Reply
  29. fight4faithfamilyandcystinosis - January 15, 2019 2:27 am

    I cannot remotely express just how much I enjoy reading your blog.

    Reply
  30. Gordon - January 15, 2019 2:48 pm

    Thanks again, Sean for sharing from your very soul. Your words in this blog helped this old “Papa” feel there is hope for his grandson, who is in a place you were in very early in your life. I worry about him so much (he is thirteen) but with your writing in this blog, I see there is hope. You are such a blessing to so many.

    Reply

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