Time flies when you're looking ahead

Time flies when you're looking ahead

Kitty Hawk — There for a while, about 20 years ago or so, things got a little heated between Ohio and North Carolina.

The dustup centered around which state had the more legitimate claim to the Wright Brothers and their historic flight, which, as you’ll doubtless recall from your elementary school studies, was on Dec. 17, 1903.

Ohio said, “Well, the boys designed and built the thing here,” to which North Carolina replied, “Well, it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without our dunes and our wind.”

So they went around and around like that for a little while, emblazoning license plates with phrases like “First in Flight” and “Birthplace of Aviation” before deciding to share the honor.

Which was a very grownup thing to do.

In my mind’s eye, I always pictured Andy Griffith, the sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry, playing a central role in resolving the dispute, much as he had in many episodes of the eponymous TV program. He’d have sat down with both of them and, through his gift of guile and just enough wisdom, have settled the matter.

“Seems to me,” he might have said, sitting back in his rocking chair on the front porch, Aunt Bee and Opie waiting inside, “that you folks have a lot more in common than you’d think.”

To which Ohio and North Carolina would have both bristled, rejecting immediately any suggestion they resembled in any way their air-borne adversary, which is just how Andy planned it.

In the end, then, Ohio and North Carolina shook hands and joined the sheriff as they moseyed on down to Wally’s Filling Station for a bottle of pop, which cemented their historic agreement.

When (and if) history ever takes the time to tell my Ohio-North Carolina story, I probably won’t be around to make any suggestions, so allow me to sketch it out in rough strokes.

Looking back on my life now, from a proper perspective, it appears as if each of the four major jobs I’ve had have carried with them expiration dates of about 10 years. Whether that’s by intent or accident, I’ll leave to others, but it's probably what explains why I’ve never gotten a real goodbye party at any place I’ve ever left.

I’m there for a decade and then, poof, I’m gone like a song whose title you can’t recall but whose lyrics you know well.

So as the millennium approached and Y2K became a thing, I started to feel a little uneasy at work. Change was in the air, as tangible as the lash of a whip, and I could relate to the cartoon which bore the legend, “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe my life wouldn’t have changed. Maybe I should have stuck around to find out.

But here’s the fact of it: On Dec. 31, 1999, I just walked away.

The only person who knew what I was about to do was with me as I packed up my things and said a series of tearful goodbyes to some of the best friends and most talented colleagues I’d ever had.

The bosses couldn’t have cared less, which is why I never told them what I was planning, not that they’d have given a good whit.

So there we were, two against the world, and it soon became clear we were ready for something completely different, if scary.

“Why don’t we spend two weeks on the beach?” my fiancée asked.

Ever since October 1995, when we’d spent World Series week in Bar Harbor on the rocky Maine coast, we’d looked forward to those days and nights of island life. From Nantucket to Key West, we’ve always tried to make those the best days of our year together.

And so it came to pass that in October 2000, as the New York Yankees were wrapping up their fourth championship in five seasons, the phone in the kitchen of our beachfront house rang.

Our lives were about to change in ways that are still being felt.

I interviewed for an editor’s job in a town called New Bern, accepted it a few days later and, with everything settled, agreed to start work at The Sun Journal a week or so before Thanksgiving.

This meant a complete and total upheaval of everything we’d come to know as home, saying so many farewells to friends and family that it’s a wonder we ever managed to hit the road that overcast day in November when we left it all behind and looked forward to a new life in North Carolina.

It’s now many years later, and you have to admit we didn’t cut and run. If you’d have told us back then we’d make it for five years, I know we’d have been more than happy to accept that.

But what comes next? That’s the question that’s been much on my mind as we spend yet another week on the Outer Banks, a place that has come to symbolize not only our break with the everyday, but with our commitment to each other, seeing as how we were married on the sands of a Kitty Hawk beach 15 years ago this week.

Here’s to my wonderful, beautiful and wise wife, who still believes the best is ahead, and to Wilbur and Orville, fellow Ohio adventurers who knew they could make it fly in North Carolina.

To reach Mike Dewey, use Carolinamiked@aol.com or try 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. You’re invited to his Facebook page, where modest anniversary wishes are welcome.

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