Melanie Girard

Melanie Girard

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Quarry is My Church

My friend, Rachel, likes to swim as much as I do. This kindred spirit is rare to my world, so when I find someone who is game to swim, I’m in! She suggested the quarry at the Eno State Park in Durham, NC. I recently broke with my 6 year relationship and was feeling  blue and needed a change of activity. So, Rachel and my other long-time friend, Beth, decided we would go on Sunday for a girl’s dip in the man-made vernal pool.

The weather here in NC has been the rainiest I can remember and it’s tough to make outdoor plans with any certainty. It wasn't thundering nor lightning, so we geared up with walking shoes, suits and anything that would float, as you need something to give you a break. We walked in the rain for about a mile down the trail and realized we missed our turn. We trudged up and down trails with rocks, mud and and tree roots covered by the wet canopy of trees that is quintessential NC forest, with old hardwoods of every variety. The trail was messy, but overall easily traversed.

Rachel led the way with tireless confidence holding her boogie board, I followed behind and Beth brought up the rear with an inner tube around her. Beth looked like a 3 year old, and when I looked back, I had to chuckle a few times. We finally got back on the right trail and walked the additional .8 mile trek with the rain just pouring. Each of proclaiming that it looked like the rain was gonna break any moment. It didn't.  We've had so much rain over the last month, that when we had to cross the normally low creek, we all paused a moment to figure out the best way to cross the rocky, fully flowing obstacle....without of course falling down and having an old-lady moment. We made it and there was the quarry! There is a trail around the quarry with multiple “drop in” areas. We had to assess the best option as none of us are 20 years old anymore and we certainly didn’t want to fall into the quarry with clumsiness of Homer Simpson. Yeah, picture it.

Rachel carefully got down the little rocky bank and dove in. I was next and sat on a rock half way in the water and finally plunged in. Here comes Beth with her inner tube. I looked back to make sure she was ok and she jumped in like a little kid jumping to her mother at the pool. Kind of a belly flop and labrador retriever technique. I laughed till I cried and will never get that image out of my head.

The water is dark and very deep. If someone goes under, there would not be a likelihood of saving anyone. There is no gradual entry to the quarry. You must be a good swimmer and bring a float for safety. At that moment, the rain stopped and mother nature smiled upon our adventure. The water was the perfect temperature and for me, that environment was when I was at my most peaceful and confident. I decided that day that the quarry was my church and I wanted to go every Sunday that I could, weather permitting.

We bobbed, flipped, swam and floated with intermittent stories, laughter, melancholy and silence. I love my friends and this was a beautiful, shared time that I hope everyone could have the pleasure of experiencing.  After a couple of hours of water time, we decided to attempt getting out and up the bank to walk the .8 mile trail back to the car. As we got out, the rain started again, and we all laughed and marveled that our timing was perfect. The company was perfect. Everything was perfect and I will cherish that time forever. I hope if you ever get the opportunity to go to the quarry, that you will heed the danger warnings, prepare and take in the turtles, toads, rocky banks and and the pool of life. It’s more than worth it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Let me start by saying I'm a realtor, so house hunting is a bit of a habit for me. A habit that I'm addicted to. It doesn't really matter if I have clients or not. I like to see what's new on the market in the three counties that are my market on a daily, sometimes bi-daily basis. What if I find the most perfect house or farm for that client I never hear from, I think to myself. Perhaps I will stir their interest again and maybe they will buy something. You have to be an optimist and a gambler to be in real estate. I realize I might have a problem with the both of these traits.

I'm an optimist firstly. And I live by the “every no brings you closer to a yes” sales philosophy. Really? Well,maybe. I will always return a call the day I get it, if it involves real estate. Well, you never know what that call could turn in to? There is always potential, but in actuality a small percentage of calls/leads leads to cold, hard cash in my account. But that's ok, when I do get paid, and clients are happy, I realize this job is a good fit for me.

Over the last couple of years, I perused Craigslist for other housing options. I currently rent. Seems odd that a realtor would rent, but here's why. I have owned houses when I was married and they take a lot of work. If you aren't handy and neither is your partner, you better have some money to throw at service people to do it for you. When I got unmarried, I rented a small house in Pittsboro. It suited my needs and was very energy efficient. I have two kids and thought I would only be here for a couple of years. Now I'm looking at 6+ years and wonder where the time went. Real estate turned it's back on all of us for several years, so buying another house was not an option for me. The bright side was that I had a great landlord, great house, great location and great rent. Why would I trade it? Especially as I see my cohorts (realtors) putting their houses on the market.

Then I think about the only way my generation is going to have retirement is through real estate investments or money from rich relatives. So, I feel I should buy a house. That's what I am supposed to do, right? Well, maybe not. Do I plan to be in the area forever? Maybe not. What if I want to move in the next 6 years? That's not a whole lot of time to make money on real estate....not anymore.

So, in my fence-sitting time, I decided to clean out my house. I got rid of clothes that I haven't worn in several years. Let's face it, I don't look good in the clothes I bought a decade ago, no matter how many laps I swim. I cleaned out closets and drawers, put new liners in them and basically got rid of everything I don't, won't and haven't used. I'm tired of fooling myself into thinking my life will change in such a way that having 3 differently sized melon-ballers or several platters that service parties of 15-20 people will be worth storing or moving them. You're welcome thrift store. I cleaned things in my house you only clean when moving into or out of a house. Good times and thank you Vodka. I want to be light on my feet in case the perfect living situation comes around. A clean soul not hampered by material things (or at least not as many material things.)

So the questions remains..should I stay or should I go? I'm going to wait it out. I'm tired of feeling like the right thing is what society wants me to do. Or even my industry. Real estate is a good investment if you have money, time, skills and patience to recover your outlay. When you start really thinking about buying, clean out everything and be realistic as to what you are “housing.” Don't just buy a giant storage unit with heat and air for you and your stuff to live in. There's plenty of people who will buy your crap and good organizations thrive on your donations.