The taxman cometh.
He always does. He finds you whether you are in Ohio, North Carolina or South Carolina.
The letter came requesting information, so I decided to take the information over to the tax office in the county seat, York, South Carolina.
The first time I was in York had to be nearly twelve years ago. One of our sons took us there to a place called Tony’s. They had a delicious Italian salad dressing and garlic knots that made you not want to order anything but those. It was delicious.
Then, a new owner took aver and the place wasn’t the same. That was maybe nine years ago. I haven’t been there since.
York is a Southern town, the county seat of York County. Danny, the mater man I met last week said, “Rock Hill hates York because it thinks IT should be the country seat.”
Oooh, don’t you love a bit of the back story of a small town.
York, to me, is a wistful town. It has beautiful old houses, many of which struggle to maintain their looks. They are sort of like humans. Many have good bones, but need a nip and tuck and a new hairstyle and makeup.
And that is part of the charm.
It isn’t a town that exudes wealth or show-off cuteness. There is a subtlety about it. A grace, if you will.
The streets are lined with bold oaks, interspersed by the rose and crimson and pink, Crepe Myrtles. In all of its Southerness, there is a quiet, a “Shhhh, please don’t wake us up and make us go into the big world,” feeling throughout.
I accept that sentiment and subdue myself in its presence.
The taxman’s office is on a side street, Liberty. Within a minute, your car is parked and you are in front of the window where a welcoming voice asks if they can help you.
My business there was brief. I dropped off proof of residency, so that they knew where to send the taxman.
I drove around a couple of the side streets. I do every time I go to York. I’ve even been to York simply to ride around the side streets and transport myself from my place of what is now, to a place of what is past.
I often pull over to the side, sidle my car near the curb and look out my window at the houses and trees. I take deep breaths and realize that I am here. I live in the South. I live among the giant oaks whose branches and leaves arch over streets forming an umbrella of green. My good grapes, it makes me want to cry.
I was about to drive out of town when I saw. “Tony’s,”which is still open. I circled, changed my mind, circled, and changed my mind, again, parked my car and went inside.
The restaurant looked the same, maybe better. I sat down and was called “Sweetheart” by the young waitress. I asked what was good, and from the litany they gave me, I figured I could order anything.
Spaghetti and meatballs it was.
A few other people came in, including and older gentian and a younger man. They sat behind me, so, of course, I listened to their conversation. One was a licensed attorney in the state of South Carolina and the other was an attorney who wasn’t licensed. What that mean, I will have to make up in my own head. But the older man was firmly telling the younger man not to get involved with something.
I tried not to seem disappointed when the Sweetheart gal told me they were out of garlic knots and they had substituted it with garlic bread. The ghost in the graveyard knows that I do not need another piece of garlic brea anything on my hips.
I don’t know why, but I was surprised when the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce, were delicious. Of course, I thought how Nick would enjoy this.
I always think that when I am alone and enjoying something.
After I was finished doing my duty as a clean club member, I walked down the quiet main street. It is interesting being in places where you know that you won’t run into anyone you know. There is a freedom about it, and sometimes a tinge of loneliness. But for the most part, it doesn’t bother me because if I want to talk to someone, I will.
Which is what happened after I got in the car and was making my way out of town.
As I mentioned, there are some beautiful older ladies that sit pretty on the streets of York.
I pulled my car over and snapped a photo of a lovely brick house. On the passenger side of my car was another beauty. I lowered my window to snap a photo, and a nicely dressed woman who was on the porch walked down the sidewalk toward my car.
“Oh, I am just taking pictures of pretty houses,” I said.
“That’s fine, snap away.”
I mentioned that I was a writer and had recently moved to the area. She was as nice as can be.
I asked her if she was from York. She said she was. She had moved away, but she couldn’t get this house out of her mind.
“I’d love to talk to you, I said.”
I mentioned that I write about people I meet.
“That would be fine,” she said. “Can we set a time? I’m a Realtor and I have appointments.”
I was a Realtor in Ohio,” I said.
We both laughed.
She gave me her name and phone number and I will go. She said she would show me around her house. That … is a plan.
Down the road was “Bush and Vine.” I stopped in to get more blueberries and zucchini.
The store is in the center of the farm. Field after field of vegetables and fruit give way to the peach orchard. It is a feel good store. You feel good to be alive and able to avail yourself of the earth’s bounty.
My last stop was to Sander’s Peach Stand, to drop a blueberry muffin off to Miss Dori. I sat a spell and we chitchatted. We are officially friends. We have plans.
A brief summer downpour came and it was time to head home.
On the way home while passing a building that had three flags at half staff, I thought, “You know, flags are always at half-staff anymore.”
It seems we show signs of respect for the dead, it is the living where we have a problem.