My bright place is in my home state of North Carolina, and it is Stone Mountain State Park — a huge granite rock that people climb (it is a true rock mountain) and that I grew up near (about 10 minutes from my home). When my Maw Maw Johnson (my grandma) died a few years ago, I was devastated. She loved flowers and had her own greenhouse, so after her funeral — which I’d flown in for from Rochester, New York — I borrowed my brother’s flatbed pickup truck and drove to Stone Mountain with a few packets of wild flower seeds that I bought along the way at a country store. Once I got to Stone Mountain, I planted the seeds in the field near the base of the mountain all over the place. Some I flung wildly into the air. Others I dug into the soil. I used to go hiking and writing at this mountain as a kid, and once my grandparents picnicked with me there. I also wrote a little love note to my grandmother, sealed it in a plastic Ziploc bag, and buried it near an entrance sign at the base of the mountain. I haven’t had a chance to go back and see if the wildflowers took root, but in my mind they did. And in my mind, she is looking down from heaven and enjoying them.
So, my bright place is Stone Mountain. That mountain is permanent. It is forever. It is beautiful, and it is where I went as a teenager whenever I needed to be alone or write or experience nature. It’s where I took boys to make out, where we went camping, where I learned to swim. It is heaven to me. It’s where my Grandpa Johnson once plucked a penny necklace out of the earth and gave it to me. I thought he was magic then. I still do.