It's with a healthy mix of sadness and excitement, joy for the possibilities coming his way, and acceptance of his need to move on, that we bid farewell to Jamie Paul. After a seven or eight year stay (even he isn't quite sure how long) in our area, Jamie is moving to western Massachusetts.
He's accomplished much since he's been here. With his music he's produced a superb CD, Let It Mend, with another coming soon, played many a gig at area venues, and broken many eardrums playing drums with the metal band Crook.
He's experienced much of the best of what western North Carolina has to offer, from hiking trails in our National Parks, to watching the sky on a clear, fall night, to listening to the sounds of screech owls and falling snow and mountain language. He's broken many a heart along the way.
He's been a bit of a godsend for me. He arrived at my studio, via my daughter, at a time when I was transitioning from analog to digital and he proved to be the perfect person for the task at hand. Smart, curious, and geeky enough to figure out the ways of photoshop, squarespace, mail chimp, and innumerable other technical issues that were far beyond my geezer capabilities. He's helped me become a better writer, a better printer, and a better person.
After living in Madison County for forty-three years, I've long recognized this place isn't for everyone. I've seen many people come and go. I've seen many people stay forever. For Jamie, the call north is clear and irrefutable. It involves climate and work and landscape and culture, and yes, a girlfriend. I've urged him to go, knowing from personal experience his time is now, and from knowing him that he will not be satisfied unless he does. He understands he can always come back and be welcomed like he's never left.