Rural Studio Pilgrimage #1: Newbern.

Rather than drive down to the beach in a hurried haze, we decided to start our vacation the moment the spaceship pulled out from the driveway. The first hour of the drive was filled with the sound of the kids singing Hungarian blues while I attempted to convince their father of the absolute importance of said Rural Studio Piligrimage at that precise moment in time.

Fortunately, the roads nudged us in the right direction and Patrick didn’t put up too thick of a fight. After asking a young man from Los Angeles who was interning in Greensboro how we might get to the Rural Studio, he told us to hop on Main Street and keep going.

So we did. We drove for about 8 miles- right past the neat Newbern Fire Station and then right out of Newbern. There was nothing like a stop light, so don’t bother looking.

Partrick perked up:
“Alina, I think we missed it. There’s nothing here.”

I smiled that patient, annoying, holier-than-thou smile:
“Okay, let’s just go back to that store across from the fire station and ask someone. I’m sure people around here know…”

Patrick’s reponse did not quite register to this over-eager pilgrim:
“(Sigh, grumble, grumble)….” to fade out.

And so we ended up in the parking lot beside the store in Newbern- and then out in the back, we found the Newbern Playground. Three men hanging out at the picnic table pointed us in the direction of a large warehouse two lots to the left.

One of the guys, a friendly man named James, explained that a tall sir with a British accent going by the name of “Andrew” was the go-to guy behind current Rural Studio projects. The gothic mansion right up the road with all the metal cans to the side was his residence.

Pat and Milla maneuveured the playground as Max and I chatted with the men in hats about how you should move (hint: very slowly) to keep cool in the sweltering weather.

The gent names James told us that we should check out the Lion’s Park in Greensboro or Perry Lakes Park in Marion- “the kids will love those”. He and Max got to talking about Rural Studio, and James told Max he needed to watch a movie called “Citizen Architect”.

Max said:
“Why?”

James replied:
“Ha! Because I’m IN it, that’s why!”

Max grinned:
“You mean you’re a movie star?”

James flicked his cigarette:
“Something like that, young man. I pop up in all kinds of places.”

Max jumped around and grabbed my arm:
“Mom, he’s my first movie star. The girls at Capitol School love movie stars. I want to get his autograph because I’ve never met a movie star.”

James asked us to call him “Mr. Peanut”, and then proceeded to sign my journal with an autograph for an expectanct Max.

Max had a glow in his cheeks as we strolled back to the car to resume our pilgrimage. When I asked why he was so chipper, Max didn’t miss a beat- “Mom! Look at what he wrote! Mr. Peanut LOVES me.” And that was all the fuel we needed to persevere.