I believe that as individuals we should aspire to venture beyond the pavement. I feel that hopes and dreams, no matter how small or complex they may seem, should never be surrendered to meet the wants of others. I remember it just as if it happened yesterday. It wasn’t as though I had planned to end up in Southwest Georgia’s smallest rural town. My curiosity, and possibly just a hint of boredom, led me to it. I hadn’t been there since I was three-years old. That was back when my grandfather was still alive and lived in a small white-shingled house on the right side of Main Street just as you entered the town. There did not appear to be much “civilization” among the town, but I still traveled down many side streets just for the sake of doing so. Nothing interesting caught my attention. I was about ready to proceed back to my own small hometown where there was at least a decent restaurant to get something good to eat, but then a little voice inside my head pleaded with me to go down at least one more avenue. My car turned onto Silk Stocking Avenue. This had to be the most unusual street I had ever come in contact with. The trees made a thick, mossy canopy with their branches over the entire paved street, except I noticed the street was not entirely paved. The pavement stopped at about half of the way down the narrow street. There was a yellow street sign posted just before the smooth, dull gray cement transformed into rippled blood-red clay. The sign read Pavement Ends. I continued driving, even though I was a bit troubled by the odd street. To my disbelief, at the end of the clay road, sat an askew-dilapidated mansion. Immediately, I knew I had to find information regarding this oddity.
Throughout a period of about two weeks, I found all the information I desired about the street, the house, and the family that had once resided there. The house had belonged to an influential politician in the area in the 1950s. He had one daughter named Aurelia who aspired to be an artist. In her earlier years, she traveled to countries such as Greece, France, and Italy to study her passion of the Arts. In Greece, it was said that the young artist met another artist whom she fell in love with and wanted to marry. When she told her father of the engagement, he prohibited it. His young, talented daughter had no support on the issue and left Greece to return home, never to travel outside of Southwest Georgia again. Aurelia stayed in the house and took care of her father until his death.
The issue of the unpaved portion of the street was a result of the politician’s radical views and actions. He was a man who sought to keep modern technology and other advancements out of his community. Despite his efforts, he was unable to keep the town from conforming, but he was able to stop the Department of Transportation from paving the area of land in front of his property. The politician’s daughter remained in the house until her own death, which I discovered had only been a couple of weeks before my visit to the eerie, yet extraordinary, Silk Stocking Avenue. I learned, by talking with people who lived in the community, that Aurelia, by then an elderly lady, had become quite eccentric. Many of the people in the area, mostly young people, bantered and dubbed her “crazy” because she was rarely ever seen outside. I couldn’t help but want to learn more about this legendary character. I acquired the names of some of her relatives who seldom ever had contact with her while she was still living. After speaking with them on the matter of the house, I came to find that their intent was to sale the estate and all of its contents. I realized this would be my only opportunity to uncover the mystery and also, to soothe my obsession.
Driving up to the mansion, I never considered how colossal it really was in reality. The relatives met me on the porch, which appeared to be in sound condition. The paint that had once glossed the Corinthian-styled columns had long since chipped and eroded away. The whole exterior now had a grayish tinge rather than the lustrous white it had once been. Upon entering the once magnificent doors that had embraced many visitors over the decades, a sense of sadness and longing overwhelmed me. The house was completely cluttered with old furniture, silverware, books, and to my astonishment, paintings. Scattered all around the parlor floor were dozens of oil and acrylic paintings. I examined them closely. They contained so much detail. I thought of how much pride and time she must have put into each of them. Now, they were nothing more than mere doormats used to trap the dust that billowed in the many crevices of the house.
Leading to the upper portion of the house was an elaborate staircase. The signs of wear on each step were clearly visible. I envisioned how happy the house must have been at one time. Many children must have at one time trampled noisily down the stairs on a Christmas morning. “Merry Christmas, Mama and Daddy!” shouted the memory of a young girl in my mind as she ran down the stairs. The echoes of laughter and the sound of a piano being played on a Sunday afternoon from room to room were all pieces of the house’s mysterious history. Laughter was something I was certain the house hadn’t encountered in quite a long time. If only these walls could talk. I wondered, What secrets could they possibly tell? As I gazed out the window of the upper level, I speculated on how miserable the daughter must have been here. Envying them, she probably watched people on her street living their lives happily. What might have become of this talented woman if her father had not dominated her life and the choices she made? I wonder.
I feel that our dreams are the elements that mold us into who we are to become. Learning the story of the aspiring artist who never had the support to follow her ambitions has motivated me never to forfeit my dreams and to try to the best of my abilities to achieve each of them. This talented woman may not have made an impact on the world as she would have liked, but she did make the world of difference in at least one person’s life- someone she had never even met. I will be forever grateful to that little voice, which I like to call fate that urged me to travel beyond the pavement.
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