The sign read: “No public restrooms.” It was the second to last day of our family vacation, which happened to unexpectantly double as our honeymoon. Just two weeks prior, we were standing on the altar of a small chapel, just eight days after we decided to get married, right now. Shotgun wedding and a honeymoon with the whole family — why not; unplanned and unexpected usually resulted in the best outcomes for us.
Tennessee, to me, was always a state somewhere on a map I was forced to study in Middle School. A state with no significance to me, never having a desire to visit. Now, I had just spent the past seven days in a beautiful cabin nestled at the very top of the Smokey Mountains. Bungee jumping, check! Gem mining, check! Married, first-class passenger of the Titanic, I survived! Southern hospitality with flavorful meals, sign me up with cocktails, please! Having spent each morning on our bedroom porch, watching the fog rise off of the tip of trees, listening to the wildlife scatter — I knew this was MY place!
Arriving at the flea market was similar to pulling into the parking lot at Magic Kingdom, Disneyland. Flea markets up north are tailgating garage sales with one or two tables. The fancier markets display a 10x10 tent that shields the tables and tourists from the sun and weather. What I was staring at was not that! My view was dozens of lanes of parked vehicles, with miles of different colored tents. The air smelled sweet with hints of fried food, just like an amusement park does. My ears honed in on an acoustic guitar paired with a raspy twang. A child-like excitement filled my stomach with butterflies, unable to walk fast enough to reach the entry point. What gems are hidden inside these colorful tents? What will I find that someone views as trash, but to me would be a treasure? Do I have enough cash? Do they have an ATM here? Standing quiet in a single file line, you would never know my mind was a flashcard deck of questions.
Yes, finally we entered! My husband turned around, looked at me, and said: “Where do you want to start?”. My response: “The bathroom, I have to pee!”. “Really?!” he responded. As we zig-zagged through crowds of people, bouncing from one tent corner to another, each sign we encountered read: “No public restrooms”. I stopped for a moment, took a deep breath asking myself, can I hold it? It was right then…