Mark Montgomery, spelled like the city, remembers when there never was an interstate in McKinney. He told me this as he was poring over expense reports in the back of an old shed behind Baker’s Drive-In, a business he’s owned since 2000.
It was a slower work week than usual for me, and I agreed to help out a coworker by writing about Mark. He’s a good old boy. He reminded me of the townspeople in “All the Kings Men,” or a Cormac McCarthy novel—never really getting anywhere fast, and speaking in bouts of poetry.
I’ve spent much of my time at Community Impact Newspaper reporting on the extensive growth of Collin County. It’s been spurred in large by international brands moving their headquarters to the area, and by bringing Californians, and their California-sized pocketbooks, with them.
But Mark has seen it all. He was born and raised in McKinney in the early ’60s, and has never lived anywhere else. He told me that though much has changed, “everyone always wants to go back to Mayberry.” I didn’t catch it at first, but he was referring to the town in the Andy Griffith show.
And there are layers of truth to that statement—going back to Mayberry is slowing down. It’s settling in. It’s a lukewarm cup of coffee that is just starting to taste right, or the rain drops exploding on the windowsill.
I’ve just been married. My wife Michelle and I found a little house in Denton, and we feel like we’ve built our own little corner of Mayberry.
We make brunch, and we sleep in when we can. We turn off all the lights when its dawn just to watch the sun tint the steam spiraling out of our coffee cups.
Now I’ve always been a sucker for the quieter life, which could be because of my family’s origins in west Texas. But it amazes me that we carry Mayberry with us all the time. I can choose to tap into that other place—the slower pace that calms me down.
There is great liberation in that realizing that. It’s the idea perpetuated in the meditation app, Headspace: There is always blue sky waiting for us beyond the storm clouds. It just takes mindfulness to remember it. To remember how to get back to Mayberry.