This time last year I took two weeks to drive from Hyde Park, NY to Brasstown, NC. It was the start of my self-imposed sabbatical year. My destination was the John C. Campbell Folk School. There I would spend four months as a Student Host doing a work-exchange program that allowed me to take fifteen classes in everything from writing and cooking to woodworking and blacksmithing. The drive between my hometown and the Folk School would normally take twelve hours. But when you decide to visit nearly every friend you have on the East Coast on the way, it takes a little longer.
Today I find myself doing a very-much-abbreviated version of that trip. I left Wednesday from Hyde Park, NY to head to North Carolina. However, my destination this time is Asheville. And it’s not temporary.
Why Asheville? I like it there. That’s the simple answer, and enough of a reason if you know me. I like the people, the culture, the landscape, the community, the feeling I get when I’m there. Did you ever go to a place and just have a sense that it’s where you belong? That’s what I get when I’m in Asheville. Dining there in February a waitress said to me, “Asheville is the kind of place that tells you when to come and when to go.” It was telling me to come, so here I go answering the call.
I wanted to move to Asheville back in 1999. I had just completed an internship in nearby Hendersonville and fell in love with the area. What stopped me from going then? A friend who lived there. She said, “If you want to meet a man, you’re not going to do it here. So if you want to get married, don’t come here yet. Go meet your husband and then move down with him.”
At the time, meeting my future husband was something I was hoping would happen in short order. I didn’t want to foul up my chances by moving to a place with a shortage of eligible bachelors. The advice-giver was knowledgable on this subject. This was before on-line dating existed and she had tried everything else to meet someone. From personals to eight-minute-dates to joining hiking clubs and book clubs – she did everything every book advised and still had no luck.
So I moved instead to Boston. The aforementioned friend came up to visit shortly thereafter and was stunned by the plethora of young single men. Guess what she did? Sold her house, quit her job, and moved to Boston. While there, she met a guy, married him, and now they live happily ever after in Asheville.
I, on the other hand, did not find my husband in Boston. Nor in Bethesda. Nor in Hyde Park, Milton, Staatsburg, Italy or Spain. But just like I never let lack of company keep me from traveling solo, nor am I going to let lack of a husband keep me from moving to Asheville.
So today is the day. Arrival in Asheville. Not as a visitor, but as a person discovering the place she’s decided to call home.