As I turned a corner in the grocery store, I saw a gentleman standing beside a table of wines. In the second it took for me to register what was happening, he asked, “Would you like to try some wine?” Oh – that’s right, I thought, I now live in a state that sells wine in its supermarkets! As if I needed another reason to love Asheville….
“Of course!” I said to him. Is there any other answer to this question? I tried the Riesling and then – surprise, surprise – started chatting with him. I now live in a state where talking to strangers is quite common. This isn’t just idle chat – people have full conversations with cashiers when checking out, even if there is a line of people waiting behind them. And the people behind them don’t mind! Because they’ll do the same thing when they get to the front of the line. I can’t say I miss the impatience of New York life, but my father will feel like he’s on another planet when he comes to visit. The slower pace of life, however, will be nothing compared to the people he’ll see walking the streets of Asheville, but that a whole other story. Back to the wine guy.
Turns out my friendly neighborhood wine distributor just moved to Asheville. This is no surprise. There are few natives who live here – most everyone has moved from someplace else. We talked about starting our new lives in Asheville and what we loved about it (the friendliness of people, for one). After offering me a taste of the Pinotage (Fair Trade wine, no less), he got to telling me about a musician that was playing Friday night downtown. I should come, he suggested.
So I did…enjoyed some lovely jazz guitar, delicious wine, conversation with all sorts of interesting people. Before wine guy left, he offered me his extra ticket to the wine and food festival happening the next day (Asheville was voted one of the top 10 food and wine destination in the country. Nope…didn’t know this when I moved here.) Of course, wine guy knows never to leave a woman alone at a bar, so before he left he introduced me to someone we’ll call guy Number Two. Number Two suggests we head out for another drink, and whisks me away to his favorite place. Turns out I’ve been there before, and know the manager of the place. Met him and his wife at a wedding back when moving to Asheville was still a pipe dream.
I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s a snapshot: the next twenty four hours finds me checking out the newest place in town with an actual local (review : clearly created for hipster tourists, not someplace the locals will ever call home), eating and drinking and meeting people from all over the country atthe Asheville Wine and Food Festival, sharing mixed drinks out of community cups passed among the crowd at the festival (it’s alcohol…it kills everything, right?). Saturday night finds me sitting on a blanket at the Shindig on the Green listening to more live music with a friend I met hiking a few weeks ago. We spill the dirt on our lives pre-Asheville, and our dating hits and misses since arriving.
The list goes on…contradancing last night, an invite to minor league baseball game tonight, hiking tomorrow. Yesterday I did manage to squeeze in an interview with a tutoring company and a meeting about starting a small business, so will soon have money to fund my adventurous life in western North Carolina. Though you don’t need much – nearly everything I mentioned in this post was free or gifted to me.
This morning I went to meet fellow returned Camino pilgrims at our weekly Pilgrims Anonymous meeting. “You seemed so excited about living here when you came to our first meeting, I was hoping you wouldn’t be disappointed,” said one kind gentleman. Today he was happy to hear that indeed that wasn’t the case. Asheville, in just one month, has delivered in every possible way.