“Did you just step out of the shower?” my co-worker asked. I stood before her with my hair hanging in long wet strands.
“I don’t own a hair dryer,” I said by way of explanation. “And I don’t brush my hair after a shower either, so this is what you get.”
“I don’t brush mine either,” she confessed with a smile.
“We do live in Asheville, after all.” This is a phrase used to explain all sorts of things that just wouldn’t fly in other parts of the country–usually in the parts from whence we all came, since it’s pretty rare to meet someone who is actually from Asheville.
“And who can be bothered with styling?” I continued. “I was thinking of chopping my hair, but that would require some maintenance. So I’m debating. I kind of like getting it cut just twice a year.”
“Me too,” she said, turning her head to show me the ponytail she sports nearly every day. Ah, to be in a community of like-minded people. What a joy.
Even better, though, you don’t have to be like anyone here. You can be whomever you want. Should I want to walk around downtown in a beaded gown, no one would particularly care. When I first moved here I thought it was the end of dressing up as no one seems to. Not even for work. Well, unless you count those poor guys who work in places where people think suits are still required to get any work done. I got rid of my suits years ago declaring that if any job ever required me to wear one it wasn’t the job for me. I haven’t needed one since.
But it’s Asheville. So if a guy wants to wear a suit, so be it. And if a guy wants to ride a bicycle around town dressed as a nun, he can do it. And if people want to bang on their drums–or cans, or buckets–on a Friday night, they can join fifty other like-minded folks in Pritchard Park and do just that. If you want to watch the drumming, or dance to it, or hula to it, go for it. As for me? I’ve since learned that I can show up to the wine bar in jeans and T-shirt, or I can pretend I’m a tourist and actually get dressed up.
I, like many in this town, can wear jeans to work every day. But the other day I wore a dress as a client was coming in for a visit. At the end of the day the president of the company said to me, “I’ve been trying to figure out what was different about you today. I finally realized: I think you’re the first woman in this company to ever wear a dress to work.” I laughed.
“No one shows their legs around here?” I asked.
“Well, one guy did wear a kilt one day.” Of course he did. This is Asheville, after all.