Ode to Asheville

As I prepare to bid adieu to my home for the last 10 years of my life, I find myself becoming a bit sentimental. Asheville hasn’t always been an easy place for me to be, but it has never failed to nurture and comfort me through the growing pains it induced. Only now that I’m leaving do I see the extent of the community I’ve built for myself here, and for a recovering hermit such as myself, that’s been no small feat. I am letting myself grieve for Asheville. I know I will miss it, but I also know it is time to move on. I have learned what I came here to learn.

I came to Asheville alone, with no plan, and not knowing anybody in 2003, following the unexpected death of my brother. With the assistance of my sound healing mentor, I was welcomed by a Nepalese family and given a job in their shop. That year had been a strange series of endings and beginnings. I had gotten divorced, my work contract ended, my lease was up. So I moved temporarily to Garden of the Goddess ranch in Cerrillos, NM and spent my days chanting Ngondro and my nights battling the mice and listening to the coyotes. I didn’t know where or how, but I knew I would be going somewhere else soon. All the signs were pointing to, “Go!” On my cross-country travels which included sound healing studies in Pennsylvania with my mentor, it was recommended to me to pass through Asheville. That pass through has taken me to 2014.

There is a myth about Asheville spitting people out if they aren’t ready for the energy here. I heard story after story about how hard it was to make a living…that people either love it or hate it. Like many others, I knew instantly I had to be here. It was something about the Smoky Mountains. They sang to me when I drove through them. They knew me. Somehow, I always managed to find a decent job, often with pay that exceeded the pathetic minimum. I don’t know why I was so fortunate, but when I needed it, Asheville even coughed up a business grant and eventually, my house.

I think I became an adult in Asheville…a real adult: a person who knew how to be there for herself, take responsibility, and face what needed facing. I went through some serious karmic trials, from a horrible stalking relationship to illness to the death of my Dad, but through it all, I somehow discovered a love for myself. It helped me break many bad habits like hiding and hating life. Asheville drew me out of myself.

It did that by giving me endless opportunity: to dance, to sing, to write, and to make friends. I found here a family that shine brighter than any people I have ever known, genuine people who have been tempered by their own trials without being soured by them. They are artists, musicians, writers, teachers, and creatives of all kinds, gentle and open-hearted, generous souls who appreciate the gift of life.

I am so grateful to this land (this holodeck of jobs, friends, and entertainments) for providing for me these past 10 years. I am so grateful I got to experience one last glorious fall season here. I am so grateful for my dear friends and creative colleagues…several relationships I know will last a lifetime. To a woman such as myself, a Dorothy always looking over the rainbow, Asheville gave me a true experience of “there’s no place like home.”

And perhaps most importantly of all, I know that place is within me.