It has become my job to fall in love with the American Southeast.

Falling in Love with a Place

I never intended to live here. I grew up in Vermont, and like most New Englanders I developed a wicked sense of pride, one borne of fierce winters, rural isolation, the dying small town that still has a viable heartbeat up in the Green Mountains. When I left for college in Seattle, it never occurred to me that I might be leaving forever. If I’d thought that, I never would have left. I would have moved up north to Burlington and called it good. My life would have been so much smaller, and so much easier.

I spent eleven years in Seattle. That’s 22 cross-country flights, just to make it home and back for Christmas. But when I finally decided it was time to return to the East Coast, I landed in Asheville, North Carolina. And I still can’t explain it, exactly. Maybe I wanted to become familiar with one more corner of the map before I ended up back in Vermont, for good.

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It was nothing permanent. I work from home so I didn’t need a job.  I stayed in the spare room of an old friend so I never signed a lease.  I was delightfully unencumbered for twenty-four hours, and then I fell in love. Instantly. Terribly. With a man who had the deepest red curls I’d ever seen and the heaviest accent I’d ever heard; a North Carolina native who seemed to love his home state as much as I loved mine.

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It’s been two years and suddenly we own a house, and we’re getting married, and I know all the short cuts to get to the grocery store at rush hour. Everything I wanted in my life is happening, 900 miles south of where I thought it would happen. And sometimes, despite my best efforts, despite everything I know about reality and compromise and good luck and love, I get so homesick for New England that I cry, pressing my face into the pillow, like a little kid who doesn’t want to get caught.

I’ve made it my job to fall in love with Asheville and the mountains that surround it. Happiness is, after all, a choice that we make every day. I make that choice by hauling myself to a new brewery on Saturday afternoons, filling a bookshelf with guidebooks, giving myself an entire day to get lost on the trails of Bent Creek with my dog and my bike. When I feel homesick, I turn the radio up.

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I’ve started to identify flowers, and birds, and notice how the species of trees changes as you climb higher in the Black Mountain Range. I don’t love my surroundings yet, but I’m learning to name them, and that’s a start.  I plan on exploring every side street in this town, hiking every trail and standing on every mountain bald; I will wander every inch of Blue Ridge if that’s what it takes for me to fall in love.


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2 Comments on Falling in Love with a Place

  1. Burnell Yow!
    May 15, 2015 at 6:06 am (5 years ago)

    Cool post. I fell in love with Asheville the first time I visited, which was two years ago shortly after my niece and her boyfriend moved there from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I love the art scene. Will be visitng again in the fall. In my humble opinion, being with someone you love, and who loves you, is so much more important than place, and the land, air, and water of one place is connected to all places.

    Reply
  2. Renee
    May 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm (5 years ago)

    Really great post. Definitely want to visit both places that are tugging at your heart 🙂

    Reply

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