One month ago today I arrived in Asheville, North Carolina. So many things in my life have changed within the last month that packing the U-Haul in Phoenix seems like a distant memory. It’s been a complete whirlwind of emotions. New job. New career field. New apartment. New city. Another fresh start, for the fourth time in my adult life. I’m rolling the dice and betting that the fourth time is going to be the charm. I can’t help but think of that Talking Heads lyric, “And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?” By way of Interstate 40, of course. But, no really. In an existential sense, how?
Starting over is really hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Making friends as an adult is a cumbersome process. I had a huge social circle in Phoenix, but I’m starting from scratch in Asheville. Starting over alone in a new city usually means grabbing drinks or dinner solo. It can be quite intimidating and scary at first, but it’s also very empowering. I think every woman, single or not, should go out on the town one evening by herself. You never know who might take that empty seat next to you. It could be just a stranger who says hello, or that stranger may turn into a good friend who saves the day months later. Be open-minded. Don’t stare at your smartphone the whole time. Be present. Anything could happen.
The actual driving cross country part is pretty exciting, especially if you’re lucky enough to share the experience with someone fun. My friend Jeff from Portland was kind enough to volunteer his services to drive the U-Haul cross country and help me pack. Many lives were probably saved by not allowing me behind the wheel. Good thing he sat down next to me at a random bar in Portland last year – all friends start off as strangers, you see. Make sure you have a good road trip playlist! (Thank you to Tom Petty, The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Blind Pilot, John Mayer, Fleet Foxes, and Mr. Neil Young). It’s amazing to see the enormity and vastness of our country – there’s places out west where you can literally see for miles in any direction. One morning you’re looking at Saguaros in the desert, and a day later you’re in the rolling plains wondering where the hell is civilization? But once the dust settles, and the moving truck is unpacked, and your life is no longer scattered in boxes, and the people who helped you move have returned to their own lives and left you, then it hits you. It hit me hard.
It started to hit me somewhere close to the Tennessee and North Carolina border, as we drove through the Appalachian mountains. I started to see some South Carolina license plates and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and a tightness in my chest. I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. It was real. Asheville was no longer a romanticized notion or abstract idea in my head. It was happening. All of my Phoenix friends, relationships, and experiences I cherished so much were fleeting. A new normal was on the horizon, and these were now memories from a previous chapter in my life. It’s the bittersweet happiness of treasuring things that are vanishing.
Asheville: a peculiar little city with a big personality. I chose this place on purpose. She doesn’t have one of those New York-like personalities which hits you like a ton of bricks unexpectedly; it’s moreso a subtle personality that continually takes you by surprise as you discover more about her. The natural beauty that surrounds me keeps catching me off guard, and I fall in love with Asheville a little more each day. There is an energy around here that I find invigorating and refreshing. It’s a combination of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bernie bumper stickers, Subarus, excellent farm-to-table food, hippies with southern accents, live Americana music everywhere, locally owned coffee shops, thriving arts scene, outdoorsy culture, craft beer, and come as you are attitude that makes Asheville special. Not to mention it’s 2.5 hours from my parents house!
There have been quite a few times over the last month where I’ve questioned my choices. Did I choose the right job? Did I make a mistake by moving here? Should I trade in my Mercedes for a Subaru? Do I fit in here? Does this outfit look “Asheville” enough? What the hell am I doing? It’s easy to wonder what if, and even easier to snowball into a spiral of self-doubt. I did that too, for a week or so. Being hard on yourself is pretty damn exhausting, I don’t recommend it. So I’ve decided to trust that little voice in my head who told me months ago that Asheville was the right move. I’m trusting my intuition; it is usually spot on. Decide what to be and go be it – done.
Yesterday morning, I was having my usual coffee on my porch, which overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sun was just coming up, and the mountaintops were covered in that thick blue/gray fog. I had an overwhelming feeling again, but without the tightness in my chest. It was relief. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was no longer waiting for the next thing. The next best thing is here. I am living and breathing it all in every single day. Somehow, through a lot of hard work and sheer luck, I landed a wonderful new career in this amazing city. I get to start a new life in Asheville. I am definitely not at all where I thought I would be at age 28, but I guess I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.
The waiting is the hardest part.
Until next time, y’all!