North America, Travel Stories

Adventures in Asheville

 I’m surrounded by pretty boys and girls swinging and twirling, showing off their best moves on a crowded dance floor. The girls are decked out in sequins and flair, the boys dressed in button down shirts and snazzy hats. The atmosphere is festive, quirky, dive-y. The exact kind of place you’d expect to see in Asheville. The exact kind of place you’d want to be for New Year’s Eve. I, on the other hand, am wearing a gray baggy sweater and my hiking boots. The ones that still have some red dust clinging to them from Ghana. The ones that still smell like the forests of France. I clearly did not expect to be here. Dancing. In my hiking shoes.

Yep, those are mine! Adorably modeled by one of our next-door neighbors in Ghana.
Teiman, Ghana 2014

    My expectations for New Year’s Eve were slightly different. They included taking myself on a two-day road-trip and getting a fresh perspective. Specifically, I planned to ring in the New Year with 108 tibetan bells at a Zen meditation retreat in the woods. I planned on a lot of solitude and reflection. I planned on going to yoga classes and taking at least one glorious hike in the Smoky Mountains before making the 4 1/2 drive back to Nashville.

     Thankfully, last year’s twists and turns have taught me a few things about plans and a lot about spontaneity. Like, go with the f*cking flow already. Stop trying to be the flow, and just BE. So when I bumped into these two cool chicas from Austin who just so happened to be staying at the same hostel as myself, I threw caution to the wind and with it my idea of a contemplative New Year.

Instead, I ordered another beer and then another. I followed them to a free funk concert. I hopped some train tracks and got lost. I discovered abandoned buildings beautifully painted with murals and graffiti. I oohed and ahhhed as we passed pine trees with perfect afternoon sunlight filtering through empty winter fields. I drank champagne and got in trouble for being too loud.

New friends and adventures in Asheville, 2015

       I don’t really believe in chance encounters anymore. I think I met my new friends from Austin to be reminded of what freedom and giving zero shits feels like. I don’t feel bad about skipping the meditation, or the yoga, or the hiking. I don’t even regret beginning the New Year eating at Waffle House at 3:00am, or how sick I felt for the 24 hours afterward. I don’t think I was meant to have any other experience. It’s like, when you order sweet potato fries, and the waitress gives you parmesan and garlic fries instead, you don’t complain or send them back. You don’t argue with the her for delivering the wrong item from the menu. You dive into that pile of delicious gooeyness and savor every delectable bite. You eat those damn parmesan fries with fresh garlic and parsley and you thank the Universe for knowing what you really wanted (and probably needed).

Asheville, North Carolina 2015

      The truth is, I’ve been really serious lately. Like, mind-boggling serious. I’ve been retreating into my shell, hiding from social engagements, and staying away from Facebook. I’ve been reinventing, gestating, clearing, and thinking. I’ve been saging and praying and reading a lot of Alan Watts. I mean a LOT of Alan Watts. Maybe too much.

     I honestly thought welcoming the New Year in a super zen way would be honoring all of the interior work I’ve been doing. I hoped it would be a way for me to start this next year with a clean surface and delusion- free conscious. None of which sounds very fun. 2014 has been a lot of things, but fun isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Challenging, expanding, stretching, stressful, exhausting, are all words I might choose instead.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s been an incredible whirlwind of events and people and places. I wouldn’t take any of it back for a second. But I’m also really glad it’s over. I’m ready to let loose a little bit, dance a little bit more, and remember what carefree fun feels like. I’m ready for the new adventure of 2015, even if, especially if it means taking myself a little less seriously.

Asheville was a really, really good start.

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  • Reply John May 17, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Would be nice to have an Alan Watts meet up in Asheville. Maybe post something on r/asheville?

    • Reply Mariah June 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I do love Alan Watts! Do you live in Asheville? I’m not in Nashville anymore, but hope to be passing through Asheville at the end of summer!

  • Reply Chris Taylor April 22, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Looks like you have been on quite a journey. I agree with Renuka “Very Inspiring”.

    • Reply Mariah April 25, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Chris, thanks for your comment!

  • Reply distance monk April 15, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I have heard nothing but great things about Asheville about how it is the Austin of the Appalachians and it is the brewing capital of the east. Funny that the girls you ran into were from there. Looks like you found it to be a pretty cool town too. Would you compare it to Denver or Austin or anywhere else you have been?

    • Reply Mariah April 18, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      I have actually never been to Austin. Asheville definitely has a smaller-town vibe than Denver in my experience, but I think it is on the brink of burgeoning into a bigger city–seems to be attracting a lot of tourists and entrepreneurs. Visit while you can before it becomes too crowded! 😉

  • Reply Renuka January 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Inspiring and nice! I love the photo of that little chap from Ghana. 🙂 I agree traveling spontaneously and going with the flow deliver better adventures and experiences. All the best for your travels in 2015.
    Renuka recently posted…Postcards From GOAMy Profile

    • Reply Mariah January 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Thank you Renuka! I wish you the same as well 🙂 Many blessings for this new year!

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