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.
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.
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.Google+