I recently had to make an impromptu trip back to the Carolinas to tie up some loose ends. This meant I was going back home to Asheville for the first time in almost two years.
It was a bittersweet trip. Jerud and I always thought we would head back to Asheville together. Experience the changes of the town, catch up with friends, and re-ride our favorite trails together. I also thought when we went back it would be for a longer visit. Instead, it was a whirlwind of a trip.
This was also the first time since hitting the road that we’ve been apart for as long as we were - 6 days. But Jerud and I both know that space and time away is beneficial to our relationship.
Not knowing what to expect after being gone for so long I was surprised to find that Asheville still felt like home. There was a lot of comfort being able to move about from memory. I guess familiarity doesn’t always have to be boring.
Emotions ran high for me as I retraced my steps around neighborhoods, friends’ homes, restaurants, and trails. Especially when I went to check up on my house that’s being rented. Unexpected tears caught me by surprise. I had no idea I would be so moved to stand in my living room again. My home. Memories came tumbling back, throwing me off-kilter.
Asheville was the first place I felt like I was finally in the right place. I was ecstatic when I moved there. But at the same time, I always knew I wouldn’t be there forever. The 6.5 years I was there was much longer than I had expected.
Retracing steps through the woods with fallen leaves under my feet and flowing creeks by my side, I was sad and I was at peace. Over the years I’d spent so many days wandering through those forest and nights in front of campfires. The grandeur of the mountains there are different from the west, but they’ve left such an impression on me.
My friends were sweet in thousands of ways. Embracing me like I had only been gone for a weekend trip. Making time and being flexible with the last minuteness of my visit. Though we’ve met up and visited a lot of friends in the Toaster, I haven’t seen some of my closest friends since leaving. Catching up was the highlight of my visit. Finding out the new direction their lives were taking them, their new projects, and seeing their babies turn into sassy kids.
There was a mutual envy between us. Them of my freedom and travels, and me of their roots and contributions to a community. Briefly I thought about settling back into my place in Asheville. But I realized it's not what I want.
Still the Appalachians is special to me. I caught myself thinking how I wish when the time came, Tybee would slip away from me there. A place that's meaningful to both of us. A place where we had spent so many years of our lives together. Where many of our happiest memories were made.