Well, it is officially my last day in Johnson City until January 2016, so naturally I decide to go to Asheville. I have never been before, but it is a place my friends swear to me I will love. They were right. I love the energy, and the artsy spirit. I love way people dress and how casual people are just hanging out and playing music or chatting. There is a sense of free spirit in the community of Asheville, and more than a little pot floating around in the air…but I’m from Colorado so, what else is new?
When we got there we were a little lost, trying to find parking, trying to figure out where we wanted to go. So I did what I do best, I phoned a few friends. “Definitely go to the Chocolate Lounge.” They told me, “And for sure hit up Double D’s coffee shop. Oh! and if you have time hit up Miss Malaprop’s Books.” We didn’t get to stay long, but we did get to visit some of the places listed. The friend I was traveling with is someone I have known for years. We laugh together, we cry together, but mostly we eat together, so eating our way through Asheville was never a question, merely an assumption.
We started at The Chocolate Lounge and let me tell you, very worth the recommendation. They had a wide variety of chocolate goodies, coffees, and organic milk. We settled on brownies, I got the coconut Macaroon Brownie, and my friend had the Chocolate Mint Brownie. Both were amazing! Very rich, but totally satisfying. The best thing about The Chocolate Lounge though is that they are all about organic and sustainable products, plus they are a locally owned business which I am always down to support. The staff was really nice and helpful, and I will definitely be going again.
After our chocolate overdose we decided to try to find Double D’s. We weren’t sure what to expect, but I can tell you I definitely wasn’t prepared for what I saw. This coffee shop is a locally owned place set up inside a Double Decker bus. There is seating in the upstairs compartment, and outside on the patio. We had their dirty chai and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. Definitely head there for coffee when you’re in town, although beware that it’s cash only. But it has a nice atmosphere, and ash trays if you want to smoke outside. I will be a repeat costumer here as well.
Like I said we didn’t get to stay long so I didn’t see a lot of Asheville, but probably my favorite part of town is the “Before I die wall”. This is whole wall that is painted with chalk paint, and across it are lines that say, “Before I die I want to…” and lines where people can fill in the blank. There is a chalk bucket hanging on the wall that is looked over by a kind, wheelchair bound, veteran who chimes, “Chalk over here! Find a space to write, or I’ll make one for ya!” He is cheerful and talkative, and carries a coffee ground can to collect spare change. There are a lot of things written on the wall; “…to find love.” “…to travel the world.” “…to be successful.” My friend and I pondered over what we would write, knowing it was only temporary, but for us it would be remembered. We tossed around things like to travel, or get married, or learn anew language. But we realized that these were, like the chalk on this wall, merely temporary things. Finally we grabbed some chalk and went to work. She wrote, “To be happy…whatever that means.” And I chalked, “To love and be loved.” I decided to make this my before I die because I realized that I could travel the world, read every book, eat every food, have every adventure, but if I wasn’t loving those I came in contact with, or accepting love from them, everything I did would be meaningless. You can have everything in the world, but if you don’t have anyone to share it with, what’s the point?
Ultimately I look forward to more Asheville adventures when I return to Tennessee. It’s kind of bittersweet. As excited as I am to travel and see the world, I’m also going to miss my friends at school and work. I’m going to miss going to church and seeing my middle schoolers. I’m going to miss my professors and their words of wisdom. I’m going to miss midnight Cookout runs or Mid-city trips. I’m going to miss lying on dorm room floors and talking about our future, and guys, and procrastinating on that big paper that’s due tomorrow. Most of all I’m going to miss Tennessee. Until you live there, there is just no explaining what it’ll come to mean to you. It’s the place that I call home.
Tomorrow officially begins The Great American Road Trip…or at least The Great Eastern Road Trip. North Carolina, to Georgia, to Virginia, to New York, to Florida, back to Tennessee, Indiana, and finally back to Colorado. It’s going to be one heck of a summer.