Best way to teach swimming is to toss you in without floaties

Before Jess and I left America to embark on our journey – we knew we would eventually have to pick a place to come back to. We couldn’t backpack endlessly, or could we? After a few months of living out of a backpack, we knew we wanted to settle down somewhere, just didn’t know where.

We loved to dream about never coming back, about moving to Canada or about becoming some exchange students in France – and living the French life. After several weeks of plain ol daydreaming about becoming lost in the idea of emerging ourselves in daily French or Canadian lifestyles, we really put our focus into figuring our where we would call home once we came back.

Home is a figure of speech to me, since home is anywhere my heart is, and where my spirit and mind, feel is home. I was home within my backpack for months and I was home in the near thirty different beds I’ve slept in the past months.

We waved back and forth, pondering the ideas of the west coast to the east coast. We dreamed of living in rainy Seattle, or Northern Cali, or in the lush tropical environments of the islands of Hawaii – no really, we really considered Hawaii. There was Bend, Oregon to Portland to Oregon, to somewhere in northern east coast, either Connecticut or Massachusetts, or we heard Maine was good too. We were all over the place, our brains were running a million miles a minute debating it. It got to the point where we finally decided to not decide on it, we wanted the place to pick us.

Asheville, North Carolina.

The city had been mentioned to us by one of Jessica’s previous coworkers. He spoke of this town where it was a real gypsy and hippie feel, where people worked to live and not lived to work. It was a magical place nestled in the Smokey mountains where random people said hello to you on the streets, where peace was an action and not a dream. A place where no one cared about how much money you make, or what your career was – they cared for your personality and your heart. Asheville was the name of it, we had just forgotten it for months, till it hit Jessica one day as we picked weeds within the greenhouse in Marcellaz, France. As soon as she mentioned that two syllable word to me, it was set in stone. It rocked a place within me, a nervous and scary place, it rocked it softly to sleep. Everything feel into line as soon as she spoke of Asheville to me. It was decided, we were to call there home.

(We had set ourselves up with a budget before we left Florida, and once we hit a certain amount, we would plan to come back to America. We saved up for four months, sold all of our belongings to travel for five months – it was the best decision I have ever made. Those five months put my stars into alignment, calmed my ever cell and cleared my dreams, hopes and ambitions into a fine focus.)

We arrived in Asheville by Greyhound bus, after 72 hours of traveling. First, was a one hour flight from Marseille, France to Madrid, Spain. There, we had a 14 hour layover till our next flight, so we slept in the Madrid airport. Then we departed on an eight hour flight into Philly, which by the time we got there, only three hours had gone by due to time changes. We then had near a 24 hour layover, so we booked a hotel room and relished in the American way of things that day. We got American food, and was dumb founded when one waitress asked us what kind of dressing we wanted in our salads. (In France, its only oil and vinegar.) We watched American TV and made calls from the phone I had been using as an alarm clock for months. We then took a flight into Newark, NJ where the airline decided to loose my snowboard. They did eventually find it and ship it to my new address in Asheville, but it was a very stressful week thinking that the board my WWOOF host had designed and given to me was lost somewhere, or worse, stolen. Just like Jess mentions, everything happens for a reason, the board was delivered to me, I did not have to carry that 5 foot board all over the place. From NJ we took a 21 hour Greyhound bus ride into Asheville.

We were home the second we stepped foot onto the pavement of the bus station. We felt it in every crevice of this town that we soon discovered. We felt it within the organic food markets, the friendliness of every single person and we felt it within the endless mountain views. The mountains, they remind me so much of Marcellaz, France – that place will forever hold a part of me. My WWOOF hosts there, changed me and I love them as I love family.

We came here, with just a very short list of possible places to reside in. So we booked a hotel room for three days, and set on our mission. One of those days we definitely took as a relaxing day, we spent most of it in the king size bed in our hotel room, we slept for more than 12 hours and completely recovered. We had three people to see, three potential houses that we would rent a room in. Cherry, Robert and Julie. We never made it to Cherry’s place though. I was opposed to renting a room in a house, because I wanted privacy. I had been sleeping in people’s homes, in hostels with 12 other people in the same room, I was SO ready for privacy. Yet, Jess made valid points to why we should bunk up with housemates. Easier to start off in, easier when on a budget, easier to find a place affordable in town, to make friends, to have a community feel, to not be alone, to be part of a family. As it turned out, she was very right.

Our first stop was at Julie’s house. It was a regular sized room with four walls and a broken window. We would be sharing a bathroom with the other two housemates, which are males. I was being pretty negative, I did not like the feel of that place, and Jessica could feel it radiate off of me. The part of town it was in, was not the place I felt I wanted to live in, nevertheless walk and bike in every single day, considering we had no transportation. The one thing about this place that drew me in was Julie. She was an older woman, a good hearted woman who chain smoked like it was going out of style. I wanted to help her, clean the place up, plant some stuff, just be someone in the house for her to talk with. My heart still aches for her once and awhile, and I do intend to visit her one of these days. But it wasn’t the place for us.

The next day was to see Robert’s place then Cherry’s. Obviously, we never made it to the second place. We walked through Robert’s neighborhood, in love and in awe, in love of the neighbors saying hello to us, of the mountains hiding behind lush and strong trees that towered over us. The smell, the taste of this neighborhood made our hearts throb. Once we stepped foot onto the property, the property that we now call home – it was a done deal.

Robert is a woodworker, something I was dreaming of starting to dabble in. His housemate, James, worked with kids as a wilderness therapist. I mean, come on? The deal was signed before I even could find a pen. The house spoke to us, the mountain views, the homemade wooden bowls and cutting boards, the swinging porch benches, the compost container, the firewood stacked in back, the shed full of woodworking tools, the musical instruments in the living room, the fireplace, the wood floors, the potential gardening beds, the hammock up front… It all sang to us with such rhythm and grace.

We’ve been here a little over a week in this house. We have the top floor of the house, it’s a lofty feel. We have our own bathroom and a half wrap around porch. With, did I mention, our own bench swing? Oh and it views the sunset out of our French doors. I am in wonderland. Jessica got a job within less a week of being in Asheville, and tomorrow I have my second interview so far.

Who said you couldn’t start over with nothing? All you need is the dedication, the will power, the faith and the love to sew it all together.

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