Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fun in the Mountains

I'm feeling very nostalgic tonight. I am currently sitting in a Hampton Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. I always get nostalgic when I come here. I am here on a work-related trip visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and Zebulon Vance Birthplace. I had a nice visit at Wolfe this afternoon and am looking forward to spending the day at Vance tomorrow.

The reason I get nostalgic when I come here is because during the summers of 1994 and 1995 I worked on the staff at Montreat Conference Center, a Presbyterian conference center near Black Mountain. Those two summers were two of the best of my life. I realize in hindsight that I grew as a person a lot as a result of those two summers. I met a lot of really great people, some of which I still keep in touch with.

So let's examine the nostalgia. I started feeling it as soon as I was past Morganton on I-40 and saw the mountains looming up ahead of me. When I saw the Black Mountain/Montreat exit (#64) I started reminiscing in my mind about the time spent there. I went to the Asheville Mall this afternoon to kill some time and went to Pipes Ltd., the shop where I bought my very first pipe some 13 years ago. For old times sake, I bought an ounce of the blend I used to smoke from there called Asheville Mist. In a rather eery moment, I saw a friend's ex-fiancee walking in the mall with a child on her hip. She looked right at me, didn't speak, so I kept on walking. But how odd is it that I go to a place where I haven't been in at least 6 years and see someone I knew in a past life. Whoa! As I was leaving the mall, thunderstorm clouds had settled on the tops of the mountains and a cool rain was falling. I passed by the Chili's restaurant where I sat one night in 1995 drinking scotch with my friend Harvey. He was moving from Wilmington to New Mexico and stopped in Asheville for the night (the first leg of a seven day trip). Its the last time I saw Harvey. We exchange Christmas cards every year. He now lives in Arizona, is married, and has a child.

Anyway, as nostalgic as it all may be, I know that I would not want to live here again. Truth be told, I'm not really fond of snow and ice which kind of kills the mountains for me. Do I miss the area, yes. Do I love to come back, yes. But no matter what its still different now than it was a dozen years ago, ex-fiancees and tobacco stores aside. Asheville has grown immensely and is not the same place it was then. Most of the people that I really care about from those days no longer live here. But I still get a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I see those mountains looming ahead. And when I'm here its almost like living in a dream.


Christopher said...

If you can make it to the CW150 field trip to Wyse's Fork on Monday, bring some of that "Appalachian Mist" and we can both smoke our pipes on the tour.

Andrew Duppstadt said...

I was unaware of a field trip to Wyse Fork. Do you have any further details? Please share them. I don't know if I'll be in on Monday or not. Much of that depends on the wife's schedule at this point. We were supposed to go car shopping on Monday (yuck), but that may get canned if her schedule changes. Fill me in on this field trip though.