Remember how in Boston I had an amazing group of sex-positive friends, had some mind-blowing sex with witty, hot (and woke! and body-positive!), smart men, ate at places that made me vocalize some “yum” sounds or roll my eyes with pleasure, went to the most interesting museums and soul-nourishing symphony performances? Remember all of that? Remember how excited and blissful and happy I was?
I feel the exact opposite of that in Asheville. I’m not going to mince words: I fucking hate it here. It’s not even that it’s kinda lame and I’m just waiting out my time until I leave with a vague disinterest. I am so deeply unhappy that I considered changing my flight so I can go home early. That’s how bad it is. Here are some of my major gripes:
After a few weeks here, I found myself circling back to the same restaurants, the same shops, the same places for coffee/tea, the same yoga studios—some of which are really good, but the lack of choice really gets to me. It makes me feel more isolated and stuck than I already do. I already live in a small town with few sexual prospects (remember my last blog post?) and even fewer friends. Throw in routine (which is absolutely maddening to me), and I feel claustrophobic. I feel like I’m losing my goddamned mind.
One of the blessings of being a mentally ill child (who is now properly medicated), an Aries, and an ENFJ is that I can always entertain myself. This is also a trait passed down from both my father (who loves to play practical jokes--like planting produce from the grocery store into our neighbor’s garden to see if he would notice) and my mother who, well, just watch this:
Case and point, your Honor.
So, feeling like receiving a lobotomy would be an upgrade from my current situation, I decided to turn to my old stand-by whenever I need to make myself laugh: I decided to make one of my famous Eye-Catching Tinder Profiles™.
See, *I* thought this was funny. Apparently, the residents of Asheville did not appreciate it because less than two hours later, I was banned from Tinder. So there went that.
Cut to me walking around on a cold, rainy night listening to “The Only Living Boy in New York,” (I know what you’re thinking and, yes, I was trying to give myself clinical depression), coming back to my house, stripping off all my clothes, and lying in bed listening to Bach’s Goldberg variations while journaling. This scene has happened on more than one occasion.
When you’re alone with not many friends around, you’re not dating, and there isn’t much to do—I was famous for being go, go, go every day all the time—when you have zero distractions, you’re alone with your thoughts. You’re alone with yourself. I repeat: when you exhaust all the distractions, you’re alone with yourself. And that can be a very uncomfortable position to be in. It’s not loneliness. It’s just a feeling we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to live in very often, if at all.
I’m allowing myself to live in the quiet for a little bit, to be alone with my thoughts, but doing that 24/7 would turn me into Eleven’s mom in Stranger Things 2. So let me, for the purpose of this post, focus on the things that bring me joy here and let me take a break from my own mind. Even though I hate it here, I didn’t want to write an entire entry shitting on Asheville because, first off, I try to not be a negative person and secondly, I recognize how insufferable it would be for a single, 29yo woman living the fucking dream traveling around the country on her own to complain for 1,800 words.
Here are some of the things I do like here:
Tupelo Honey: Seriously, you guys, I have to stop eating so many goddamn biscuits or else I’ll never be able to take a shit again. Here, they come free with every meal and every time I say to the waiter “I’ll just pick,” but then cut to me slathering whipped butter, honey, and blueberry jam on every last bite of those damn things. Some of the other things I like here are the beet and pecan salad with grilled chicken, this non-alcoholic lavender/lime drink with an egg white in it (I would honestly go just for that alone), and the wedge salad (which is not normal for me, but I was crazy hormonal and craving salt and meat). (Be proud of me for not making a perverted joke here about craving salt and meat.) There is also a server here named Jamie who is the most delightful human on the planet and we talked about musicals and NYC and I lowkey want him to be my uncle.
White Duck Tacos: Everyone told me to try the lamb gyro taco and they were right. It’s the best one. I also had the queso, which was good, but let’s be real here: can you really fuck up queso?
Early Girl Café: I usually get their sandwich specials because I’m not a big breakfast person. Love the homemade garlic salad dressing here. One time I ordered a tempeh reuben and they accidentally gave me a corned beef reuben and the manager came out in a panic expecting me to flip a shit, but I laughed hysterically, assured them that I am not vegan, and admitted I thought it was the most meat-like tempeh I’d ever tasted. I was like damn, the vegetarian options here are incredible.
Curate: This was something more up my alley. The waiter was really cool and put together a tasting menu of all his favorite things (I’m so glad my date was feeling as adventurous as I was—I love that shit!). We had goat cheese stuffed peppers, a charcuterie board with different types of meats, tomato jam toast with manchego, lamb kabobs, octopus (my date ate that), and two desserts (an almond torte with cherry sorbet and an apple tart with apple butter and goat milk cream, which were both fantastic). [Please note that I went on a date here with someone absolutely wonderful and the best dude I've met on this entire “Eat, Drive, F*ck” trip so far, but I can’t write about it because I’m planning on submitting the story to a large publication and it can’t be previously published in any form.]
Mamacita’s: This is like a mom & pop Chipotle. Sounds pretty basic, but they have this citrus tofu here that’s out of this world and their guac is seriously on point.
Dobra Tea House: I really dig this place. It’s probably my favorite place in all of Asheville. Their chai is the closest to what I had in Africa, which is incredible. The only thing I don’t like is that you have to ring a bell in order to get a server’s attention, which makes me feel like a huge dick, so I never do it. I just see a server and say, “Excuse me, but ringing this bell makes me feel like a huge dick.”
Without a car, I’m not able to do much exploring outside of Asheville, BUT I now know the city like the back of my hand. This is no large feat considering the city is small af. Here are some of the things I’ve done:
Minx: This is the only place I shop because a solid 95% of the clothing stores here are filled with frocks for deranged art teachers:
See what I mean? There’s an Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters here, but those are two organizations that have a history of supporting anti-LGBT legislation, so I don’t shop there. And I try to support local businesses whenever possible. Minx is the only store here that carries clothing that fits my style and can ensure that my collection of crop tops is growing and thriving.
I also bought an insane silver-and-black striped velvet wrap dress that makes me look like a sexy female Beetlejuice who just started her junior year at art school. Plus, the music they play in this store is dope and I always end up singing along to it. I’m sorry, but if “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell comes on and I don’t sing, please call Will Smith because it means an alien has removed my insides and is using what’s remaining as a skin suit.
Wake Foot Spa: One of the best spa experiences of my life. You put your feet in a giant copper pot to soak and a nice lady massages your legs, hands, and neck/shoulders, brings you tea and cookies, and opens your bottle of Valium for you when two soccer moms start talking incessantly next to you while you’re trying to relax and your hands are too slippery from the oil that was massaged into ‘em.
Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar: You’re not supposed to chill here without buying a drink, but guess what, Park Book Exchange? Ya girl doesn’t drink, so, yes, I will park my ass in this delicious-looking nook and ya can’t tell me nuthin’. This isn’t a great place to buy books—I’d highly recommend Malaprops for that.
Asheville Salt Cave: I went here stoned off my ass and I’m pretty sure the staff knew I was stoned off my ass. But it was great! I felt asleep in a zero gravity chair while the salt worked its voodoo magic on my chi or whatever the fuck it’s supposed to do.
Violet Owl Wellness: This is my preferred yoga studio. The classes are on a sliding scale so it’s affordable, the teachers are always amazing, and the studio is clean and uncrowded. It’s a half hour walk from where I live, but I’d rather take the long walk than go to the insufferable yoga studio closer to me (the Embodiment Center; don’t go here).
A former missionary WHO USED TO DO BIBLE TRANSLATION OVERSEAS made me come from oral three times in one night and then the following night made me squirt. I’m no longer agnostic, you guys. This is my ringtone now. It's crazy.
Asheville is kinda cool, I guess.
Passionate about everything having to do with the body, Dana Hamilton writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a regular contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in VICE, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and SELF, among other publications.