Sassafras comes to Asheville by way of New York, California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. She has a degree in fine art and makes a living trying not to sink into existential ennui. She enjoys...
So here's the thing about being new somewhere—you've got that good beginner's mind thing going on. You know what I'm talking about. Seeing everything with fresh eyes. Being more open to opportunities, places, and people. Not cutting yourself off from the flow of energy and opportunity because of preconceived notions or prior judgments. It's one of the reasons travel is so good at bringing people into the present moment, and part of its intoxicating appeal. It's perpetually now, and everything is charming and wonderful and new. The shitty traffic is now interesting as you observe the patterns of local culture and commerce. The drunken neighbors singing until 3 a.m. are part of a unique experience with the locals you're excited to observe. It's fabulous.
And so it is, with beginner's mind, that I showed up in Asheville after an epic cross-country drive with a trailer full of stuff and my crazed dog, eager to experience everything this town has to offer and shaking off the residue of subway filth and judgment NYC has left on everything I own. Luckily, I have a few friends in town to help initiate me into this mountain life, so after setting down my stuff and getting the dog to relax, I headed out with great enthusiasm for a drink.
Upon entering the bar, I ordered a beer from a list of 4,826 local brews that were all purported to be the best in town, and sat to wait for my friend. “No really,” I hear behind me. “She's just totally not been the same since her last ceremony, and I get it, I do, her chakras are all out of whack, and hello her root chakra energy spins in the wrong direction, but get it together. When you say you're going to look for plant medicines, especially during this moon cycle, you have to honor the gravity of that. I'm just not sure I can stay committed to this relational dyad if it's going to be like this”.
So. I'm not sure what's happening here. But it sounds like bad shit. I mean, she really fucked up, right? Is she getting dumped? Is this southern speak? I'm super curious at this point. I have also overheard two people talking about biscuits and gravy, which seems like maybe they are having a better time and, despite my increasing interest in gravy, I really need to understand what this means. Alas, I don't have the opportunity to find out more. My handsome friend walks through the door and, giving me a toothy, impish smile is across the room wrapping me up in an epic hug before I can say “fire sign.”
He drawls in to my ear that I look like spun sugar, which seems good. Although isn't that cotton candy? Do I look fluffy? Whatever. He pulls my chair out from the table, distracting me from that rabbit hole. I stand still for a few seconds before it registers that he's offering for me to sit, not taking the chair for himself. Holy shit. This is a real thing? I thought this only showed up in one of the 100 Nicholas Sparks movies set in North Carolina where some powerless heroine (can you even call a powerless woman a heroine?) is saved by a tall man who calls her honey and tips her face up toward the light, or something like this. Ok. Cool. I sit down.
We chat. We drink beer. He invites me back to his place to shake off my 14-hour drive. In the car on the way over, I ask him how his job in construction is going. He informs me he's quit to pursue being a fire dancer full time. I then ask him how his house is. Last I knew, he was renovating. He smiles slyly. “You'll see,” he replies. We pull up to where his house used to be to find 6 tiny sheds spread over the corner lot. He informs me it is now called The Village and that he lives in community with several other people. This seems cool to me and I'm eager to check it out. We go explore the property, gardens, huts, and a central space in the middle for meditation and yoga. We crawl into the space together and lie down, staring at the beautiful ceiling. I can't believe my good fortune to be arriving to such wonder and romance. We stay up until 4 a.m. talking, laughing, exploring. (Euphemisms and such). It's lovely. I head home, scoop up the pup, and fall into a deep contented sleep. This is awesome. Maybe I'll end up in a relational dyad here!
The next day I head into town to follow a job lead. Things go great and we end up continuing the conversation over lunch. He tells me he's feeling really “called to spend more time with me” and compliments my tawny, almond skin. He tells me he has no job opportunities for me but asks to kiss me. I agree, because beginner's mind, right? Magic happens from saying yes to the unexpected. We head back to his place where, upon pulling up, I see 6 tiny huts, surrounding a center space for meditation. Fuck. I was beginner's minding in a hut next to him last night at 3 a.m. I've got to get out of here. I'm part of a relational triad now.
I tell him I have to go, mumbling something about wild edibles, to which he nods knowingly.
Driving home I call my roommate to tell her about my brush with the potential homeostatic disruption of the village social ecosystem. She begins laughing. “Omg, don't say anything about this to Laura. She has been trying to sleep with him for months!”
Jesus Christ Ganesh on a stick.
And so I have come to question Buddhism and all its principles.
Well, maybe a little.
Anyway, here we go Asheville. Let's see what beginner's mind and the moon phases have in store. I'm excited to know you and be up in your emotional landscape. For now, I'm gonna get me a biscuit.