New York City — What can I really say?
I heard a theory once that our perception of the length of time is directly related to the number of new activities and experiences we engage in. This is why childhood feels like an eternity—everything is constantly new and unfamiliar, and therefore its details imprint more firmly in our memories—and why time seems to "speed up" as we get older and become more entrenched in our routines and rituals. My own anecdotal data supports this theory, and the last two weeks have felt like 3–4 months in and of themselves.
After leaving my parents' Florida home, I flew back to New York City for a few days. While there, I did what I always seem to do in New York: I did my best to make good on my varied social obligations. To all my New York friends: I love you all, but please stop multiplying. There are too many of you, and there is simply not enough time for me to see you all each time I visit.
Cafés, concerts, courts, galleries, bars, and parks. I've run into this problem before: there's just really no good way for me to write about my time visiting New York. There's just too much to say, and all of it has been said elsewhere at least 1,000 times and with much more literary flair. All I'll say here is that if you are ever visiting New York City on a Friday night, just go hang out in Washington Square Park. Every time I go there, I have some of the most fun of my life with complete strangers. It's truly the kind of place where the public energy is so positive and so strong that even the most reserved person might find themselves chatting and dancing it up with The Public if they stick around for too long. You might even be involved in an impromptu photoshoot.
After his first concert performing as Asher Blank on Saturday night, my friend Will and I woke up early on Sunday morning, packed the car, picked up our friend Tyler, and set out on a 12-hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina. The highlight of the trip down was stopping at a Cracker Barrel in Woodstock, Virginia. The food was palatable and it's always kind of fun to walk into the absolute zaniness that is the faux-southern memorabilia of a Cracker Barrel gift shop.
But the true standout feature of our dining experience was our waitress. "Would you recommend the mac-and-cheese?", Tyler asked her, as we were ordering. "Only if you want to make yourself sick," she replied. We chatted with her about the corporate mass production of faux-southern nostalgic kitsch adorning the walls, about the locals who bring in their own antiques and demand they be hung up as well. Never before have I had such friendly and honest waitstaff. She wouldn't even hear of us setting off on the remainder of our trip without a container of cornbread and jam. It's amazing how significant such small interactions can feel when you are on the road.
Our destination was a cabin that we had rented on the top of a mountain about 40 miles west of Asheville. We picked up two other friends in Asheville, Anna and Clara, and then drove up the long, winding, mountainous road to our cabin. Although we only stayed in the cabin for a few days, it was exactly the kind of relaxing, friendship-strengthening-and-forming trip that I had hoped for.
We spent many of our days hiking on various trails in the vicinity, and many of our evenings cooking elaborate dishes. Well, Will spent many evenings cooking, and I spent many evenings eating. Constantly moving around and being on the road hasn't exactly been the best thing for the development of my culinary arts, but my time in the kitchen will eventually come.
Our cabin was at about 4,000 ft of elevation and had an amazing view of the valley below. In a lot of ways, western North Carolina reminds me a lot of many of the places I've seen in Lower Austria. On some days, we were exactly at cloud level and could watch as a cloud raced towards us, engulfing us in temporary fog as it arrived. It was an atmospheric experience, in all meanings of the word.
Resting in Asheville
After the action of the last few weeks, it's time for me to rest a little and get some work done. I've already finished a new version of my portfolio website. After leaving the cabin last week and parting ways with my friends, new and old, I drove into town with the idea that I'll stay here for an entire week. I have a few big decisions to make with regard to how I want to structure the next few months of my life, and I think that it'll be easier to think through all of that while staying put for a few days.
If you read this and happen to have any suggestions of things to do or see while I'm in Asheville, keep them to yourselves! I'm trying to have some peace and quiet here! (Well, that's my intention, anyway. I'm sure that after a day or two I'll get bored and find myself gallivanting around town and the surrounding mountains, so maybe send them this way after all...)
Next week... Texas!