Day 29: Asheville, NC - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

May 11, 2011

Day 29: Asheville, NC

I always feel the need to justify days I take off from riding: I'm tired, the weather's bad, I need to fix the bike, the journal's behind. Today I stay in Asheville simply because I love it. It's the only city I've been through so far where I can picture Desiree and I settling down and living happily ever after.

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The feds or Al-Qaeda might be after him, but that doesn't stop John from making his bed perfectly in the morning.

It's another hot one, a humid summer day dropped into the third week of spring. Good-looking, well-dressed people and women walking hand in hand pass by as I tear through a burrito filled with the most delicious pulled pork I've ever tasted. In the afternoon I climb the stairs to the second floor of a restored movie theater and watch Win Win with six others in a room that seats at least a hundred. The air conditioner doesn't quite blow cold enough and the sound plays back scratchy on the small speakers.

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I come back to find the threat to national security loudly playing guitar and singing, all by himself, in the corner near the television. The six women sitting in the kitchen nearby carry on conversations and pretend they can't hear him. The guy is a good guitar player and a legitimately tremendous singer, growling in a voice with the sort of scratch and soul that comes only from a lifetime of love, loss, and tortured pain. He's also amazingly skilled in the art of making others feel uncomfortable. At one point he walks around to each group of people and asks if he's bothering them. Like the bunch of non-confrontational idiots we are, all of us say no.

And so the playing and singing goes on, literally for hours. I have to escape—for a walk, for a burrito, for anything at all. While I'm out I stop at a grocery store where I buy and eat this strange stuff called fruit.

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Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" booms from the bar downstairs as I lay in bed and catch up on my writing for the day. I head to sleep thinking about how much I'll miss this beautiful hostel, this interesting neighborhood, and this wonderful city.

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