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This must be the place: ‘Make another dime just to lose it in time, what's the meaning’

Asheville has become a national bastion of live music.  Garret K. Woodward photo Asheville has become a national bastion of live music. Garret K. Woodward photo

Exiting the elevator of the Cambria Hotel in downtown Asheville on Monday morning, I noticed the “Sunset Time” scribbled on the lobby sign said 8:29 p.m. Four minutes shorter than what I first saw when checking into the Cambria last Thursday evening. 


Yet another sign of the quickly fleeting summer season. All of that time, effort and emotion to get to the heart of our favorite time of the year in Western North Carolina, only to notice it disappearing as fast as it arrived. Early August already. Have you made the most of right now?

Grab my girlfriend her usual coffee order across the street at Summit. Iced latte with oak milk, make sure to add whipped cream. For me, it’s the ole standby, iced coffee with a splash of whole milk.

Make small talk with the friendly face behind the store counter. Fetch the drinks. Walk back across the street to the Cambria. Take notice again of the “Sunset Time” sign and hit the elevator button for the 11th floor. Leave the elevator and head for Room 1106. Hand over the iced latte to the smiling face eagerly awaiting your return. Kiss on the cheek to boot. 

Four nights at the Cambria in the heart of Asheville. Although we live not far down the road in Waynesville, the opportunity to “staycation” the weekend in the big city of Western North Carolina was too tempting to pass up. To be honest, besides work assignments and live music, how much do I actually get to explore this city I came to call my own some 11 years ago when I started writing for this publication? 

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Although it might seem like a dead horse at this point in conversation and/or observation, it’s genuinely wild and absurd to me how much Asheville has changed since I first put roots down here in August 2012, let alone when I initially made contact with the city in 2009 — a long way from home in my native Upstate New York trying to track down a ticket for a Phish show at the Asheville Civic Center. 

Sipping on my iced coffee with a splash of whole milk, I gazed out the 11th floor window of our room onto downtown Asheville. I can identify most of the roofs of the buildings looking back me. But, a lot of the skyline now includes several construction cranes, with countless new apartment complexes and pristine private modern homes now dotting the mountainous ridges surrounding the city.

They say the “only constant is change,” with Asheville seemingly in a perpetual state of change — physically, emotionally, culturally and economically. A lot of money rolling into this part of the country. A lot of new faces, most of which are welcomed with open arms, the main rule I’ve always come to acknowledge with newcomers being “to complement what is already here.” 

That, and the sole question to any new face, whether actually stated or somewhat implied — are you a good person or a bad person? The ethos of the question in the previous sentence pertaining to the long and arduous history of invaders, liars and thieves entering this corner of Southern Appalachia. Promises broken. Lives shattered, as well as dreams. Deep resentment echoing across generations towards the next influx of new faces and intents, for good or ill. 

All of these thoughts and sentiments, these visions of the future and realities now here in real time as I sip the iced coffee and notice another construction crane in the distance, another structure of some kind to serve some purpose emerging from the ancient earth once fertile and untouched.

Progress is the name of the game they tell me, either face-to-face in interviews for articles or overheard in banter at a crowded bar on Patton Avenue. Meh, I reply. Give me the depths of Mother Nature and a quiet cabin in the woods, one filled with shelves of books with yellowed pages, a small fireplace of wood chopped earlier in the day, perhaps the ethereal sounds of Dylan LeBlanc on the record player in the corner.

Checkout time at the Cambria is quickly approaching. The plan is to catch a late breakfast at the Five Points diner on Broadway Avenue, just north of I-240. A hearty plate of bacon, eggs, toast and home fries just like they make back in the North Country. A simple meal with intrinsic meaning to this Canadian Border boy below the Mason-Dixon Line. The distance from home that much closer with each bite. 

In less than a month it’ll be Labor Day Weekend, onward into fall and the impending winter. Now, I don’t mean to sound pessimist or some kind of “Debbie Downer.” I just am in a constant awe of time and the way it moves. Heck, it doesn’t even exist, in essence, you know? Time is all but one moment we (you and I and you, too) all inhabit, together.

Nothing is the same, everything is the same. We all know this and, whether we actually acknowledge it consciously, our surroundings are shifting. And, even if you don’t notice it, you’re changing as well. You’re gathering information and collecting memories, hopefully good ones. You’re absorbing the essence of life, love, friendship and freedom to wander and ponder like some sponge on the high seas of existence.

Labor Day Weekend. Sheesh. Soon enough , eh? But, don’t fret. There’s plenty of summer left for shenanigans and life-changing experiences at the altar of warm sunshine and cool rivers to wade into on an otherwise quiet Tuesday afternoon. Times doesn’t exist, only a lack of ambition and lack of a curious spirit does. 

Everything changes, even you. Seek gratitude. Tip your bartenders and servers. Climb that damn mountain. Fill up the gas tank and head in any direction you feel like. Embrace love. Laugh, and do so often, especially in the company of friends and family.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

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