Western North Carolina Woman

dear asheville
by lara courtais

Dear Asheville,
I’ve come to your mountains by way of big cornfields, and bigger sky. Then by way of layers of concrete, and layers of people. But here I am, in the place I dreamed I would call home, living in your nurturing nature.

I grew up in Nebraska and never gave it much thought, as seldom children do I imagine, whether I enjoyed the place I then called home. “Am I happy here?” was a question not taking up very much room in my life. When I became a young adult, I visited a big city, the biggest city I have ever seen—New York City. My eyes were as big as the billboards, and in a New York minute I thought, “Ah ha, now this is where I belong!” For the first time I felt passion in envisioning my life in the hands of this busy giant. But I was young and it was the opposite of what I had known, thus I erroneously deemed it perfect.

What I thought was passion, was merely a bout of puppy love. The puppy love provided me many gifts, however—life stories that I could not have inherited from Nebraska. Yet in the same realm, a deeper appreciation for my blessed upbringing in my parents’ warm home. I took away many things from New York, and I now recognize the many things I took from Nebraska that provide me definitions of my life. But after awhile, neither the memories or living in either place filled me up. I had traveled to many places during my ten years in New York, and subconsciously must have mentally check-listed the environments that gave me peace, and provided joy, even in solitude. What once began as a gentle restlessness with New York, the need for change became a daily tap on my mind, my heart. I knew I needed trees, and a lot of them. When walking in the woods, I feel embraced and taken care of. I feel grounded, yet light as the mountain air. That is how I came to Asheville. To live in the daily reminder that, “Yes, I am an adult who discovered what makes her happy and who left the comforts of familiarity to honor her soul’s desire.” And for what I believe may in fact be the first time, I have an aching to be outside—to explore my new home, new trails, new people, and collect new experiences. The will to be a part in nature is so strong that if the body did not comply, I fear serious consequence. “I am home!” I wish to sing with the birds who grace our greens with their homes.

In any season, in the warm sun or the cold rain, I now feel no desire to hide. I am honored to walk or drive or stare at the home that I’ve now created. Is one place bad and another good? For me, they were all graced with an ability to teach me what was my true longing. I’ll spend my whole life being thankful for that. And the way I choose to show my appreciation is by living the best life I can. Thank you Asheville for your warm welcome.

Thank you for catching me on my fall into myself. I’m home, and so happy to be here with you.

Lara is an Office Manager and Event Planner of the Career Center at UNC Asheville. Lara, her husband Philippe, and their cat Sam are living well in East
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Western North Carolina Woman Magazine
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Celebrating the Spirit of Place in Western North Carolina