Thursday, April 25, 2013

when the bird hit the plane

Saturday evening, out in West Asheville, we danced under christmas lights to some bluegrassy swing music and I drank a cocktail called The Tattooed Sailor. We ate at a backyard barbecue full of kids and kayakers and undercooked game hens; my friend threw up a quail later that night. I felt right at home.
My wallet went missing the next day. I was running to meet up with my friend Kim at a rooftop bar in the center of town, and it was just gone. This may come as a surprise to you but I've never actually lost a wallet before. It's one of my reoccurring anxiety dream, however, to lose it on a business trip, so as I was digging frantically through my bag, checking the same pockets over and over, the panic felt strangely familiar.

I sprinted through town, swearing and praying, retracing my steps to absolutely no avail. Everything about Asheville become incredibly irritating as I ran around like the mad hatter, all those people strolling through the narrow sidewalks, all those people who were not having a big crisis, the drum circles- the drum circles were the worst.

Eventually, I had no choice but to slink back home. The wallet was gone and I was done for; I had no ID and no money. I would have given up and moved permanently into Yonton's basement, and that wouldn't have been the worst thing, but I needed to get to New Jersey for business in less than 48 hours. If I didn't, I was certain that I'd lose my job. Damn it, New Jersey!

I quivered on the couch and called my live in artist in Seattle, who just happened to be home. (I call her my live in artist because she's very talented and she only wears black.) Colleen dug through my wreck of a bedroom (it's something I'm working on) and finally found my passport, then ran two blocks to the Sip n Ship where she literally intercepted the Fed Ex guy, James Bond style, who was making his very last pick up of the day. While I slept fitfully that night and dreamt sad visions of unemployment, my passport hurtled through the sky, and the next day Yonton hopped in his car and tracked down the fed ex driver after the delivery was late and I'd begun pulling my hair out.

I tore open that package like a dog. I had an ID now, miraculously, but nothing else.

Not one to give up, Yonton suggested we comb through town, search every back alley and every dumpster. "It's a mission!" He said as he threw back the lid of another trash can, his voice lilting with a barely detectable middle eastern accent. "It's fun!"

Then he took me to the CVS and bought me some Visa gift cards so I could have some money. I just looked at him, wordless in my appreciation, so happy that the world was generous and put us in the same funny disaster of a boarding school thirteen years ago. A lot of bad things happened at that school, one of the boys had just in the past week been awarded five million dollars for what he had endured. But everything that ever happened to me there was good.

Almost everything I guess.

The next morning I said goodbye to him, and Kristen and David, and I found myself once again at the Asheville regional airport. I was flying into Philadelphia and had planned on renting a car to drive to my next work site, some forty miles from the airport, but without a license I'd have to think of a new plan. I decided to worry about that later, and sank gratefully into a seat at the gate, my wild and whirlwind trip to Asheville finally over.
The tiny house, the one Rachel had driven me to, had been too tiny. I could have lived there in that quiet, shady neighborhood, but I would have had to eat my dinners in bed. I'd turned it down. Now I was leaving, no any papers signed, no promises, no impulsive decisions, and in just a few more days I'd be home on the West coast.

Then a handful of police officers showed up at the gate, and after a few minutes it was announced that our inbound plane had struck a bird and the plane was broken. "You do not want to get on this plane, ladies and gentlemen," said the woman behind the counter. "This plane will be broke for a while."

So I wasn't getting to Philadelphia after all, and I didn't have to worry about hitching a ride into New Jersey. We were turned loose onto the hot pavement outside the airport and told to try again tomorrow. Hauling my giant duffel bag, I climbed into the nearest taxi.

It was the same drive who had picked me up a week before.

"Hey, it's you!" He said.

"It's me, Chris. Take me downtown. I've got some things to think over."
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En route, I got a call from the Lexington Ave Brewery. Someone had turned in my wallet. I went to retrieve it and sat there for a while drinking a cold beer. There was nothing missing from the wallet. I thought some things over.

That night I sat outside on David's porch. The smell of hydrangea and drying kayak gear swept over me. When I was younger and more adventurous and less rigid, that smell used to be everywhere, plastic and neoprene mixed with the metallic tang of rapids. I was thinking about the plane crashing into Asheville, my ID disappearing and reappearing, Rachel on the street corner, that country song we listened to in the car. I pictured the plane that was supposed to fly me out of there, the bird smacking into the windshield.

Ok Asheville, I thought. I'll think about it.


Anonymous said...

Don't leave the Pacific Northwest. And the south is terrible...

Emily said...

Oooh... I'm so excited to hear how this goes! Beaming you love and good thoughts. Emily in Newberg, OR

Anonymous said...

I love this! I say go for it!

SmithShack71 said...

That's a lot of stuff, right? This may sound so obvious, but it's really cool that you're in tune to it. Maybe not so obvious though, maybe a lot of people wouldn't notice those happening things. You live in the moment though, and recognize it, and this must be why I dig you, man!
and damn those planes.
and Chris? That's way cool.


Susan said...

Your writing is keeping me enthralled. I just caught up with a few posts, and I am so excited for you. Lots of unnamed adventure ahead. And your writing is blowing me away, woman.

Michelle T said...

Wherever you go (or stay)...there you'll be. And it will be an adventure no matter what. :)
But if I were a believer in signs (which I sometimes am) I'd say there just might be something in the universe pointing you elsewhere. Maybe even just the fact that you're considering it and possibly looking for "signs".
Great post as always!

rosedel said...

I've been reading since you were on Kelle's blog. I have so enjoyed your writing and your life.
Several years ago I made several trips to Asheville and I loved it. I would love to live there. Mountains like green waves rolling on and on. Southern enough to be friendly, artsy enough to be relaxed. Just a great place.
But then again I think maybe you have the knack for finding the great in most places you live. Yes?

Jennifer Kehoe Young @ Loving Life said...

Just sayin'...I live in Asheville and its badass. We'd love to have you!!!

Liz Stout said...

I love this. I love that you pick up on it all. I love the way you tell it. Sounds like Asheville's demanding you give it a chance, at least for a little while. An adventure or two.

Anonymous said...

Recently discovered you and am loving your writing.

I also love that you're considering the message someone is sending you. I don't know what I believe or if I even do, but if your gut is telling you to give it a chance? That I believe in listening to

Jona said...

One of the several takeaways from you're recent posts is that bad things happen to planes in Ashville!

Sarah said...

Hmmmm....funny how the universe pushes you towards things, huh? Sitting on the edge of my seat to see what's next....

cindy said...

that license keeps trying...and keeps failing, in the most uncanny places, eh? (Cue theme song, "The cat came back")

Anonymous said...

the west coast IS the wilder coast.... crossing my fingers for Seattle.

SB's Sweatshop of Love said...

So exciting! Thanks for sharing your plans/hopes/dreams with us! Reading about you living your adventure makes me feel more adventurous!

SB's Sweatshop of Love said...

So exciting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts/hopes/dreams with us! Reading about your adventures makes me feel more adventurous!

Bethany Davidson-Widby said...

You know what I think! xoxo

Heather said...

I have to say that the south is NOT Terrible! and especially not Asheville! Its the great place I call home and I love every thing about it!!

Melina said...


I know. That's why I'm thinking of moving there....soon. Did you think I didn't like it? I LOVE it down there!