Exactly twenty-two days from today, I will be leaving home.

Twelve days after that, I fly out of the USA for Denmark.

‘Home’ has always been a foreign concept for me. Sure, I got the metaphors and similes and ol’ southern sayings about homes and houses and hearts, but I never truly felt any of those meanings. None of them ever resonated in some unspoken place. My home was a yellow house where, so far, I spent the majority of my life.

It wasn’t until I left this home that I experienced home in all of its hokey glory. While I attended Western Carolina University, I spent several weekends and nights and afternoons in a mountainous town called Asheville. I used an English class project on graffiti as an excuse to spend even more time in Asheville, and fell wholly in love with everything the city has to offer.

The more spiritually-inclined here speak of underground crystals and rock formations that either push or pull individuals from these rolling Appalachian hills, and while I tend to shy away from such talk, I can honestly say I feel that here. I’ve experienced that here. From the day I transferred from WCU across the state to UNCW, I yearned to return here, to the French Broad River, to downtown, to West Asheville and East Asheville and the trackside graffiti area. I even missed the Cullowhee valley, and to this day I feel far more loyalty to Western Carolina than to UNC-Wilmington.

And in twenty-two days, I am leaving my home.

I had the opportunity to live here in Asheville, on my own, since August 2013, and have enjoyed every moment of it. People ask if I get lonely, having no roommates and no special rapport with the neighbors, and the truth is: sometimes. Sometimes I think it would be terribly convenient to have other people in such close physical proximity to get me out of the house, to take me places I haven’t been, and to just have some (more) general human interaction. At the same time, I’ve been able to exist exactly as I please — a real privilege most do not get to experience.

Let me tell you: experience it. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted, eat what you please, exercise as you please, go up to strangers and make friends in a bar, spend days all on your own in your house and out in nature. Live. Be. Get to know yourself. I cannot stress this last point enough.

I will miss Asheville as a friend, someone who has given me invaluable knowledge and offered comfort on impossible days. I will miss the mountain and downtown-city view from my spacious apartment’s windows. I will miss the cats outnumbering the people, and the Little Bastard I eventually adopted. I will miss the ample and delicious craft beers at every turn, and the atmosphere of family they give off. I will miss the incredible (and usually responsibly-sourced) food, from the gut-wrenching spice at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack to the good home food cookin’ of Biscuit Head’s. I will miss the few friends I had the pleasure of making, and the many acquaintances I breezes past on countless days. I will even miss the freezing cold nights and stifling humid days in my apartment, the little decrepit building it feels like sometimes. I will miss the hoop jams and drum circles and circus classes and every other thing unique to Asheville that I never thought I’d get involved in, but that filled my soul with joy.

And in 34 days, I hope to create for myself a new life that I will miss equally, and as deeply, when inevitably I leave that, too.

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