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A Solo Celebration in Asheville, NC

I’m going to say the birthday celebration started when I bought my tickets to see RAYE in concert. Thank you to Klarna for making a poor girl’s dream come true.

Of course, I recorded my reaction to buying the ticket, as well as snippets from my trip.

Before hitting the road to Asheville, a previous coworker I heavily admired (yes, “previous”… I no longer work at the job I moved to North Carolina for, but that’s a discussion for a different day) surprised me with what she called the “Jamilah Special” from Chick-fil-a, which is a large fry with Polynesian sauce and mac & cheese. She also threw in a cookies and cream milkshake, which I am incredibly grateful for; definitely going to miss her and her glorious energy.

There was a car accident on the interstate I was taking to get to my Airbnb, and I had to use both Google and Apple maps to get there because both apps were tripping. Apple wasn’t coming up with an alternative route, and Google’s way of avoiding the no-longer-existing traffic was getting on and off the interstate.

Last time I went to Asheville, it was right when we got kicked off campus because of COVID. When I reached downtown this year, it was an absolute shock to my system to see so many people. Finding parking was a nightmare, and my trust issues definitely told me to use the wheel lock Geico made me buy.

This trip was my first time staying at a hostel, and the vibes at Sweet Peas were immaculate, to say the least. Although, I didn’t necessarily enjoy listening to an uncertified doctor diagnose people based on their abdomen…

Sleep at the hostel wasn’t the best nor the worst. Every time I got into a deep sleep, something would happen. The guy sleeping in the bunk above me arrived after midnight and shone a light into my bunk, and I was temporarily blinded. He took forever to get settled and almost fell out of the bed, which had several people running to our bunk to make sure he was okay. Then, literally at 5:55 am, someone started having really bad coughing fits. I finally gave up and woke up eleven minutes before my 6:30 am alarm.

My goal on June 17th (my birthday) was to get my car away from a metered spot before 8 am, which I fortunately achieved. Of course, I semi-encountered an angry homeless man. There was another man smoking a cigarette outside of Rowan Coffee who defended me, which I appreciate, but I am ninety-eight percent sure the homeless man wasn’t yelling at me.

To start my day of adventuring, I went to The Botanical Gardens at Asheville. I took time to just sit and think and listen to the sounds of nature. It was the most peaceful, perfect way to start the day.

While trying to find food, I got lost both driving and walking along the River Arts District. I ended up settling for Summit Coffee, where I got a vegan chipotle cheddar biscuit; it was really good, but it would have been next level with some gravy.

After making my way back to my car, I went to the Black Mountain Center for the Arts to check out their version of Art in Bloom (I went to the one at NCMA in March of this year). I felt a little uncomfortable because I was the only Black person in the building, and as I walked to the building, I was the only Black person in sight. Still, the art was beautiful, and the floral designers did a fantastic job. I even enjoyed my small, awkward conversation with Larry, who knew absolutely nothing about the art he was supposed to be guarding.

To kill time, I went to Dripolator. I was incredibly parched, to say the least, and needed something to drink. I ordered the Berrylicious smoothie, which was super smooth; it honestly would’ve been the perfect consistency if the flax seeds weren’t there. While I slowly drank my smoothie, I read The Book of Moods: How I Turned My Worst Emotions Into My Best Life by Lauren Martin.

There was a Juneteenth festival happening downtown that I attended. I enjoyed the live music, especially the saxophone, and seeing so many different Black people come together to celebrate what unites us… not the dark history of the actual day.

Then I spent an hour or so wandering around downtown and did a little window shopping. I went to L.O.F.T and Spare Chayng, where I bought a hand-drawn strawberry magnet. I was going to go into a cool marketplace, but a monk (pretty sure he wasn’t really a monk) stopped me by shoving books into my hands. At first, he said they were free; then he asked for cash for them. When I said I didn’t have cash, in an attempt to kindly say no and walk away, he asked for my Venmo and other sources of online payment.

For dinner, I went to Farm Burger and had a decent burger.

In short, I walked and was outside most of the day. I was very happy everything was in a walkable distance downtown. I ended the day without a mosquito bite and without destroying my budget.

After successfully and awkwardly checking out of the hostel the next morning, while reveling in what a perfect day my birthday was, I went to get my Kia Soul… and someone hit my car. Like, he took something out of his pocket and repeatedly hit my taillight.

I have no idea who he is, considering I was visiting town, but it was definitely a targeted attack.

Shout out to the owner of The Med Scratch Diner for your kindness while I tried not to lose my mind outside of your restaurant. 🙂

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