Time Moves Slower Down Here

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway will inevitably cause me to have a full-fledged, road-rage-induced meltdown. Not if, when. 

I told my brother this as we drove up the parkway from Brevard en route to the Pisgah Inn behind a snail-paced pickup truck from Georgia (I’ve learned since moving south that Georgians are the most infuriating driver to get behind) the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. 

“Things move slower down south,” he joked, intimating that I should be used to a slower pace of life now that I’ve been down under for two and a half years. I haven’t found that time moves slower down here, not in Asheville at least, a rapidly growing city comprised of transplants and transients. Tourism means that service is quick and efficient. Everyone in Asheville seems to have a second or third side hustle—don’t be fooled by the artsy, bohemian exteriors: grind culture is alive and well in Asheville. And even those who don’t moonlight as musicians, brewers, or artisans of some type seem to keep a Rolodex of time-consuming, outdoor-centric hobbies that, yes, they probably tend to more than someone in the northeast, but it’s still a form of busy. I remember moving down here and thinking maybe a slower pace would be good for me. I remember that it was good for me to slow down and not worry about getting a million things done during the depths of the pandemic. However, in my current iteration, I still feel compelled to get up early, hit the gym, work a full day, work on personal writing projects afterward, and manage a somewhat robust social life. I sit out on my patio more than I did two years ago, but I still think I don’t do it enough. 

A couple of Sundays ago, I allowed myself to sleep till nine for no reason other than I hadn’t in a while. That afternoon, a friend and I hiked Sam’s Knob, and instead of racing down from the peak to see if I could grab more miles or make it back to town in time to finish a project before committing myself to nightly plans, we lingered at the top, chatting and taking in the view. It was a nice reminder that despite Asheville not necessarily being a slow-paced town, I could be a bit more mindful (I hate that I used that word, but it came out organically and works here) about making sure to slow myself down. I think maybe I was a little more lackadaisical than usual because of my favorite part of the weekend prior, my brother’s Memorial Day Weekend visit.

We’d packed a ton into the weekend: two waterfall hikes outside Brevard, a stay at the Pisgah Inn, Grandfather Mountain, some bbq, dinner at Bone and Broth, trivia at Archetype North, and some Hill Top ice cream. My favorite part happened on our way back from Grandfather Mountain. It was Memorial Day proper, and we’d wanted to find somewhere to eat in the Linville area, but everything was closed. We stopped at the Linville General Store just to grab some quick snacks to make it to dinner and sat down on the rocking chairs of the store’s front porch to eat a bag of chips and a can of San Pelligrino I always think will be better than it is, while aimlessly watching the traffic. I don’t know whose idea it was, but we started playing “the car game,” something that dominated the lazy porch nights of our childhood. The rules are easy. Pick a color. You get one point for each car of that color that passes by. Shawn won one round. I won another. I think we may have left a third-round unresolved, but when we finally decided to amble on, it was only to ensure we had enough time to get back to town in time for Shawn to sufficiently pack, grab dinner, and make his flight. If we hadn’t had that on our schedule, I’m confident we would’ve gone at least a couple more rounds. Time did move a bit slower that afternoon, and I was reminded how nice slow could feel.

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