I come to Asheville from the great state of Pennsylvania, the Northeastern portion that we natives lovingly refer to as NEPA. I tell people who aren’t from the greater Scranton area that I grew up in Scranton, but I really grew up a half-hour north of there in a mile of hospitality called Forest City (pronounced For’ City)…which isn’t entirely accurate either. I actually grew up in Forest City’s suburb of Browndale, but I even have to tell people who live 10 miles away from Browndale that I grew up in Forest City because Browndale is that under the radar.
This Russian doll that is the story of my legit hometown is now done.
I have a younger sister and twin brother you may hear mention of, and now that I have mentioned him, let’s just get this out of the way: We’re fraternal. We don’t have ESP. We’ve never switched places to fool anyone. If you hit me he can’t feel it, and I can’t tell if he’s having a bad day if I’m not with him. I also can’t tell you what it’s like having a twin, as I don’t know what it’s like to not have a twin. He’s the smart one. I’m…two inches taller?
I went to college at the University of Scranton, which I’ll still contend may have been the best decision I’ve made as an adult, even though my bank account has never fully recovered. I spent the first five years of my professional life teaching high school English at Manheim Central High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I lived in Lancaster city during that time. I highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in Pennsylvania, and I would go out on a limb and suggest planning a trip specifically to visit Lancaster. You could eat and drink in Lancaster for a week solid and not get bored. Asheville reminds me a lot of Lancaster.
I decided to end my teaching career, which I loved, and I might still be doing in a different world where teachers weren’t beholden to standardized tests when I was 29; my crowning achievement in the classroom was the time a student tweeted that, “every time Mr. Brothwell talks, I want to pepper spray myself in the face.”
I then returned to the NEPA motherland and embarked on an ill-fated journey into the world of sales. Teaching is half sales, I thought, and maybe I could actually make some money.
It turns out that I’m shit at sales, I cannot pretend to endorse a product I can’t stand behind, and I’m bad at schmoozing. To make matters worse, my sales job was in a nondescript office building in an office park outside of Scranton with a very, let’s just be generous and say “colorful” cast of characters. You see what I’m getting at, right? Like everyone else on the internet, I watch The Office religiously. It’s one of my favorite shows, with the added bonus that I get the local references (“She’s a dental hygienist from Carbondale and she makes love like one,” will forever be the best thing I’ve heard on television). That job turned The Office from a joyful escape to a sobering documentary.
Fear not, for all’s well that ends well. I currently have a job as a content writer that was the catalyst for my Scranton to Asheville migration. While I’ve always dabbled in fiction on my own, I’ve recently started to share it with the world. “What Karen Did,” appeared in The Wilderness House Literary Review, “A Twin Thing” appears in The Bookends Review, and Ghost World Problems appears in Litro Magazine.
AshevilleExplorer also has an Instagram you could follow because I know what’s hip and cool. If you have any questions, comments, or want to pay me money to pretend that I’m not endorsing but just loving your products, my blog email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you could be hip and cool and slide into my Instagram DM’s. Don’t try to contact me on Tik Tok though. I’m not hip enough for that.