The movers are packing our breakables today. Tomorrow they'll load the truck, and as of tomorrow night, I will no longer be a resident of Asheville.
Here are the top five things I'm going to miss about the city I've called home for eight years:
5. The Vibe -- Have you seen the show "Portlandia" that pokes fun at hipster culture? That's Asheville.
Once my church was handing out meals to homeless people downtown. My son and I offered some food to a young couple with stringy hair and grungy clothes . They laughed and said, "We're not homeless. We're just hanging out."
It's so much fun to go downtown in the evening and see the street performers. You'll see people playing hammered dulcimer, fiddle, celtic harp and flute, banjo, guitar, etc. Once I saw two guys who had set up a piano and a full drum set on a sidewalk. They were playing jazz and blues. And then there are the "statues" -- the tin woman, the stone guitar player, the guy who looks like he's running to work but stands perfectly still -- if you put money in their buckets, they move. Cool.
And don't forget the Drum Circle.
Hundreds of people sitting in a circle playing African drums and congas to a common beat. And people (from all walks of life) in the middle dancing.
The T-shirts and bumper stickers say, "Keep Asheville Weird." It is weird, and that's one of the things I'm going to miss.
4. The Restaurants -- Asheville is packed with unique, locally-owned, chef-operated, farm-to-table restaurants, e.g. Chestnut, Salsa's, Zamba, the Local Joint ... and my favorite (which is also President Obama's favorite): 12 Bones Smokehouse. Oh my goodness. Is there anywhere else on earth that serves Blueberry Chipotle ribs?
When Mary left home, Lorie and I made a commitment to try two new Asheville restaurants every month. That was three years ago, and we still haven't gotten to all of them.
3. The Scenery -- When I drive to work or run errands, I'm looking at mountains that other people have to go on vacation to see. And they look different everyday -- sometimes misty, sometimes sunny, sometimes green, sometimes bare -- but always beautiful.
And then there's the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm on it just about everyday. People come from all over the country to drive this famous roadway. I use it as a shortcut to get to the other side of town. And I never get tired of it.
2. The Air -- Believe me, it feels different up here. It's fresher, it's cooler, it's less humid, there's always a breeze -- mountain air is just better.
Recently I was walking with a friend downtown in the middle of a hot (for here) summer day. A wonderful breeze blew past us and filled our lungs with sweet, fresh air. I said, "Man, that feels good!"
And my friend, knowing I'm moving to the Piedmont, said, "Don't get used to it."
1. Covenant Community Church -- I'm truly excited about becoming the pastor of Main Street UMC in Kernersville. But I will dearly miss the unique, mission-focused, casual/contemporary church I'm leaving behind.
And most of all, I will miss the people.
Covenant folks are passionate about reaching out. They have a servant heart. They work hard to make a difference in the world. They're open to new things.
And they're fun to be around.
In eight years at Covenant I've never heard the 7 last words of the church: "We've never done it that way before." If ever there was a church that is uniquely positioned to reach New Generations, Covenant is it.
I love you, Covenant. And I will miss you.