Asheville, Part Two: Zambra…and Heaven

henry-featuredUp until this minute, I’ve never broken the rule about writing two articles on a topic.  I’m breaking it now, and it may go to three.  This article isn’t for me, it’s for you and I have something to share…something basic that I sorta knew…but didn’t, and had it slam-dunked into my heart, my psyche, my soul…call it what you want.

For Pam and me, and I’m guessing a whole lot of others, we can be simply in heaven standing in a little fish market, or talking to someone in a library, standing in line at Wegmans…doesn’t really matter.  The heaven takes place between your ears.  It’s the connecting, deeply connecting with people who are on the same wavelength as you.

The corollary to that is you can be on the top of the Eiffel Tower and for reasons unknown, you’re miserable.  You’d like to take a big flying leap and go splat.  Soooo…the conclusion to all this is: it ain’t the bricks and mortar, the polished marble, the pristine beaches or the hundred-foot fountains.  It’s the people.

For the most part, in all our travels around the country and the world, we will occasionally run into a couple or an individual and resonate.  That one resonance will often make the trip worthwhile…and without it the trip can be a flop.

What we’ve been finding in Asheville again and again and again, is wherever we go, we CONNECT.   The batting average is off-the-scale. I don’t know if it’s in the water or what, but this has gone well beyond chance.

Stopped off at the visitors center in Black Mountain, slammed the car door and started walking in…and ran into a stellar gal named Mini…don’t know her last name, but she spent an hour of her life, helping us balance the nuanced equation of Black Mountain vs. Hendersonville vs. Weaverville to us.  She was charming, helpful and willing to spend that hour with us.  And she is one in a  long long list of charming people down here.

Tonight, just now, we wandered into a highly unusual little restaurant called Zambra.  The interior defies description.  Charming, brave, innovative, arty-as-hell, and yet, at the same time, highly intimate…extrordinarily intimate.  These people really aren’t just doin’ it for the $$$.  We got there half an hour early and sat at the bar.  A very nice gal named Nancy was busy setting up for the night time crowd, BUT, she stopped doing what she was doing and came over.  She didn’t know us from nothin’ nor did we know her.  But…it started.  The Asheville Magic, the intelligence, the kindness, the energy.  She told us all about the history of Zambra, but then things went philosophical.  Her son’s name is Elijah, her daughter, Solstice.  Guess when Solstice was born.  Her husband is a sculptor/painter/scuba diver and Nancy does massage therapy.  Okay, you say…so what?

Here’s what.  In the interchange that ensued over what was an amazing  and visually beautiful dinner, the real magic was taking place somewhere else.  Here to wax philosophically, the core to these unforgettable moments isn’t the food and it isn’t the scenery, it’s in the connecting.  That’s the exact word, CONNECTING.

Of late, Pamela and I have been like two aardvaarks trying to pretend we’re bunny rabbits, and trying very hard at it.  Down here, we ran into…a whole bunch of other aardvaarks, and what I mean by that is, people who basically couldn’t care less about dust bunnies, and whether my grass is two inches or three inches tall.  We do very little small talk, (none is better still) and we love to communicate, listen, learn…about the big stuff.

Yup, Nancy was our point-person at Zambra’s tonight, and Nancy is a bit symbolic, but only a bit, as to what Asheville is all about.  Her son’s middle name is Trane.  Anybody care to guess?  It’s after John Coltrane and he’s gonna be a musician…maybe…or maybe not.  Nancy, as promised, there’s an old beat-to-hell sax up here if you want it.  It has to go somewhere and you earned it 100x over with your graciousness and your interest in your fellow man.

What’s amazing down here…and we aren’t the only ones to notice, there’s something magical taking place.  It’s not Uptopia, but people are happy here, and basically looking to look after each other.  It’s gotten rarer and rarer and rarer.   Down here is like I remember it in my warm, fuzzy, sunlit dreams of my childhood…only it’s actually going on.  We’re takin’ off our rabbit disguises and startin’ to live like aardvaarks again.




No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply