Familiar in the Unfamiliar

There are so many things to say.

My mom drove down last Wednesday and Thursday for a 4 day visit with me. She is the best. She drove 14 hours south to drop off a car (her car…that was totally unexpected) and come see Asheville. So now I have a car! woohoo for freedom. We saw so much. Friday I had a CPR/AED/ First Aid training with my housemates at work so my mother and I only had the afternoon to sight see. We drove to the River Arts District which is really close to where I live and work and saw so many artists studios. It was semi frustrating to try and find the strip of studios I saw this past March when I visited Asheville during my spring break but we eventually found it. That evening we drove along the Parkway to the Pisgah Inn for dinner. The views were stunning. Saturday we woke up and headed over to Montreat, a Presbyterian conference center and college (not Presbyterian) 20-30 minutes from my house. Even though we couldn’t get into a lot of the buildings it is a beautiful campus and so we were still able to enjoy walking around. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the very small but cozy town of Black Mountain. Sunday, my mother and I attended Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church along with two of my roommates, Abby and Caitlyn. The service was amazing. I also really like First Presbyterian Church which we checked out last Sunday but I think I’m going to stick to Grace Covenant for awhile. After the service my mom and I headed over to the Biltmore Estate. I cannot describe how amazing this house, no, estate, is. I had no idea the Biltmore existed until May when a few people from Wooster mentioned it as a place to visit when my parents come up. The place is HUGE. It is the mountain home of the Vanderbilt family (George and his wife Edith) and is the largest private residence in the country. The house itself is 178,926 sq. feet that originally sat on 125,000 acres of land that has since shrunk down to 8,000 acres. So much. So much! We spent the whole afternoon touring the house and gardens and then hitting up the complimentary wine tasting afterwards (spot on). Monday, while I was at work for the day, my mom hit up the Arboretum and Biltmore village and that evening we went to French Broad Chocolate Lounge. I need to go there more often. Everything looks so good. I had the mousse but next time I want the three layer chocolate cake that my mom got. YUM. Overall it was so nice to have my mom come and see parts of Asheville with me. We sat traffic a bit more than I would have liked to but at least we saw the mountains everywhere 🙂

This week has been the first week I am starting to feel settled in, like actually settled in. Monday was the best day of work so far and I am starting to see my role as an Intern at Habitat’s office. While my supervisor is out on maternity leave, I will taking on more responsibility as far as scheduling and organizing Volunteers goes. I am starting to better understand the strange system of Volunteer Hub and what daily tasks need to be accomplished. I’m glad things are looking up because I was starting to tell myself that this weird, not-knowing-what-is-going-on feeling was going to be my new normal. And that would simply suck.

I think the largest reason as to why I feel more settled (besides work going well) is that things (especially people) are feeling more familiar in this unfamiliar place. This struck me in church this past Sunday while at Grace Covenant. We all walked in, sat down, and moments after the service started, I found myself staring at one of the pastors. Her face looked so familiar, but I had never heard her name before and am pretty sure I had never met her before. Throughout the whole service I couldn’t figure it out but found myself thinking “I know you.”

Here are the notes I quickly scribbled down in my bulletin as I realized this feeling of something being familiar in the unfamiliar:

  • “As I sit in service, I cant help but notice how familiar one of the pastor’s presence feels. I had this same feeling at orientation, looking at many of the YAVA’s thinking, “I know you.” But I don’t…didn’t. I can only interpret this as something good, that I am in the right place. It is such a bizarre but comforting feeling looking at these people I have never met before but feeling like I have a deep connection with them. I noted this not only because I am going through a huge time of transition but also because this has never happened to me before. I am someone who does well with name, facial, or location recognition. But it has always been because I have met that person or been to that place before. This is completely new. The only way I can make sense of it is that this is God’s way of settling me in an comforting me through the people I come into contact with.”

I don’t know if it entirely makes sense but it is the only explanation I have come up with. When I am around those that I have not met but recognize, I have felt instantly welcomed and comforted in their presence. I was surprised how apparent this was to me at orientation. After meeting someone on day 1, when I interacted with them the next day, I couldn’t help but feel as if I had known them for many years. No matter how bizarre it all is, I’m not weirded out at all. On the contrary, it is has been the most welcoming feeling I’ve had since leaving Rochester. My hope is that throughout my time here the unfamiliar becomes the familiar. I want Asheville to feel like home.

It has poured steadily since I woke up this morning (I wrote this Friday afternoon). Allison and I are sitting in Green Sage cafe, both trying to blog, listening to all of the Lord Huron I can possibly get my hands on. If you want to know how I feel about living in Asheville, listen to Lord Huron. This coming Monday (Sept 28) I am seeing Sylvan Esso in concert, a group that just about single-handedly (maybe along with Tswift’s 1989 album) helped me write I.S. this past year. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Tuesday, the 29th, is my roommate Abby’s 22nd birthday and we are going to see Lord Huron! Two back-to-back AMAZING shows at the Orange Peel. Eek!

-Emily

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