WJI 2016 Blog - Day One - What a place to call home
May 15, 2016
The girl weaving towards me through the Charlotte airport wore a baggy sweater. Poking over the top of her head was a camera tripod, and the rest of the backpack was bulging with gear.
I knew Aliya was on my flight to Asheville, but I’d never met her. I took a chance. “Are you with WJI?”
She stopped in the middle of the busy terminal, and Sunday travelers swept around us like branches carried by the current. She looked at me, confused. “How did you know it was me?”
I admitted to Facebook stalking—she had posted a picture that day wearing the sweater.
We chatted until we boarded our flight to Asheville, then met up at baggage claim. Neither of us had ever taken a taxi before.
Our cab smelled like smoke, and I could see the driver’s silver skull ring clutching the wheel. We talked politics.
“I think it shows that there are a lot of old fashioned people not caught up with the times,” he said. “Seriously, people. Just relax.”
The transgender bathroom debate is a hot topic in Asheville. Within an hour of landing in the city, three people had already brought it up.
“My momma’s a church goin’ lady. But I don’t believe in all that. God’s never done anything for me. I haven’t told my mom that though. She’d probably drop over.”
Two men, dressed only in women’s underwear and wigs, danced on the corner as we pulled up to the light. Smiling, they waved at cars and high-fived joggers as they ran by. Local stores lined the streets. “Farm to Table,” “Organic,” “Raw diet Super Foods,” the hipster qualifiers went on.
Sixty-somethings in natural fiber clothing chatted outside fair-trade coffee shops. Families, with moms as brightly clothed as their four-year-old daughters, hopped to the beat of hoboesque street musicians.
Sweetpeas was more of the same, full of friendly, odd people. The bar below the hostel sends bass vibrations up through the ceiling and around eleven, the music usually turns to jazz.
What a place to call home.
For more information: