18 years old, I grew up in Southern California with my mother and aunt. We lived in a small apartment with three little dogs. It was cramped to say the least. Living with three women in such a small space leads to some not so lady like arguments. Growing up has its difficulties always, but growing up in such a rich area with not so much money definitely makes fitting in a bit harder.
High school wasn’t so glamorous either. I had a few great friends and some not so great people I surrounded myself with but I made do with what I had. I worked two jobs come my senior year. I was a waitress at a small Mediterranean restaurant and a barista at a chain coffee shop. I was also deeply involved in my school’s theater program. Being a part of all 5 main stage shows, working two jobs, attempting to keep up with classes and having a serious boyfriend I’d been with all four years of high school left me with just enough free time to breathe, sometimes. I was struggling to make it to class from the lack of sleep most nights. See, I worked both jobs to hopefully move out as soon as I graduated. I couldn’t live in that apartment anymore. However, one day my boyfriend asked me something that was about to change my life forever.
He was born in South Africa, but moved to the states at seven years old. However, he wasn’t always in California. His mother had a home out in this small town called Asheville, in Western North Carolina. They had lived there on and off for the last 10 years and hoped to one day make that small town their permanent home. Well, that day had come, which left me with a hard decision. He sat me down with his mother and explained an elaborate plan to pick up and move to North Carolina, inviting me on this new adventure. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The mountains surround me on all sides sounded so enticing. I had outgrown the ocean town I knew and was ready for something different. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
However, my mother couldn’t wait to say no. She was livid, told me I could never go but that didn’t stop me. I saved every penny I had from working both jobs. I eventually quit my waitress job and became a full time barista, working morning and late, late evening to scrap up the money. He helped me find a sketchy service that would transport my car there without breaking the bank and I bought a one-way ticket to Asheville, North Carolina.
My friend’s boyfriend picked me up that August afternoon and we were off. I stopped by my mother’s work to say a very emotional goodbye. Although she couldn’t bear to drive me to the airport, I had to wish her well. Parting ways with her was bittersweet, but I needed to live my own life. I loved her dearly, but my time in California had come to an end. We spent the once last day in LA, just my three friends and I. Nighttime fell on us much sooner than we thought it would and as I wished them goodbye through the TSA line, I was on my way to a new world.
It was everything I could ever imagine and more. My handsome man, who I hadn’t seen in almost four months, greeted me at baggage claim. Right when we stepped outside the airport, the air hit me like a train. It was so fresh, crisp, and the green trees surrounding me were more beautiful that I could ever imagine. Since that day I have never looked back to California. The mountains won my heart.