Come Back, Asheville, All is Forgiven

Inspired by New York Opinion Columnist, Roger Cohen who recently published his Come Back, New York, All Is Forgiven piece. (Please read his first.) I immediately knew I wanted to recreate this for Asheville. Because of the love and deep appreciation I have for this city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I quickly came up with my own version of his article. Some may love it. Some may hate it. But, most of all, know that this is supposed to be a light-hearted blog not to be taken too seriously. I wrote it to bring joy to someone’s mind, even if for a few moments.

Dear Asheville, I Forgive You, Please Come Back

I forgive you, Asheville. I forgive your sounds of wanderlust tourists, your influx of one-too-many breweries, your lack of bike lanes and your inability to apply living wages in an expensive town. I forgive your overproduction of hotels and outsourced landlords who are at war with local business owners and locals.

I forgive your absence of non-service industry jobs. I forgive the terribly kept roads with large cracks and always growing potholes. I forgive your dwindling infrastructure that our locals rely on while witnessing the growth and how it is swallowing up the quaint calmness of old town Asheville.

All is forgiven if you will only return visitors and tourists. Please come back. Our service industry workers and owners rely on your patronage. You can have your hotel chains and VRBO rentals. We forgive you. We forgive you for taking our parking spaces, crowding our sidewalks with street darting tourists who often come close to being run over by frustrated locals such as myself. We forgive you for saturating our restaurants, bar and breweries with lines of people. We rely on you. Please come back.

I forgive you Asheville, for taking away our street performers, buskers and local musicians just trying to make a living doing what they love and do best. Stunning and wowing tourists who can’t believe what they are seeing. 

I forgive you Asheville, for the extremely high cost of living forcing us locals to get creative with multiple side hustles and 5 jobs. It brings out the best in us.

I forgive you Asheville, for having such a limited number of parks for our dogs to run and play off-leash and having them poorly designed in the first place.  They are also too small and very crowded. But, I forgive you, Asheville.

I forgive you. The children forgive you for not having enough swimming pools and water recreation parks in the Summer months. Have you been to Charleston’s water parks? We need that. Please come back and I will help build those for our children and families.

I forgive you. I forgive you now and forever. How could I ever complain about your stubbornness for growth, your battles between development and population expansion that sometimes feels like we’re being smothered? It was too fast, it seems. But, I forgive you. I forgive you because I now understand, more than ever, the blessings and gifts brought to us by tourists. 

Only come back and all is pardoned: I forgive you for the bullishness of large restaurant groups on the little business owner over rubbish name nonsense when there is always enough love to go around. I forgive you. 

I forgive you for the turtle paced construction of a greenway for our locals to distance themselves on and enjoy the healing qualities of movement. I forgive you.

I forgive you, black bears. Yes, even the bears – who find it necessary to fumble through our trash in the middle of the night leaving only remnants of coffee grinds and slimy yogurt packages for our bare fingers to pick up in the midst of the morning dew before the embarrassment of our consumerism sets in. 

I forgive your mud and rain seasons that have my car often destroyed and my house painted with dried clay footprints. But besides that, thank you for having such a gorgeous climate and seasons. I am so grateful. I am so so grateful that I want you to come back. The tears are falling down my cheeks because I miss you so much.

I forgive the awkward numbers of tour companies offered in our city. Every single one of these creative tours has a purpose and deserve to be experienced by everyone – especially the tourists. I forgive your sense of humor for allowing a silly purple bus to escapade around downtown, escorting drunk passengers throughout the historic streets of Asheville while hanging out of the windows and waving at all the locals. And guess what, I’ll even forgive you for the slow, red trolley that trots along the busy streets backing up traffic for blocks. I will even forgive you for that.   

Look, I’ll pardon the crowds. The crowds of people flooding our hiking trails and waterfalls which are being trampled and trashed by the invasion of people dashing to get a sneak peek at the rushing rivers or 360-degree views. I forgive you so much that I am willing to teach the next wave of salivators how to do it better. It is possible. 

I’ll forgive you for driving me crazy at times getting stuck behind Florida and New York license plates making me miss my turn or miss that green light. We’re all in too much of a rush and I promise to slow down and take it easy on the visitors. I will stop cussing them out in my head wanting to just get on with my day. 

And, most of all, I want to thank you for inspiring and encouraging us to write about the best date night town in America. You provide the best restaurants, bars, activities and outdoor play any city could ever imagine. Your date nights are the best in the world. Please, please bring them back. I miss them. The locals miss them, heck, even the dogs and children miss them. We can’t imagine going on without you.

Please, do not be proud. I know as a local, we’ve all cursed you and accused you of unthinkable growth and development, high property taxes and extreme homelessness. We did not imagine the disappearing act of people and cars in downtown and in hotels and restaurants. We couldn’t have ever imagined this to happen because it’s never happened before. Well, not since the 70’s and 80’s. Look at all the wonderful non-profit organizations we’ve created here in WNC. Everything from environmental groups to multiple food banks and animal rescues named after wild animals. These animal rescues care for every living creature that comes through the door. Please take all that into consideration so that you’ll consider coming back to us.

I know I didn’t thank you enough for building and planting the largest home possible in the U.S. How lucky are we that we get to enjoy such an enormously beautiful space for running, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking and gazing. Thank you for growing grapes so that this large estate could produce everything from mediocre to top-shelf wines. Yes, Biltmore Reserve wines are delicious and incredibly tasty. There. I said it. Criticize me later but try the reserve wine collection first. 

As a long-time Ashevillan and graduate of AB Tech and Appalachian State University, I was mindless, rushed, and forgetful. I have forgotten how beautiful you are when you are in the full-blown season of business and crowds. I had become complacent and lost but I know you understand. I know you will forgive me. I’ll even throw in the unleashed dogs that run around the neighborhoods and leave their stinky poo behind. Just come back. Please return. I know we can make a deal. 


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