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  • Writer's pictureLea Rose

Home Is Where The Mountains Are

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

The first time I saw Gilmore Girls, I instantly related to the quirks and dramas of growing up in a small town. A place where you can’t go downtown without running into someone you know, or at least seeing someone you know of. There are characters who run the town, and the ones who think they run it. Most of the time, these places are depicted as charming and close knit. These assumptions aren’t necessarily wrong; but after growing up in Brevard, North Carolina—and a surrounding pocket of small mountain towns—it only seemed natural to want to get out. I wanted to look the other way in search of something shiny and new (or old), something bigger.

I’ve been lucky to “get out,” running off to college in a city and spending time abroad. Mostly though, like an endless cycle, these experiences have just re-fueled my all-consuming urge to travel and leave these towns behind. “There’s an entire world out there,” I constantly remind myself. But being away has also taught me to change my perspective and relearn the magic of home. Just like I take time to be mindful and appreciative of the places I visit, it’s important to do the same for the places that raised you.

It’s no question that the Blue Ridge Mountains are a special place. These rolling, watercolor hills have been calling people for centuries. Visitors flock from around the world to indulge in their relaxing effect like a remedy. Infinite trails litter tourist guides and waterfalls are promoted at every turn. These things are only a couple of the many charms found in the mountains, and their magic only wears off to those who let it.

Between Brevard, Asheville, and Hendersonville—I’ve hopped around each one, choosing a locale like choosing an outfit to wear each day, all depending on what I’m feeling. I spent my pre-college years soaking up every opportunity I felt Brevard could give me through school activities and my local dance studio. When I was in need of a city atmosphere, I drove off to Asheville to blend into the bustle. Hendersonville was somewhere in between, ensuring me some of the anonymity I craved while also giving me the small town charm.

Eventually, I knew I needed out. No matter how many people set out to make this area their home, I felt the opposite because I’d already taken everything I felt these mountains could give me. But I realize now that while I don’t want to remain here, that doesn’t mean I can’t still learn something from it. Back in high school, I needed to leave. I needed to see something else. Now, I understand that Brevard and I just needed a break from each other.

At the end of the day, Brevard still feels small and seeps of nostalgia. But it also shimmers with an appeal I never noticed before. Going away allowed me to return and see my own home with fresh eyes, to try and experience it like I approach far off destinations. Somewhere between gallivanting to postcard places and breathing in different air, small twinges of homesickness have brought everything into perspective. While there is no better teacher than that of being away from everything you know, going back to the beginning doesn’t have to mean failure or defeat from something bigger. Rather, it’s a sentimental escape to something comforting. Traveling home is a physical reflection of the first few chapters of life.

I always say the mountains were a great place to grow up in. Like Rory, I could walk into downtown Brevard and familiar faces would ask me how I was or remind me of the cookie business I ran when I was seven. Memories sit on every street corner and linger in every conversation.

Without a doubt, the mountains are the perfect place to come home to. I exhale a nostalgic sigh each time the landscape changes and I see the mountains take shape like smooth scribbles on the horizon. The hum of surrounding trees settle into the background noise. I’m not Rory Gilmore and these towns may not have Kirk, or Miss Patty, Taylor or Luke, but to me, home will always be where the mountains are.

(Cue “My Little Town” by Simon & Garfunkel)

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