I have recently arrived in Asheville. For a person that has few reference points or guides aside from the unrivaled firebrand and pinecone punk of my friend Liliana, Asheville looks a lot like a city at war with itself.

Asheville’s obvious affluence appears to be enjoyed and detested by the young and alternative in equal measure; tacitly useful while explicitly denounced. On-going discussions of dismantling the tools that build multi-million dollar houses on native land, the fierce and unrelenting grip of the oppressor that will never unclutch the throat of the weak are had while sipping craft ales or attending mindfulness workshops. Which is not a problem, I don’t THINK. She said something I remembered:

“You should never have to justify self-care.”

Which is to say, don’t feel guilt about eating well, living well, and enjoying your life. (to a point, obviously. This platitude unravels if people decide the road to health and happiness involves setting cats on fire or something)

Anyway, this mild digression is to illustrate the antique mall we visiting that was presently undergoing going-under. I was there a year earlier where I acquired a stylish Irish cap, and now, due to an inability to make rent in a changing landscape, it looked like it was maybe in the last week of it’s life. The shelves were few and far between, sparingly populated with out-of-date graphic design programs on CD-Rom, unlovable paintings, unfavored cowboy hats, and coffee mugs which were neither nice enough or ridiculous-enough to merit spending money on them.

In one corner rose a small mountain of electronics preparing to transition from being potential tranducers to invariable garbage. An old stick horse, out of place within the industrial landscape leaned against a stack of old VCR’s. I picked it up, giving it a look.

The power of childhood is strong (note to self: is this a natural resource we could harness??) that it could turn this somewhat frightening body-less horse and mechanical facsimile of clip-clopping and neighing into a rough-and-tumble scene.

There is no question it is a stellar sound. It’s a pretty funny scene. The weird mechanical horse is loping along. She stops, braying three times, and finally exhales snort-ish-ly, signaling that hey, everything is cool.

I rode a few laps around the decaying body of the antique mall like a ghost-town in the making. Past dried-up rivers of old LP’s, gulches of unseasonable leather-jackets, and rocky outcroppings of borderline racist native-american figurings. It’s the end of the road.

My hat tips to those who lost something in the fire of change. May something good rise from the ashes. Stick horse will remain, his future uncertain, at best. Whether he or she will see the limbs of another dastardly villain bound while the cheers of the pure of heart resound over the valley remains to be seen.




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