I finally made it to Chris and Raeleen’s annual New Year’s Eve party this time, one that I’d been invited to for the past few years but never attended.
The next morning, I was describing to Cara how we all knew one another — Chris, Raeleen, John, Ailse, Mark, Leah, Rachel, and me. It was really amazing, the tangled web, the pattern that had been created over several years’ time — the intricacies of chance meetings and followup encounters. It seems like too much to write out here, but there are several stories brewing about that time — particularly my first months of living in Asheville in 2005 and 2006. I knew no one when I moved to town. I moved into a three-story apartment building near downtown that had been recently renovated after a fire.
Everyone else moving in was new as well, mostly from out of town or out of state. I made friends with people who had just moved from New Orleans after the Katrina disaster. And through those friends I met John and Ailse — on the day that I locked myself out of my apartment. It was a Sunday, the apartment office was closed, so all four of these new friends helped me break into my third floor apartment. And that’s another story!
John and Ailse lived next door to me and I remember joining them at the newly opened Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Ave just around the corner from our building. Much later, I remember meeting Chris and Raeleen one night as they and John and Ailse knocked on my door and introduced themselves. I had something strange going on in my studio at the time — like a sheet that I was using to partition the room. And I had fashioned a bed frame out of accordion style closet doors from my grandma’s barn. I threw my futon mattress on top, but the whole contraption was sort of high and reminded me a little too much of a coffin, so I eventually resigned to sleeping on the floor again. But at this introduction, I believe I had these circus-y things going on in the room. I remember Chris and Raeleen peaking in warily.
The next time I saw Chris was at a Brunettes show at the Wedge Building. My neighbor, affectionately nicknamed Crazy Al, who was from Romania and liked to run barefoot at night, and I walked to the warehouse where the show was happening. Chris and I recognized one another. He couldn’t stay late because he had rescued a sick mouse a few days before and needed to go home to feed it. I remember him describing the shoe box he kept it in.
A few months later, I moved to the Bay Area in California for a year. Over Christmas, I visited John and Ailse who had moved out of the apartment and into what some of us called the boat house. It was a house in Oakley with slanted floors. Each room seemed to tilt in a different direction, giving one the illusion of movement, as if on a boat in the ocean.
Many months later, I contacted John about a roommate. I was moving back to Asheville and he knew just the person for me — Rachel Horn. Rachel and Ailse met in college and had been friends since. When I got to town, I was invited to John and Ailse’s going away (from Asheville) party so that I could meet Rachel. Rachel, in the mean time, was becoming friends with Chris and Raeleen through John and Ailse. It was only a matter of time before I would be friends with them as well, after having met them nearly two years prior. I also ended up living with them for a year and a half, during which time I came to know more of their friends from out of town.