I recently went travelling by myself for two months across North America, it was my first time experiencing solo travel. I never felt homesick as I felt at home. I had two backpacks and a shopping bag of snacks. That was all I needed. I would climb into my bunk, my two backpacks in a locker, my phone underneath my pillow and I’d feel so comfortable.
I had never felt this kind of freedom before, I felt like this is the life I should be living instead of the suffocating monotony of my hometown. I love and am proud of where I’m from but it often feels like a comfort blanket that is slowly suffocating me.
In Asheville NC, I stayed in a small hostel; three staff members lived there. There was a Steve Zissou mural on my dorm wall and a pink dinosaur in the back garden. We formed a bond so quickly. Asheville is a cute little town surrounded in a valley by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is known as beer city USA and is supposedly the new Portland.
I was invited on a hike with Chris, he looked like a shorter Anthony Keidis in the 90s with his long, brown hair and a hyper toned body that he liked to show off. He was a struggling musician who worked at the hostel for the free rent. He helped me realise that it was ok to not be sure of what you’re doing in life.
I wanted to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains so the hike sounded ideal. That day I got stoned. I couldn’t feel my horrific period pain afterwards. I felt like a hobbit sitting up on the mountain with Chris and his friend, smoking from a little glass pipe. I loved the feeling of absolute freedom and adventure that I was experiencing on this beautiful mountain.
It was a tricky hike up to our spot, clambering along a trail for a couple of miles but as we sat on the rock face looking across the mountains it was worth it. The majesty of the mountains, the trees sprawled across their backs. I was with friends and having the greatest time. I could easily have a life in Asheville.
Returning to my parent’s house, it was clear that everything had changed. It was still my bedroom filled with the majority of my belongings; from my carefully curated knick knacks to my wonderfully comfortable bed. Yes, I was back with my family and my pets but it didn’t feel like home anymore, I had merely returned to a house, a protective shelter from the elements. I feel lost in Newcastle. I had left my heart in North America.
Emma Fleming is an artist and writer living in Newcastle.