We have found a living Mobius strip.
It is called Asheville, NC.
Asheville is famous for a lot of things, including its...shall we say, "New Age" population. Some of these people believe that Asheville has special energy fields. Upon feeling these fields, people have been known to move to Asheville immediately, and never leave.
The really strange thing about visiting Asheville, for my spouse, was that normally he can find his way around nearly anywhere. He drives somewhere once and (even years later) can find his way around thereafter. Not Asheville. He was so scrambled up (and of course wouldn't ask for directions) that he kept getting lost. And even I felt somewhat disoriented, and I have no sense of direction at all.
Spouse kept saying his ability to tell direction was totally not working, and was it ever frustrating.
At one point, trying to navigate I-40, I-240 and I-26 in a vain attempt to find a Wal-Mart we never did find (to check out a Wal-Mart that sold wine: unknown here in NY), he said that Asheville was one huge Mobius strip. If you don't remember these from science class, check them out on the Internet.
I am a firm believer in a quote attributed to the late Mayor Wagner of New York City, to the effect that "New York is a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." In other words, places you fall in love with when visiting are great for visiting..and that's it. But I don't think Mayor Wagner ever met a city that somehow you could never find anything in, as if what you were trying to find was hiding in a different dimension.
We still don't know why that is, but we have never experienced that before. And maybe never will again. (Cue music from "The Twilight Zone"...and we can do this, living in Binghamton.)
Another fact: When spouse and I visited Asheville last month, we had no way of knowing that Asheville, according to at least one authority, tops the list of popular cities in which to retire. And, in the 2010 list, one place that left the list was my vacation spot of last year, Sanibel Island, Florida. (that's a story for another day. I'd move to Sanibel immediately if I ever won the lottery.) We kept meeting people from New York in Asheville. Maybe they were lost, too. Maybe Asheville is full of lost souls who gave up trying to find their way, and decided to retire there.
So, what is so great about Asheville? Many things. Great shops, great food, the greatest Farmers Market ever (see last post) and....a city that cares very much about its history.
That's what makes a city great.
To me the coolest thing I saw in downtown Asheville were the Woolworths and the Kress's. Huh? Didn't these go out of business years ago? Well maybe they did worldwide, but not in Asheville. There is that "other dimension" again for you. Here is some proof: (actually, I am joking - there are businesses in there, but not the original ones - and the "Woolworth's" even has a soda fountain.)
Woolworths and Kress's are fixtures of my childhood, living forever in my memory on Fordham Road in the Bronx. And now, in Asheville, NC.