Dare to dream

Maybe home really is where the heart is—but that doesn’t mean all homes are created equal. In the course of our lives, most of us accumulate our fair share of tales of housing nightmares—and fantasies of lodgings that are grander than our current digs.

Of course, the perfect home is very much in the eye of the beholder. So to sample the spectrum of our fantasy domiciles, Xpress hit the streets in Asheville. Choosing eight people at random, we asked each of them to answer three questions: 1) Where do you live now? 2) What’s the worst housing situation you’ve endured? 3) What would your dream house have that you don’t have today?

Leo Jackson, age 39

Current lodging: A house in a West Asheville subdivision.
Nightmare scenario: “My old apartment in Raleigh. They showed me the ‘model unit’ when I looked at it, then once I signed, they took me to the other side of the apartments, where there was a car up on blocks and [drug dealers] asking passing cars, ‘What do you need?’ Apparently, one side of the apartments was for ‘happy families,’ the other for single minorities.”
Dream house: “I’m pretty close to getting what I want. To be selfish about it, I’d like another bedroom for my kids. To be really selfish about it, I’d like to have a larger TV.”

Chris Sauger, age 42

Current lodging: A house in Clearwater, Fla.
Nightmare scenario: “Living in a ghetto in upstate New York. It was a shoddy place, there were no jobs, and there was really bad weather too.”
Dream house: “It’d be on the water in the islands—probably the Virgin Islands.”

Jaime Gresalfi, age 19

Current lodging: A dormitory at UNCA.
Nightmare scenario: “I had to sleep in my car for a couple of nights in another city. I was coming back from a concert and was just too tired to keep driving.”
Dream house: “Definitely a house on the beach, probably in Southern California. A small house is fine—but just to have the freedom that comes from all that water and the relaxed atmosphere.”

Katie Kasben, age 33

Current lodging: A room in someone else’s house in West Asheville.
Nightmare scenario: “The worst was also the best: I owned it, but the only one I could afford was in a transitional neighborhood. A guy broke in, so I left because it wasn’t safe. I don’t want to have roommates, but I can’t afford not to now.”
Dream house: “One in a safe, clean neighborhood, with a view, with greenery, but still close to town. [Energy] efficiency would be nice too.”

Ben Plunket, age 32

Current lodging: A three-bedroom apartment in West Asheville, with two roommates.
Nightmare scenario: “This little, crappy apartment I had way out in Timbuktu—out Weaverville Highway. It was tiny, old and not well-maintained by the landlord.”
Dream house: “Not too big, but nice. A couple of bedrooms—I have a daughter. Probably a pool and lots of fun electronics, but I’m not too fancy.”

John Frank, age 48

Current lodging: A house in West Asheville.
Nightmare scenario: “In Charleston, I actually lived in a camper van at the car dealership I worked at. It had no electricity, no plumbing. I’d shower in the general manager’s bathroom.”
Dream house: “The main accouterment would be privacy. A cabin of maybe 1,600 square feet on enough property where my neighbors couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see them.”

Mike Bryant, age 45

Current lodging: A house in Weaverville.
Nightmare scenario: “I had to live with my brother about four or five months. That sucked! Too many women coming and going, and I didn’t have my own room. It was rough; don’t ever live with your own brother.”
Dream house: “I’d like a big post-and-beam lodge on the top of a mountain, on about 100 acres. Direct horseback access to a national park also would be good.”

Kim Epperly, age 40

Current lodging: An apartment in south Asheville.
Nightmare scenario: “It was one of those cheesy, dirty, roach-infested motels. It was somewhere in Texas—I don’t remember where—and I couldn’t find a good hotel. It was scary.”
Dream house: “It would be completely off the grid—living very simply, very small, in a community-based place with shared space and a community kitchen. It would be a circular setup, kind of like the Cherokee lived.”

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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