Photo Courtesy of\u00a0Dave DeBaeremaeker\r\nI\u00a0was a graduate student in Louisiana, where I hoped to become the writer I\u2019d dreamed of being. But after moving to the bayou, all I could write about were the Blue Ridge Mountains. So I came back to visit my friend Thomas and his wife Amanda in Asheville, the home of one of my writing heroes: Thomas Wolfe.\r\nMuch of Wolfe\u2019s autobiographical fiction is about a young man struggling to leave his hometown, a city clearly based on Asheville. Wolfe spent his twenties longing to get out of the mountains. I\u2019d spent my twenties longing to get back in.\r\nThomas and I took a tour of the Thomas Wolfe House\u2014the Old Kentucky Home\u2014in downtown Asheville, and after the tour, I found Thomas standing in front of a photo of Wolfe taken during the summer of 1937 beside a cabin in nearby Oteen. At the cabin, he entertained a steady stream of celebrity hounds while writing a story entitled \u201cThe Party at Jack\u2019s,\u201d which would eventually be folded into You Can\u2019t Go Home Again when the novel was published after his death. The story was based on a real party Wolfe had attended years earlier in New York.\r\n\u201cWhere was the cabin?\u201d Thomas asked.\r\n\u201cI\u2019m not sure,\u201d I said. \u201cBut I\u2019ve heard it\u2019s still there.\u201d\r\nHalf an hour later, we were driving up and down Swannanoa River Road in Oteen. One of the volunteers at the Wolfe Memorial had given us a few landmarks for the cabin. \u201cThere\u2019s supposed to be some posts to drive between,\u201d he\u2019d said. \u201cIt\u2019s up a dirt road, right near the recreation park.\u201d\r\nSoon we were heading uphill on what seemed to be a long-forgotten gravel drive. The road opened to a clearing atop the ridge, and a small log cabin sat before us. We parked and stood in the hot afternoon sun, wondering if we were trespassing and, if so, what would happen to us if we were caught.\r\nA plastic tarp covered the cabin\u2019s roof. Vines crept up the sides and tree limbs disappeared into the eaves. The front door was padlocked, and the bright sunlight made it impossible to see anything through the windows. When we walked around back, we stumbled upon a sign that had been yanked out of the ground and left behind: it read \u201cTom Wolfe\u2019s Cabin.\u201d Like the cabin, the sign appeared forgotten. It made me wonder if Wolfe\u2019s return to Asheville had been forgotten as well.\r\nThe Old Kentucky Home in downtown Asheville will always be remembered and celebrated not because Wolfe lived there, but because he wrote about it and immortalized it. He never wrote about the Oteen cabin, and while he lived there he wrote about a party in New York City.\r\nAs Thomas and I climbed into the car and bumped back down the gravel road, I found myself wondering if Wolfe needed to leave New York to see that party clearly enough to fictionalize it. Similarly, I\u2019d often wondered if he\u2019d had to leave Asheville to create Altamont. It wasn\u2019t his current location that concerned Wolfe while he was writing; it was his memory of it that mattered.\r\nOnce I was back at my desk in Louisiana, I didn\u2019t have to step over a babbling stream to hear it. I didn\u2019t have to stand on a ridge to feel the breeze coming up from the valley below. I realized that I didn\u2019t have to be inside the Blue Ridge Mountains to write about them. They were already inside me, and that was good enough.