It is hard to believe I have lived in North Carolina for 15 years, most days it feels like I just got here – until I am reminded that I have a mortgage which I have paid on for 4 years.
I still remember my first day when I was walking in uptown Charlotte trying to find a bank, I walked into the first branch of a bank I could find which actually took me about 20 minutes they weren’t at all easy to locate, even my drive around the small part of town where I lived before going uptown did not reveal any banks. Ironic since North Carolina has been the financial center of the Southeast since I moved here. I remember feeling like Margo Thomas in “That Girl” walking the downtown streets gazing at water fountains that were actually spraying water – I admit I was a bit shocked by that since I had come from a place where fountains were rarely turned on because of water conservation efforts.
The first years here were a major learning experience. The South does not do things like they do on the West coast. You have to learn the art of small talk and you can’t just get right to the point. Wearing jeans in the summer is just too hot, but wearing shorts always seems wrong now, I usually end up in a dress. Flip-flops are apparently the casual shoe of the south, I still don’t get that but I own a pair. When you walk or run in a neighborhood you really need to wave to people or they think you are odd, even if they don’t know you. If you don’t know people it is harder to get to KNOW people, but once you have made an acquaintance with someone the doors are open. While the younger generation loves to socialize and party, the older folks still see it as a taboo. September is hurricane month; usually that is when the worst storm affects Charlotte.
Even with all these differences I still love it here. I couldn’t move back because I love the hot warm summers and the short mild winters. I have also worked too hard at networking here to give it up now.
On Facebook they have these groups for folks who grew up in towns. I belong to one for the town where I went to high school in Washington State. One day we were talking about how we all used to go to the airport as kids and ride the tram. I was kind of surprised because I never realized that my family wasn’t the only one that did this. This was the best and cheapest entertainment going when we were kids, plus where else can you take a bunch of kids when it is raining and cold? We used to ride out to the satellite terminals and then ride up and down the escalators, look out at the planes loading and, of course, watch them take off. I also remember checking every single phone and news paper box for change. We usually picked up about a dollar. We knew that airport like the back of our hands and yet few of us had flown out of there when we were 8 and 9 years old. I still know my way around most of that airport and as a result I usually explore every airport I land at, if I have time, so that I am familiar enough with it for future visits. Then I thought about the last time I was in that airport which was my last trip home in 2005 and how secure the place was. No more late night visits to play on the tram, or watch airplanes take off. I tried to remember the last time you could actually get further than the ticket desks and it must have been in the late 80’s, now the airport is strictly business and only for those few who can travel by plane. I think about the generations to come who wont grow up knowing the airport like the back of their hand unless they fly a lot, it is kind of sad in a way. I wonder if parents would even consider doing something like this in today’s world anyway, I mean if the airports were opened up like they used to be. I am sure some parent would find the activity to be unsavory and unsafe for families for some reason. Gosh for all I know there were people who thought taking your kid to the airport was unsafe back when my mom was taking us there, but when you are poor and can’t afford to take your kids anywhere else riding the escalators up to the international gates is pretty darn exciting.
I wrote this in college
In a world of uncertainty
When I try to protect myself
Sometimes I end up hurting others
This is what living has brought me to
In this world of uncertainty
When I try to reach out, I get burned
Why can’t I be honest with everyone?
Instead of hiding behind a mask
I want to live as best I can
In my world of uncertainty
There is one thing that is sure
When I need someone to protect me
You will be there
You are steady and strong.
Jan 30, 1989