Thursday, March 27, 2014

Remember When I Lived in North Carolina?!

Feeling a bit nostalgic today, listening to The Shins album, Oh, Inverted World and thinking back about 10 years to when I lived in Charlotte, circa 2004.  Which I suppose was a few years after this album came out, but I do remember listening to it a lot back then.  Especially during those lonely spring days when I'd drive around town watching a wind gust blow the white, small flowers off the dogwood trees.  To this day, when we have a blustery spring snow storm in Denver, and snow is blowing in every direction, it reminds me of those days in Charlotte, and I think, in 10 years, so much has changed, but some much has stayed the same.  Back then, I was one of the first of my friends to leave the nest of Florida for whatever city my job would take me in.  I should point out that Charlotte, while not my first choice, was at least not Little Rock, Arkansas, which I inexplicably had as a choice for where I'd be willing to relocate.  And I did love the city....from the long winding roads through a forest of trees hidden in various crevices throughout the city, to the surprising ethnic diversity in food, to the general friendliness of strangers.  That last one was something I wasn't used to, growing up in the rather angrier parts of the Gulf coast. 

I think it's important for everybody to venture out at least once in their life, away from family....away from friends.  And that's what I did.  I only lasted a year, but I wouldn't call it a failure.  If anything, I learned more about myself in that year, than I have in the 9 years since.  But the long weeks working in small towns in South Carolina, and the weekends wishing I could share some of the scenery around me with took its toll and I jumped at the chance to come back to Florida when it presented itself.  I still feel kind of ashamed that I told my boss in Charlotte that one of the reasons I needed to go back was to be closer to my "ailing parents."  But you know, I was just a year out of college, and sick family members still seemed like a good excuse to get out of things.  Or cities.

If I had to pinpoint what it was that finally made me leave, beyond wanting to be closer to friends and family, I think it was probably how much time I would spend meandering around town and just thinking.  Thinking is very dangerous for us Walter Mitty types, who spend entirely too much time creating long drawn out scenarios which never seem all that plausible, especially when we have several uninterrupted hours a day to do it.  Typically, all the daydreaming and fantasizing dissipates and you're left with having to get really real with yourself.  And that's scary!  Luckily, I was able to avoid facing any kind of hard truths and retreat back to the warm embrace of Miami, with its cheap Latin food, insane Cubans, and beautiful cyborg women.  But every once in awhile, I think back about my days in Charlotte and wonder what it might have been like had I stuck it out a few more years....then I remember the only people I ever met there were these weirdos who played role playing games and liked "giving each other raspberries."  I'm not kidding.  They asked me once if I liked them.  I never called them again.  Thank god I left that hell hole.

PS - Now I'm listening to Chutes to Narrow, and while it's clearly the better album, I still like the other one more.  What's that say about me?

Freedom Park, Charlotte, NC
Dogwood trees outside my apartment in Charlotte

atop Grandfather Mountain

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