In these early months of 2020, as I immerse myself in the indulgent experience that is funemployment, I have come home. Home to the place of my birth, my childhood, and much of my family history.
I’m here for over a week- a luxuriously long amount of time to spend visiting your hometown, and a length not often available when overseas visits are split between families and countries and squeezed in amongst jobs, weddings, funerals and life misc.
It’s been perfectly slow and intentional, and I keen catching myself in thinking that I need to be “Doing More.” Home so far has been lots of sweatpants, family time, cold Carolina mornings, catchups with college friends as we realise that we have known each other for over a decade (“13 years?! It’s been that long?!”), and a few southern biscuits.
Oh how good it is to feel a season other than sweltering summer heat. The cold is bracing. It’s refreshing in itself to feel temperatures below 70 degrees. It snowed over the weekend- my first time experiencing it since I don’t know when.
I’m always struck by how powerful it is to revisit a place of personal history. My Dad’s family extends back generations in this region. North Carolina bluegrass and gospel music speak to me as an old friend. I see signs for my alma mater everywhere. I run into teachers and music coaches from 20+ years past. While not defined, I am of this city.
I last lived in Charlotte in 2012, and the city has changed tremendously in my absence. Local breweries are prolific in number, there’s a light rail – an improvement in the public transportation infrastructure, and the beloved Charlotte Hornets have come home to roost. The cash-only Price’s Chicken Coop, which hasn’t changed since my last visit in the mid-1990s, is still there.
The city has grown and changed, and it’s still the same familiar space. I can recall the grid of the uptown city centre streets, can still recall the layout of Park Road Shopping Centre, and can very much appreciate a 99 cent Bojangles biscuit. I’m a little rusty, but that internal compass is still there.
Hello again, Queen City. It’s great to be back.
Yeah, it’s really crazy going back to Charlotte and visiting after leaving it so many years ago. We moved back in ’98. I’ve been back a few times, but even picking a friend of mine from South Korea up at the airport and showing him where I grew up, I was shocked at how much had changed. I’m completely lost when I go up to the Prosperity Rd. area that has now been split by 485. One nice thing is that our old house was bought by friends of ours and they let me look around last time I visited. It was like going back in time as they hadn’t changed much on the inside. That was very surreal. At the same time, the outside landscaping had grown crazy. Remember the bushes around the stream that separated our houses? INSANELY TALL NOW!!! Going over to the University area is crazy though as it looks so much the same, yet the light rail gives it a whole new feel. You can never go home again, but you can at least see the ghosts of your old haunts.