My friends in Charlotte gave me the tour; I spent my first two years of college just outside the city but somehow managed to never see all the cool parts. From the bright, identifiable skyline to bamboo-bordered front porches to neighborhoods edging on ghetto (where "shenanigans" go down), and all the independent coffee houses, organic restaurants, and cheap vintage shops in between, we laughed and walked and ate.
I found myself thinking, yeah, I could live in a place like this. Where I could walk to a coffee shop with live music. Where I can find a vintage dress, in perfect condition, for under $20. Where I can browse an indie art gallery & grab a beer next door. Where there are theatres in the back of stores, in the park, in eco-friendly buildings, and guerrilla performers in the city streets. A place that's more compact than LA, that has an identity all it's own, not trying to be everything pop culture says is "in" right now.
I saw my friend in "Evita" which, while it's not my favorite show, was a wonderful production and strengthened my conviction that I can do what I want to do, and be happy in it, many places besides LA.
We had a Cinco De Mayo celebration and sat outside in the humid southern night, drinking mango margaritas, catching up, and watching my friends' new puppy alternate between sweet and insane. There's really not much better in life than reconnecting with old friends as though no time has passed at all.
(I'm pretty sure you're going to find that to be a reoccurring theme on this blog as I travel over the next few months.)
Then I headed to Boone, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, to stay with family in a rented house with a view and celebrate my brother's college graduation. It proved to be one of the most fun times I've had with family in years; my grandma was sassy, my dad's year-old dog adorable, and we laughed hard & loud over what seemed like unending amounts of food. I got to meet my brother's girlfriend, talk music with my cousin, and teach my mom and grandma how to play pool, a game which brought us all together in mild trash-talking and loud woops of delight when the cue ball even struck another ball on the table.
the graduate! (and family)
We were silly and happy and relaxed with the Blue Ridge undulating around us like a cardboard sea in a stage play, shades of deep green and blue in layers, mountain peaks and clouds the caps of waves.
And I thought to myself, after ten years of living far from home (sometimes on another continent), I'm so glad that I'm moving nearer to these people soon. For all of our issues and complications, we love each other; I'm so blessed to have this family.
I also got to meet up with another old friend who lives in Boone; again, although we've both been through a lot of changes, it was just like we'd never been apart. Love it.
Today I am so grateful and happy for:
~ spending time with family
~ strong friendships
~ BBQs with views
~ my brother graduated college!! So proud of him.