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A year later: Can you go back home again?

The one-year anniversary of my return to North Carolina was this month, so it seemed like a good time to speak out on what the past year has really been like and answer the question: Can you really go back home again?

When I crossed over the I-85 South Virginia/North Carolina border with a Carolina blue sky to welcome me, I said, I’m back, I’m home. It took me 16 years and a lot of moves up and down the East Coast and Midwest, but I had found my way back home, or so I thought.

See, over the past 12 months, I’ve been lost–I can’t seem to find my footing. Nothing feels right. Yes, Charlotte has my beloved Container Store and Fresh Market, Broadway shows tour here, it has the ballet, even the opera, and it’s even more aligned with my conservative viewpoints, but it’s not the same, something is off.

I left DC with open eyes. I knew I would miss going to shows at the Kennedy Center, or spending Sunday afternoon’s with a blanket, a book and a box of wine with Iwo Jima as my backdrop. Even with it’s insane traffic, I knew I would miss the postcard view of the Lincoln Memorial as I drove into DC over the Memorial Bridge. Nonetheless, I can categorically say, I don’t regret my decision to leave– it was time–the city wears you down. But Charlotte doesn’t fit. It’s as if I’m 15 all over again trying to wear my favorite Forenza shirt from two years before, ignoring the fact that my boobs have doubled in size and the only way I can still wear the shirt is if I wear a tank top underneath and leave it unbuttoned and open.

I look around at Charlotte and say,  it’s not you, it’s me. For many, Charlotte has a lot to offer. The sheer growth of the city proves that people from all over the country find it a desirable location to plant roots. But for me, Charlotte leaves me empty and uninspired.

Charlotte has changed enormously since I last lived here in 1989 and flourished as a high school senior. My gold and green pom poms from Friday nights on the sidelines of Independence football games are buried away in a storage bin, a symbol of what I used to be and what I used to call home. I graduated, moved away and grew up. Charlotte grew up too, but as so often happens when you meet up with an old friend years later, you discover the two of you grew apart and no longer want or like the same things. For over 20 years, I have lived a non-traditional, take a chance, sometimes gritty, pull your bootstraps up and do it, I can’t believe you did that kind of lifestyle. Charlotte on the other hand stayed safe, craving, even buying respect, a desperation to fit-in no matter what part of its self it had to compromise.

The saying goes, “home is where the heart is” and well, my heart no longer lives in Charlotte–it’s in New York, Paris, London, Moscow, Bali, Fiji, Tuscany, basically, anywhere a plane and my passport can take me. For the moment, Charlotte is home base, but it’s not home–it’s a connecting terminal for this juncture in my life–it’s purpose to get me from point A to point B, wherever that might be, wherever life takes me.







Reasons I’m Awesome

StuartSmileyI got a little down on myself today. And then I remembered that old SNL Stuart Smiley self-help sketch (side note: don’t you love the alliteration) and his daily affirmation, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it people like me.”

And damn it, it’s true. I’m kind of awesome. Now, I’m a fairly modest person, and typically shy away from attention on me, but for a moment or two, I’m gonna look in the mirror Stuart Smiley-style and list all the ways I’m awesome.

1. I am well-traveled and at current count I’ve visited 10 countries and have ambitions to see 50 or more. I even want to see Antarticia.

2. My credit score is over 800.

3. I’m very handy around the house. I have successfully installed a ceiling fan, kitchen sink and garbage disposal.

4. I’m great at solving jigsaw puzzles.

5. I take care of my body and exercise at the gym or outside at least 5x/week.

6. I’m strong on my faith and believe in the Eucharist. Now granted, me and God have been at odds recently, but I’m still a believer.

7. I’m a good writer and probably better editor.

8. I have awesome technical skills for a non-technical person (e.g. website development, HTML, SharePoint)

9. I’m a wizard at online research.

10. I pay my bills on time.

11. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and plant trees, flowers or take a weed wacker to an overgrown bush.

12. I’ll eat nearly anything, except Indian food.

13.  I love wine, but sometimes I just want a beer, and yes, I’m okay with PBR.

14. Tequilla shots are the best. Vodka shots are good too.

15. I understand football, basketball, baseball and tennis.

16. I prefer to sit outside than inside when given the option.

17. I look good in short skirts.

18. I have awesome, thick, hair–enough for 10 cancer patients.

19. I’m not afraid to eat, travel alone.

20. I read at least 10 books a year.

21. I can and prefer to drive a 5-speed.

22. I’m well-educated with a Master’s from American University.

23. I’ve experienced life in the northeast, midwest, mid-Atlantic, and the South.

24. My resume is a list of Fortune 500 companies.

25. I am super flexible (physically and emotionally).

26. I make kick-ass sangria.

27. I’m solid in my political beliefs and values, but I don’t push them on others.

28. I believe in experiences over stuff.

29. I’m indifferent on marriage—do it or don’t–I no longer care.

30. I’m a cool, crazy Auntie to three nieces and two nephews.

31.  I’m totally and utterly unattached, no kids, no pets, just looking for the next adventure.

32. I remember everything (except when I had my last period) and for what I can’t remember in the moment, I have a journal to recall what I was doing on any given date since 2001.

33. I’m a survivor. I may get beat down, shut down, but I have an inner strength to get up and go the next day–it’s kind of my superpower.

34. I give back and volunteer my time once a week at the hospital.

35. I have big boobs and small feet.

36. I have friends in every large metro area in the US.

37. I value quality over quantity in everything from food, to friends to my men.

38. I’ve ridden a camel in the Egypt desert.

39. While I’m a strong Republican, I am environmentally conscience, listen to NPR, watch PBS, and believe every state should have a hands-free law.

40. I enjoy foreign and indie films.




My 43rd Birthday Trigger

A few of my favorite things.
A few of my favorite things.

On January 14, I turned 43. This was officially my “New Year’s.” It was time to put 2014 behind me, and make a new life in Charlotte. I thought moving back to NC would be easy, but I quickly discovered that I needed my own connections, more friends than just my mom, step-dad and 12 year old nephew. I needed my life, I needed to find my tribe.

I’ve never been a fan of online dating sites. You have to weed through a lot of crap. It’s like shopping at TJ Maxx-you have to sort through the generic crap to find last season’s designer stuff. I’ll do this when I’m in the mood and have the time, but many times I don’t want to be bothered. I’d rather just go to Macy’s and pay full price and be done. However, I was faced with the dilemma of do I just sit at home, drink bottle after bottle of wine and then whine about how I have no life, no local friends or do I do something about it? I did something about it. On the night of my 43rd birthday, I loaded up on my favorite things: wine, Chick-fila and chocolate cake, then took the leap and logged on to OK Cupid.

My intentions were simple: get out of the house, meet people and maybe develop some friendships. I didn’t consider it dating. My criteria was fairly simple: a white man, 41-50 years old, Catholic, college-educated, and employed. This search yielded no more than 2o men. “Quality over quantity,” I reminded myself.  I browsed through the profiles and quickly assessed that quality, not just quantity may be an issue. But it didn’t matter, I thought, I wasn’t looking for the perfect guy, I was looking for my tribe, for people who wanted to hang out with me and give me a reason to get out of my pajamas each day (I work from home, so this one is hard sometimes).

Men are visual creatures, so I uploaded just a photo. No profile description, just my age.  I read profile after profile, and after a while they all start to sound the same and you just go to the photo. When you visit a profile on OKC, the other person gets a notification you visited their profile. “So what?”I mumbled with cake in my mouth (yes, I talk to myself), “I don’t have anything about myself up there, I’m just looking right now, when I’m ready to go hard at it, I’ll draft something witty and smart.” I  decided I wasn’t investing too much.

So as I was sitting there watching old episodes of Friends, sipping Chardonnay and eating birthday cake directly out of the box,  I got a message from Qua*&#uy37. I froze–this one was interesting–I had been triggered.


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