A visit to North Carolina is like a visit to my happy days of childhood. When I was in elementary school, I picked out my future house on the corner of Sharon Road and Sharon Lane in Southeast Charlotte. Everytime I would pass that house I would say, I am going to live there someday. When I was in high school, I attended a college summer program at Davidson College. I was sure that its red brick campus would be the place that I would spend my college years. The July I spent at Davidson I felt like it was exactly what college was supposed to be like. So when, due to finances, I ended up in dusty Utah valley at BYU, it took me a while to make my peace. Of course, North Carolina is the home of my mother’s family – who reside on the shores of Lake Norman, created by a dam in the 1960s. It is the one dam in the world I have made my peace with, at least in part because that lake is where I learned to sail and waterski and have about a hundred happy family memories associated with it. Grammy and Grampy actually got the land because he worked for Duke Power when the lake was created. Then, it was out in the middle of nowhere. Now, it is an expensive suburb of Charlotte, where the property values keep increasing, causing Grammy to complain about the constantly increasing property taxes, crowds, and traffic. In the past couple of years, the forest across the street from Grammy’s house has been cleared to make the way for expensive homes. It is sad. The shade I always valued has been greatly reduced. My cousin Jordan, who lives next door to Grammy with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Tana, complains that one of these new homeowners is “Satan” because he gives her a dirty look when she takes walks by his house. It is truly unfortunate when rampant suburbanization brings the Prince of Darkness to your neighborhood.
I took a redeye plane Friday night not only across country, but miles away from the stress that consumes my days in Washington. Seeing the tall North Carolina hardwoods again was instant therapy.
It is quite a change from the evergreens of Washington State.
Mom and Melissa picked me up from the airport and we went out to Grammy’s house, where we also met Sarah, who had driven down from Chapel Hill the day before. It was great to see them. As usual, one of our first activities consisted of shopping. Typically, in the past this entailed driving into Charlotte and paying a visit to Southpark Mall. We were able to see the shady oaks of Myers Park and the Queens College Campus on our way in. Of course now, driving to Charlotte always involves, “too much traffic”, and lucky enough for Grammy and us, some developers recently completed Northlake Mall, complete with all of our favorite chain stores (once we confirmed it contained Anthropologie), which is located much closer to Grammy’s house. Grammy possesses one of the most blessed treasures of any shop-a-holic, a lifetime 20% discount for anything she purchases at Dillard’s. Grammy finagled her way into such a treat when she was forced into early retirement when Dillards bought out Ivy’s, where Grammy had previously been employed in the accounting department. Since our childhood, our wardrobes are greatly endebted to this special credit card of Grammy’s.
Most of the remainder of the weekend was spent at the lake. The weather was perfect for swimming – the highs were around 90 degrees every day, a real treat for a chilly Seattleite like myself. The water was much warmer than anything in the vicinty of the Pacific Northwest.
Mom bought an inflatable two person kayak, which we all enjoyed immensely, even if all I could do was go in circles. Melissa fared much better than I did – perhaps because of her upper body strength because of years of swim team training, or perhaps because Mom owns a regular kayak that she and Melissa take out in Pensacola.
I can’t believe my cousin Greg, who used to beg for us to tell him ghost stories and was obsessed by dinosaurs is now in college. It makes me feel like I am two hundred years old. Jordan, his sister, is our only other cousin on my mom’s side of the family and is turning 17 in July. I am eleven years older than her almost to the day. Here are Greg, Melissa, Sarah, and Jordan enjoying Grammy’s Sunday afternoon lunch on Grammy’s back porch.
Is this a good time for me to interject how much I love Grammy’s back porch? Aside from the everpresent wasps, it is one of my favorite places to sit and read or just admire the view in general.
All in all, it was a great three days. I was sad to go home. I love my family and being the sap that I am these days, I always cry when I have to say goodbye. Isn’t that true, Mom?
So when I headed out to the Charlotte, Douglas International Airport, I was sad. The only upside to coming back to Seattle was that I was finally able to see David again – who was back from his family vacation in Europe. The sadness of coming back to Seattle was magnified by the fact that while I was gone, due to the magnitude of rain Seattle experienced during the weekend, the sewer in our neighborhood backed up and flooded our house. Some of my things were ruined. The fact that you are going back to a home with raw sewage is never a pleasant thought. Particularly since I am moving later this week and alot of my belongings were in boxes on the ground. What a sad way to leave North Carolina.
North Carolina is the best, in spite of its ever increasing tax demands.
**Note: Why is it that no pictures of Grammy appear? Grammy is a lady who does not like having her picture taken. It is too bad, because she is one of the hippest grandmother’s around. We cannot buy Grammy a card that says “Grandma” on it. And in these increasing casual times, it is hard to find a card that says “Grandmother” on it instead of “Grandma.” Trust me, it just sounds different.