My love for North Carolina started a lot sooner than I realized from my time spent at my grandparents’ farms. Each weekend, I would head to either Hobgood, NC to help tend to the small menagerie of animals my grandfather added to his cotton, soybeans, and tobacco farms, or to my dad’s family, which was a former dairy farm in Rich Square, NC. I also would have play dates with my cousins on their cattle farm right outside of Jackson, NC. I grew up thinking this was pretty normal, not realizing just how unique this was for me.
When I turned 16, I worked two jobs, one at a clothing store in my hometown of Roanoke Rapids, and the other lifeguarding in eastern NC at a country club. I think that was the beginning of the pull between my heart strings of rural life & a bit urban, if one classifies Roanoke Rapids as urban.
When I went off to college, I found myself taking backroads from Roanoke Rapids to Greenville, partly so I could stop and get a milkshake from The Freez and partly because I loved those back country roads so much better than the interstate. During harvesting season, there was one particular field that I loved to pull over and walk through when I needed to clear my head on my way back to college. I grew up attending ECU games with my dad, and we continued that tradition until I graduated. There were few things I looked forward to in college more than sitting with him at an ECU football game. I would have otherwise missed out on hearing him hollering at fans when they were badmouthing the coach or the occasional taunt at the ref (my personal favorite was when he called one Echibod). I had a great time in Greenville with my friends, learning about different types of food, experiencing various types of art, and of course, making short day trips to New Bern, Washington, and Beaufort. Reading days, in both the winter and spring, were spent at Atlantic Beach with a stop at Clawson’s.
There weren’t many days better than the ones I spent at Shackleford Banks with friends, and those days spent in Sanford at the Dairy Bar catching up with some girlfriends I made in college. But I also did love heading back east. Truth be told, I never quite knew where I would end up, going to college, after graduation, as an adult. It isn’t surprising to me that I ended up in the country of Wake County, close enough to a Target, Poole’s Diner, a wine bar, but far enough away that I can have some space and find a field to walk through if needed.
When I met my now-husband at a bar in Raleigh, the first question I asked him when I decided I was interested in him was if he would ever move back to Buffalo. While there have been times I wanted to move away to experience something new, I always knew this would be my home. There ain’t nothing better than a Bojangles’ cheddar bo from the Nashville restaurant right off 64, or a BBQ sandwich from Sam Jones’ BBQ in Winterville, or a Mother Earth Brewing Weeping Willow Wit on a summer day. And how can one not love the skyline view of Charlotte, the sun setting from Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and the ferry ride from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke? From the tree houses in Windsor to glamping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is so much to experience here. When I think of what makes North Carolina home, it’s all of those things.
💋 With love from NC
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