Secrets of Southeastern North Carolina revealed…
There are some days that I really think about where I live. I have lived here my entire life. Don’t get me wrong - there are plenty of places I could easily live and I have explored a lot of options. There were times in my life that I wanted OUT of this area for various reasons, but my heart continues to come back here. Every time.
When I was a kid, there were posters of North Carolina in the little barbecue restaurant we went to weekly, and those posters somehow supported my belief that this really was the best state to live in. There was a poster of Linville Falls in the autumn glory, there were posters of the beach with cutesy bathing beauties tossing a beach ball (we all know that beach balls here are futile) and there were pictures of Raleigh and the downtown glamour. I was smitten by the fact that I lived here, in this state, that had really cool posters.
I grew up in Kinston, North Carolina surrounded by tobacco fields and tons of trees. I could ride my horse from the barn where she resided, to my backyard and have lunch. I rode dirt bikes up and down trails that had no risk of any danger outside the obvious dangers of riding without a helmet. I didn’t have a cell phone. My mom didn’t worry about me getting abducted by bad people or aliens. I just knew to come home when it was getting dark for a tomato sandwich.
I cross three bridges every day to work and look over the mighty Cape Fear and still imagine the old ships and saw mills that once lined the shores. I walk around Southport’s old cemetery and imagine what life looked like in coastal NC in the 1600’s. I can still find a quiet beach in the early morning for my dog to chase pelicans and shorebirds with no one around.
I still look out in awe when I fly out of Raleigh and look down over the landscape and see all the glorious, hardwood trees and forests that still incredibly exist. I still watch the hawks fly overhead and slow down for the deer that are grazing on the side of the road. I’m still smitten.
As I had mentioned in my earlier letter, my word for the year is JOURNEY. It was an interesting choice because we are all usually looking at the destination, but this word is keeping my perspective in the moment and looking at what is in front of me. This state has held my heart for 50 years. I am such a proud North Carolinian. I love that my birth certificate says Wilson, my daughter’s says Cary. I have lived through the hot summers of eastern NC, I have stayed through hurricanes, I have paddled by huge alligators, had more than my share of sunburns, mosquito bites and dirty bare feet. I have looked for lost dogs by horseback, I have caught fireflies in a mason jar. I have been fishing for catfish and bream and had a fried fish feast later in the day and I make a mean cornbread.
I now know why NC is the top destination for the rest of the country, and I hope that everyone who moves here understands what it is to really live in NC. It’s not just a lifestyle.
I am proud to bear NC on my soul and I just may never leave. I am home.