Way Out: Moving Out
Goodbye to you, Charlotte: Here’s to all the things I’ll miss and all the things I missed
TWO YEARS AGO, I wrote a blog post for this magazine’s website entitled “Yo Mama’s So Ugly, She’s Greensboro.”
Well, joke’s on me. I’m moving there.
I’ve lived in Charlotte for 9 1/2 years and, until a few months ago, had no plans to leave. This place derailed what had been a nomadic journalism career path: I’d stay for a few years somewhere, move on, move up, move on again. But when I got to Charlotte, by far the nicest place I’d ever lived, I took a hard look at my life. Did I really want to go somewhere else because some job offered me a small promotion and a little more money? The trade-offs added up: Weather, cost of living, friends, family, colleagues, neighborhoods, schools, trees, civic pride, a healthy local economy, proximity to Ric Flair, availability of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Copper, and so on. That next city on the horizon became much less exciting. Every time, I chose Charlotte.
This time, I chose somewhere else. I’m leaving my full-time job at the local NBC affiliate and taking a position as senior editor and writer for Our State magazine. (By the time you read this, I’ll have already started there.) The job’s in Greensboro, and I’m thrilled. I finally get to write for a living, not just on lunch breaks, nights, and weekends. Plus, my wife’s parents live there. We have friends there. I know the area already. It’s a good move.
Still, it feels weird being the guy moving out when everybody else is moving in. Since I came here in 2005, Charlotte has added at least 160,000 people. That is roughly the entire population of Chattanooga, Tennessee, all showing up inside our city limits, looking for houses, Starbucks coffee, and day care. Helping people move to Charlotte is an industry in itself. There are more than a few guides, print and online, to show people who’ve just stepped out of a U-Haul how to find Price’s Chicken Coop.
Oddly enough, I never went to Price’s. I always thought I’d have time. Now that time is running out. So if I have one regret, it’s this: I took Charlotte for granted. It’s not that the “somewhere else” is so bad. It’s that here is so good. This will be the place that I’ll always compare to my new home. My new city. My new life. Charlotte is the benchmark. Benchmarks aren’t always exciting, but you need benchmarks. Without them, you’d be lost. You’d never know how far you’ve come.
Am I going to cry when I leave? No. I don’t cry. I don’t care what my wife tells you about what happens to me when someone dies in a Disney movie.
Instead, I’ll just say that I’m grateful to have lived here when I did and for as long as I did. I love Charlotte. I always will. This town led me to my wife. A son. Our first home. An opportunity to earn a living making television and a chance to publish my inane ramblings—which previously had appeared only on an obscure GeoCities site. I didn’t know I’d be passionate about writing. But six years ago, the wonderful folks at this magazine let me tell a story, and now storytelling for a magazine will be my full-time job. I can’t thank them enough. I can’t thank you enough.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think yo mama’s so ugly, she’s Greensboro. I was being facetious with the headline. (Again, I’m moving there, so I pretty much have to say this.) Maybe your mother is so nice, she’s Charlotte. I know. That’s an awful joke. It feels almost … sincere. But then, shouldn’t we all be lucky enough to feel that way about where we live?