Why I Live Uptown

When I was young, I received good advice: marry a girl who is smart, kind, and sexy. If any element was missing, the relationship wouldn't last very long. I dated women who were very intelligent, but who weren't particularly caring or sensual. I dated women who were good-hearted, but not very bright. And I dated women who had only their sexuality to offer. After many years, I eventually found my way to a gal who has it all. And it's why I live uptown.

Cities offer me the complexity and satisfaction of a love affair. I've romanced cities and have been romanced by them. Boston was a brainy librarian, enticing me with rare books and conversation, but sometimes a little cold and distant. Tallahassee was intimate and gracious, but not very thrilling. Miami was a sexy exotic dancer, daring and unpredictable, but often mean spirited and way too dramatic. Within days of arriving in Charlotte, I knew I had met a city I could marry. The city reminded me of a smart and smartly dressed female executive: well mannered, open hearted, and sexy in her ambition.

Of course, uptown Charlotte is not Paris or New York, San Francisco or Vancouver, all sophisticated women who wouldn't give another look at Charlotte if she entered a room. Those cities are long-legged sirens, enticing, well spoken, flirtatious, and fantastic. But I've given my heart to uptown Charlotte. I've fallen for her imperfections, she's accepted mine, and she's invited me to build a life with her.

What I love most about uptown is that she's a work in progress. Charlotte hasn't completed her education—she could round out her business degree with an MFA, and one day perhaps a Ph.D. in literature. Often the people at her parties all look and sound alike. And her sexiness is conservative—any garter belts are coyly hidden underneath a skirt that ends just above the knees. But there is a desire in her to be more than what she is, and it is a compelling trait.

We talk a lot about what's next. She's not much into introspection or complex, philosophical ideas. Her intelligence is of a more practical sort. She works endlessly on a list of things to do, and we argue about prioritizing. When she decides and takes action, I smile every time, amazed at her ability to get things done.

I really like it when she goes about creating the future. It's energizing. We play with these building blocks and bright lights, stacking them here and placing them there, and nothing is more fun than when she envisions what she wants to make happen and writes it all down in cute and clever ten-year plans. It's her optimism, even in the midst of setbacks, that attracts so many to her. She's very American that way. Don't get me wrong, she can be frustrating. For the longest time, she wouldn't order anything other than steak when we went out. Only now is she expanding her palate. Nor is she much into lingering in bookstores or reading newspapers at cafes, but she is quick to roll up her sleeves to support those in need.

I'm an uptown guy because I'm more energized about the possibility of Charlotte than the actuality of other places. Everything I like best about her comes together at the intersection of her mind, body, and heart on Trade and Tryon. When I'm standing there with her, I know I'm making a difference in her life, and she's making a difference in mine.

Mark Peres is an assistant professor at Johnson & Wales University and founder/president of Charlotte Viewpoint.

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