North Carolina

Oh boy. Time to say goodbye. Farewell to chicken and biscuits. No more "hi you"s in the grocery store. Hats off to incoming winter. I can't find my winter scarves anyways. I've been packed since June. Anything acquired or bought just gets packed up too. I have always been prepared to leave, just waiting for my cue. And just like France, as I am leaving, I feel some strange tie. I guess it'll remain because my mother is determined not to leave. At least I'll have a room where things will stay unchanged. There will be evidence of my stay. Maybe when I come back the food and the country greetings welcoming. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all…

I've yo-yo'd in weight my entire stay. At first I was waif from Europe. Then I had an all out fear of American food in general. I made it my personal mission to cook everything at home. Then I realized how land locked and remote it is where I was. There really is no place for the gourmand to find what they need to hibernate. I slowly but surely found all the spots and the escapes. We can drive thirty minutes to an hour to civilization.The many strange techniques I've created to bring home greens and cheese. Anything to get back to the ranch with something I can work with. In between those trips I found the Thai place and that one store with large shrimp in abundance. Yes, one must venture out for the littlest high points. Almond butter. Dijon mustard. Punkin beer. Coconut oil.

I'm certain there are more populated parts of NC that have all of the above in a two mile radius. It just isn't here. I'm in a little town with a few stoplights. We have a Walmart, all the K-Marts closed, nothing is open past 9pm and in some cases closed at 6pm. There are no real bars, liquor stores, Darden restaurants ... nothing. It's the local dives that keep us going. The family owned hardware store that walks you to what they think are aisles, the Mexican restaurant that prides itself in fundido and the library that chases you if you get past the front desk with a drink in your hand. It tickles me how dark ages this place is. I rise to chickens crowing and sleep to coyote howling. Foxes make appearances in the Food Lion and the local Biscuitville announces all the area birthdays & anniversaries. I couldn't find a single space for my grandmothers memorial because most were booked with consistent Moose and bridge club meetings. We then went to florists for the southern tradition of wreathing a passed loved ones home. There we were met with opposition about timelines and were asked if we could wait until the florist came back on Wednesday. I resorted to shopping at Hobby Lobby of all places and making my own. One must get crafty and forget about politics. Friday nights at the nearest theater have no lines. I've bought an expired Coke Zero from the local convenience store (no 7-11's or sugar fear round' these parts). I'm not plowing or anything but I feel like I live on a farm.

Oddly enough the diversity here is crazy. We lived across from an elderly white woman, two Muslim families, a Hindu family and a religious Filipino complex. We face a privately owned golf course, flank a notorious hood', feature a bi-annual furniture buyers market and stop at a Christian, well-appointed private university. There is halal, a panaderia, two taco stands, a curry kabob and several bbq joints on our Main Street. Our local pizzeria is ran by a Neapolitan and our soul food cafe has been in business thirty years. I hate to bring everything to food but there isn't much else here. I can say in neighboring Greensboro and Winston-Salem there are all sorts of great sites. There's the original Woolworth with the sit-in counter still intact and Wake Forest U. John Coltrane was born here and Cheerwine is made here. There are native loves like Cookout and Bojangles. I think what most everyone can appreciate is the nothingness. You can drive a bit and just be surrounded by water, dogwood and deer. It is an everyday thing to not have phone service or for the power to randomly go out. Everyone lives with it. The houses are old. The roads are desolate. Winter is cruel. Your neighbor is actually important. Your door must remain unlocked. You must speak to everyone, everywhere. Even pumping gas without a next pump neighbor hello is a travesty. There just is no excuse not to be neighborly to those in hijab, overalls, business suit, lacrosse gear, uniform or barefoot. 

I'm going to miss that. I'll miss it all.

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