It's gone by so quickly, but we’ve been “southerners” for 1/3rd of a year now. So I thought I’d take a minute to jot down some thoughts about our time here so far in North Carolina, in case I blink and another four months have passed and it’s already Christmas!
- Everyone is so much nicer here in NC. At first it caught us off guard—seriously, I don’t think a Target employee has ever spoken to me before, except at checkout. But our second day in town a stock boy overheard me wondering out loud to my husband where the coffee was, and he jumped up and walked us to the right aisle. It’s so refreshing now when people talk to us, the grocery store checker, a waitress, a nice neighbor out for a walk. Everyone we’ve met has been so genuine and just…nice! (My sister claims I just lived in California for too long and became jaded, and people are actually nice in other places too, but I still say that people around here go above and beyond)
- The weather and humidity suck. Well, not all the time, just the past two months. I’m still not at all used to the humidity though, and not sure I ever will be. I’m just hiding away in my air conditioned house though, waiting for “second summer.” Which is a concept that a friend of my brother-in-law told us about back in November, before we even decided to move out here. He grew up in Puget Sound Washington near where I did, lived in Northern California for several years, and is now living in Raleigh, so my BIL wanted him to talk to us when we were visiting, since we had grown up in the same climate. He described the seasons in North Carolina something like this:
- Winter: It’s cold, but not crazy cold. And when it snows, it goes away pretty quickly. Get a warm coat and some mittens, and you’ll be fine.
- Spring, aka “first summer”: Spring is like June in the San Francisco Bay area. Birds are chirping, the sun is out, but it’s not scorching, and the weather is perfect for hiking, eating meals outside, and all in all a really nice time, with a few rain showers thrown in to keep things green.
- Summer, aka “just stay inside time”: Summer sucks and is way too hot and humid. Stay inside as much as possible, and if you have to go out, make sure where you’re going has air conditioning. You’re lucky if it gets down to 80 degrees at midnight, so you don’t even want to go out after it gets dark out. Plus, there’s lots of bugs.
- Fall, aka “second summer”: Much like spring, the weather cools down to a perfectly comfortable temperature in the fall, and again you are free to leave the house without being hit by a wall of humidity! More perfect hiking, biking and enjoying outside weather, with the added bonus of colorful leaves changing color.
- The hot weather aside, it’s really great here. I don’t really miss having a big city like San Francisco nearby, because we still get out plenty. We’ve been going out to eat about three Friday’s a month, mostly in downtown Raleigh, and while it’s not as crowded with as many places to go, it sure it a whole lot easier and cheaper. In SF we would pay $25 to park in a garage for a couple hours while we ate out. Here, if parking isn’t free, it’s only $3-4.
- Not only is parking cheaper here, everything is cheaper here. Groceries, eating out, gas, rent. Sometimes we’ll be out to dinner and be surprised when we get our check, since we were expecting to pay twice what it says. Obviously, this is the main reason we moved here, but it still surprises us all the time!
- I do still miss San Francisco though, but more for the people out there than the place itself (although seeing SF on TV does tug at my heartstrings a little). I miss being nearby my family, even though it wouldn’t be unheard of for me to go four months without seeing them when they were only 20 minutes away. But the ease of seeing them is definitely something I miss. And I miss my friends too, especially when my co-workers will IM me after a group lunch, just to rub it in my face that I’m missing out. But new friends are great too!
- The animals here are awesome, and so are all the deciduous trees. I post way too much about nature on this blog, but it makes me happy. Our cats are also really happy here, spending all day lounging on the deck, or stalking and killing “presents” for us. Even our one cat who used to spend most of her time inside goes out a lot more often here.
- I still don’t say "y’all." Or like grits. But hushpuppies and sweet potato fries and BBQ, yes please! Southern cooking is good, but greasy. I did find a place in Durham that serves real garlic fries though (fries topped with minced garlic and parsley), so I don’t have to go into withdrawals out here.
- I’m not sure if North Carolina really feels like “home” yet. Intellectually it mostly does, but on another level I’m not quite there yet. I think a lot of it is because we’re still renting, so I haven’t really had a home here yet. But this past weekend we went out driving around neighborhoods for the first time since we got here, checking out for sale flyers and taking notes on which neighborhoods we like. Early next year when we’re closer to looking at houses for real, I have a feeling I’ll be much closer to being able to call North Carolina home.
Thanks for letting me share my random thoughts about living in this new place with you guys. My thoughts are kind of all over the place (probably because, duh, they're random thoughts!), but overall, at four months in, I still think we made the right decision to move here.
Here's to looking forward to "second summer" and upcoming house hunting!