Oftentimes, when I’m meeting someone in Charlotte — a city without a distinguished accent if you were to take a poll — my cadence introduces itself before I can extend my arm for a proper handshake. I’ve tried to conceal my “country” many times, but after a couple of drinks, my Southern roots come tumbling out of my mouth.
I’ve become accustomed to the question, “Where are you from?” and wondering if the query stemmed from genuine linguistic curiosity or from sheer hilarity. I flash one of the fakest smiles I can muster and respond quickly, “Trinity … North Carolina … Greensboro area … the 336,” then sigh hoping to signal my lack of interest in further dissecting the origins of my dialect.
Through this column, I’ve shared many aspects of my love-hate relationship with the place I call home. On one hand, it reminds me of how simple life can be — how going from point A to point B can be a slow drive to take in all the sights included in long stretches of land while tracing the curves of the winding back roads with a car’s tires like a finger would on someone’s lower back. I think of fans creating a gentle breeze on hot summer days, with lemonade to quench the thirst and the smells of cookouts or fresh-cut grass, or fire pits on cooler nights.
On the other, after leaving the bubble that is Trinity, I learned that home taught me a lot of other things, too. That I’m more than “just pretty for a Black girl,” for one. That there’s more to life than traveling 15 minutes back and forth to different people’s houses and gossiping about everyone in between.
Other cultures, cuisines, and religions exist. The difference is what makes the world so beautiful. Being afraid of “everything that’s going on in the world” can be so limiting that one day you’ll look up and realize you weren’t living. Everything isn’t just black and white.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with Charlotte. Well, just a couple of weeks ago, everything came full circle when I was able to sit down with one of my best friends from elementary school “back home” at Rosie’s Coffee & Wine Garden on North Davidson Street.
During the thick of the pandemic, I learned my friend had moved to Charlotte and lived just one neighborhood over. We promised we’d get together once things started to open back up. I was nervous and, honestly, chalked the conversation to one of those things that probably wouldn’t happen.
When Black Lives Matter protests were “reinvigorated” at the start of the pandemic, another childhood friend of ours was one of the first people to message me. I was in shock. I knew I had a vivid recollection of my experiences as a child growing up in Trinity, but I didn’t think she had come to the same conclusions I had, or if that was even possible.
I remember how hurt I felt when I was forced to “re-remember” and some of the most precious interactions and relationships I had as bad memories. I didn’t realize how resentful and distanced I’d become toward a lot of the people and the places I grew up around until I saw her message, which included, “I’m sorry.” Yep, I was emotional.
When the opportunity to meet up came about, I remembered the DM and decided it was time to start forgiving myself, others, and even Trinity. As we walked from her complex to the front door at Rosie’s, I felt all my fears fall away. We grabbed a glass of wine and managed to find an unoccupied picnic table nestled along the backside of the beautiful McGill Rose Garden.
For a moment, I relished in the fact that this place made it through quarantine. When Rosie’s replaced Nectar, I remember thinking I shouldn’t get too attached, that it would be just a fleeting pop-up, and yet here it was. It really is a magical place.
My friend and I reminisced on the days when life wasn’t so complicated and discussed what had changed in Trinity, but more so what hadn’t. We were thankful for the family that was still there and how glad we were to make it out. At one point, she said something along the lines of, “We always made you be Scary Spice; ugh, that’s so awful,” referring to the times we would have sleepovers with our friends and dress up like the Spice Girls.
I laughed so hard remembering the moments as a child and being torn between whether or not I wanted to be Scary Spice or had to be Scary Spice. Were we just acting out what our parents and community had taught us? Or were we just children being children carefree and belting out the songs of our favorite girl group and pretending to have British accents?
Whatever the case may be, I realized quickly how comforted I felt getting a chance to “re-know” someone who’d been so much a part of my friendship fabric. Tuesday Trivia faded away in the background as we updated one another on each other’s lives and, of course, gossiped. It was as if nothing had really changed and yet everything had all at the same time. All it took to bring us back together was a couple glasses of wine and a Charlotte garden.