The Road Trip: Day 3+4 (Oh My Sweet Carolina and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight)

Pardon the interruption. Not having internet for a day was rough.

On the 28th, I left Nashville early and headed towards North Carolina. Charlotte was my first city. I had no clear reason to pick Charlotte as the first city of the 10 Cities Project, and that’s because when I started doing this, there was no project. I had just finished college and I didn’t have anything better to do. If I had known I was seriously going to pursue this ridiculous idea (which was, in its origin, a joke), I probably wouldn’t have started here.

Yet, in retrospect, I think it’s an excellent city to have lived in. Considering that Charlotte is an up-and-coming metropolis built on a steady influx of twentysomethings with jobs in the banking industry, there’s mighty fertile material for a piece comparing 2005, pre-Recession Charlotte with 2015, post-Recession Charlotte. I’m not so sure I’m the guy to write that particular piece, but it’s ripe for the picking. You’re welcome.

Even if that weren’t the case, I don’t regret my year in Charlotte one iota. I met one of my best friends there and one of the true great loves of my life. In your 20s, I don’t know that you can ask for much more.

Upon returning to the city, I found it both startlingly familiar (like tangible déjà vu) and unsurprisingly different. Both of my places of employment have closed, and there are new buildings and stores all over my former neighborhood, but my post-work stomping ground, Eddie’s Place, is still there and even the sight of the same row of fast food restaurants brought back memories (specifically, the memory that I haven’t eaten McDonald’s since the second time their food made me sick, right there in Charlotte).

As the first city, Charlotte was more so about exploring who I was than exploring the city, but I still feel fondness for this Southern Belle.

Downtown 2

I don’t have any friends who still live in Charlotte – though I’m sure old acquaintances are around – so I stayed with my friend in the Chapel Hill area. After an early lunch, I was back on the road to Washington, D.C.

If you’re keeping count at home, no, D.C. was not one of the cities for the project. It was, however, the first city I lived in other than Lawrence, Kansas. I spent a summer here with a girlfriend during college and loved it. I’ve always wanted to return and spend more time here. However, I felt that because I had been here before, it wouldn’t be true to the project to include it. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a brief visit now.

I met up with another old friend here and we had dinner on H Street before meeting more of her friends in Dupont Circle for drinks. From what I understand, the city has changed dramatically since I lived here nearly a decade ago, but my experience of it was so narrow back then (mostly downtown and in the various Smithsonians) that I would be unable to tell you what’s new.

That said, today I’m going to explore a bit more of the city before heading on to Philadelphia. I wonder if what I see will be completely foreign, or if I’ll get hit with a little more of that déjà vu.

That’s it for now. I’ll (hopefully) post again tomorrow morning. Until then, follow me on Twitter and,