It’s been almost a week since I finished work here and began to enjoy my last bit of time in beautiful North Carolina. Monday – my last day with my colleagues – flew by and before I knew it my tired feet were stepping towards the international arrivals area of the airport. I collected my travel-weary mum and dad that evening and since then it’s been a busy week trying to share with them all the delights of the North Carolina capital.
One of my favourite things to do here, all year round, has been to walk. Don’t get me wrong, I long to return to a place where I can walk out of my front door and carry on walking without the need to drive somewhere first. I have missed pavements and pedestrianized towns. But I have loved walking here. The car trips to parks and lakes and nature reserves have been worth it. So since that has been my favourite way to while away time here, it’s been the thing we have done most of since my parents arrived. Well that, and eat.
We’ve walked around lakes, we’ve walked around parks, we’ve walked around malls and shopping villages and art galleries. We’ve also walked around at least five different grocery stores in the short five days so far, but that’s another story…! It’s fair to say we have walked; my poor old dad’s knees will testify to just how far!
In and amongst all the walking, I have made sure to immerse my parents in a healthy bit of Southern culture. Though my mum has travelled to this part of the world before – Tennessee, y’all – it is the first time my dad’s feet have touched American soil. I’m not sure he’s a fan of the humid weather, but he is a fan of the food. One day, a lazy morning saw us enjoy a leisurely trip out for brunch at a famous nearby cafe. I enjoyed a healthy smoothie (I do have the Stateside Seventeen to shift, after all 😉 ) while my mum and dad tucked into biscuits and cranberry butter, followed closely after by bacon and grits. Later that day, we strolled around the Farmer’s Market and tasted boiled peanuts and kettle corn, with okra on the menu for dinner tonight. The culinary journey continues…
What’s been most strange as we have driven and walked around town these past few days, is that I have been the expert. Of course, I’m no expert when it comes to North Carolina. I’m no native and I’ll always be the transplant, I suppose. But compared to my parents, I’m positively local; if local means I don’t need to use satnav anymore and I know where the good grocery stores and the cheapest gas stations are! But to be able to play tour guide has been a blast!
We’ve just a few weeks left now before I say goodbye to North Carolina once and for all. Though that does sound a little final – I’ll be back as a well-informed traveller, I’m sure! But once I board that plane headed across the Atlantic, I’ll no longer be a resident. When I walk these streets again it will be as a visitor.
It’s a strange feeling.