Six weeks ago today we arrived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
I suppose I should have a lot more to say about the place, but I’ve spent most of the past 42 days right here, tapping into my keyboard. Went on a few hikes, dutifully recounted on my hiking blog. We moved out of Melissa’s mom’s living room after a month. We like having our own four walls, even if it means having a landlord.
So what do I think of North Carolina? Liking it so far, mainly because it appears to be turning into California. It already has mountains on one end and an ocean on the other (while the mountains are smaller, the beaches are more welcoming than the bone-chilling shores of Northern California — fair trade-off, I’d say). It has a burgeoning high-tech sector and a growing population that’s getting more diverse every day.
Truth is, there’s nothing I could say about this place right now that wouldn’t come across as a caricature — either of me, the stranger in the new place, or the place itself, whose strangeness lies entirely in the eyes of the beholder. I still feel like a guest in somebody else’s state, so hatin’ on the hosts is not high on my to-do list.
Melissa and I have had 14 address changes in the past 20 years — from Tampa, to Peoria, to San Jose, to Winston-Salem. Seems like we’re always someplace new, so I’ve learned to distrust first impressions. We have all the Taco Bells and Outback Steakhouses and Targets and Office Maxes that everybody else has. The terrain here is rolling, green and generally pleasing to the eye. Are there hellholes? Sure. Is there crime, bigotry and unnecessary unpleasantness afoot? Yeah. Our suburban sprawl looks just like your suburban sprawl.
Nothing has influenced my conclusion that there is very little true diversity within our species. Biologically we’re almost identical. People in this part of the United States have digestive tracts optimized for hunting and gathering on the plains of Africa, just like folks in every other nook and cranny of our planet.
So right now my life doesn’t feel all that much different. I’m getting freelance work that requires me to move words around on a computer screen, just like my old job. I am thankful that I’m no longer obliged to chronicle the daily depravity we have come to think of as “news.” I think I earned a vacation after 20 years.
I figure no matter what zip code you live in, you’ve only got one true address: the corpus carrying your brain and bodily organs. It contains all the tools you need to survive no matter where you live, so long as you have access to water, shelter and warmth. We’ve got all that stuff.