Two Heartfelt Years in North Carolina

Today marks exactly two years since I arrived in North Carolina and became an official resident. Sugarface and I packed up our things and caravanned with our dogs for three days to move from Texas to North Carolina. We had a one-day detour to visit his family in Arkansas. It was there that both our cars got infested with ants, forcing us to drive almost ten-hours with ants swarming our car interiors. I had a lint roller in one hand I used to whack at ants while the other hand steered. I have goosebumps just thinking about that drive!

My work was rooted in Texas. Most of everyone I love lived and still lives in Texas. I knew but one person in the Triangle. The first six months were so hard, but I’ve always been extremely goal-oriented. I made making friends a goal. I kept my Texas clients by batching their photo sessions together to help cover my travel home.

It was rough. I cried a lot. I missed everyone. I had no close friends or real work. I was burning through my savings.

Now two years later, I’m so happy I followed my love to North Carolina. I thought I was doing it just to be with him, but it became such a great move for me too. It’s still a struggle building up my work life here, but I’m now better adjusted. There is so much to be thankful for. Here are just a few wonderful things I observed about my not-that-new-anymore life chapter in North Carolina.

I am immersed in Southern Fare!

Being born and raised in Houston, I always self-identified as a southerner and assumed what I ate in Texas was mostly Southern food. Oh, how was I wrong! One of the first fun discoveries I made was that the biscuit sandwiches, pimento cheese, fried chicken, cornbread, and shrimp and grits game in North Carolina is more robust than it is in Texas. (Barbecue and tacos are still up for debate in my heart.)

Biscuit by Oak Steakhouse

It’s so much easier to explore neighboring states by car when you’re not in the great state of Texas.

And because I spend all my airfare budget now to get to Texas, it’s so awesome that I can road trip to other states more easily from North Carolina. I could be driving nine hours and still be in Texas. It’s refreshing to drive only a few hours and be in another state. I road-tripped to South Carolina and D.C. while living here. The geography of North Carolina also makes the Triangle so wonderful. I have mountains to one side of me and the coast to the other!

Carolina Beach - Girl Eats World

I now live where my dad first experienced the United States.

It’s been eight months and fourteen days since my dad passed away. I cherish all the little connections I can trace between our lives now. I find so much joy in the fact that I live in the town where my dad first experienced the US. Seven years before becoming a refugee and permanently immigrating here, he was on a work trip to the US. He stayed in Chapel Hill and was in a program for Vietnamese high school teachers geared towards birth control education! It was in Chapel Hill he experienced his first stop signs, squirrels, cantaloupe, and KFC. Had I not moved to North Carolina, I wouldn’t have had a chance to treat him to a trip to Chapel Hill forty-four years after his first trip.

Two Years in North Carolina
That’s my dad somewhere in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, September 1974. Before his almost 3-year long imprisonment in a Vietnamese Reeducation Camp.

I learned my heart can always expand and love more.

I had a conversation with an old friend of mine who moved from Texas to California. I asked him how he was adjusting. It’s been a couple of years now, and he admitted he was a little lonely. I asked if he was trying to make friends there, knowing how difficult it can be as adults! He shared with me that he felt like he was betraying his friends in Austin if he tried to replace them. I wish I could have hugged him! I could never replace my friends in Texas and would never want to. But I totally found some new humans in North Carolina whom I love so much. Your heart has the capacity to accept and give more love.

I now have two homes.

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” 
― James Baldwin

I have an obscene amount of Texas pride. But after some time, I noticed I was also now missing North Carolina when I’m in Texas. I assumed when I first moved that I’ll always feel displaced when I’m in North Carolina. But now it too feels like home. Because it has a part of my heart.

So this concludes my tribute to North Carolina. I cannot wait to see how my time here continues to unfold!

So, tell me, friends. How long have you lived in your current city of residence? Any stories you can share about moving away?

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