Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Here it is.

Things have been falling into place on the house front around here lately. We've been quite busy - working from early morning until the sun goes down all weekend long, so sorry for the lack of recent posts. I'll try to follow up soon with photos of the finished & nearly finished projects. Our upstairs permit reno is finally coming to a close. Hopefully we'll be getting our final inspection this Friday. After that we just need to clean, hang the wallpaper (we'll be hiring out) & mount some shelving in the linen closet and our bathroom will be open for business. YAY!! After that permit is closed out we can officially begin the rest of the work up there. Maybe we'll even be moving in upstairs by late next spring.....maybe!

My real reason for writing this post however is because today is the day I am finally going to say what's been on my mind (& Ben's too - we're in agreement about all of what's to come) for
the past 1 year, 2 months & 6 days. In other words, exactly how long we've been living in Charlotte.

First let me start with a couple of warnings.
What you are about to read (#1) will not contain any photos so if you tune if to look at the pretty pictures you should probably just close out this window and move on to some other blog. (#2) You may be offended by what you are about to read. It's not all bad, but there is quite a bit of negativity about to be written so if you'd rather not be bogged down, Goodbye. I hope you come back for future posts. To my our defense though, this is a written diary of our lives, projects & experiences, not a fairy tale with a happy ending - real life. If you don't like it, go write your own.

This post has not been premeditated, nor has it been carefully written, reread or revised. It does not reflect all aspects of our lives here nor is it final. It's just the way I'm feeling right at this moment. That's my disclaimer. I'm human. Things are always subject to change.

Honestly, it's not that we don't like Charlotte, because we do - or at least we are learning trying to. It's just that the culture here is so different from the laid back, friendly, peaceful ways of Colorado that we are simply noticing, experiencing & reflecting on the differences. There are a lot of great things about North Carolina in general that we've come to love. To prove it, here's a quick list off the top of my head.

What we ♥ about NC: BBQ, trees, the diversity (definitely more than CO has), having mountains, beaches & other cities nearby, the physical beauty of the city of Charlotte, the quaint bungalow homes & many of the people we've met, including various co-workers & neighbors (except for the crazy one in the pink house across the street).

There are a couple of major issues that we however also have with Charlotte. Bear in mind that I am speaking in generalizations.

#1. People are overly focused on money & things
Everybody around here seems to want you to know that they have money. From their shiny, flashy luxury or want-to-be luxury vehicles to their beach or mountain houses, the old money speaks loudly here in Charlotte & the new money is equally as vocal. It is my observation that the longer the drawl the more dough they want you to believe is stored away in their bank account! Seriously though, it seems like every young person here drives some sort of luxury vehicle - almost like a rite of passage. You're nothing unless you've spent a lot of money on your wheels. It just annoying to us because we're used to a sea of Subaru's that haven't been washed in months & after living in Guatemala, who really cares what kind of car you drive? Like Ben often says, a car is the worst kind of investment. The minute you drive it off the lot it loses value! And if it isn't the car, it's the house(s) & stuff for in them. Maybe I have a biased viewpoint on this one since I do work at the "it" mall in the area & interact daily with Charlotte's most elite. Regardless, we understand that money is necessary to live, but money isn't our reason for living.

#2. The gossip mill is fierce down here y'all.
In general this place just feels like it breeds gossip. Whether it be one neighbor talking about another or a co-worker whispering behind your back, the overall atmosphere just feels more gossipy than we are used to. Granted I do think there is something about retail that breeds gossip but Ben has also found himself in all wrapped up in it too. Really, there are times when we both feel like we've been thrown back into Jr. High. We both believe in the philosophy of saying it to your face if/when the situation calls for it, but jumping on board the gossip train seems to be the preferred method here. Maybe what I'm not so eloquently saying is that we miss our non-gossipy friends.
Enough said.

#3. We stand firm in believing that Nascar is not a sport.
Unfortunately our beliefs are the minority and the rest of the greater Charlotte area is the majority. Together we have been nearly run off the road more times in the year that we've lived here than we ever have since being awarded our driver's licenses 15 & 18 years ago. (OMG, I just realized that I have been driving nearly half of my life. Now I really feel old.) Charlotte has race car fever. A simple drive to work often feels like you're taking laps around the track. Forget ever trying to merge lanes or have a friendly driver allow you the right of way. Not going to happen. Additionally, it's like taking your life in your own hands to ride a bicycle (although nothing will ever stop Ben from riding his bike & it makes me sick with worry).

#4. Our mindset doesn't really seem to gel with the majority.
You know how many people ask us about living in Guatemala? Nobody really. We're not looking to gush over how amazing our experience was there, it's just that when you hear something that unique about a person it's a natural thing to talk about. And it was a really huge part of our lives that we now would claim really defines us - a changing point, if you may. Here though, we think it's just so foreign that no one really knows what to think about it. The general population here doesn't seem to be as well traveled as we were used to in Colorado, and especially not to developing countries. Plus the whole renovating the house ourselves thing seems to make us a bit odd too. Literally we have people just stare at us while we work in our yard. And when they do talk it's always about how much work we are doing ourselves - ie. rather than hiring it out. It wouldn't have been weird in Colorado, but I suppose it makes us strange ducks here.

#5. Living in the city gets you nowhere here.
One of the most frustrating things about where we live in Charlotte is how inconvenient it is to do the everyday things that life requires. We love our city neighborhood and if there ever was going to be a place where we felt "at home" here in Charlotte, it's in this neighborhood. Unfortunately the city of Charlotte doesn't put much priority on the up and coming neighborhoods like ours - rather they prioritize the higher end ones. It's sad especially considering how much work we (and many of our neighbors) put into renovating our historic homes. But back to the point at hand. I spend so much time driving across town just to run errands that used to be so quick and easy. Fortunately we live close to a Target & Trader Joes but really that's it. I have to drive literally 15 miles to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond. That's pure crazy. Charlotte is a suburban city & caters to those that live there. We took for granted how many conveniences were located within the city of Denver and since we don't ever think we'll live in the 'burbs (where things would be more convenient) it just doesn't feel like this city will be home forever.

Well, there you have it - a quick stream of consciousness about our lives here. I really hope that you haven't been offended by what you read.
A lot of you have been asking when I would post something on how we are liking things here, and for some reason today just felt right. I didn't mean for it to sound like whining either; rather just a frank conversation about how we see it. While there are some negatives, we are making the best of our situation and don't believe in feeling sorry for ourselves. We try to have a positive outlook and are optimistic that Charlotte will continue to feel more and more like home as time goes on. Of course we'd jump at the chance to be back with our friends, but hopefully that will come in good time!


Natalie said...

I saw the title and I thought that this was going to be a post with the final pictures of the complete bathroom.  I was a wee bit disappointed that it was not.  BUT, I did read your whole post and I'm glad you got that off your chest.  I hope you feel better.  I agree with just about everything you said.  All of those negatives would annoy me too.  Especially the gossiping and the driving far to get everywhere.  And the focus on money.  Well, like I said, all of them.

Julie Cofield said...

Hey, I have talked to you about Guatemala! I'm so sorry you are unhappy here. Finish your house and get out of here, life is too short to be unhappy! If nothing else get a different job, a change of scenery will do you good. I know I will miss you. 

kristalengacher said...

No Julie, we aren't unhappy. It's just a really big difference than what we would normally choose. We don't believe in living miserably so we want & try to make the best of any situation we're in, but you can't hide from your true feelings!