Ten years ago I was spending my last night in Ohio before climbing into my family’s Buick on the way to NC. It was my first time leaving Ohio and everything I’d called home for the first 13 years of my life. In the decade that I’ve lived here the world has changed quite a bit. Back in June 2006:
Blockbuster (which was still a thing) had just cleared out its VHS collection
Twitter was a month away from its launch date
The Devil Wears Prada had just come out
Jake Delhomme was quarterbacking for the Panthers and doing SunCom commercials
Marley & Me was on the NYT Bestseller’s list
Saturn was still making cars
Brittany Murphy was alive and David Letterman was still on TV
American Idol and the CSI franchise were dominating television
Some of our favorite celebrities looked like this
Moving to the South from the Midwest was a huge adjustment. I had to learn that iced tea isn’t a thing here — it’s “sweet tea.” Pepsi rules over Coca-Cola in the Carolinas (I still disagree) and Bojangles is more important than KFC. I saw black motorcyclists for the first time (seriously), and quickly learned that no one lives here without choosing a collegiate allegiance. Overall I have enjoyed this state. NC is a special place geographically, combining the beauty of mountains, coastline, and carefully crafted urban-suburban areas. The weather is ten times better than Ohio, and although it never feels like Christmas without snow on the ground, I’ve officially been spoiled and at times find myself shivering when the temperature drops below 40 (North Carolinians still don’t know what snow is or how to plow it, but I forgive them).
It’s crazy that a decade later Cleveland is the winner of the NBA Finals something I, and many others, could only dream about as a kid. I can imagine the excitement everyone feels in NE Ohio. I’ve only been back two times since moving, and last year’s trip was especially heartwarming. I enjoyed seeing how much everything has changed but also remains the same. I love my home state and all the parts of it that make me who I am. I’m a proud Ohioan, no matter where I end up in life or how much pulled pork I eat. There still will be no better grocery store than Giant Eagle, no better drive-in than Swenson’s, and no greater hometown than Kent. I could go at length about all the things I miss, but I’ll keep it short and say that I’m thankful for my home state and I’m thankful for the opportunities NC has provided. Moving was difficult and exciting; so new and beautiful. I wish every day felt like those first days here in the Old North State. Here’s to 10 years North Carolina!