On Settling In: Part Two (and Noodles)
On our way home from the grocery store the other night, Rob and I walked past a Thai restaurant in our neighborhood and it reminded me of a bad day I had in July. Rice noodles in savory beef broth or topped with peanut sauce and bean sprouts are sort of my comfort food, so whenever I'm sad or upset (or just hungry), you can usually find me ordering Pad Thai takeout (or a big huge bowl of pho). We got food from there once but haven't been back, even though it's within walking distance.
As we walked down the street, grocery bags in hand on our way home together, that restaurant on the corner said hey, you live here in a way that nothing else really has so far here in Charlotte.
In July, Rob was already working here during the week and I was in Minneapolis packing up our stuff. He'd come home on the weekends and we'd do all of the things we used to do when he lived there and I was the one visiting--Modern Times breakfasts and happy hours at Chino Latino and visits to kooky bookstores with almond milk lattes in hand. It was fun and it felt like vacation and one weekend he stayed and I came to Charlotte for the week, where we stayed at the Residence Inn he had been living out of. One night I felt overwhelmed and anxious, so we picked up two orders of Pad Thai and ate them in bed at our hotel while we watched whatever was on TV. I never felt like I lived somewhere less than at that moment, crying into my Styrofoam container of not-spicy-enough noodles.
We always said we were going to stay in Charlotte and I think we will, which is why we haven't yet put much effort into getting to know it. There's no rush like there was in Minneapolis, where we spent only a year and a half combined. Rob was there for six months alone and then I joined him from August to August and we went to museums and concerts and as many restaurants as possible. We saw lakes and walked around Minnehaha Falls. We went to Wisconsin twice and drove to Chicago once and felt very much a part of the Midwest. And we ate the best Pad Thai from a little hole-in-the-wall place down the street from our apartment on a regular basis.
I look back on Minneapolis as this dreamy little pocket of time in our lives where the climate was extreme and most of the time we felt like we were living in a different world more than just a different state. We planned our wedding and got married and came home from our honeymoon to our first married summer and it was the best. I packed up our apartment and thought man, this is going to be hard to top.
But Charlotte is where we will celebrate our first married anniversary, and where we get a dog, and it's where we hang things on the wall without worrying about having to take it all down in eight months and fill the holes with that pink caulk that turns white when it dries. It might even be where we have children. We wake up and live regular days and we meet for lunch or coffee and we take the train and we walk everywhere and on the weekends we sleep in and I make eggs and we don't always go out much but our apartment really feels like home.
I think it was a literary criticism class where we talked a bit about vertical moments in stories; how books need horizontal ones as well--not just action, but quiet passages, too--and that's so true, isn't it? Because so much of life happens in the in-between. Even if it isn't snowing, and even if the Pad Thai you get one day when you're sad isn't that good.
So we walk to the grocery store and on our way home we quietly pass that Thai restaurant on the corner and I think hey, I live here and it's good.