26 first experiences Charlotte gave me in 26 years

Our lifetimes are full of firsts. And since I’m a Charlotte native, born 26 years ago today, most of my lifetime has been spent accumulating experiences here. Twenty-six first experiences Charlotte has given me:

(1) First breath: At Presbyterian Hospital (now Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center) on Dec. 16, 1989. My brother breathed three minutes before me.

(2) First star-gazing spot: Flat on my back on my parents’ driveway in Piper Glen.

(3) First adult purchase: A couch at Haverty’s in Pineville.

(4) First yoga practice: At Charlotte Yoga.

(5) First car: A black Infiniti QX4 from the Independence Road dealership. Her name was Trinity.

(6) First car accident: I was running late for band class my senior year at Charlotte Latin and parked against my friend’s truck.

(7) First concert: Josh Groban at Time Warner Cable Arena during his “Awake” tour.

(8) First coffee love: Panera Bread’s hazelnut blend at the Ballantyne Village spot. But now I’m snobby and grind locally roasted beans at home.

(9) First dance in the street: My group of friends used to stop on the way home from every middle school dance and do the Chicken Dance somewhere along Raintree Lane. We were fearless. And weird.

(10) First career dream: To be a doctor. Inspired by my dad’s work with Charlotte Gastroenterology and Hepatolgy. Good joke.

(11) First taste of sushi: RIP Mai Sushi at Colony Place.

(12) First cooking experience: Dangling hunks of bread from skewers into a vat of melted cheese at the Melting Pot at Kings Court Shopping Center. Totally counts.

(13) First half marathon: Thunder Road.

(14) First internship: Editorial internship at Charlotte Parent Magazine. I had my own cubicle and everything.

(15) First drivers license renewal: My new card came in the mail two days before today’s expiration date. I procrastinate.

(16) First slip-up from vegetarianism: I ordered a beet taco at Maverick Rock Taco on Montford. I got beef.

(17) First kiss: A fateful moment in Providence Plantation.

(18) First Mexican food obsession: My family and I were longtime regulars at Monterrey on Park Road. I could live off of Mexican.

(19) First bike ride: In the Calvary Church parking lot.

(20) First volunteer commitment: I volunteered at Carolinas Medical Center Pineville for two summers during high school, once in the dietary unit and once in the maternity ward. I was really good at making name tags.

(21) First roller coaster experience: The Goldrusher at Carowinds.

(22) First silent disco: At Rooftop 210.

(23) First fundraising endeavor: Guys & Dolls Auction to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

(24) First debutante ball: I was a spectator at Myers Park Country Club.

(25) First memory: Sitting on dark carpeted stairs in my first house, in Oxford Hunt, with my brother.

(26) First place I started to feel settled: In the townhouse I rent in Dilworth.

It’s funny. Charlotte is the first place I ever wanted to leave. I had the senior-year itch in 2008 and I was dying to start fresh somewhere, anywhere. I chose Richmond for that. But so many of my memories are here, so much of my family is here, so many of my firsts are here.

Sure, Charlotte is the first place I ever wanted to leave. But it’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to come home to.