Living Here Guide

A city that sneaks up on you

Whether it’s taking a picture with the shimmery Firebird sculpture outside the Bechtler Museum in uptown or cheering on the Carolina Panthers, there’s something about living in Charlotte
Whether it’s taking a picture with the shimmery Firebird sculpture outside the Bechtler Museum in uptown or cheering on the Carolina Panthers, there’s something about living in Charlotte mhames@charlotteobserver.com

You came to Charlotte a little while back.

The plan was simple. Stay a few years. Add a line or two to your resume. Go find another place, a better city, or something back home.

Charlotte can be convenient that way. You can show up, get what you want, and not have to pay too much. We’re a drive-thru kind of city.

But for a lot of us, this place becomes something else. Maybe it happens walking to a Charlotte Knights game or driving to your kid’s soccer game or taking the light rail to your favorite uptown spot.

At some point, Charlotte becomes something different.

It becomes home.

This can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. Charlotte is comfortable and kind and, bit by bit, getting cooler. Spend enough time here, and that plan you had gets packed away with the moving boxes.

How will you know when that’s happening? You’ll know when:

You start following Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Twitter.

You find yourself defending the lack of snowplows here compared to colder places.

You feel a tiny swell of pride when a visitor notices how tidy your downtown is – or when a cool visitor notices the energy it has.

You take those visitors past the house that was on “Homeland.”

You remember to avoid the church traffic on Providence Road late Sunday morning.

You’re a willing part of that traffic.

You know just how far back to stand when taking someone’s picture at the Firebird in front of the Bechtler Museum.

You take a side on mountains vs. beaches.

You take a side on UNC vs. Duke.

You think the Queens Road/Queens Road intersection is more amusing than annoying.

You realize that east Charlotte is a cultural treasure.

You realize that there is chicken as good as Price’s in other places here.

You’re smart enough not to say the chicken thing out loud.

You worry that your favorite brewery might be threatened by all these startups.

You get irritated when you take a trip north and someone lays on the horn too quickly.

You get irritated when you take a trip south and have to drive through Atlanta traffic.

You find yourself switching back and forth between the Panthers game and the one involving the team you grew up cheering for.

You finally buy a Panthers jersey.

You refuse to wear that jersey until the team does something about that %$@# offensive line.

That’s when you’ll know.

You’re home now.

Peter is an Observer columnist and associate editor of the editorial pages.

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