The most Frequently Asked Question I get since I moved here is, “Why Raleigh?” The answer has many facets internally but is really rather simple. I knew I needed to get out of the Bay Area and I knew that I was entering a point in my life where I needed to really push the boundaries of my comfort zone. There was no growth staying on the west coast, where I lived my entire life. I needed a very different environment that was going to challenge me in many different ways.
As I was pondering the map of the United States, Raleigh kept coming up for me. So a year ago this week I flew from Oakland to Raleigh to check out the area (and also see if I could exist in southern summer weather without dropping dead).
I know I look pissed off in this photo but I hadn’t slept and the sun/cloud combination was glaring. I actually was pretty damn happy that I found a parking garage that charged me only $7 for ALL-FRIKKIN-DAY PARKING. It’s next to impossible to find parking in San Francisco that doesn’t charge $7 an hour.
I had a couple of ideas of where I wanted to go on my visit but otherwise left my itinerary wide open. Raleigh was completely new to me and I wanted to dip back and forth into touristy stuff and places locals frequent.
Raleigh was incredibly friendly and welcoming: I never felt like a stranger. Now that I’ve lived here for nearly six months, I still find kindness and friendliness abound (well, maybe not so much on the freeways…holy crap people, save the tailgating for the sporting events!).
On my last evening at my AirBnB I was talking with my host and I think we both knew that I would be back. I think I was looking for reasons to NOT move here and if anything the heat and humidity would have been the dealbreaker. I fared a lot better than I thought I would, once I learned that carrying a bottle of water around with me was mandatory, if I didn’t want to pass out on the sidewalk.
In Raleigh, I found a comfortable place, yet it pulls me out of my comfort zone. A place that is friendly to me, but at the same time I am learning to navigate the ways that the south remains inhospitable to people of color and the LGBTQ community. I’m in a place where making a living won’t drain my energy to make a life. A place with tremendous creative energy and a community that challenges me to NOT fall back into old habits and limiting thought patterns.
I’m glad I made the choice to make Raleigh a home for me and Dos Gatos Locos.