Parting words for Chapel Hill

Today is LDOC – Last Day Of Class.  For college students, this is an excuse to abandon all responsibility and good sense before finals start.  For other Chapel Hill residents, it is a time to lock your doors and avoid Franklin Street at all costs.  Aside from Halloween, this is probably my least favorite day of the year to be in Chapel Hill.  What better time to reminisce on all the parts I love?

This post is purely for my pleasure.  I have lived in this place for almost a decade; that deserves a moment of reflection. 

  1. As a UNC alum, it is only fitting to start my ode with the Bell Tower and the Old Well. I drank from that well many times and, even though I had some serious sanitation concerns, I truly felt that water was a mixture of magic and luck.  Considering how my life has turned out, I can’t say that it isn’t.  When going to the Bell Tower, look up once you enter the covered archway to see the most beautiful Carolina blue tiles.  Even on the darkest and gloomiest days, the “sky” is always blue at the Bell Tower.
  2. The Bolin Creek trails are some of the best walking paths in this town. As a lover of walks and a pet owner, I have enjoyed living within walking distance of green space.   Bradley and I have taken the girls (Honey and Reece) on many walks along these trails.  We have seen so much wildlife – deer, river otters, more snakes than I preferred, and the occasional blur that you convince yourself was just a squirrel.
  3. Franklin Street Yoga is more than a yoga studio. It is a community.  If you are thinking of trying yoga, I highly recommend this place.  It is a calming sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of Franklin Street.  They also offer AcroYoga courses on occasion – try them out!  I did my first inversion at this studio and broke all yoga etiquette by letting out a squeal when I nailed it.  Namaste.
  4. I love a good burger. Therefore, I love Al’s Burger Shack.  Call ahead and pick-up your order.  Even if you can find seating, skip it and head behind the building to Beer Study.  Once you have gobbled down your burger and enjoyed a pint or two, go next door to The Baxter and try your hand at a wide array of video games and pin ball machines.  It is wonderful.  Bradley and I have made Graham Street a weekend ritual.  I will miss our casual date nights on this strip of town.
  5. The Dead Mule has a really good liquor selection and one of the chilliest atmospheres in the whole city. Bradley and I discovered that they have Jumbling Tower, not to be confused with Jenga.  They are absolutely not the same thing despite the uncanny resemblance.   If you are feeling daring, play the game on a table with slight wobble.  The other patrons will gladly join in your chorus of “Jumbling Tower!” as the loser watches their dreams come crashing to the floor.
  6. Check out the Orange County Department on Aging. Even if you aren’t eligible for AARP yet, this is seriously one of the coolest places in the county.  They are creative, innovative, inclusive, and a whirlpool of diversity.  That group of people is going to change the way we think about aging.  I will always appreciate the work they do.
  7. The Hillsborough Yarn Shop is technically not in Chapel Hill…obviously. But it has always fascinated me and brought me close to quitting my day job for a chance to knit obsessively.  (Don’t worry Mom and Dad – my crushing student debt will always prevent such rash decisions.) Max was the first person to take me there; I’ve been hooked ever since.  I recently purchased some yarn for a “bobbly” sheep pillow.  I will definitely be blogging about that project in the future.
  8. Bradley and I discovered YesterYears shortly after they opened. I was dragging him through Carrboro, and we were leaving Sid’s when we saw a sign that had the word “beer” on it.  Immediately interested, we wandered over to a space that has kept us coming back for almost a year.  We have grooved to the Wiley Fosters, enjoyed Sunday pints promptly at noon, and snuck out back with the girls for the best seating that people always forget about.  It is rarely insanely crowded and the staff are always friendly.  One afternoon at the bar, a (supposed) train hopper taught me a cute saying when cheering with friends:  “Never above you, never below you, always beside you.”  Cheers!

I will always come back here.  This was the first place outside of my childhood home that snagged me by the heart and forced me to grow.  While I will miss it, I can’t wait to see what Virginia has to offer. I sure hope they have hippies in Smithfield.  I love a good hippie. 

In conclusion, a few words by someone else:

“We stand ’round the well in the white gleaming moonlight
And look at the square of the buildings old,
And sharp is thought of tomorrow; tonight
Is the last–ah–we’ve been told
How hard it was, but not till now
Have we felt the deep twisting pain of the parting
From you–Carolina–we did not allow
For the deep biting grief that now we feel starting.

Yet it’s not the old buildings that causes the pain
(You brown, dirty buildings–and God knows that’s true),
But comes back the feeling again and again,
That we part from a friend–Carolina, it’s you.
You cared not for sects or for social degree;
You care not for dogmas or creeds now as then;
You take the crude stuff and you fashion it free,
Till shapen and moulded you send forth your men.

…But sometimes when the Springtime comes,
And the sifting moonlight falls–
They’ll think again of this night here
And of these old brown walls,
Of white old well, and of old South
With bell’s deep booming tone,
They’ll think again of Chapel Hill and–
Thinking–come back home.”

-Thomas Wolfe, UNC c/o 1920

3 thoughts on “Parting words for Chapel Hill

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