In fact, when I checked through customs on the way home and put down $50.00 on the claim card and the customs guy asked me what I bought, I shamefully had to tell him that I'd lied on the form because I didn't think he'd believe that I could have gone away without bringing back something. He asked me how many bags I'd checked. I said none. He looked at my modern rolling suitcase - modern in that it's basically the size of a backpack - smiled exasperatedly and advised that it's okay to put $0 down. I'm still not convinced but seriously, if he'd opened up my suitcase there would have been 4 well-worn things in it. (On the way down I stuffed it full of good preloved items for my sister and nieces.) And I was so shot from the (delayed, natch) flight that I didn't have time to make up a purchase on the spot.
I've been to NC a few times before. My family hasn't lived there for that long, and I haven't been as many times as I'd have liked to, but here's what I have observed about Charlotte from a bird's eye view:
- The weather is perfect. Summer, winter - it doesn't matter. Those people hit the weather jackpot.
- The planning is beautiful. All that good weather makes for some spectacular plant life which is gorgeously respected - and ameliorated, even - by gorgeous architecture. This is not a town that hides it's beautiful homes in the hard-to-find enclaves. Every thoroughfare is perfectly manicured and maintained with absurdly beautiful homes and churches.
- The downtown core, while clean and lovely, is not particularly lively. (Ed. Note: I do happen to live in one of the most lively cities on the continent, so I'm biased.)
- The people seem friendly and polite. And relaxed.
- It's a rather religious town. On Sunday morning (when my sister and her kids were at church, fyi), my mother and I ran into a neighbour on the road. She, in hat and gloves, asked if we were going to St. _____. We said, no, we were off to Starbucks, which is kind of like a church. Deadpan, she rebutted with "I've heard a lot of people are joining up there." It was a friendly moment like many I experienced over the weekend.
- Point is, this is one wholesome crowd. (Or maybe I'm just particularly deviant in the way only North Easterners can be! :-))
- Seemingly in contrast to mores and (dare I suggest it) primness, there were a lot of breast implants. On really young people. And, while people are always on about the increasing girth of North Americans, this is a slim town. And a blond town. So there were a surprising number of wholesome looking, buff women with proportions and colouring like Barbie.
- Again, in contrast to the implants, the style is super-conservative. Dresses seem to be the norm, apparently, unless you wear J Crew-style jeans, Ts and over the shoulder sweaters. The dresses are below-the-knee. The styles are "proper". The colours are cheerful and they match. There was a remarkable prominence of black and white graphic patterns on wrap styles. I felt a bit freakish in my eclecticism. And I was so toned down I shocked myself. Hello, I wore an over the shoulder tied sweater. It was electric yellow, but still!