Thursday, August 09, 2012

Charlotte – How We First Came to the Queen City

Charlotte, North Carolina is a special place for Daniel and I. It is the first big city we lived in and really our first time to feel like we were on our own and truly grown up, not just two kids playing house.

We initially came to the Queen City when Daniel received a job offer from a landscape architecture firm as a civil engineer. It was February of 2004 and the economy was doing great. We didn't know a soul and our closest family members were 7 hours away. We were still newlyweds, married just over two years at the time. We didn't really know what to expect. I left a good job in Cookeville, TN and we threw ourselves into the task of becoming adults...

We rented an apartment uptown, two blocks from Daniel's firm. At the time, there was very little happening uptown after the hours of 5pm. The banking community would have a mass exodus from center city as employees fled the downtown area. It was actually kind of bizarre to live where we lived. It was great for Daniel in terms of proximity to work, but at the time, we didn't really feel like we lived in a city. 

After 9 months of listening to the trains rumble by our apartment in 4th Ward, we finally took the plunge and bought our first house... a fixer upper in South Charlotte. It took us 5 years to renovate that house. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it. Also a lot of love. 

During the course of our time in Charlotte, I worked as a graphic designer for a real estate company and a product development company; I also freelanced from home and taught at a local community college. Our years were full and we generally felt blessed.

We found friends and community in the form of a small group from our church. We didn't always feel connected at church itself, but the weekly meals and bible study in our friend's homes made us feel like we had a place.

In 2009, with the collapse of the economy and the housing market, Daniel experienced a layoff. It was not unexpected, but a layoff is hard nonetheless, even when you know it is a real possibility. Our last year in Charlotte was a difficult one, but after 12 months of nose-to-the grindstone searching, Daniel found a job in a new industry in a new state and we left the city that helped us become "grown ups." This was also when we got Sophie – our beloved dog that has changed our lives forever.

This week, we have come back for our first visit {together} in more than two years. A lot has changed –for one, we now have a wonderful little guy who has brought us abundant joy– but a lot is still the same.

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