Published: Dec 18, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 06, 2012 05:58 PM
A recent bright Carolina blue Saturday morning found my little family marching with Cub Scout Pack 830 down Franklin Street from the planetarium to the Carrboro Fire Station, and I couldn't help but think that this an aspect of Chapel Hill that is brand new to me... that every time my life changes, I discover something new about the town I thought I knew.
I've lived here since I was a junior at UNC, give or take a year or two, and still find myself discovering new aspects of this sweet little town with every new phase of life.
I arrived fresh from a small town, via an all-girls junior college, and was plunked down in the middle of a nest of friends, boys, beer and parties.
The Chapel Hill that I knew as a student was chilly walks through campus between my dorm and the journalism school, nights out at Purdy's or Granville Towers floor mixers, all-nighters before tests - complete with disgusting coffee made in the sink from instant packets and powdered cream from the cafeteria.
The Chapel Hill of the post-graduation me was a whirl of nights at the Cat's Cradle, midnight meals at Time Out, seeing old films at the Carolina, afternoons hanging out at Ruthless Records and browsing through racks of vintage threads at shops like Time After Time, and boys who played in bands.
I spent my thirties in philosophical pursuits, getting to know the folks at the Chapel Hill Bible Church, a close-knit congregation that started with a few hippies who loved the Bible in Gerard Hall in 1972. I also got to meet and learn from members of other local faith communities.
In an uncharacteristically daring move, I lived in Asheville for a couple of years, but returned to this side of heaven to get married at age 39. Did I mention there are men here? My husband and I spent our child-free days and nights enjoying the cool restaurants and cultural things the town and the university has to offer: shows at Memorial Hall, plays at PlayMakers, films at the Varsity, browsing at School Kids Records and Borders, and at the Cat's Cradle, where we mostly saw what I called "sit-down" shows - like Ralph Stanley, Bruce Cockburn and Jerry Douglas.
And even now, in my 40s, I continue to discover new aspects of Chapel Hill at every turn. Having a child introduced me to a chummy group of parents who care about their kids in the extreme, to a community of daycare and education professionals who love my kid and want him to learn and grow, to a place full of wonderlands for little Tar Heels: North Carolina Botanical Garden and the Coker Arboretum, public parks, the Planetarium, Kidzu ... even UNC's campus becomes a garden of delights for a curious little wanderer.
Having a child led me to the more flexible employment of having my own graphic business, which opened up yet another side of Chapel Hill: a great group of men and women who own and run local businesses. I started attending meetings of the Chapel Hill Leads Group - and honestly, at first I thought to my groovy self, "This is kinda cheesy."
Because people were there to shamelessly plug their businesses. Each person gets 30 seconds to speak about their business - something that, after a year, I am still not altogether comfortable doing. Then they have a speaker and ... PRIZES!
It's silly, it's fun, but most of all, those folks really care about each other. Despite the diversity of the group - they come from all backgrounds and religious and political persuasions - they have a deep affection for one another, supporting each other in good times and bad.
And then there's the Chamber of Commerce. I'm a fairly new member, but through this organization I have met some friendly, hardworking business people who also like to have a good time. I say this, because although the chamber offers loads of services, the one I mainly take advantage of is their monthly Business After Hours ... also known as free food and beverages, optional mingling. ccasionally, I just load up a plate and sit in a corner and wait for people to come to me. And they do - because they're all so dang nice!
So, now I'm looking forward to the next face my town will show me ... because I'm pretty sure there's more.
Julie Moore lives in Chapel Hill.