My family’s roots are in North Carolina. My parents were raised and went to college there, and I was born in a small town in the southeastern part of the state. We moved from North Carolina when I was 5 years old, but my extended family still lives here; my parents and I visit several times a year.
I spent the last year at Elon University, which is about 25 minutes east of Greensboro. Even though I’ve visited North Carolina several times a year for my whole life, living in the area has reminded me of what makes this state so special. Now that I’m moving to Tennessee for my first job out of grad school, I’ve been reflecting on my home state and what I’ll miss about living here. I’m definitely excited to move to a new city, but maybe I’m not quite ready to bid adieu to the great Tar Heel state.
Here are eight top reasons I’ll miss living in North Carolina.
1. Barbecue: If you meet anyone from North Carolina and they claim they don’t like barbecue, they’re not telling the truth. Everyone in this state loves barbecue, and everyone has a staunch opinion on what kind of barbecue is superior. Lexington style (more common in western parts of the state) is sweeter and smoky, often topped with a tomato-based sauce. Eastern style is tangy and accompanied by a vinegar-based sauce. I’m a Lexington girl, but I will never say no to some Smithfield’s Chicken & BBQ (which is more Eastern). And down here, “barbecue” is a food, not something you do in the back yard.
Hey Smithfields, can y’all air-drop me some ‘cue once a month or so?
2. Beaches: To me, nothing beats a North Carolina beach. My dad grew up going to Holden Beach on the southern coast, and my parents and I went there in the summers until I was 13. My grandfather then sold his beach house, and unfortunately we haven’t been back. I have the fondest memories of body-boarding in the playful waves, teaching myself to skimboard and hunting for the perfect seashells on the white sand. While I didn’t make it to the beach in the last year, it was nice knowing I was close enough to go if I wanted to.
3. Biscuitville: I’m not kidding, y’all. Try one of their hot, delicious pimento cheese and bacon biscuits and tell me it’s not amazing. Watching the bakers knead the dough and cut out biscuits makes your mouth water in a hot second. Nothing beat a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit with cheese grits on a Saturday morning. Biscuitville over Bojangles, always.
4. Close to Family: This is the closest I’ve lived to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins since my parents and I lived in NC ourselves, way back in the 90s. My mom’s family all live outside of Charlotte, so they’re only about 2 hours from me at Elon. Weekend visits were easy and relaxing. It’s been so nice to be able to see them more often.
5. College (ACC) Basketball: With UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Duke (barf) all close by, November through March or April (depending on how the seasons finished) are crazy with blue, red and gold. It’s a sin to like more than one North Carolina college team, so you learn to answer accordingly. We’re in the heart of ACC country so during those months there’s a game on my TV every day. I hope the SEC faithfuls in Tennessee won’t mind my ACC fandom. Do I have to learn to sing “Rocky Top” in return?
6. Southern Charm: This goes without saying. We’ll always smile and wave, even if we don’t know you from Adam. I know that’s all over the South, but I do love seeing it around here. North Carolina has so much charm to offer, from its cities to its small towns, from its mountains to its coasts, and everything in between.
7. Weather: Can we say “yes” to having all four seasons? The summers are stunning, if not a bit humid, and the winters are (usually) mild. We get a clear spring and a clear fall, even if they are a bit prolonged. My boots and scarves do get worn! And only some of us lose our minds when it snows…not all of us.
8. Wine & Beer: I’m not a big beer person, but oh my goodness, North Carolina wine is awesome. Traditional NC wine is made from scuppernong and muscadine grapes, which are sweeter than regular grapes, and twice as delicious. I loved exploring wineries in the Triad and tasting all of their varieties and blends. As for beer, Red Oak is king, followed by Natty Greene’s. Both are brewed fresh in Greensboro, and can be found in every grocery store’s beer aisle in Guilford and Alamance counties. If I could take Red Oak and some scuppernong wine to Tennessee, I totally would. Dearest North Carolina, you’ve always been good to me. This won’t be a goodbye, just a “see you later.” Plus, when my parents’ lake house is done, I’ll be visiting you a lot more often than twice a year.
Kate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern and a Virginia Tech alumna. She also holds an M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon University.
Born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, Kate hopes to further her career as a social media maven and kick-ass writer in the lovely southeast.