Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Defining Moments

So this weekend, Thomas and I went home to Greensboro. Since 1995, from the first hour that I set foot on the Guilford College campus, I've considered Greensboro my home. I was the first person I knew to begin to refer to her dorm as home; my calendars showing breaks showed entries like, "home to MD" and then, "home to NC". I've always considered myself not a transplant to North Carolina, but someone who was just born in the wrong place. I am North Carolinian. But more than that, I've always thought of myself as a native of Greensboro.

When I first moved to Wilmington, I was so crushingly homesick that I didn't think I'd make it a year. I seriously considered dropping out of school to return home; in fact, the only reason I ever made it here in the first place was that UNCG didn't take me. Everything that seemed to make me who I considered myself to be was there, as well as everyone I loved. It didn't help that my marriage was falling apart and that our best and happiest times were there. My desire to return was metaphorical as well as literal. I remember my first husband asking me angrily one night why I insisted on treating Greensboro like Xanadu. But to me, Greensboro was Xanadu. I felt very much in control of my world there. I couldn't drive yet, but I could walk to the grocery store, school, a movie theater, my favorite bar. I worked and lived among like-minded, liberal Quakers. I belonged.

Going home this weekend, I was finally forced to admit that I am more at home in Wilmington than I ever was in Greensboro. Partly that's because I can drive now and so have a kind of interior map of Wilmington that I never had of Greensboro. But partly it's being older; that more of the choices I've made here have made an ultimate difference to my life; that my job and my friends and my husband are here; that Wilmington is smaller and more manageable than the insane sprawl of Greensboro; and that, although I refused to see it for the longest time, this really is a beautiful town.

I felt sad driving out of Greensboro yesterday. I thought, that might be the last time I ever go home.

But, I did eat in the best restaurant in the whole world. REARN THAI! Thomas and I have been known to drive 150 miles out of our way to eat in this restaurant. It's nothing fancy, just a hole in the wall Thai restaurant with the best damn Thai food ever. So much better than our fancy "gourmet" Indochine or Rim Wang--this is real stuff, made by real Thai people, meant to be eaten, day in day out, not just for special occasions when you've saved up enough damn money. When I was in school, for 3.75 at lunch you got a drink, a spring roll and an entree. So, naturally, I ate there almost every day.

It's one of the few things I can always find my way to in Greensboro, even if I don't know the names of the stupid roads. Seeing this sign, I was so excited. But then we pulled up and saw this:

I seriously thought I would perish. Rearn Thai, closed? It was bad enough when I found out that my favorite GSO bar, Dolley's, had closed. But not Rearn. It couldn't be. But then I read the sign more closely. It advised me to turn around. And I saw this:

Rearn! In a nice new home! It was very exciting. I actually left a love note to Rearn on the back of our check, stating that this would always be my favorite restaurant, no matter where I lived and Congratulations on the beautiful new building, etc. Thomas might have been a little embarrassed of me, but I was happy. I made him swear that no matter where I am when I am dying, I want Rearn Thai food flown in. We ordered 2 appetizers and 3 entrees and I nearly died of happiness, though I did eat rice which is shameful and wrong.

Rearn is one of the four things in the world that I would happily advertise for. The others are Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, The Swiffer Vaccuum and my vet, Brad Kerr.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about things like this: who I would be publicly associated with. It's tied in to my thinking about myspace, about making lists of things that we think define us in some way, about our use of those names of books, bands, people, and products that we represent ourselves with. One of the things I'm interested in is how quickly people who know us could figure out who was meant by a list. For instance, most people list The Beatles on their myspace page. How many words do I have to add before you know unequivocally that it's me we're talking about?

The Beatles
Stephen King

I mean, these are very popular things, but I think we think of ourselves as unique combinations of them.

Twin Peaks
80's music
Sue Miller

Oh, P.S., while I'm thinking about it, I saw the coolest thing in Jane Magazine (you can add Jane to my list above) about a website that is selling buttons, not with band names, but with author names!! You could bust out your old jean jacket and cover it with Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon buttons. I'm googling for the website right now but not finding anything. I'll have to go back and look in the magazine.

edited to say: Found it! it's pianoandscene.com

Anyway. My list would have to include Rearn Thai, Donna Tartt, Holistic Veterinary Medicine, Platform flip flops, the word "whatev", dogs of all sorts, etc.

Thomas and I were thinking about phrases that are particular to some people, like my "whatev" and his "are you kidding me?" We have this Mr. T keychain with 6 of his famous phrases:

including: "I pity the Fool" (of course) and "Quit yo jibber jabba!" which is my particular favorite. We imagined making these for our friends and recording their most quintessential phrases.

Mine would have to be:
Crap in a bowl!
How exciting!
Fucksie Ducksie.
Whhhaaaatttttt? (This should be very high pitched and drawn out).
and Dude.

Sorry for the insane length of this post. It's been a while.


Space Kase said...

Ahhh, you're back! I am disappointed by your diappointment with GSO. So sad... I wonder if I will feel this way when I someday return, or if I will just have nostalgia, as I have not been back in 5+ years.

I loved the author buttons, and I actually looked them up. They're surprisingly reasonable. But now I can't find the URL. No big surprise.

ashley said...

I used to hate that get-to-know you ice breaker where you had to say your name and one interesting thing about yourself. I could never think of one interesting thing about myself. But maybe it's because it's about the combination - with so many varialbes, it's hard to find a perfect match to Harry Potter + Special Dark Chocolate + antique postcard + trivia buff + "Do what now?".

Cue Gal said...

YAY!! You wrote this post. I've been waiting for the list-of-five. :) Super.

The phrase I get teased about the most (in a nice way, to my knowledge) is "shit, man." Which I do tend to use a lot, and mostly when I'm not paying attention.

Now I'll have to think of my list of five. Dang. This could take awhile. May very well have to link your post to my blog and contemplate.