1. My friends. I have amazing friends. While in Durham, I got the chance to catch up with some good friends from Dartmouth (Thanks, Kim, Katie, Krystal and Carolina!) It was so nice to be able to spend so much time with such special people who know how to make me laugh and who make everything from car rides to science museums more fun simply by being there to share them. I also got to spend time with some new friends as well. I "met" Kristen, over at One Safe Place for the first time in person last Friday. I started following her blog when I saw it on Jennifer's blog list and I was hooked. Kristen is one of those people that actually lives the words "be the change you want to see in the world". She introduced me to Learning to Love You More, a website with fun, interesting and, at times, deeply personal projects that help you to discover more about your Self. So, here's my first gift to you from North Carolina: One Safe Place. Visit, if you can, I promise you'll be inspired. (OSP counts because Kristen is currently residing in NC).
2. Southern Gothic Productions (aka SoGoPro). For those of you who don't know, SoGoPro is Hilarie Burton's production company that is "devoted to the mastery of storytelling" (particularly promoting the arts in North Carolina). I love SoGoPro because it is a company so dedicated to its audience. It's new and fun and full of life. And the blogs (and vlogs) always make me laugh. And I love to laugh. I've gone into more depth on SoGoPro in a previous post, so I don't want to repeat too much here. Follow SoGoPro's journey. I promise it's worth it.
3. Celia Rivenbark. Celia Rivenbark is a writer and columnist who lives in Wilmington. I was first introduced to her through SoGoPro's book club (yet, another reason to heed my advice in point 2). In one vlog, Hilarie read an excerpt from her newest book You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning and from the moment I heard it, I knew I had to have this book. I promise you that it's as funny as the vlog promises. As you may know, I love reading on my commute to work (all lovely 1.5 hours) but I had to stop reading this one because the first time I tried, I was laughing so hard that I was shaking. And in NYC, this is generally considered a sign of mental instability. The day I sprained my back and was in so much pain I could not sit up on my own, let alone stand or walk, I read this book in the ER and was still laughing out loud. (To the point where my mom suggested I stop lest the doctors think I wasn't in need of attention and keep me waiting.) In the airport, I stopped into one of the bookstores (surprise, surprise) and purchased another one of her books because I wanted a good laugh and because I felt that it was the most appropriate NC souvenir for me to take home. Bless Your Heart, Tramp is another favorite. I am now also following her weekly column (conveniently posted on her website). You must, must, must read some of her work. I promise, you'll love it and laugh a whole lot too.
4. Foster's. For my first meal in Durham, my friend Kim took me to Foster's Market for lunch. If you are ever in the area, you must go. Foster's has great food and the people are super friendly. They have tons of outdoor seating which my friend and I enjoyed immensely.
5. One Tree Hill. (Yes, Jennifer, I had to add it to my list.) The last reason I will share for loving North Carolina is because I am addicted to OTH. (Though, in my defense, my addiction has improved dramatically since last season.) OTH is filmed in Wilmington. And while I didn't actually get to visit the town or see any of the show's actors (though I really did look!), watching OTH makes me remember how beautiful North Carolina is. So, here's my last tip for today: watch One Tree Hill. As Jennifer and I can attest, it makes Mondays better. And the music is awesome.
So, there we have it. Loads of reasons to love North Carolina. Now you know to not be surprised if I ever tell you I'm moving there.