Southern Swims

Greenville, NC might not be a popular destination on your southeastern road trip lists, but it was on mine, because that’s where my Uncle Rick lives! You might remember Uncle Rick from this trip last summer or from our romps around Europe in 2016. Or you might already know him, since I think the majority of people who read this blog are my family members.

Uncle Rick is my dad’s brother who lived with us from about my early middle school through mid high school years to provide fun field trips and ride services when our parents abandoned us, just kidding, when they went to work. Now he’s a teacher and a wandering traveler, too (probably where I get it from!), so we try to meet up wherever we can.

This summer, it was at his home in Greenville, where we went out to dinner and swimming in his local pool. There’s really no other way to solve a sticky North Carolinian summer day!

Greenville North Carolina swimming pool

We followed our usual tradition of eating Indian lunch buffet and watched a Netflix movie that I thought was going to be very bad but actually was not so bad.

Kasturi Indian Greenville NC

Much like the other stops, it was a brief but enjoyable visit, and I’m glad I made the short detour, especially since Uncle Rick is our best family historian, so I got to sift through old pictures like the one below of my sister and me. I wish I still had that outfit as much as I wish Elayne would ever trust me to guide her dance moves!

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Dining in Durham

Ok you guys, I don’t know what to tell you, because I ate more donuts in North Carolina. My sister spent a couple weeks there last year and said I had to go try Hole Doughnuts. Then I went to the lunch with Lainie and Warren, and they reiterated that I really should get some for the road. Unbelievably, I was feeling tired of donuts by that point, so I could ignore one recommendation, but I certainly could not ignore two recommendations.

Hole Doughnuts Asheville

This time it was a full-on snack experience, because they cut the dough circles and dunk them in the frying oil right in front of you. Then they dust them with powdered sugar, toasted almonds and sesames, or cinnamon and sugar. Wow! Also the bakers are very friendly and serve excellent coffee, too— added bonus!

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As I told you, I wasn’t hungry for more donuts at this point, so I was able to ride the 3.5 hours in the car with them from Asheville to Durham. I would bring them to my friend Matt and his lady friend for her birthday. This ended up being a semi-mistake, because I think they would have been a lot better fresh out of the fryer. They were still pretty tasty at night, but they did taste like donuts that had been obtained in the morning, ridden in the car with all day, and delivered in the evening. Ya know?

Hole donuts Asheville

Did you know that the Raleigh-Durham area has become pretty cool and hip? I didn’t officially know, but every time I visit, things are looking better and better. My friend Matt recently purchased a house there with a sweet front porch swing and a big backyard. I know, what? People my age are buying houses and here I am carrying all my belongings in my car? Anyway…

Matt took me to dim sum (my favorite!) at the best restaurant in Raleigh, Brewery Bhavana. I love dim sum because you can share many little things and therefore incur less risk on ordering stuff you don’t recognize or know how to pronounce. Just like my old favorite restaurant in Philly, Kingdom of the Vegetarians, that is now closed. Tears. Ironically, I do not feel this same affection for trendy fake tapas restaurants where hummus is, like, $18.

Brewery Bhavana is perhaps actually not the best restaurant in Raleigh; it’s in the top 5 or so, but it is the #1 best in my book because look at these bookshelves:

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Look at this most aesthetically-pleasing bar I’ve ever seen in my life:

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And even look at this women’s bathroom wallpaper:

Brewery Bhavana

We also went to this equally hip bar/music venue and, the next day, did unwelcome but necessary work projects at a little coffee shop with a very cute name (Cocoa Cinnamon).

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Thanks Matt!

Many Moves

Well hi! I'm here, writing from a new place. Forgive my absence. I moved. Again. I don't have a whole lot of feelings about this move since I recently had to fill out the five years of residences section on my Global Entry application, and my list was rivaling the number of entries they allow. I'm living in a temporary room for the next two weeks until I change again, and it's a wonder how the addition of our stuff quickly turns an empty space into our own.

In the meantime, these two tied the knot. Are you getting married soon? I recommend doing it in Asheville, if that's the case. They have loads of mountains, beer, and biscuits. All the essentials for a proper celebration.

On the afternoon of the wedding, about an hour before the ceremony was set to begin, it rained. Actually, it poured, and flooded just a little bit. Then, believe it or not, the clouds parted ways and opened up into one of the most gorgeous evenings I've ever seen. I believe it, since love has a magical way like that. Seeing Lainie and Warren was like a finding the sun after a long storm.

Love to all! Enjoy your weekend.

Chapel Hill

One positive part of growing up is that you might have more friends scattered about in more appealing places, so you can stretch your roaming limits (and budget) further than your younger network may have allowed. My friend Matt is the best kind of faraway friend who will even offer to sleep on the couch and give up their bed to let you rest your weary traveling bones. A gigantic thank you to him for taking me to all of the breweries, wood-fired pizzerias, and string-lit bars that are making Raleigh-Durham the next Austin/Denver/Brooklyn/Place for people who like food trucks and Snapchat. I didn't mind it one bit.

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Being in Chapel Hill during spring break offered a time of reflection for me. Back when 16 year old Cori was checking out schools and planning her future, baby blue t-shirts and tar-covered heels were expected to be a major part of it. I did all of the AP-ing and SAT-ing asked of me. I went to their volleyball camp. I bought a lot of blue clothing items. I learned to appreciate vinegar barbecue. But still when the decision mail came, my envelope was disappointingly skinny instead of invitingly thick.

I was devastated and confused. I cried in my room a lot and quickly formulated plans to move in with my uncle so I could apply again as an NC resident. I'm pretty sure my best friend and I forged notes from our parents to skip Chemistry class and eat waffles, because we did that a lot anyway and because there is still nothing like waffles to heal a broken teenage heart. I think I only chose to go to Delaware later on because it had flowers and brick buildings and vaguely resembled UNC.

It was a long while before my focus started to shift. During Fall semester of sophomore year, I remember gathering my printed transfer applications, ready to be filled-in and sent off in the Spring. I was so sure that I knew where I was going and that there had to have been some strange mistake. It took a few years, a trip to Argentina, and a lot of new friends to convince me otherwise. I never ended up sending those transfer applications and I stayed at Delaware for two extra years. Now I only think about Chapel Hill once a year, in March, when I become a short-term college basketball fan.

Walking around the campus during my visit with Matt reminded me the importance of letting go when my thinking mind is so certain that it knows what's best for me. I realize how much we might miss if we try to squeeze our lives into the perfect plans that we've doubtlessly determined for them. Looking back, I can't imagine my path having gone any other way than it has. If I had transferred to North Carolina, I probably never would have met so many of my best friends, checked as many study abroad countries off my list, or become the mostly well-rounded person I am now. Or maybe by some universal magic I would have ended up as the same me in exactly the same place, but I definitely don't think I would have gotten to shake former Vice President Joe Biden's hand.

So I'm sending love to you, hoping you can always find the very, very good no matter how unexpectedly your path seems to be twisting. I believe it's all working itself out.

Saying Yes

Planning my visit to Asheville had me thinking back to this time last year. Lainie and I had just moved into a new house together in Austin without any solid expectations of what the upcoming twelve months would bring. Our two original plans, of living in a rat-free home and buying a functioning washer/dryer, had already fallen through, so all we really had was a signed lease and the hope that things could only go up from there.

Since then, after exchanging appliances and putting up with many visits from the pest control man, we buckled in and sat back while life did its thing. We had a lot of fun in our house. Lainie got engaged and started planning a wedding. We moved a bunch of furniture. She changed cities while I changed neighborhoods, and, for the most part, we both spend our days in wildly different ways than in early 2016.

I'll always admire Lainie since, when the world presented her with a completely new and exciting plan, she said "Sure, ok, I'll try it" instead of fearfully retreating back to her comfort zone. And now she lives in a cool house in a cool new city with a cool dude. I'm glad I have a lovely new place for visiting and the steady reminder that however good our known surroundings might be, there's always the fun chance that the unknown might be even better.

Thanks for having me, Asheville!

Easing East

After Nashville, the east coast was calling us back, so we packed up Gillie and hit the road to North Carolina. I was ready to put my National Park annual pass to work once more before its April expiration date, but we found out that the Great Smoky Mountain is free because this. Our visions of long hikes and stretching the legs were cut short by rainy snow, and we only left the car for a few moments to do dog things and snap some photos.

I imagine things were looking very pretty underneath all those clouds. Maybe I didn't pick the ideal time of year for my visit since the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed, too, but that only gives me another reason to go back.

Thank you to the friendly people who took our family portrait. Thank you to the National Park Service for having $80 annual passes. Thank you to Lainie and Warren for wearing my handmade hats.

Next stop, Asheville!