two – culture shock

IMG_6535One thing I have learned during my short stay in these parts is that North Carolinians are very, very aware of their sidewalks. If two slabs are uneven, they mark them with bright paint to alert you of the problem. I discovered this example on my afternoon run through the neighborhood. Hailing from Philadelphia (the land of broken sidewalks and tree-root-jumps galore), this discovery came as quite a surprise.

Culture shock aside — people say hi to you here. No, seriously. Everyone I passed on my ran either waved, complimented me on running (super slowly, might I add), or said some variation of “Hello!” — I am finding plenty of stories here in Chapel Hill. Today, for example, Karyn and I went to her church’s first service at 8.30 in the morning. Yes. 8:30. Luckily, I am a morning person! Knowing this about myself, I set what I refer to as an “emergency alarm” — you know, just in case.

I woke up to sunshine peeking through my blinds and groggily looked at my watch. 7:54.

Crap.

So much for my emergency alarm. The good thing about all of this, of course, is that I keep my watch is about five minutes fast. It was only about 7:50, then. I vaulted out of my bed, scrambled into a semblance of respectability, quickly breakfasted on a power bar, grabbed my notebook, and made it down the stairs by 8:01 (can you tell I’m still a bit proud of that?) in time to drive to Durham.

The service was lovely, and the congregation quite welcoming. I felt very much at home at All Saints this morning. That aside, the real story comes from after the service (but before K and I picked up about nine MCAT prep books from some of her friends). K introduced me to her pastor and mentioned her hope that I could meet his daughter, Cecilia. Apparently, she’s about my age, her family just moved to Chapel Hill, and she doesn’t know many people here, either. This is all well and good: I love making new friends, and I certainly had no objections to meeting Cecilia and maybe grabbing tea or fro yo or catching a movie at some point — after all, Iron Man 3 and, more importantly, The Great Gatsby are out right now, and movies are always more fun when seen with a pal.

This is where it gets a little kooky.

K and I were standing around after the early service, waiting on Cecilia and her mom to arrive for the second service. We were talking about the pros and cons of sunglass clips for people with glasses when we see the two women walking towards us. My mouth drops. “Wait,” I say. “Cecilia –” I pause — “I know her!”

Turns out that Cecilia-the-pastor’s-daughter (I give that moniker lovingly as one to whom it is often addressed) is also Cecilia-who-worked-at-camp-with-me-in-2011. Go figure.

In other news, I met another of K’s neighbors today. When I introduced myself as Connor, she responded by giving me some of her family’s freshly-picked strawberries.

IMG_1296If that is how people are going to greet me from now on, I certainly have no objections. In case you were wondering, they taste even better than they look. These berries are delicious. 

IMG_1298

Seriously. 

And lest you think I was joking about the sidewalks…IMG_6544

… I wasn’t.

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