How I Fell in Love with My City (Finally)

From 1986 until 2013 – My home was San Diego, California.

Moving to Raleigh, NC in 2013 was one of the biggest changes of my life. I won’t lie, the transition was really hard. I longed to return to San Diego any chance I had. In short, I didn’t see Raleigh as “home.”

I considered moving back, but the cost of living in San Diego was rising fast and I didn’t have job prospects to help me return. In other words, I was stuck in Raleigh. I then considered moving to another city to see if that felt more like home.

Each year, I watched the seasons change and I was still feeling very much like an outsider. In fact, I took pride in the fact that I was a “California Girl” and this was a temporary stay. I had a hard time connecting with people and finding new friends. I was completely starting from scratch.

Thankfully, being a theatre kid, there was always a new family waiting for you. I got heavily involved in the theatre community, and that was a good stepping stone. I quickly found a second family that continues to be there for me through thick and thin.

And yet, I still felt like an outsider.

I kept trying my hardest to live Raleigh, let alone North Carolina. I had multiple people try to show me around their favorite spots and where they found their place to call home. Again, I struggled. I was also dealing with guilt that I couldn’t find my place here. By this time, I had already been living here for a few years. And yet, I still wasn’t settled in. Was it time to move?

I decided to explore Raleigh for myself for a day. But this time, without anyone telling me to like Raleigh, without anyone giving me their preconceived notions about Raleigh. I ended up coming up with a short list of the things I did like about Raleigh and I went from there.

In case you’re curious, here was my list:

  • Four seasons
  • Lots of history
  • Driving distance or a short flight to my favorite east coast places
  • I joined several families in North Carolina from theatre to the con scene

Then, I decided to sign up for Great Raleigh Trolley’s “Hidden History” Tour, led by Heather Leah of Candid Slice/Hidden History. I often used Heather’s articles as a jumping off point for my own research, so I knew she was legit. Combining my love of history with my current residence seemed like the thing to do to really help me connect to Raleigh.

And it worked.

Taking a history tour seemed like something small, but it was something I was truly interested in. I saw that Raleigh belonged to others beyond the people I knew (many of who took ownership of it and really made me feel like I was violating some territory-based treaty).

What also helped tremendously was that I found my dream career in Morrisville. I had another reason to be in the area besides the one I originally moved for. I found a sense of purpose by living here. I also started engaging with the community, even on days I really didn’t feel like it. I went to the Japan Summer Festival, went to concerts, watching local theatre more than being on stage, and of course, found local haunts that were available to me.

I finally found a reason to fall in love with Raleigh. That tour was the start of me making multiple connections with the community around me. I finally saw Raleigh and its surrounding communities as a part of my world, and no longer was I standing there as an outsider.

San Diego still has my heart, and always will. I still want to move back eventually, but I’ve found a sense a belonging here in NC that I’m so grateful to finally have.

What is even more extraordinary is that I was nominated by the community as a WRAL Voters’ Choice Award for Best Blogger in the Triangle! . If you’re a resident of North Carolina, be sure to vote for me here. I’m so honored and this is truly symbolic of the community embracing me as their own.

I couldn’t feel more at home right now.

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