I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up or make anyone think that I have any intentions to stay in Raleigh for any significant length of time, but I will say this: I don’t hate it. Actually, there are a few things I very much love about Raleigh, or at least what I can see it becoming. Or maybe the niche I could see myself in if I did decide to stay for any significant length of time (not that I’m saying that’s going to happen).
This weekend, L-Josh and I went to a new Saturday market in Boylan Heights, which, incidentally, is where I would live if given the choice. It’s a cute neighborhood right beside downtown with tree-lined and canopied streets. And now they’ve got their own market! Honestly, right now it’s a pretty sad little market. There were exactly ten vendors and no food trucks (as advertised – I was really looking forward to The Grilled Cheese Bus) – just two farmers, a beer tent, a seafood tent, a cookie table and five crafters, one of whom wanted to tell us the full history of every piece of jewelry she was selling. We didn’t stay there long, but I think it has great potential (*cough, cough, Grilled Cheese Bus, cough*).
We then went over to City Market for The Handmade Market, a twice-yearly event featuring, you guessed it, hand-made items of all sorts. There’s a lot of jewelry, but there are also soaps, clothes, non-jewelry fashion accessories, toys, and art – all hand-made, many designed and made by local artisans. It’s pretty fabulous, and I ran into at least three people I knew. I love that.
Which brings me to Hargett Street.
I don’t think I’ve walked down Hargett in the past year without seeing someone I know, and I love that. Once, on a brisk Sunday morning, a family from my church even stopped to offer me a ride. Things like this make me feel like Raleigh is a much smaller place than it is, not that it’s all that big. I think one of the things that often frustrates me about Raleigh is that it’s not small enough to be quaint, but it’s not big enough to be exciting. It’s stuck in the mid-sized zone where the traffic is annoying, but the problem isn’t bad enough to force the city to rethink its public transit. It’s like Raleigh is going through puberty, growing at an alarming rate, but not sure yet who it’s going to be.
But when I walk into The Morning Times and run into a handful of friends every time, it feels more like home – like the awkward tween when she’s caught off-guard, not trying to impress anybody and just being herself, like the small town where you grew up, like Cheers.
This is what I hope Raleigh grows into. I don’t think it’s ever going to be taken seriously as a metropolis, and that’s ok, but we can’t stop the growth at this point. So I hope that even as it grows bigger, it will grow smaller. That as it spreads out, neighborhoods will grow stronger and closer-knit. That rather than becoming exciting in the same way New York or Chicago is exciting, it will become the kind of city that doesn’t feel like a city at all, where you can go places and know people, where the baristas have your regular order memorized, where the excitement comes not from the zillions of things going on, not from the hustle and bustle, but from the everyday triumphs and joys of the people around you – the people you know, the people you love, the people who are family (biological or not).
This is what I want for whatever city I end up in, whether it’s Raleigh or Madrid (not that those are the only two options) – not just a city, but a community. And I think that it’s possible everywhere, but I’m happy to see it happening here.