“But sometime when the springtime comes and the sifting moonlight falls, they’ll think again of this night here and of these old brown walls, of white Old Well and of Old South. With Bell’s deep booming tone, they’ll think again of Chapel Hill, and — thinking — come back home.” – Thomas Wolfe
Everyone should have a place where to which they can return and feel at home. Things may have changed. Buildings are different. Some people aren’t there. But, none of that matters when you return to that place. What matters is what that place you gave you. How it forced you to grow. How it introduced you to new people and new circumstances. How you overcame far more than you thought you ever would. How it helped you become who God destined you to be.
For me, that place is UNC. One day I’ll be able to find all the words to express how transformative my experience was. My desire to attend UNC was reluctant–both of my parents worked in Chapel Hill, so I had already experienced a lot of what (I thought) made the town special. I’ve enjoyed hot dogs and Shirley Temples from Sutton’s Drugstore since before I was tall enough to see over the counter. I remember shopping for books at the Intimate Bookshop. The Miami Subs on Franklin Street- I enjoyed those fries and sandwiches long before I understood their appeal to late night college students. Before I had sense enough to like Cosmic Cantina, I got my tacos from the Taco Bell on Franklin Street. I remember picking up church programs from the Copytron at the corner of Franklin and Columbia with my mom, eating hotdogs from Squeaky’s on breaks with my dad, and enjoying Time Out biscuits any chance I could. Summers were spent at camp at Hargraves Recreation Center, Saturdays in the fall were spent attending Communiversity.
And so, I thought I had a real understanding of what made Chapel Hill special. And while I was partly right, I was also completely wrong. My love for Chapel Hill grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I learned how to lead and how to love. I became more culturally aware. I learned how to work smart and work hard. I had professors who challenged me and pushed my thinking. I fell in love with Jesus. I met my husband. I gained some of my best friends.
When we returned to UNC for Homecoming last month, being on campus was like getting the biggest warm hug from a friend that you haven’t seen in far too long. Yes, things had changed. Yes, I have changed. But like the best of friends, when you’re together, it’s like you’ve never been apart.
Until next time.
Peace and Blessings!