Until I moved down South from Maryland nearly nine years ago, I had never heard of Chapel Hill. I had never eaten grits, never uttered the word “y’all,” and I had no idea what a Tar Heel was. People I didn’t know were happy to shoot me a smile. I was shocked when I ordered iced tea and received a drink so sweet my teeth hurt.
It didn’t take long, however, for me to adjust to the Chapel Hill way of life. Summers were filled with ice cream at Maple View Farms and pizza at Italian Pizzeria III. I got used to the unpredictable weather. I fell in love with UNC. I learned the rules of basketball. I began telling people I’m from the town with Carolina blue fire engines.
I also learned about Chapel Hill’s struggles with affordable housing, development and school overcrowding. I watched residents vote for housing bonds and fight for running trails to remain unpaved. I discovered that one of the Chapel Hill’s liveliest places on any Wednesday night is Town Hall.
I may not be a Tar Heel born and bred, but I’m so thankful I was adopted into this passionate, dedicated community that cares for its neighbors and its environment.
Because the Town and the University are so closely linked, it can seem like Chapel Hill goes into hibernation over the summer. However, the yearly exodus of UNC students doesn’t mean the issues facing the Town disappear.