Last week, Tyler and I started our Friday night the perfect way, by packing up the babe, throwing in our blanket and heading over to Food Truck Friday in the Historic South End. While we aren’t Food Truck Friday regulars, we have gone a few times. It’s much more difficult to do in this stage of parenthood with 6:30 bedtimes and hangry meltdowns if the little Sugar Lump isn’t fed on time. E ended up being out of town this past weekend, so he missed out, but he loves going and has his own favorite food truck (he swears by the Pig Mac).
As I sat among the crowds of people on blankets or in fold-out chairs, I noticed the sense of camaraderie among the people there. Those who I would regularly pass on the streets without a second glance suddenly become my friend. They aren’t the driver you’re frustrated with because they’re too slow. They become the person you share an inside joke with because you both see the same little kid pick her nose and wipe it on her dog. You aren’t sitting in the middle of strangers enjoying authentic ramen, bbq, kim chi quesadillas, or fried green tomatoes and rabbit gumbo. You’re sitting amidst a brotherhood of patrons where most people are excited about a little kid petting their dog. It’s where children and adults can make friends and hope to see them again next week.
This may sound extreme and idealistic because honestly I don’t know any of these people I’m talking about. But growing up in a town where there isn’t a common ground for people to meet (except the mall), where pedestrians are scowled upon and where chain restaurants are the only ones that make it for more than a year or two has made me more appreciative of the open spaces for community we’ve found in Charlotte.
I’m not hating on my hometown, and there are currently a ton of projects going on to rejuvenate the downtown and create these common places for people to gather, so there is hope for Smalltown America. But I am shocked by and loving the close vibes people share just by experiencing dinner together in the same place.
Really it’s not just dinner you’re experiencing. It’s the whole atmosphere of taking time to sit, to linger, to have conversation and a drink, and enjoy the outdoors while enjoying a meal.
And because you have that in common with those around you and even some friends you may run into in the process, the connection is real and almost tangible.
As we’re about to close this chapter of life in our current rental house, I’m reflecting back on the community and experiences we’ve had so far in Charlotte. While we’re not moving to a new city, it’s still a change. Our new place will be different and glorious and not quite the same as this one. But it’s the little things, like Food Truck Friday or spontaneous cook outs with our neighbors, that have made this chapter of our life so joy-filled.
Photos taken by my Tyler.