I don’t know if you are aware, but the city I live in is quite happenin’ right now. Yes, as of 2012, Charlotte is officially “on the map.”
I mean, it’s already home to Bank of America headquarters, whose front door has been on the news every night for the last four years, and who’s constantly in the running for “most hated company in America.”
It’s known as the “Queen City,” since it was named for King George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
It’s a center for banking, financial services and, increasingly, energy. The headquarters for Chiquita (like the banana) also just moved here.
It will play host to President Obama this summer at the 2012 Democratic Convention.
Olympic and national whitewater teams come to train at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. And the best PGA golfers compete each year at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. We root for the hometown Carolina Panthers, but sometimes pretend to forget about the Charlotte Bobcats.
People come to visit the Billy Graham Library, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson” plane at the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn moved here. So did Rielle Hunter. And Michael Jordan. Most of the drivers and crew on the NASCAR circuit already call it home.
There’s a Butter nightclub, a BLT Steak, a few Pinkberries, the only Dean & Deluca Wine Room in the country and, soon, our first Whole Foods.
You’ve already seen Charlotte on the big and little screens this year, whether you knew it or not. It served as the Capitol in “The Hunger Games.” And it’s standing in for Washington, D.C., on Showtime’s incredibly addictive show “Homeland.”
On Sunday night, Charlotte’s very own Boone Oakley advertising agency vied for the popchips account on what’s becoming my new favorite television show, AMC’s “The Pitch.”
And then last night, Charlotte began airing as the backdrop for the first-ever relocated season of “The Bachelorette.”
There was a time, not long ago, that I wouldn’t have been proud of these items of note. For me, back then, New York was it. Then, when I just couldn’t bear the city lifestyle anymore, I tucked tail and moved home, over my dead body.
It took a full two years to process out my life in NYC, during which time I responded to nearly everything anyone said with obnoxious comparisons like, “But in New York we …. blah.” It’s amazing no one smacked me in the face.
The next thing I knew, I was driving along one of Charlotte’s lush, canopied streets on a sunny spring day. A stranger held the door open for me and wished me a good day. And it just hit me: I like it here. I’m happy here. I belong here. As much as I acclimated to being a New Yorker, that last bit was never really true.
From that day on, I’ve embraced the city of my birth. It might have taken awhile, but I’m finally proud of this city. We have our problems to be sure, but there’s so much else that makes Charlotte great, things I’ve barely touched on: the energy, the people, the food, the proximity to both the mountains and the beach. I loved New York because it felt like exciting, important things happen there. Well, we can now say that at home too. I’m just glad the rest of the world has finally noticed.
Oh, last week I stumbled on CNN’s “city smackdown” series, in which they asked passionate New Yorkers and Los Angelenos to defend their cities’ greatness. I like both cities, and both sides made great points, but you can figure out where I cast my vote. Turns out the next smackdown pits Charlotte, as 2012 DNC host city, against Tampa, Fla., 2012 RNC host city. Come on, like there’s even a comparison.