Peachoid, Amelie's, & Lake Street Dive
Day 30-33 Sunday, May 17 – Wednesday, May 20, 2015
There are some things we store in our memories that we don’t even know we can access. Sometimes we can’t retrieve those long-term memories that have been boxed away for many years unless there is a trigger or perhaps even a dream that pulls them back to the front of our minds. For Allison and me, one of these triggers showed up on our drive from Athens to Charlotte.
For part of our life in Georgia our family was split between Athens and Duke Hospital in North Carolina. My mom went with Jacqueline while my dad took care of us. We had many road trips between the two locations, and there was a halfway marker my father would persistently point out to us that almost made the circumstances feel familiar and normal. “Look, girls! There’s the peach!” he would always say, and we never failed to look out the window with excitement. This time it was Allison in the driver’s seat. She saw it first and gasped as her head filled with nostalgia and flashbacks. When I heard her breathless inhale my eyes searched for its cause and instantaneously the air was briefly taken from my lungs and a lump swelled in my throat. It took a minute for it all to pass over me; there was a wave of memories, an instant feeling of being a child in the backseat of a car, his voice telling us we were almost there while also feeling so distant from the whole scenario. It had been over twenty years since we’d last driven this highway. A water tower is something so mundane and yet so significant to our childhood experience, and it had not occurred to me that we’d be passing it. I couldn’t help but feel there was symbolism in following this particular route out of Georgia on a road trip that was in part meant to help us move forward and onward in our lives.
We had booked an Airbnb in Charlotte with a host named Dana who had two dogs, Maxine and Olive, and was filled with impeccable suggestions of places to dine. We hadn’t eaten BBQ in a while at this point and we almost felt overdue. Dana suggested Midwood Smokehouse where we got a combo platter of St. Louis style ribs, North Carolina pulled pork, beef brisket, mac and cheese, smoked veggies, hushpuppies, and, of course, sweet tea. It was another incredible BBQ experience to add to the list. I worried I’d never be happy with BBQ again after this trip. Is it crazy to move somewhere just for access to quality BBQ?
Our next stop was Amelie’s French Bakery. Amelie’s is a very unique café with a lot of young people and a long line. From the moment we walked in I pictured myself living in Charlotte and frequenting the place. There were objects hanging from the ceiling and walls in every direction. Places that purposefully hang mirrors and framed pictures at crooked angles have always attracted me. There is something to be said for chaotic serenity and Amelie’s has it in spades. There are no two lamps, chairs, or work surfaces that are the same. The many rooms that practically loop around the bakery each have a similar theme but slightly different vibe and acoustics. We found a small table for two near an old piano and a couple sitting on a couch, facing a vacant fireplace. As we were still quite full from dinner, we popped open our laptops and got to work while we waited for the line to die down. It never did, however, and after some blogging and administrative work, we eventually joined the ranks for some treats. We ended up with two specialty coffee drinks, a caramel layer bar, a petite-four, which is their award winning chocolate peanut butter square, and a mini chocolate hazelnut tart. They were all pretty small and easily devoured between the two of us.
We spent the next few days exploring Charlotte’s many neighborhoods and volunteering. Decorated, hanging windows and the Smelly Cat café in NoDa stand out in our memories. When we walked in to the Ronald McDonald House, we saw our poster hanging on the event board, which immediately brought smiles to our faces – a great way to begin a laughter yoga class. Charlotte is the headquarters of National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), the organization that provided us with their ToothFairy101 Community Education Kit that enabled to teach oral health to Boys and Girls Clubs around the country. They were very interested in our story and our trip and arranged a business lunch and video interview session. We abashedly sang the songs we’d made up to the camera and did our best to pose for an impromptu photo-shoot for their website.
The day had gone by so quickly. By the time we made it through our meetings and volunteer sessions, we were ready for more delicious food and treats from Amelie’s. We decided at the last minute to attend a Lake Street Dive concert that we both have agreed was one of the hottest indoor concerts either of us has ever attended. They killed it as usual, and even in the unbearable temperature of the venue, It was a great goodbye to a city we had thoroughly enjoyed visiting.