In four days, my wife and I will begin our move to Charlotte. I moved to Greensboro from the little town of
Bethlehem Gastonia over two decades ago, initially to go to school, and
fell in love with it. Many of the most
important friendships and relationships of my life were made right here, and I
am sad to leave. I can’t bring myself to
list the people I will miss the most, for fear of leaving anyone out. But here are a few intangibles that I will
The Greensboro Playwrights Forum. A great ragtag group of playwrights, actors, and directors, and (in my humble opinion) Greensboro’s best resource for aspiring writers. I don’t know any other institution in this area that provides so many opportunities for playwrights to have their work read, workshopped, and produced. Greensboro, you are very lucky to have this. Take advantage of it.
The Bog Garden/Centennial Gardens. One of my favorite places to walk, and I am a man who loves his walks. Centennial Gardens is great during the spring and summer: beautiful, floral, manicured, and Apollonian. The Bog Gardens are the hellish underworld – heavily wooded and streamed, dark, mysterious, and Dionysian. A great place to get lost.
The Natural Science Center. C’mon, man … here there be tigers. The male’s face is the size of an 18-wheeler’s tires. I go every six months and make an entire day of it – usually with my kid.
Restaurants. I eat out a lot. Like … a lot. Thankfully I have kept my youthful metabolism – otherwise I would be the size of Violet Beauregarde. There are so many I love, and some are gone now, but I will miss them nonetheless …
· Mark’s on Dolley Madison. Get the duck, if it’s on the menu. I know it’s maybe a little more than you were hoping to pay. Just get it.
· Café Europa. There is no need to go anywhere else to get mussels. The one with chorizo is the best, although I like the Normandy in the winter. And the hangar steak? Good God. Also, for brunch – Crabs on English. Yum.
· Reel Seafood Grille (fka Bert’s Seafood Grille.) Mustard Coated Catfish. Possibly my favorite dish in Greensboro. Also, this is where you want to go for oysters.
· Gia. Tapas restaurant with an Italian menu. Never had anything here that wasn’t superb. Flash-fried artichokes, limoncello cake, curry cauliflower … mm.
· Café D’arte. Got engaged here. Now it’s gone. They hung my wedding ring from a sugary trellis above a delicious cake.
· Bistro Sofia. Also gone. Greensboro is hard on French cuisine for some reason.
· McCoul’s Public House. Met my wife at this Irish pub. On Mardi Gras. Because that’s where you go for Mardi Gras, right? An Irish pub? Anyway – the meat boxtie is my favorite dish here. Sometimes the Old Glory burger is great, and sometimes less so, but when it’s good, it’s the best. Also, they will give you cookies and milk for dessert.
· Cooper’s Ale House. The only place to go in Greensboro when it’s after 10. Maybe one day we’ll have more places to go at a humane hour, but you can eat very well at Cooper’s at 1:30 a.m.
· Lucky 32. Worked here twice – once in the kitchen, and once as a server. I don’t think they still have it, but their Deep Grit appetizer was fantastic, in all its artery-clogging goodness.
· Printworks Bistro. At the base of the green Proximity Hotel. No one does Brussels sprouts quite like them. Or quinoa. And they have a lovely patio where I swear to you I once saw an ROUS.
· Chef Samir’s. New Egyptian restaurant, and I would eat here every day if I could. Standouts: the liver appetizer (shut up and eat it, it’s good for you) and the lamb shanks.
· Elizabeth’s Pizza. Sigh. I might miss you most of all, scarecrow. This is the one over in Quaker Village, within walking distance to my house. They know how to do pizza. And they have different kinds of whole wheat pasta.
· And of course, Southern Roots in nearby Jamestown. I took a job here a few years ago as a summer thing, since I don’t teach in the summers, and I never left until it was time to move. Too many awesome dishes to mention here (okay, I’ll mention the seafood risotto), but I will mention the dessert that I will miss the most: no, it’s not the bread pudding. It’s the Five-Flavor Pound Cake.
And I guess finally …
My Neighborhood(s). For the last ten years, I’ve lived in a nice neighborhood near Guilford College that is just like the neighborhood I grew up in. (Forest Brook, meet Woodbrook.) Lots of trees and hills, a creek across the street, a duck pond at the opposite end of the neighborhood, and a bunch of Canada geese who, like Robert Lowell’s mother skunk, will not scare. And speaking of Lowell, Randall Jarrell is buried in the cemetery that is right beside my house. Before here, I lived on the other side of the town: on Cedar, and then on just about every street in the now-hipster Glenwood neighborhood. I once lived in a very nice couple’s attic, and there was a giant hole in the wall. Like, a hole about four feet wide that made the outside world very visible. That was a very cold winter.
There are many other things I’ll miss as well. I have walked from one side of Greensboro to the other who knows how many times. Consequently, I can crack open a Volkswagen with my thigh muscles. I was a kid when I moved here, and now I have one. I had never been anywhere when I moved here, and now I have crossed the country and hung out in Europe as well, always to come back to Greensboro. My sister Kristen once said: “It’s Greensboro. Tommy’ll never leave.”
I suppose there’s more to write, but I have to go pack.