A weekend in Charlotte

Since both of my siblings now live in Charlotte, which is a mere 150 miles away, this past weekend Catie and I decided to pack a bag and make a mini-road trip to visit them. Catie’s pretty easy to travel with, and we thought it would be fun to check out Charlotte for the first time. I mean, I’ve been to the airport a few times, and I’ve driven through Charlotte, but I’ve never really checked out the city before.

Since my sister Tracy just moved from NYC (she lived in Manhattan, and yes I’m still slightly bitter that she moved in April instead of August, because I could’ve totally had a free place to stay for BlogHer!), she thought it might help her transition to life in the South if she moved downtown, instead of out in the suburbs. I think that makes sense, and it helps that Charlotte has one of the prettiest downtown areas I’ve ever seen (with exceptions for Seattle and Portland). She found this really cool building that had been a department store in the 1920’s or 30’s, and it’s now been converted to condos. It has these amazing huge ceilings with giant windows in her living room.

Tracy & Catie in the window

Playing peekaboo in the windows

Those windowsills are just about the only place to sit too, because Tracy has no furniture, since her movers are scheduled to show up with her stuff from NYC this week. But Catie travels with her own little suitcase full of toys for entertainment purposes, we had an air mattress for Catie and I to crash on, and we had a great time.

Catie & Chris playing peekaboo

I also got to see my brother’s apartment for the first time, which I felt slightly bad about, since we’ve lived in North Carolina for a year & a half, and this was our first trip there to visit him. (Forgot my camera for that part!) It wasn’t an intentional slight at him, just the way it works out. He usually comes to our house when we visit each other.

There wasn’t anything major that happened – we hung out together, we rigged up some iPod speakers and danced to silly kids’ music around Tracy’s empty living room, we ate out at a couple of really great restaurants, and we walked around downtown Charlotte a bit to explore Tracy’s new digs.

My view on the walk to brunch

yelling to Tracy & Chris to come see the "waterfall" (fountain)

And best of all, Catie got to hang out with a couple of her favorite people. (Two of my favorite people too, actually.)
Chris, Catie & Tracy

It was a really good weekend.

her favorite aunt

When we were kids, my sister Tracy and I didn’t always get along. She’s 5 1/2 years older than me, so she always treated me like a baby (which I suppose I was, to her). I went back and forth between desperately wanting to be included in all of the cool stuff she got to do with her friends, and being mad at her because she treated me like a baby.

Of course, we grew up, and things changed. I’m not sure exactly when, probably when we were both in our 20s. Now we’re pretty close and have an easy relationship with each other. Sure, sometimes we get pissy with each other, but it’s usually mild stuff that blows over within a minute or two (literally). I honestly can’t remember the last real fight that we had. I mean, I remember the time that I called her a bitch and it made her cry, but I think I was about 17 years old at the time. I can’t think of anything in the past decade.

And it particularly strikes me as odd, after spending the past weekend with my mom and her sisters. There are 7 kids in her family: 4 boys and 3 girls. And the brothers all seem to get along well with everyone; they’re the peacemakers in the family. But my mom and her two sisters… man. They have this competitive thing, this need to one-up the other and prove that I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG WRONG WRONGITY-WRONG. They love each other, of course, but there’s a lot of sniping and eye-rolling going on too. And they’re all in their 60s now, so it’s not like that dynamic is ever going to change. So it’s strange to look at those relationships, and then see the relative ease that Tracy and I have with each other. It makes me grateful, to be honest.

Tracy doesn’t have any kids, and I’m pretty sure that if you asked her, she’d say that she’s happy that way. But when Catie was born, I think it made her second-guess that decision, even if it was just for a minute.

with her Aunt Tracy

It was hard when we lived in Seattle and we’d only see our family a couple of times a year, but Catie never went through a “stranger danger” fear with Tracy. It’s like she has always known that Tracy belongs to her.

bouncing in the bjorn

post-Christmas poop-out

When we moved from Seattle to North Carolina, my sister flew from NYC to Seattle, so that I wouldn’t have to attempt a cross-country flight by myself with an 18 month-old. That pretty much cemented her position as The Most Awesome Aunt Ever. (She even got to experience Catie’s motion sickness firsthand; and as a result of Catie’s epic backseat milk barf right as we were pulling in to the airport, I’m pretty sure Tracy’s name has been blacklisted from all Dollar Rental Car locations in the U.S.)

Catie practicing her "trust falls" with Tracy (whee!)

For us, moving to North Carolina was a little bit of a double-edged sword with our families. Sure, it meant that we got to see them more often, and that was great. Tracy was only a short 90-minute flight away in NYC. But it also meant that Catie’s tears were increasingly dramatic every time Tracy had to leave and go back home. It went from a few tears and sniffles and woeful moans of, “my Twaaacy!” from the backseat, to (at this last visit) a full-on screaming meltdown of “I GO WIF’ YOUUUUU!!!!” in which she tried to extricate herself from her carseat and almost made herself vomit from sobbing so much. It wasn’t a fun goodbye, to say the least.

SO happy to see her aunt Tracy

A few months ago, Tracy started talking about maybe moving to be even closer. The company she works for is international and has offices all over the place; after a little research, she found out that they have a branch office in Charlotte, which is only 150 miles from here (also, coincidentally, where my brother Chris lives). She asked about possibly relocating, and they said yes.

(Of course, in a perfect world, I’d prefer that she relocate to Raleigh. But her company doesn’t have an office here, and she doesn’t want to leave her job, which I understand. It’ll still be nice to be able to visit each other via car instead of airplane!)

I’ve been scared to blog about this for fear that it would fall through, but right now, as I type this, movers are loading up my sister’s NYC apartment. She is moving to Charlotte. Today.

I think Catie might like Tracy just a little bit

And I know one little girl who can’t wait to see her favorite aunt.