Growing up, I thought that having a group of 10+ beautiful friends, a la Taylor Swift’s “squad,” was the end-goal.
By my mid-twenties, I was going to have so many friends that my phone would constantly buzz and so many invites to go out that I’d have to keep track on a wall calendar. If all went well, it would look a lot like this:
Now I’m almost in my mid-twenties and have realized that that’s not who I am and that that’s okay. Somehow, I’d rather have a few insanely close friends than a few dozen acquaintances. And that’s exactly where I am.
I have three best friends. There’s Kelli, whom I’ve known since we were 12. Next is Brent, my high school turned into college best friend. And then there’s Chala, my ultimate college best friend:
We met freshman year when we joined the same sorority and grew close when we traveled to Cambodia together. We’re nothing alike. Where I’m tall, she’s not, where she’s Asian, I’m not and where I don’t have a single tattoo, she’s got a few (and they’re sick).
Also important: she lives across the country in Alaska. I do not. Because of this, I haven’t seen her since the day after we graduated over a year ago.
But by some miracle, she’ll be on the East Coast and crashing at my apartment in less than two months.
We’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for (which explains the truth or drink game, an almost weekly tradition we started just before we graduated), and I’m trying to come up with the best ways to do that while simultaneously convincing her to stay (or at least come back to stay after she finishes grad school).
So what do you do in Charlotte with a friend you haven’t seen in over a year?
I’ve thought about this a lot and even though I know there’s no reason to worry, I feel as though there’s a lot that I have to live up to. We spent a month in Cambodia together – how can Charlotte compare?
It doesn’t have to. It’s just something different. Her coming here is not some big trip across the world, it’s a chance to reconnect and live for a weekend like she’s still right down the hall.
Still, I’m looking to impress her with the Queen City and all of its jewels. What can I do and where can I take her that won’t seem lame or cheesy? A lot, actually. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
Alexander Michael’s, for the novelty of Fourth Ward and to eat in an old 1890s general store (and the prime rib sandwich).
Cookout, whose milkshakes and food we haven’t had since before graduation. Obviously the Cheerwine Float is a must. [Agenda story: Why millennials are obsessed with Cookout]
Kid Cashew, where we’ll split a carafe of the Goat’s Breast Milk on the patio (because inside is far too loud). Yes, KC is so hot right now. No, I’m not being paid to say this. [Agenda story: 15 photos of my experience at the new Kid Cashew restaurant in Dilworth]
Tupelo Honey, because she hasn’t had good, real, Southern-style soul food since she left for the tundra that I imagine Alaska to be.
7th Street Public Market, for the coffee and brunch options. [Agenda story: How to spend 90 minutes at 7th Street Public Market like a pro]
City Lights, Le Méridien’s rooftop bar, which will be open June 2 and in time for her July arrival and is the perfect way to show off the skyline. [Agenda story: A new rooftop bar is opening Uptown]
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, so she can drink Mecktoberfest and OMB Copper and say she’s had an internationally-recognized beer straight from the source. Really, I just don’t think there’s anything like drinking cold beer in the sunshine with your best friend. [Agenda story: Olde Mecklenburg’s Mecktoberfest brings home the gold]
The Punch Room, because nothing says “Welcome to Charlotte, stranger. You are important to me,” like fancy drinks made by a nationally recognized mixologist on the 15th floor of the Ritz. [Agenda story: Bob Peters and The Punch Room: What’s next?]
Selwyn Pub, so we can feel cool when we rub elbows with Michael Jordan and I can say, “See? Told you Charlotte was cool. Knew you’d want to stay.”
Sycamore Brewing, because since she worked in a cool brewery in Juneau, I want to show ours off. Also, see above in the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery entry, re: drinking outside.
Atherton Market, for a cool farmers market to explore while we nurse our coffee. [Agenda story: Atherton Market: Your go-to Saturday farmers market]
Charlotte Wall Poems tour, simply because my best friend is a published poet and I am proud. Plus, despite spending four years studying literature, I still need someone to break poems down and explain their deeper meanings to me. She’s my go-to. [Agenda story: A guide to Charlotte’s Wall Poems]
Jeff’s Bucket Shop, because we’ve both taken a solemn vow to never sing with karaoke without each other (and have almost stuck to it). [Agenda story: 4 feelings for your first time – Jeff’s Bucket Shop]
Knights game, since we haven’t been to a baseball game together since senior year. America’s favorite pastime combined with that view of the skyline? A perfect ‘See how cool Charlotte is?’ thing to do. [Agenda story: Summer Knights: 5 things to know about Charlotte’s baseball team this year]
$5 Dark History Tour, because we’re both a little sadistic and enjoy freaking ourselves out. Body snatching? Headless Louise? Sign us up. [Agenda story: What’s the deal with the new $5 ‘Dark History’ tour in Uptown Charlotte?]
Brevard Court, because this strip is the perfect reminder that Charlotte is more than cranes, apartments and breweries.
Crowders Mountain, to detox from all the trouble we’ll most likely be getting into. A little fresh air never hurt anybody and since Chala is one of the most outdoors-y people I know, this is perfect.
Lake Norman, because we’ll be deep into the dog days of summer and there are plenty of free ways to do it. And Lord knows we’ll both need some color. [Agenda story: Summer is imminent. Here are the beaches, boat ramps and lakeside restaurants on Lake Norman and Lake Wylie]
Myers Park Boo Hole, since Harper Lee’s classic How to Kill a Mockingbird is forever a favorite of both of us.
Romare Bearden Park, for one of the best skyline views in the city and a perfect place to just hang out on a slow afternoon.
The hardest part now? Trying to figure out how to squeeze everything in.
What do you do when people come to visit? I’d love to know (please). email@example.com