Growing up in Eastern North Carolina and a military town like Camp Lejeune (Semper Fi), I know the terrible reps that most military towns can get. But let me tell you as what you hear isn’t always what it is actually like. There are some fantastic places and people in military towns if you take the time to look.
Before I get into my adventures in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Home of Fort Bragg, let me tell you a little bit about one of my fondest memories that include the town of Fayetteville. My dad, who at that point was retired from the Marines, my mom and my older sister and best friend Karen, and I went to Fayetteville one day. Not sure why we went, it might have been something medical or to check out something on base, my dad always liked to visit other bases. If you knew my sister Karen, you knew she was a total crack up- one-liners and jokes that was her. I see a lot of my daughter Mikaela in her. Well anyone there we were in Fayetteville, driving around after my dad did what he had to do and doing a little bit of shopping. And as we were driving down the road, we come across a sign saying Unfinished Furniture. Both Karen and I took one look at each other and busted out laughing. I know you are probably thinking why is that funny? I know that Unfinished furniture means furniture without finish aka stain on it, but all Karen and I could imagine in our minds were tables missing a leg or a chair missing an arm. I think we laughed so hard that we both almost peed our pants. Now that both my dad and my sister are gone, I can look back fondly of that day spent in Fayetteville, laughing and crying about unfinished furniture. I still can’t go by a sign advertising it without cracking up. So Fayetteville holds a special place in my heart.
So know you know about how fondly I think about Fayetteville, let me tell you in the past several years, it hasn’t had the highest reputation. Like most military towns, it brings out the best and the worst sometimes in people. I can honestly say that it has brought out the best in me. When I was given the opportunity to join some Raleigh based bloggers on a tour of Fayetteville, I almost didn’t go. I have massive anxiety about driving the interstate roads by myself, been hit from behind too many times. And knowing that I would be one of few bloggers that would be driving to the location while the rest rode the party bus, I was a little anxious, Heck forget a little I was a lot anxious. But I didn’t back down because remember I have set a goal in my life to get over myself and get out of my head and just for the lack of better words, do it.
So that Saturday morning for the outing rolled around, I got up grabbed my Stress Away put my stuff in the Honda ( Guys, I usually am not a car or sedan person I love my Acadia, but there is something about that Honda that makes me want to take it everywhere – especially on busy roads like I-95.) and started driving on US 70 and then I merged ( I freaking merged by myself – something I never do) onto I-95 ( You are the east coast and ever driven down to Florida, you know how crazy this road can get.) You should have seen me I was switching lanes, singing to the radio, and just enjoying the ride. No anxiety there until I get to the place where I was going to get picked up by the party bus aka the bloggers coming from Raleigh.
I texted Melinda, who is the person that put this amazing trip together to tell her I was waiting in the parking lot. She texted back that they were running a little behind and could I meet them at the first stop. A reasonable person would have said sure, but anxiety me said no, I’ll wait. I wasn’t ready to face the obstacle of driving around in a strange town.
Once the party bus arrived, and I hopped on I quickly realized that I had made the right decision to go that journey to Fayetteville. The group was so friendly and outgoing, and the bus ride was fantastic. As we visited each of our destinations LeClair’s General Store, Gathered Marketplace, Fayetteville Pie Co, The Wine Cafe, Pressed, Dirt Bag Ale, the Floating Shanti and did Yoga with Hayat, I realized that I was quickly falling in love with this town and with this community. The people were so friendly and embraced differences as if it was a regular everyday thing.
My trip to Fayetteville was more about visiting a town it was more about finding the power that I had within myself and allowing that power to help me overcome the anxiety that had held me back for so long. Follow along with me for the next few weeks as I give you the more in-depth tour of the places I visited and the people I met. Fayetteville now not only holds the fond memory of a laugh I had with my sister who has been gone for 23 years now, but also it stands as a sign of empowerment for me. Showing me that I can and will do anything that I set my mind too.