Staying Behind, or, Why I’m Choosing to Remain in Greensboro.

Feb 15th, 2013 | By | Category: Misc
Me when I was "19," interviewing Molly McGinn. Photo by Keith Warther.

Me when I was “19,” interviewing Molly McGinn. Photo by Keith Warther.

I have changed a lot in the past three years.

When I was fifteen, I looked at anyone who stayed in their hometown for college as lazy, or thought they would never go anywhere. I told myself I would be a failure to stay in Greensboro for college. I had dreams of going to art school in New York City, or at the very least, attending school in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Certainly not the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I was better than that.

I’m not sure exactly when I decided to stay. A few months before I turned seventeen I was still planning on applying to NYU or Pratt or SCAD or a variety of  other prestigious schools. A little bit after my birthday, I attended my first open mic night at the Flatiron (something I probably will not be doing again for two and a half years) where everyone was sure I was much, much older than I actually was. Immersing myself in this group of people, most of whom were Greensboro natives born and bred, assisted in making me change my mind. Perhaps it was the overall familiarity of Greensboro, or maybe it was the music scene. After all, people have learned to finish my sentences when I say “my favorite band is–” (The Leeves, in case you weren’t certain by now).

A year ago today, most people thought I was nineteen. I lived in constant paranoia that someone would find out (and several someones did) and I lacked any sort of remote self-confidence because of that. When I met a boy (who is not the reason I am staying in Greensboro – just an added bonus) last May, it felt wrong to keep lying to him (not that it didn’t feel wrong to lie to my friends). Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one who told him – but the mere thought of being able to stop lying

Right after "coming out" - still kind of awkward. Photo by Chris Lubinski.

Right after “coming out” – still kind of awkward. Photo by Chris Lubinski.

was wonderful. Most people think I lied about my age to screw older guys, but that wasn’t the case. Honestly, if you were in your late twenties or early thirties, would you even consider being friends with a seventeen year old? However, in the process of “coming out” of the seventeen year old closet, I didn’t lose a single friend, even though I probably should have. Sure, a lot of people look at me different, and it took some longer than others to forgive me. I was briefly bullied (humorously) by a certain friend but that’s since stopped, and we are back on “annoying brother/sister duo” terms. But my point in this paragraph is that because I’m able to tell the truth, I have more self confidence – and that’s another reason I am so excited to be staying in Greensboro. In that window of time, I learned just how wrong lying was and just how important trust is. I can be honest (ha) when I’m saying I haven’t told a lie since then – except maybe to my parents about silly stuff teenagers lie to their parents about. Oops.

In actuality, the reason I’m staying is for the people. A lot of people in Greensboro suck, but there are so many wonderful, creative, talented individuals here that the people who suck don’t even matter. And even the people who suck are good at something. The people I have met in the past year and a half have proved to me Greensboro isn’t a shitty, small, southern town. Greensboro is a community, with friends in every corner and new bands rising up every week. We have not one, but two really great college radio stations, one of which I have had the privilege of DJ’ing on for the past 4 years. I also had the chance to start up a radio show for Avant Greensboro on that station, but I’m sure you all know that by now. Avant on Air has surpassed any expectations I’ve had for it.

This is cheating because it was taken in Charlotte, but here's proof I'm happy at 17. Photo by Adam Lazzara.

This is cheating because it was taken in Charlotte, but here’s proof I’m happy at 18. Photo by Adam Lazzara.

Of course, we have our faults. Our music scene isn’t entirely cohesive (but it would be boring if it was), our downtown is a mere few blocks (but there is so much beyond downtown), you get trapped (and maybe that’s what I am). However, in no way does Greensboro live up to this “Greensboring” stereotype that has been making the rounds the past few years. On any given night, I can check my Facebook events and there will be a show. Even if there’s not – for now, I can call up a friend and I can sit beside him or her as they drink a beer at New York Pizza and in two and a half years, I can drink a beer with them. I can’t remember the last time I was actually bored, alone, in Greensboro. Perhaps I have been bored with friends, but when you’re with friends – it’s hard to be entirely bored. And that’s what Greensboro truly is – a city of friends. It’s rare I go out and don’t have anyone to say hello to. I’m by no means popular, as I am by far the youngest in the “scene” I’m involved in, but people seem to like me anyway, for the most part. And even if they don’t, it’s okay – I have so many close friends I’ve been blessed with. And honestly, I can say I am looking forward to starting school this fall in Greensboro – my hometown.

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17 Comments to “Staying Behind, or, Why I’m Choosing to Remain in Greensboro.”

  1. Soccerfan92 says:

    Actually, we have three awesome college radio stations. 90.1 WNAA broadcasts from Aggie territory. Not that this post is so much about Greensboro as it is you, but 90.1 shouldn’t go without mention.

  2. Derrick Kirkman says:

    Great article, Avalon. And it’s gives me the courage to finally admit it,
    I’m 32. (Lou Ann’s 33 haha!)

    But seriously, great article. I really like your writing.

  3. Taylor Bays says:

    “A city of friends”. Definitely an applicable term. Greensboro went through some real mediocrity before becoming the neat place it is today. I’d rather be around good people than cool people. Very earnestly-written article. Keep it up.

  4. Erica B says:

    I’m not “from” Greensboro, but I’ve lived there before.
    I’m heading back in May and looking forward to it.
    Can’t wait to see your face Avalon, and I’ve always known
    you’re wiser than your age!

  5. Eddie says:

    Great story and fun to read. I really enjoyed you being brutally honest.

    Greensboro has come a long ways over past decade or more. It’s good to see the continued rise of the music scene and the local artisans. It’s really flourishing and changing the makeup of the city as a whole.

  6. Jamie King says:

    Avalon this is a great article. I wish more students and young people your age would read this. I see so many students that “go off’ to college simply becasue it isnt Greensboro. Going to a place because it isn’t where you are at doesnt solve anything. I am a Greensboro native and have lived here most of my life and I love it. GREAT ARTICLE!!! YOU MAKE ALL OF US VERY PROUD!!!

  7. Jose Oliva says:

    For a more than a year I have been wondering what you do on your computer. Now, I know. I loved this article. I am sure you will do many cool things here in Greensboro. GREAT JOB!

  8. Noah Way says:

    Greensboro is great if:

    *You want to live in a place where at least half of the people mention Jesus more than 300 times in a 2 minute conversation. It’s fine being a person of faith, but it’s annoying to cram your beliefs down everyone’s throats.

    *You want to live in a place that doesn’t realize that the Civil War ended over 150 years ago.

    *You want to live in a place where everything closes early.

    *You want to live in a place where the downtown is so small that the ghetto thug club is right across the street from the places where normal people go out for dinner, coffee, etc. One of the wonderful ancillary benefits of this is that your odds of getting shot increase tenfold. Trust me on this one. I work as an RN in the ER at Moses Cone, so I see all the devastation on a regular basis. (see also SuperJam and A&T homecoming).

    *You want to live in a place where people make rude comments if you’re in an interracial or an LGBT relationship.

    *You want to live in a place where racial tension is VERY high.

    • Rae Alton says:

      I’m not sure how you define “normal people”, but it doesn’t seem to flatter your comment about racial tension. A&T is an economically & culturally important event for our city, and lots of cities have events similar to SuperJam. Also, maybe you should check out some comparative data about violent crime in other cities. Violence happens in a lot of urban areas, and Greensboro is no exception, but our statistics are not “tenfold” higher. I agree that racial & LGBT perspectives are problematic, but Greensboro is great for a lot of reasons, sarcasm removed.

  9. Peter says:

    to finish Noah’s list….Greensboro is great if:
    ~ you think the world ends beyond the Carolina borders. Lets face it, Greensborians live in a cocoon. They have no clue of whats happening in the rest of the world and most sadly in the rest of their own country. I have to give them this though, they do know everything concerning Duke and UNC basketball…wow, in the times we live, such info will definitely get you ahead (sarcasm).
    ~ you think you are in the center of the world. First thing you hear when get here. We are close to the mountains, big city and sea. Are you kidding me??? 2-3 hours is close???? Plus whats the difference of drinking at the local pond vs the Carolina coast? Both are mud baths and both are occupied by drunk “y’all” necks holding red plastic cups sipping beer….how culturally interesting.
    ~ you like to socialize at church as its the only place to do so. Greensboro being a large suburb only allows you to socialize at church or dirty pubs or neighborhood pools, where “y’all” drunk parents hold a red plastic cup sipping beer.
    ~you like to gossip. Enough said!!!!
    ~ you think that being overweight is normal
    ~ you think “Mimi’s cafe” is a French restaurant. Sorry I had to put this in here, but I heard this so many times and I still laugh at it.
    ~ you like drama in your life

  10. Peter says:

    and to conclude…had to run some errands 🙂
    ~ you like chain restaurants (yes there are some independent restaus, but a little snobby for nothing)
    ~ you like to claim the weather is always nice here. If it is, why don’t I see you sitting in your porch during the July/Aug months and instead you are under your AC in the house???
    ~ you like being fake? This southern charm might be charming, but in most cases its fake…please do admit!

    Thanks for letting us express our view and hope Greensborians see what outsiders see.

  11. Lady luck says:

    The article is good but biased. Of course, you will say that Greensboro is great! If this is the only place that you know, then it will be. If you grew up here and all your family and friends are here then you are set for life. But for somebody who relocated here from a bigger city, the perception is different. The social scene is basically limited. Every establishments close early. Concerts???? There’s really not a lot of artists flocking here to do it… Mostly, country singers. But if you’re not into it, then you’re out of luck. There’s not a lot of things to do for anybody. Putt putt golf? Arcades are mediocre. Indoor mountain climbing? Indoor sky diving?… when you drive around, all you see are strip malls, after strip malls. Rate of depression, very high!I know because I take care of them. Competition between businesses, healthcare???? Not a lot….. Sports! There’s more to sports than college basket! And on and on and in……

  12. newguy says:

    I agree with Lady Luck, i just relocated here been in Greensboro for 3 months as of now. If I had to choose one word to describe the job market here Pathetic would be an understatement. Most big employers here rarely review applicants and when you call them they give you the run around, and the city is lying about the unemployment numbers, it doesnt make senss how I can apply today to places in Raleigh-Durham area and get recruiter emails and phone calls within 24 hrs and this has happened ib other states for me as well.

    Plenty of shopping areas but they arent hiring, and so far the people here seem too full of themselves not friendly lot of ghetto types that act out not to mention racists I am moving asap. Hate this place

  13. newguy says:

    Peter is speaking some truth to, word of advice GTA rate is high here, no shortage of gangs and youngings wanting to prove themselves so they can get a VIP room at the local jail which has two being across the steet from one another, several crackheads, crossdressers,hookers,dealers,poverty rate is high, poor wealth distribution, not much to do but go places that require u to spend $$$$ to have some entertainment, lotz of snobby businesses, just run away from this city do not relocate here

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