Ode to the City: Charlotte is to me like whatever your thing is to you.


I grew up surrounded by tall pines, High Rock Lake, and so much camo that sometimes when I closed my eyes all I could see was Real Tree. Eastern Rowan County (i.e. Gold Hill, Rockwell, Faith, or any of the innumerable pseudo-towns) wasn’t so much a cultural center as it was a collection of rural suburbs with exponentially more hair salons.

As much as I enjoyed the three years of middle school when I tried my hardest to dress and sound like everyone else, I just knew that I was going to have to find a different niche for myself. Turns out that at the age twenty-two, I am still searching but I am getting a little closer to  just settling on menace. High school brought the long hair, discovery of music that wasn’t on the radio, and sometimes wearing ties to school–admittedly a choice that still confuses me.  I do want to make something clear, most of my classmates that stand out in the memories of these lifestyles are graduates from great universities and are traveled citizens of the world. They have done a better job at checking off the “success” boxes on their lists than I, so please don’t think that I would ever patronize the people I loved while growing up because that is not the case.

The other milestone that high school brought for me was my first visit as a semi-young adult to the city of Charlotte and the campus of UNCC. During a time of strange obsessions of classic literature and young-adult fiction, being in a city that had more than one building over eight stories tall was enchanting to say the least. Over the last two years in RoCo (a colloquial term, still part of my vocabulary) I perfectly measured out my abandonment of school work so that I could still ensure my admittance to the rather lax University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I arrived, attended the university for two full terms, raised hell and honored Dale, and then as quickly as I arrived-I was kicked the fuck out. The funny thing about the university is, they really do expect you to pass a few classes regardless of who is paying the tuition. In my case, the state, the nation, and private loaners were paying but I still thought I had some freedom.

That year I worked for the student newspaper, hosted a couple shows through the media department, attended an honor court session held just for me, and met professors whose names or faces I couldn’t recall right now if you paid me. Honestly, a midst all that, I got to know a city and a handful of people that I would want to spend the rest of my life with. I fell in love with the neighborhoods of Charlotte and every new scene that each new district brought to the table. I was adorned with an affinity for the name Sharon. I have grown to love the crust punk and the banker alike, both from a distance.

I’ve realized that no neighborhood, regardless of how hip, should have it’s own facebook page because it will immediately deteriorate into an incestuous cesspool of complainers, worriers, and trolls. I’ve learned that national chain media will have a hard time focusing on true local scenes because of the money it requires to survive. I’ve noticed people will get upset about anything as long as they have something to yell about. Most of all, this is where I made my friendships, where I got married, and where I want to build a life. There’s a lot more to learn and a lot more to discover and I hope to find some of it in here in Charlotte over the next little while.

I don’t want to say that I will never live anywhere else. I can say, if I’m not in Charlotte, I will be in another state.

Jordan McSwain

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