I heard about CIAA long before I moved to Charlotte. Back in 2012, my good friend (and roommate my first week here) had just moved to the Queen City and was trying her best to get me to join her. She invited me to visit during CIAA. I remember her describing it as one of the biggest and most fun weekends in the city. She was convinced that after a weekend of fun, I would not want to return to New York City.
I didn’t make it to visit her that year. In fact, it took four years for me to finally visit her in Charlotte (and she was right. I was sold on moving after that.). Still, every year, she would mention CIAA.
So naturally, when I reached out to one of my close friends back home with an invitation to visit me in Charlotte, I told her that CIAA weekend was the perfect time.
I missed Felicia the most out of all of my friends in Brooklyn. Our older sisters were best friends in middle school, but we didn’t meet until last year. We’ve been inseparable ever since. We talked on the phone regularly, but it just wasn’t the same as sitting on her couch with a glass of wine and talking about everything under the sun. I was looking forward to hosting her on my couch this time around.
I made arrangements for Bean to spend the weekend in Atlanta with the OGs (Other Grandparents). After picking Felicia up at the airport, we drove down to Greeneville, SC, the halfway point between Charlotte and Atlanta, to meet the OGs. We picked up dinner on the way back to Charlotte and headed back to my apartment. I woke up on the couch hours later with Felicia’s feet in my lap.
Over breakfast the next day, we decided to plan our weekend itinerary. We had tickets to the men’s semifinals, courtesy of Avon’s job and planned to fill the rest of our time with parties and events around the city. We searched Eventbrite and got overwhelmed by the options – and costs – available. We discussed the ones that piqued our interests and the considerations we had around them; the cost of admission, the traffic, the duration of the event and whether Felicia and I were expected to wear high heels and for exactly how long were all major factors in our decision. After at least an hour and still nothing confirmed, we decided to go to the game and play it by ear afterward.
We took the LYNX light rail to Uptown to avoid traffic. It was my first time riding the light rail and I was excited. I couldn’t help comparing it to New York City’s rail system, but honestly, there’s no experience like riding the train in New York City. The ride was shorter than I expected and soon, we were bustling through the crowds to the Spectrum Center.
We made our way to the company suite to watch the game. I remember meeting Avon’s supervisor and not much else. The exhaustion and excitement was catching up to me and before I knew it, Avon was shaking me awake. We left the game and headed to the Epicentre. We were instantly annoyed by the crowds and decided to go back to my apartment. Felicia and I promptly fell asleep on the couch.
We laughed at ourselves the next morning. Our big party weekend had been a bust so far, but I was determined to make the most of Felicia’s last full day in Charlotte. We spent many nights complaining about our weight over junk food, including the past two nights. Since Felicia got to Charlotte, we had eaten at Chick Fil-A (twice), McDonalds and Taco Bell, not to mention the snacks I had stocked at home. I felt extremely guilty about eating so poorly and decided to bring Felicia along to an exercise class I wanted to try. Less than 10 minutes after we left, Avon was surprised to get a call from us asking what he wanted from IHOP. I was almost surprised too, until I remembered the kind of friends we are. All it took was a quip from me about Saturday mornings being reserved for pancakes for Felicia to encourage me to turn the car around.
Back at my apartment, we lounged lazily. We planned to go to a free day party midday, but ultimately, only left to get more food. I asked Felicia if she was enjoying herself. With the biggest smile she could muster on her sleepy face, she said, “this has been the worst weekend ever!” I missed her brand of sarcasm.
Finally, our lazy, gluttonous weekend had come to an end. I asked Felicia again whether she had a good time in Charlotte, despite spending most of it on my couch. “I was chillin’,” she said in her thick Brooklyn accent. “You know we’re old now, anyway.”
She was right. Six years ago, I could have – and very likely would have – partied until the sun came up and still kept going. But now, at age 30, a good time looks a lot different. It looks like hanging out on the couch with my best friends, having meaningful discussions or laughing about the silliest things and falling asleep mid-sentence and picking up where the conversation left off when we wake up again. It looks like indulging in all of my favorite guilty pleasure foods all weekend (actually, that wasn’t fun after a while. Bloating is real at 30.). It looks like a short road trip to a new city, marveling at the sights along the way and getting a big hug from my little boy.
I failed to convince Felicia to move to the Queen City after just one weekend, but she promised to visit again over the summer. I’ll be waiting for her on the couch with open arms.