I pulled all the keys off my key ring today and lined them up in a row: Two house keys, a Winston-Salem office key, a Greensboro office key, two Square One keys and a couple I couldn’t place. I like to think you can measure the depth of your commitment to a community in keys. And the heft of my keychain tells me I was doing pretty well in Greensboro. But now I have to send them back and start again in Las Vegas. I’ve been here since 11 p.m. yesterday, when my plane touched down in a quiet McCarran airport. The night was warm, dry and clear — everything you’d expect from the desert. The weather in Greensboro was beautiful yesterday, if a little warm. The sun came up early and bright, sending its light through the screen of foliage ringing my yard. I said goodbye to the foliage sometime this morning, and to the house a few hours later, as my boyfriend and I pulled out of the driveway. I lived in Greensboro — off and on — for the better part of seven years and practically all of my twenties. And it’s weird to think that I might never come back. I came here in 2001 when I was 22 because of a chance encounter with a mohawked boy at a bike-in movie. He told me I’d like Greensboro and gave me a beer. At the time I was wrestling with whether to stay in Austin, Texas, where I was born and raised, or move to Greensboro, NC, where Triad Stage beckoned. I was leaning toward staying in Austin. Now I’m 29 and saying goodbye — probably for good. By the time this column hits the streets, I’ll be in Vegas, sleeping on an air mattress in an unfurnished apartment and working at Las Vegas CityLife. I’m excited and sad. Last night, I played my last show as a member of Dawn Chorus. We’ve been together for five years. The boys, who are practically brothers to me, gave me a framed photo of the four of us as a parting gift. I almost cried. Greensboro — and North Carolina — has given me a lot: Two careers, a master’s degree, friendships and love. I hope I’ve given back accordingly, but I probably haven’t. These have been formative years and good ones. I suffered my first ice storm, career crisis and overnight jail stay here. I made some mistakes and several bad decisions. But I recovered from all of them and thrived. And a lot of that has to do with serendipity. I finished graduate school a few months after the launch of YES! Weekly and got on with them when no other paper would have me. I learned what I could from Jordan and Brian and worked out my own strengths. The two of them not only steered me in the right direction, they also gave me the space to experiment. So… thanks, guys. And if there’s someone else I need to thank, it’s my boyfriend Mark, who has lived and put up with me for the last two years. He’s not coming to Las Vegas with me, at least not yet. But if my first three and half years in North Carolina were an effort to shore up my independent cred, well, then the last three-and-a-half have been an object lesson in interdependence. Which is not easy for me. But I’m learning about relationships and commitment, starting small with Che, my cat for the past six years who is curled up in a too-small box next to me at the airport. I’m taking her with me to Vegas, to see how a Southern housecattakes to the desert. She flies like a champ, barely making a sound asthe plane seesaws down the runway in 30 mph gusts. I’ve got areally long night head of me — another two-and-a-half hours to LasVegas, then a trip to Avis, a short shopping excursion for essentialsand check-in at the hotel I had to book
becausemy dumb ass booked a late flight. Tomorrow I sign a lease and putteraround town. The first few days will be too busy for thinking muchabout Greensboro. Which is why I have to wrap this thing here.Because I need a nap on the next flight to make it through the night.And because I live in Las Vegas now, and I’ve got to learn what thatmeans. So thanks again, Greensboro, and take care of those keys for me.