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I’ve recently discovered some signs that I may finally be going native. I no longer stand at the copy machine trying to rid my head of the code from my old job and remember the new one. I no longer have to interrupt someone every 30 minutes to find out where something is. Where are the post-it notes? The fax cover sheets? The postage machine? The coffee? (Oh…no community coffee machine? We walk across the street to the co-op? Got it.) I don’t have to plan every trip to the store like it was a vacation (looking online to see if and where one exists, their hours, the shortest route to get there, writing down directions). I actually just go without thinking. I occasionally whine about not having a 24-hour Meijer and about feeling like a loser walking in the “ABC Store” if I want to buy liquor, but I’ve stopped complaining (as much) about not having a good breakfast place now that we’ve discovered that Sunday offers the best options. Apparently the “after church” crowd likes their brunch, so restaurants have decent breakfast options on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong. I still miss my Golden Harvest and long for some Hippie Hash at the Fleetwood Diner, but Crook’s Corner is outstanding and Milltown has some surprising options we need to try. Relationally, we’re finding ourselves in the six-degrees of connection circle now. The other day we were having dinner with two couples and the other two women were discovering how they each had a mutual acquaintance in a third woman. One had worked with her in the past and the other had met her recently while in Puerto Rico. I tuned out for a few minutes assuming I couldn’t contribute to the conversation as a newbie. Then I said, “Wait a minute. Is she about so tall with dark hair and she just started her own organizing business?” They looked at me. “Yes,” they both said. “I think I ran with her this morning,” I replied, amazed that the circle was getting smaller. And the other day we were telling people who’d lived here much longer than we had about a few places that were good for hearing local music or had some delicious food. I’m not there all the way though. I didn’t know the bumper sticker that said TI stood for Topsail Island until a co-worker schooled me on their placed-based shorthand. OBX is Outer Banks by the way. And I nearly caused my colleague a heart attack when she asked me where I was watching “the game” last week and I said, “What game?” This quickly led to an intervention with people pledging to help me understand the historic rivalry between UNC and Duke. The book, To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever was offered as an orientation. Clearly, I’m still wearing the camera (you know, like the tourist who stands out like a neon sign). But I’m not on the corner wearing a backpack with the unfolded map in hand. And that feels good.

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