I've learned that I can accurately judge a town based on it's radio station selections and choice of dining establishments.
When the radio only plays country or rap and there's 4 McDonald's within walking distance, I'm probably not going to get a warm, fuzzy first impression. Hitting the drive-through while listening to someone croon about their lost puppy isn't high on my list of things I want to accomplish before I die.
I tried to keep an open mind as I was driving out of Wilmington, NC towards our next mailing address.
As I drove I called my mom in New York. I held back sobs as I said "Trailer home, church, furniture outlet, trailer home, church, porn shop inside trailer home, church, strip club inside a trailer home!!! Maaa, that's all there is! I don't want to move here !!!"
"I'm sure it will get better once you get into town"
I got into town and almost had to laugh. It didn't get better. It got worse. The town looked like it had been beaten up and then gone out and got a new haircut and some makeup to try to hide the bruises.
I'm mildly superstitious. On my flight to NC I found a shiny penny in my seat. "Find a penny pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck".
When I got to the entrance of the neighborhood where I was headed, there was a dead Border Collie on the side of the road. Stupid penny. I don't know any childhood rhymes about dead dogs, but bad radio stations, bad roadside attractions and road kill leave me feeling helpless. I parked in the neighborhood and called my mom back.
"I don't like it here at all. I want to leave and not come back"
"Well, you're not deciding if you like the town. You HAVE to move there. You're deciding if you like the house and you haven't even seen it. Drive over there and look at it and keep an open mind"
I saw the house. I did like it. Didn't love it. But I could tolerate it. There weren't any dead animals, there weren't any strippers. All I saw were a few people washing their cars and a handful of American flags flying on porches.
I bought the house, because as my mom said, I have to move there.
And I'll be taking my damn satellite radio receiver and my cookbooks.