One of the top 5 questions I get these days is where my favorite place is to travel. If you follow along regularly, you know that Salt Lake City is my newest favorite. You also know that my old standby is New York City. I literally cannot get enough. But what I haven’t mentioned is my love for my hometown of Wingate, NC (population not much). It’s where I grew up. It’s where my parents still live. And it will always be home. I spent both days last weekend there for different reasons, and was reminded why it is such a gem. At the beginning of spring and fall, it is absolutely gorgeous. And the people. Oh, the people. Always a smile, a hug, and a hearty handshake.
I’ve taken some super-memorable trips in my life, and specifically the past 18 months. But even the best of those don’t compare to my two favorite things about Wingate: playing the piano with my mom at my childhood home (yes, I know I owe you the completion of our duet) or spending a fall night watching Wingate Men’s Soccer (D2 National Champs 2016). You think I am exaggerating? Two years ago, I cut a vacation to NYC short to fly home and watch a Wingate Men’s Soccer playoff game in person. No joke.
Wingate is an interesting place. It is about 45 minutes from Charlotte on the way to the beach. My high school won the State Basketball Championship here recently, of which I am very proud. It is very rural, and smells like farming. Its demographics run the gamut, which was crucial in my development as a human being. A nice mix of white, black, and Hispanic, among others. The age of the population leans a little older, but then the university population evens that back out. Oh yeah, did I not mention? The town has a world-class university smack in the middle. I received my MBA and played soccer there. The campus is absolutely beautiful. The athletic program is second to none. Ditto to the pharmacy school and other academic programs. There is a worldwide feel because the university has students from all over the world. I can literally pop in for a day and talk native Wingate-ese, or overhear one of 10 different languages.
I know I always talk about the importance of experiencing the world. Broadening your horizons. Being a true citizen of the world, not just your own little community. But life’s a trip, no pun intended, because on the other hand, there are so many “wordly” people out there that would have no idea how to behave in my little ol’ Wingate. I say it all the time to anyone who will listen (my co-workers are tired of it). Growing up in this place was an absolute blessing, and I never want to lose the ability to interact and relate with my hometown or any other small town, regardless of where I live or travel to.
One of my primary goals in life right now is to be able to start and carry on a conversation with literally anyone on this planet. So as I continue on my travels of the United States and the world, I get as much satisfaction during the off weekends to hit up places like Wingate. Because as fun as some fancy-ass place in Miami may be, it is necessary, vital even, to understand that the farmer in Wingate is equally as important. So when I say broaden your horizons, yeah, I may be encouraging someone whose world has gotten a little small. But let it be known, I also want everyone to know the importance of places like Wingate. And how it has shaped my view of the world just as much as all of these other places. No better. No worse. Just different. And as I always say, different is good. Different is good.
Have a great week.-Benj
Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.
If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.