The young woman nervously takes a breath, then squares her shoulders, steeling herself for the new start. A new place, somewhere small and quaint, just outside the moving boom from nearby Charlotte and Fayetteville. Quiet. Peaceful without being too rural.
Six months pass and the locals aren’t quite friendly. They’re not rude, just not as welcoming as they could be. They don’t know what to make of her. She begins to understand the layout of the downtown area, the local eateries especially, and attends her first First Sunday (an event held on the first Sunday of every month where shop owners, artists, and farmers show off the fruits of their labor).
One year goes by and the natives are starting to warm up to her. She knows a couple of the farmers, one of them has the cutest cats, and holds little conversations with shop owners. She realizes that the locals are very invested in local businesses. She begins to look forward to First Sunday.
Another few months and she’s being greeted on the street, artists and shop workers asking about her day, if she’s gotten that promotion yet, what her dog is up to. She feels accepted, and she becomes excited for local events. Festivals, movie showings, farmer’s markets — they all mean something full of local pride to the small town, and to her. She likes supporting her neighbors.
Three years have gone by, and she regularly visits her in-town friends. She goes to Small, a small local restaurant, once every week or so. Every day she drives by the grocery store and down main street, peering in the stores to see if anything new is being displayed. She keeps up with the encroaching residential growth, but isn’t really worried about it yet. It’s still too far to set local boundaries. She’s getting into environmentalism. She chats casually with people she doesn’t know, comfortable enough in her knowledge of the local scene to engage with familiar strangers. Her boss runs into her on the street and they talk like old friends. She’s become a local.