excerpts from a travel journal: no saxophones on sundays in the south;

So it turns out cars aren’t luxuries in the south.

On my second day in Raleigh I tried to fix up with my friend Josh how we were going to meet up, in a way that fitted around his work and a couple of things I wanted to do at the convention. There was a train… but that was the problem. There was a train – the same one that we had gotten down from New York – and there was an option to get back that would have involved two buses and probably missing the Amazon party. Which I had brought the most magnificent dress for, and had no intention of missing.

That was it, between two reasonably large towns in the same part of the same state. It seemed nonsensical to me.

Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh

In the end we rearranged our meeting to coincide with when I’d be with Aggie, which doubly made sense because it’s my connection with Josh that brought Aggie into my life in the first place. On Saturday morning Aggie picked me up from the hotel and we drove out to Carrboro, by way of what she described as the “10c Ryan Adams tour” of all the places he had worked, gotten into fights and burned bridges during the Whiskeytown years.

Brunch at Milltown, Carrboro with my friends

Missing my friends.

We thought it would be appropriate to track me down a copy of Losering, David Menconi’s book about those days, but Flyleaf was sold out and I bought a copy of Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic instead. While in Chapel Hill we also browsed the local record store, of course (damn you, Bouchercon, and your inevitable free books taking up the space I could have used for that Replacements vinyl box set) and another bookstore – secondhand this time – famous for its cats. We only saw one of the three – a huge, white and tabby monster the size of the Big Man – and he was asleep in the window the whole time. I still got a little petting in, though.

Bookshop Cat, The Bookshop at Chapel Hill

Bookshop Cat, Bookshop Cat, why are you so pretty?

For food, there was brunch at Milltown across from the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro – a venue practically as familiar to me as Tut’s from Josh doing the local listings on the radio show – and cupcakes and gelato at a place called Sugarland, which was always going to tick all my boxes. Josh brought his adorable wife Sarah and six-month old baby Bea to brunch, and I also got to meet Aggie’s partner Trav for the first time. Later, we’d get over his college football hand egg team’s narrow defeat and the nasty loss of their star player to injury with Chinese food and a Taylor Swift YouTube dance-a-thon while the kittens did a sterling job at avoiding cuddles from their Auntie Lis who came all that way just to see them.

Raspberry gelato and a mimosa-flavoured cupcake at Sugarland

Mimosa cupcake and gelato at Sugarland

Aggie wrote on Facebook the other day that she has great men in her life that introduce her to awesome ladies, and I’m gonna screenshot it and stick it in my journal. I was a fan of Josh’s writing on Aquarium Drunkard and us having the same taste in music, so I started listening to his radio show from there and basically badgered him until suddenly we were actually friends. And Aggie and I basically did not shut up all weekend – apart from when we were napping – which means I should probably end this entry with an open apology to anybody whose art gallery browsing was ruined by our giggling.