Why We Don’t Live Under a Water Tower

Two of “our” three smokestacks

Once Leah got her job in Greensboro we had to figure out where to live. After a fair amount of internet searching we came up with three possible abodes. The first was in a new apartment complex, but constructed in a way to cash in on the “old factory” vibes that are around the city. Like I mentioned before, we live in a converted mill, and it is not the only converted mill in the area. In fact, some other teachers at my school live in a converted mill in nearby Winston-Salem. Our mill was a flannel mill. Their mill was a tobacco mill. On a side note, I’ve never lived in a state where growing tobacco was even possible, and sometimes I find it odd.

I grew up around farms—wheat, barley, potatoes, mint, you name it—except tobacco. Seeing a field of tobacco while driving here once confused me; it was the first time in a while I didn’t know what was growing. Also, when I first met Leah thirteen years ago, one of the first things I talked about was apparently my experience in harvesting peas. I think I’ll say to our future kids, “Kids! Don’t open with someone you like by talking about farms!” But you know, I guess it all worked out. BUT TO RETURN TO MILLS, it’s fun living in one. Everything was power-sanded smooth during the renovation so we have a little sawdust to contend with. Sometimes we sneeze, but hey, there could be worse things, right?

Construction of Natty Greene’s, where we live now

Like… the first unit we saw was also directly under a water tower. Building an apartment under a water tower seems like a bad idea, right? What if there’s an earthquake—then do you also have an immediate flood? So Leah and I were on to the next place, which was more traditional and pretty good overall, even if the lady showing it to was a bit funky. “You can run here,” she explained, before crooking her arm 90 degrees, “then turn there, then turn there, and soon you’ll be back here!” We kept asking her about running trails in the area, and she kept showing us different sidewalks that made squares around the neighborhood. But she was nice.

There’s a person in this living room!

The third place we went to was the mill we now live in. We’ve talked about it a lot in the past, so how about the story of how we moved in: First, it was a dark and stormy night. Twenty-four hours later, it was still a dark and stormy night but we needed to return our full U-Haul. Biting the bullet, Leah put on a rain coat and rain boots and I put on some swimming trunks (it was late April and it wasn’t too cold, so I just resigned myself to getting soaked). Then we went outside and attempted to move our things, which worked out with the exception of our sole piece of furniture, Leah’s large bathroom cabinet.

Our very first chair (thanks Ikea)

The thing is white, taller than me, made of wood and glass, and weighs more than what two wet people can handle. Luckily, a very kind neighbor who was volunteered by his wife came and helped us move the cabinet down the U-Haul ramp, through the various mill levels, and quarter mile down to where we live. The guy is older than my dad and he truly saved our bacon. And that was another great introduction to Greensboro—a complete stranger whose wife I chatted with in the elevator and who was willing to help us move a heavy object through pouring rain at great risk to his fingers, toes, and shins. Not only is North Carolina a fun state, but it’s a nice state, too.

–Jeff and Leah

Sunset in the commons (they show movies on the wall in the space behind the tunnel!)

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