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I didn’t come to Charlotte to Die. (Although I almost did.) I came to thrive.by Kellee Stall on June 25, 2019
I had life-saving surgery shortly after I moved to Charlotte. Total fluke.
My intestines were blocked and all of my organs were shutting down. The doctor said I had less than an hour to live. I remembered thinking as I was being whisked off to surgery, “I have come to Charlotte to die.”
While in surgery, my daughter drove to the hospital and was hit by a truck who ran a stop sign. We’re all fine now. I promise. This was definitely our least favorite day in Charlotte. Well, that and the day I got poison ivy from petting a dog. I don’t want to talk about that.
Some pretty cool things came from my near death experience. Days before my fluke surgery, I attended one of Charlotte’s 600 churches. This church has an art gallery. (I’ll say more about that in a minute.) I met several friendly people at this church who invited me to a book club specifically created for women who are new to Charlotte and miss their home. I didn’t want to go to this club. I didn’t come to Charlotte to cry.
I politely pseudo-signed up … then proceeded to almost die. Guess who took care of my family while I was in the hospital? I went to the book club. I met the others — others who had just moved to Charlotte like me. Jo is from Scotland and she’s my favorite. She’s dealing with way more culture shock than I am.
She calls me “mate.” I introduced her to Cheez-Its.
Lyft Gave Me a Lift
Jo thinks taking a Lyft is odd but when I told her I engage and make friends with the Lyft drivers, she thinks that’s nutters. But, if I didn’t talk to Lyft drivers, I’m not sure how else I would have met Darius Lockhart.
Darius is a Lyft driver by day and a professional wrestler by night. His wrestling name is The Revolutionary.
He’s earned ginormous gold trophy belts and here he was, giving me a Lyft ride home from the hospital. He wants to break into film. He’d make a perfect stunt double and I promised to help him research how.
My search for Darius led me to Charlotte’s fascinating film community. Julie McElmurry founded the Charlotte Unconventional Film School. She’s a jack of all trades in the film industry while cultivating a network for Charlotte filmmakers. Her monthly classes and guest instructors are seasoned and eclectic. Her mantra is “Anybody can create a film, we’ll teach you how.”
Film Helped Me Frame Charlotte
Julie invited me to a local storytelling meet up in Elizabeth. I imagined I was about to attend a moth radio hour experience in a dimly lit coffee shop. I would sip my flask of wine from the audience and enjoy stand-up styled stories. That was a hilarious misunderstanding.
With flask in hand, I walked into a brightly lit church basement. I was being signaled by Julie to join an improv warm-up already in progress. My standard practice is to avoid participating in any improv or misunderstandings, but I ended up loving everything about that night.
For a plethora of reasons, improv accelerates friendships. And, so, my new friend, Julie, helped me make a new friend, Peggy.
Peggy Barnell, who leads the film and stage chapter of Arts Charlotte, attended that story group as a newbie, too. I shared my wine with her. Arts Charlotte hosts quarterly meetups for anyone interested in the arts. Their stage and film branch is brand new. Bryan Pierce of the Actor’s Lab was their May guest speaker and Peggy asked me to host it at my home.
Now, I met so many film people since my Lyft ride, I had plenty of connections to share with my wrestling pal, Darius.
So, about that Art Gallery in a Church
Recently, the hospital that saved my life was having its annual gratitude banquet for volunteer staff. I was asked to emcee the event. I turned that gig down. I had to. Something wilder was being offered to me. Remember the church with the art gallery? They found out that I decorate my house with mini art installations. They want to feature 15 of my pieces in their art gallery in July.
Please come. It’s at New City Church 2500 Carmel Rd. SouthPark Campus Gallery. Show will be up all of July with live music and food reception Friday, July 19th 7-9pm.
I’m about 100 words over my max, but I want to extend friendship to all the newcomers of Charlotte. Introduce yourself in the comments below or find me at the next CreativeMornings. I’d love to hear more about you and why you’re here.
We didn’t come to Charlotte to die, my friends. We came here to thrive.