September 15, 2005

Wilmington, NC

wilmington house

Hurricane Ophelia has been threatening Wilmington, NC, where my daughter was born and my wife and I got married. Strangely, neither of us think about the town very much. We’ve come an incredibly long way since then. We never felt completely at home there, but it was a great place to have a kid. The hospital was a few blocks from our house. When she was born, she was one of two babies in the nursery. It was less scary than having a baby in a metropolis like Los Angeles which I imagine is a lot more overwhelming and impersonal.

I always had the dream of living in small town America. Wilmington’s not tiny--around 100,000. I was born in New York City, grew up in L.A., then moved back to NY (living in Portland, OR and Minneapolis along the way). I never got a real sense of anything but city life, a sense of how most people in this country live. We lived there for two years, moving there soon after September 11th and finding out S. was pregnant in October. Olivia’s a real Sept. 11th baby. I wrote "North of Sunset" there. It was a momentous and meaningful time for us, but somehow it’s faded into the background. Too much thinking about the present and the future, I guess. One of these years, we’ll travel back with my daughter and show her the place where she was born, the house where we lived--seen here, a small gray, tin-roof house on Queen St.

There are plaques on many of the houses in downtown Wilmington commemorating historic people who have lived there. It’s a beautifully historic town. I had the dream/delusion that our house would have a plaque that talked about how the writer Henry Baum wrote his second novel there. This is the retarded self-aggrandizement one has to go through to complete a novel. More likely, it will be the first home of the famous actress, Olivia Baum. We’ve both thought she would be an actress since before she was born. There’s nothing to suggest she won’t be. She always needs an audience.

We never had to go through a hurricane, but some pretty serious storms that scared the shit out of me. Our neighbor’s house was struck by lightning. My wife thought the storms were nothing and enjoyed them because she's from Florida. Looks like Wilmington is going to be all right with this one.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, remember the rent was $575 a month for 2 bedrooms, hardwood floors, fenced in backyard, cherry trees, magnolias, crepe myrtles and a laundry room? Brick streets, hanging moss, cypress trees, the yearly Azaelea Festival - oh I do miss it sometimes, sweetie.

I like your post.


Henry Baum said...

"Sweetie"? You're blowing my cover. I'm a sour, cynical, misanthropic curmudgeon.

Empty Drum said...

Henry and Samantha sitting in a tree,
K - I - S - S - I - N - G!

Anonymous said...

I remember when that house was for sale for under 10K. man it looks like a million now. Who knows how I got here? Who cares? Like your stuff Henry.

oakland heidi said...

I was thinking of moving here... I grew up in a small town and have grown tired of the city...

Any ideas on how to look for jobs in this lovely little place?

Anonymous said...

You don't want to move to this GOD FORSAKEN place. The traffic is terrible...not only heavy...but dangerous. Check out the nc accident stats. The GOD DAMN yankees are rude as hell...and you could get wiped out by a hurricane.

Henry Baum said...

You're right about Wilmington drivers. People drive like they don't entirely care if they live or die. I don't know about the Yankees though. We found a strange lack of Southern hospitality from a lot of people. Even this preacher down the block who bought his retirement home thought people were standoffish. So it wasn't just us. We moved there right after 9-11 so that might have had something to do with it.

As for getting a job, the reason we left was because it was hard to find work. This was in 2001-2003. It could be better now. Back then, the film community was drying up. Now they have "One Tree Hill" and "Surface" and things seem to be going a lot better. Otherwise, downtown's beautiful and the rent's cheap.

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