A Prodigal Son’s Return: The Graduate Back in Cary


Cary, NC — I put my thoughts to paper to talk about my return to my old home.

The Return

Around two months ago, I returned to Cary as a respite to build up extra cash and prepare myself for the big plunge coming on that is striking out on my own. My extended stay is nothing new. During college, I would always spend my summers at home. And prior to that, well… there was nothing else to call home.

Cary is a comfortable place to me. I rarely ever need my GPS while traveling inside of it, save the few times my destination is some obscure street that’s sandwiched between the major arteries of the town. Here all I need is an internal compass, a street name and I’m off, down a short cut that’ll help me get from point a to b in five minutes less than usual. But lately, that isn’t so much the case.

Stranger in My Own Home

Cary isn’t what it was five years ago, heck it isn’t the place it was even last year. It’s quickly changing, a shifting form that’s brought about by bulldozers and backhoes. Neighborhoods and townhouses pop up like daisies, shopping malls and grocery stores dot the street corners at every major intersection. Old stores are getting remodeled and new ones keep coming in. These are the signs of a bustling economy that started well before even I came to live here. And it’s not lost on me.

What’s more is that I realize that my interests as a young adult clash with the town itself. I want to go out at night, go to bars and meet people, have fun. Here in Cary, I have no friends. They’re all gone, mostly to Raleigh to finish up their degrees. What’s more, the bars they want to go to are there, if they want to go out at all. Here, the only bars that you can find are pubs and sports bars. Places to fill up on beer and greasy appetizers and watch the game, hardly a place to socialize and meet people.

All restaurants shut down after ten o clock, too, leaving only the fast food joints as the last place to go. Wanted something a bit more substantial? Well, tough luck, guy, you gotta deal.

Concerts and art seem to suffer here as well. Sure, there’s the occasional festival and every once and a while some one worth while comes to Koka Booth, but otherwise I feel I’m left culturally starved. I end up driving the twenty minutes to Raleigh to check out Redhat or Time Warner or even just to go see the art museum.

Absence Makes the Heart Wander

The thing is, Cary, that both you and I grew up a bit apart from each other. Long ago, you shifted your view on making the town a place for families and you’ve succeeded. You’ve made a place that young families want to be, a safe place to raise kids, shop for your necessities and have easy travel to work, although, of late, that’s become a bit debatable. And a product of this, whether intentional or not, is this feeling of alienation that I have now that I’m back here, working.

Here in Cary, I can’t help but feel out of place. The people  I interact most with on a daily basis are parents and older adults. It’s rare for me to find someone who’s the same age as me here and that makes it hard for me to want to stay.

Like a bird leaving the nest, I’ll be leaving home, but not for good. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll do what my parents did and return with a family. But that’s years down the road, well out of sight and mind. In the meantime, let me worry about the next five years. Years that will be spent, most likely, some place else.


While deciding on the next move, Matt Posek has been writing for CaryCitizen this autumn. See also Angst Report: College Grad Returns to Cary from 2013.

3 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    BF Jetta. most of what you mentioned is in raleigh. most of cary is not “10 minutes from fayetteville street. he mentions that most of his friends are in raleigh and that when he goes out, he goes there, probably to fayetteville street. a lot of the baby breweries, art, music, and theater is mostly in durham/chapel hill/raleigh. all places that are accessible to cary, but not in cary.

    My point is not to hate on cary, but youre missing matt’s point by telling him that there is a lot going on in surrounding towns.

    Since the late 80s-early 90s, Cary has grown a fabulous reputation by being centered around safe and quiet (with regards to nightlife) family life. I think what Matt doesn’t realize is that Cary hasn’t changed all that much in 5 years(with regards to culture). He just grew up. As a 20-something, he should feel a little out of place in a family-oriented suburb.

    What he should really do is just go move to raleigh durham carrboro chapel hill, etc. There’s a reason all his friends moved to raleigh.

  2. BFJetta
    BFJetta says:

    This post makes me a little sad for Matt. His family must not venture out very much in the great town of Cary and Raleigh, because if they did, or had paid a bit of attention to the apps available, radio ads, the newspaper, he would know that bars do not close down at 10 o’clock. He would also know that downtown Raleigh is literally 10-15 min away (easy drive)and there are a million young people (and people of all ages)his age down there having the greatest time ever. His parents could have told him there’s are events and festivals of some kind literally every weekend and most week nights downtown (Fayetteville St). They would know there are all kinds of bars and restaurants with all price points that are such enjoyable places to spend time. They would have told Matt that tons of baby breweries had started up around here to enjoy and explore wonderful local craft beers. All this is no secret to most of us paying attention. If you’re bored here, you aren’t exploring in the right places. There’s so much culture here including art, music, theater performances, that you cannot possibly do it all. Twitter and Instagram are great ways to find out where people are going and what they’re doing. You only have to go do it.

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    Many of the same comments were posted by citizens during the Imagine Cary series of public discussion forums, now closed for discussion.

    Hey, we’re not a college town!
    (A college would not generate any property taxes.)

    Oh well, and I met my spouse at church, 44 years ago. Seems all my best friends have that commonality.

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