I moved to the south 25 years ago. In that time, my blood has thinned, I say “y’all” easily, and sweet tea is my medicine. I crave the heat and humidity. When it starts getting cold (below 70 degrees) I want to hibernate. I discovered a love for the blues, salt water air, shrimp and grits. The slower pace doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
My husband, who has lived here about 13 years, still thinks of the northeast as “home.” When he criticizes the south, when he gets hung up on stereotypes and generalities, I get defensive. When “The Book” (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) was released, I became fiercely protective of my beloved Savannah. Facebook has reconnected me with former high school classmates who now live all over. When they find out I’m living in the South they’ll occasionally make a crack about us crackers.
I am not amused.
When life throws lemons your way, most of us want to run home. But where is that exactly?
As many of you know, the place where I was born doesn’t create an image of comfort for me. I have fond memories of my childhood home, sure. But it isn’t the place I run to. And because I don’t have parental figures who offer a soft place to land, I have no one to run to, either.
It’s been a sad, sad past few days. My sister’s husband suffered much through the course of his illness. His death was scary, uncomfortable and violent. He was very aware in his last moments and my sister witnessed his tragic end. She is “home” and I am here. I can’t hug her. I can only talk to her over the phone. And while I want to be there for her, I dread going back there.
There is not where I find comfort.
I find comfort here, in Georgia, with our crazy sayings, odd fashion sense, yummy collards and cornbread. I much prefer the sweet southern comments by strangers, that a Yankee might perceive as less than genuine. But I don’t care. There is a friendliness here that I don’t find many other places. Fake or not, this little glass-half-full-gal prefers the smiles, friendly questions and terms of endearment at the grocery store.
Where is home?
Home is where your heart is.
As trite as that sounds, I am home.
My heart is here. With my amazing, loving husband – who sometimes makes me want to tear my hair out. My beautiful three children – who give me a taste of crazy every single day. In a great dream house. In a neighborhood with neighbors who are nice and neighbors who are not so nice. My heart embraces the steamy, hot summers and the snail’s pace. I am fascinated by the number of southern dialects and quaint phrases.
I will visit “home” in a few weeks for my brother-in-law’s memorial service. But where am I complete? Where do I feel most comfortable and wanted? Where is the familiar and the deep-rooted sentiment and love?
(Thank you, dear sweet readers, for your words of comfort and peace and understanding. Your thoughts mean more to me than you will ever know.)