This was the first time I’ve done what I just got back from doing…I rented a house and stayed there for two solid weeks, writing away. I loved it, despite a hearty case of homesickness. It’s the eternal dichotomy of loving to travel and being a homebody, too.
A few observations on what’s different here…
Traffic lights last longer, attesting to the slower pace of the gentle South. In New York, you get, I don’t know…15 seconds to cross? Four? In Atlanta, the lights last for ages. And apparently, Atlanta drivers are colorblind when it comes to yellow: I didn’t see ONE SINGLE DRIVER stop for a yellow light, and indeed, flying through the red seems a time-honored tradition.
I found that I had a cloak of invisibility called “being a pedestrian.” My friend came down for the weekend, and we saved each other’s lives at least a hundred and eleven times from you crazy Southern drivers. Yikes!
There are flowers everywhere. Spring comes in February. Magnolias, camelias, Rose of Sharon, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths—it did a body good.
The sidewalks are death defying. You know how Indiana Jones has to hop and jump on the stones, or he’ll die? Same here! In my neighborhood, they were either this odd puzzle of sextagons, pushed up by frost or tree roots. Sometimes, there’s plywood covering sinkholes. Sometimes there’s not.
The food will kill you, but you will die smiling. Biscuits, eggs, grits, greens, everything cooked with butter, glorious butter. Meatloaf, fried chicken, apricot cake, mac and cheese that would make God Himself cry with joy. Collard greens, sausage, steak and cheese, hamburgers…and tater tots! I didn’t know tater tots could be so good!
The art of conversation is vastly superior here. It just leaves even this friendliest of Yankees in the dust. For example, I was taking a stroll and came upon a tree service crew. “Hello!” I sang out in my adorable way.
“Hey, how you doing today?” said the gentleman.
“I’m great!” said I. “How are you?”
“I’m doing wonderful,” he said in his gorgeous drawl. “Even better, now that a nice lady took the time to say hello.”
The gauntlet of friendliness was thrown. I had to up my game.
“Isn’t this a beautiful neighborhood?”
“Not as pretty as you, ma’am.”
Oh! Shot through the heart with Southern charm! But I wasn’t done and had to erase the notion that Yankees are bad at this sort of thing, so I said, “You have a lovely day,” to which he said, “And you do the same. It was a pleasure talking with you.”
He won. Defeated and crushing on him, I went on my way.
But you know the saying. There’s no place like home. Even if it’s 40 degrees colder and there’s still snow.