Home Sweet Home Nostalgia has been creeping into my psyche lately.  In the wake of a house under construction and impending interstate move, I find myself reminiscing about the places I have called home.  Although I feel it’s best not to live in the past, I believe that understanding where you’ve been is beneficial in understanding where you are going.  And so I willingly welcome this trip down memory lane.

This One Is Too Small
I was born and raised in a small town on the south-side of Middle America, and I am fairly certain that I emerged from the womb in immediate search of a plane ticket to a new destination.  Born into a family of transplanted Yankees and Brazilians, the tales of northeastern summers and the white sand beaches of Rio made me long for a change of scenery from a very young age.  My hometown wasn’t all bad.  It had a charm in its old homes, tall oaks and country roads.  But I never felt that I was of this place.  Its vast distance from any shore, major city, or airport for that matter did not bode well for a girl with a thirst for adventure. I bade farewell once I was of age and did not look back….. That is until now.  With the infinite advancement of modern technology I am virtually transported to street-level of a town I once knew.  Like bumping into an old acquaintance whose face is familiar but whose name is long forgotten, I wander about trying to remember the place I see but cannot recognize what it has become.  A shell of its former self.  Graffiti on what had been the gleaming alabaster wall surrounding my grandmother’s Spanish architecture home.  Lovely Victorian ladies with fairytale stained glass windows are now disintegrating termite feeding grounds.  Cracked, weed-filled sidewalks and roads give the indication that the town I left behind may be dying.  I never desired to return, but I am saddened by its apparent demise.

This One is Too Big
I know that I was meant to live in this big southern city.  The minute I arrived it opened its arms to wrap me in a comforting bear hug and invited me to stay a while.  I was smitten.  People, motion, energy, lights!  Museums, dining, theatre, music!  A corporate Mecca of abundant opportunity.  A world-class international airport.  Beaches within driving distance.  Everything a person could need!  I settled in, made great friends, built a career, bought a house, married a wonderful man, and made good use of the airport to visit faraway places.  Oh, and another thing — I got older.  In the blink of an eye twenty five years has passed.  Was traffic always this bad?  Where did all these people come from?  Has it always this aggressive?  Why is it such a hassle to get downtown for a show?  Does no one wave “hello” anymore??  Has it always been this cold here in the winter????  I got older….perhaps less patient…and definitely more appreciative of quiet contemplation and a warm peaceful sunrise.  I know that I was meant to live here.  To meet these people; to have this life.  But my city and I are now at a cross-road.  Salt air called and I had to answer.

This One is Just Right
If you arrive in the lowcountry and aren’t driven away by flying palmettos, biting gnats, the occasional alligator, or the threat of the one-hundred-year storm, you’re probably in the right place.  And I knew it the first time I walked its sandy shores and the cobbled streets of centuries-old cities like Charleston, Savannah, and Beaufort.  This is quintessentially southern.  This is culture steeped in history and mystery.  This is the juxtaposition of preservation and growth.  This is where I want to be.  Grand dame live oaks draped in Spanish moss and often intertwined with coastal palms in an infinite embrace.  Words gorgeously dripping from the tongues of the “born here” like fine local honey; bless her heart and y’all come back.  Haute cuisine and fried chicken from the same kitchen being served to bankers in business suits and sailors in shorts.  The ebb and flow of the tides.  The sway of dune grasses in the Atlantic breeze.  The smell of pluff mud on the marshes.  An infinite number of waterways, back roads, and historic places await exploration… but a back yard oyster roast or crabbing from a dock are also perfectly acceptable ways to while away the hours.  And saying “hello” in wave or word is not only encouraged, it is expected.  I am home.

Home…so, what is that exactly?  Where you lay your head?  Where you hang your hat?  Where the heart is?  In my travels I have felt perfectly at home in all sorts of places:  a flat in Edinburgh, a house in Provence, a farm in Tuscany, an apartment in Paris.  Were it not for well-loved dogs back at home I could have easily become an international squatter refusing to leave the comforts of these fine abodes.  But in the end, home for me is very clear.  Home is where my toes hit the sand; my husband at my side, our dogs playing in the surf, and watching the sun slowly ascend from the deep blue ocean to usher in a new lowcountry day.