The heat makes me home sick. Granted a 100 degree afternoon here in California isn’t quite the same as a 100 degree afternoon in Texas or Mississippi once you throw in the humidity but something about it always makes me nostalgic. Maybe it’s because we don’t have truly HOT days around here too often? I think it’s the combination of a lot of things - Father’s Day, TheBoy’s and my anniversary coming up (5 years next week), the heat, all the weddings… I am so homesick right now I can hardly stand it. It’s almost a PHYSICAL feeling, an ache, something missing.
Last night TheBoy and I decided it was entirely too hot to stay in our second floor apartment another second so we wandered downtown and decided to have dinner at a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant we hadn’t yet had the chance to try. We sat outside, shared a couple of dishes, drank some wine (me) and Greek beer (him) and I told him stories of all the things I missed about living in the South…
~ The food. Comfort food. Making things from scratch… People were defined by things there. We had a neighbor who made the best peach pies in the county. It was a fact. There was a restaurant in town with homemade biscuits that were SO flaky. Chicken fried steak, crisp fried okra, collard greens, black eyed peas, cobblers made with berries and peaches picked just that morning. Jam was an art. Cornbread and sweet tea were served with just about everything. Food was about… nurturing. My memories of food from and the South somehow are separate from all issues with calorie counting and portion control and nutrition.
~ The pace. Life moved slower. I get too caught up here in rushing around and traffic and deadlines and the sheer masses of humanity that exist in the Bay Area… I need to learn to take more time. Breathe.
~ Sunday afternoons. Growing up I always went to church on Sunday. My father always went to some sort of Pentecostal Non-Denominational type church and my mom would alternate between the Southern Baptists and the Methodists (when those Baptists got too crazy for her!). I’m not going to get in to my relationship with God here because that would take a whole LOT of time but as a child I loved church. I loved getting dressed up in my Sunday dresses and going to Sunday School. I loved the stories of Jesus and the craft times and the singing. After church there would always be a big lunch, sometimes a restaurant but most often a BBQ in someone’s backyard or a picnic at a park. In Mississippi we’d head down to the river. There I would change out of my dress and run around and play and climb trees and get dirty and just generally be carefree. In the late afternoon we’d all take a nap, even the adults. Lazy Sundays in the South.
~ Feeling safe. I used to ride my bike in to town to get ice cream on Saturday mornings with my friends. At 10. We’d be gone ALL DAY. I used to walk every where, between friends houses, to the country club where the pool was, to the Circle K for a soda, out by the fire lane to explore, alone… It never occurred to me to be worried. My mother used to do the same thing. I don’t think it occurred to her either. And yet now I won’t even walk the 30 feet from my car to the door of my apartment without consciously scanning the area to see who is there and making sure I have my purse held tight and keys in hand. I even own pepper spray! I don’t know if I want kids but if I did I would want to raise them some place where they could have the same feeling of safety that I had growing up.
~ I think the rest of the things we talked about could just be lumped under “small town life”. I miss volunteer fire departments – I remember all the husbands and fathers on our street belonged to one and that I always thought one day *my* husband would be Captain. I was always one to aim for the top. I miss knowing the name of the people who owned the grocery store, the local diner, the gas station. Or I suppose, more importantly, I miss having those people know me. Know my mama. That’s one of my favorite Southern greetings, “How’s your Mama and them?” It just seems so personal. I miss County Fairs; or rather I miss it being cool to go to County Fairs. I miss dances at city hall and things of that nature, spaghetti feeds hosted by the 4H from the High School, High School football games on Friday nights. Community.
Yep – there is that ache again. I think I’ll go out and enjoy some of this heat on my lunch break. We’re due for 90 – 100 degree temps for the next several days. I’m loving it!
*In case you are wondering at the seemingly totally random title to this post… I did mention that the one thing I DON’T miss about the South is the bugs. Namely the fact that the bugs are HUGE there! But then as I was sitting there thinking about it I realized that I do miss Praying Mantis (Praying Manti?) They used to fascinate me as a child. In fact I vividly remember sitting on a parking wall outside of church in Mississippi as a child on Sunday TALKING to a Praying Mantis… I was an only child y’all. Cut me some slack.