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This afternoon, for the first time since I moved to Vermont, a stranger made a comment about my Southern accent (which I can’t hear at all). I walked through the automatic doors at Home Depot, where a man wearing a familiar orange apron was stooped to some task or other. He asked me how I was.

Fine, thank you, how are you? That is my auto-response when people are friendly.

The “fine” drew his attention.

He stood up, turned around, and said, Ah, I love that accent.

Really, I asked? Nobody notices, I said, or if they do they don’t say anything.

There’s no mistaking it, he went on. He explained he grew up in Brooklyn. What do you drink in the morning, he asked me?

Coffee I said.

With an ear-to-ear grin he shook his head in an endearing way.

It’s quwah-fee, he corrected. One of his colleagues suggested he was flirting.

I giggled and moved on, but could not help smiling as I went about my business.

His timing was impeccable. For the first time in three years—almost exactly three years—since my big reboot, the adventure-born-of-necessity that drew me away from my native South, my family, friends, and everything I’ve known and held dear for most of my life—I am going home. This time I’ll have Handsome Chef Boyfriend in tow. My parents and friends have not met him, nor has he seen firsthand the setting for so many, many stories I have told him.

Maybe I am turning on the Southern in anticipation, without realizing it. I have been eating grits for breakfast these last few days. That must be it: Southern-ness is in the grits.

This trip feels important and we are both excited about it.

And I for one am also nervous. January was the last time I was nervous, standing at the threshold of a big career change, and a big life decision to combine my household with my sweetheart’s. I don’t completely understand how my head works under the influence of nerves. HCB called me to check in one night in January just ahead of the move and asked me how my day had gone, what I had been up to.

Polishing silver, I said. This prompted some deserved chiding about what I should have been doing, which was packing.

And now, when I should be packing for this long-ish upcoming trip, I have been scrubbing grout. And walls and toilets. And doing some kitchen projects. And other domestic stuff. I mentioned this to my amazing yoga instructor this morning, and without hesitation she quipped, that’s called procrastination.

Maybe. But it’s also nerves. I am not expecting anything really heavy duty to unfold over the course of this trip. But I am anticipating some emotions, and some sadness. I have already surpressed a few tears, whilst reminding myself there is so much in my life that is joyous, acknowledging how grateful I am.

The ride has been rough these last few years, though.

Ergo, I am nervous.

It is my great hope to share stories as they unfold, no promises. There is another week of work and preparations, an absolutely filthy Subaru I must find time to prepare before next weekend, lists to be made, supplies to be procured.

Just a thousand miles, and we’ll be there. ‘Til soon.

One thought on “Homecoming, Part the First

  1. Hey Deb! Are you guys coming to Knoxville? If so, I would love to see you. Let me know. We are in and out of town, but will be here the week after Labor Day and the week after that. Hope we can at least grab some coffee.

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