There's something easy about the #South. The air is warmer. The breeze, sweeter. And so is the iced tea. Having lived in the Northeast most of my life, I'd heard all the common #Southern stereotypes. Guns, giant crosses, and the KKK pretty much sum it up. But none of it is true. Yes, you can own a gun in Georgia without a license to protect yourself in your home. Yes, there is a lot of pride in having faith here. And yes, there are people who are prejudiced. But I've not met a single one. Except for a local cop who believed anyone who lived in the mountains was a hillbilly with missing teeth. He and I no longer speak, by the way.
When I drive back from #NewYork, and I see those giant crosses greet me, I know I'm home. And it's not because I'm a Christian. It's not about religion here so much as it is about faith. "Have a blessed day," is a common refrain. You don't even have to believe in God; hearing it just makes you feel better. As does being surrounded by people who unapologetically believe in something bigger than themselves.
I guess I am one of the "hillbillies" living in the mountains, but all my neighbors are lovely people who take pride in their homes and families. Yes, there seems to be a Ford F-150 in every driveway, but the folks who live here are educated professionals who just prefer to be away from the hustle-bustle of places like Marietta, where there is so much commercial confusion, it takes two hours to go less than 30 miles at certain times of the day. And, you also can't see the night sky in the same way either....
There is the odd abandoned shanty or trailer here and there that might make Northerners feel as though banjos are playing in the distance, but if there are, you shouldn't be scared. It's likely just a nice couple sitting on their front porch in the glorious sunshine. If you have the guts to stop and say hello, even if you're a stranger, you'll be given a glass of lemonade and invited to sit down.
I've been to little white-washed country churches. Sang pretty hymns surrounded by pretty hatted-ladies in flowered dresses. I've driven down one-lane dirt roads, heard roosters crowing in the distance, saw the sunrise over the mountains, watched cotton fields bloom, sipped on sweet tea, and enjoyed #Southern smiles--the kind that make your eyes crinkle tightly in the corners.
I've climbed the mountains, too. Stained my hands with red clay while digging a piece of quartz out of the ground in a dried up creek bed. Watched the sun dabble the mountain side in light amidst a thickly-wooded landscape. Felt the temperature drop nearly 15-degrees after the sky turned wild pinks and oranges. Watched the face of the moon become bigger and bigger still in a formal ebony sky dressed in brilliant diamond-like stars.
There's nothing more beautiful, or more comforting, than the #South. It's my home. Think it always has been. Hope it always will be. When life takes me thousands of miles away, I miss my #SouthernComfort. I miss the forest in my backyard. The trees. The birds. The stars. The sunsets. The way it smells after a spring rain.
I miss so much of what I find beautiful here. But that's what happens when you love a place; it becomes a person. A character in your continuing story. And the people you know become the landscape, part of the scenery.
#Love is the thing that ties a person to a place and a place to a person....
Yup, there's no doubt about it: I'm in #love. And no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, my #SouthernComfort is always with me.