I'm in Nashville. It's the first time I've been back since I left. And it's so very strange.
The air conditioning is odd to me now, and the overwhelming number of white people jumps out at me. I'm confused as to why everything is so spread out, why we drove 25 miles from one shopping center to another that looked exactly--and I do mean exactly--like the first one. With almost all the same stores. All the neighborhoods pretty much look the same; I haven't seen red brick homes with columns in front for a while.
People seem to move a little slower than I remember them moving. And the number of baseball caps here in Tennessee, worn by women and men alike, is astonishing. People are kinder, at least outwardly. The syrupy Southern drawls are as plodding and charming as always.
I've noticed I've become much more direct in my conversations with people, especially family. The way Southern people, especially ladies, tip toe around what they want with their words has become an annoying attribute I now mostly eschew. My frank comments to my mother and sister about various things has left them each slack-jawed at least once.
The rolling hills and buttermilk biscuits and late afternoon showers are all like warm hugs from long unseen old friends. The lack of diversity, however, is striking. Moving to California has been 9 months of constant blur, and being back has been just about the same. Everything old is new again, and I'm relearning Tennessee's curves like I've returned to a former lover. It's been exhilerating and a little unnerving, but I'm glad for the experience.
Have to admit, though, despite that it happened while listening to crickets, when I saw photos of San Francisco on my Flickr stream just now, my heart whispered "home."