I always have considered myself an extremely adaptable person, someone who can bloom wherever I am planted, almost without another thought.
I never knew what it was to be really homesick. Until now.
I grew up in Georgia and lived there all my life, with the exception of a brief stint in North Carolina and two years in South Carolina. I've traveled to the Northeast US, Canada, Europe and the Mediterranean. I truly thought that I could live just about anywhere (well, perhaps nowhere COLD!), hang my hat, and be done with it.
Then I moved to California.
At first I thought it was just culture shock: the LA area is very different in some subtle ways from the South. Instead of a big Baptist church on every corner, there are "spas" that offer everything from hair extensions, to some kind of massage with stones, to lasering 'unsightly' wrinkles, to Botox--they're doctors' offices and salons combined, all dedicated to making you look like a model. Or Joan Rivers.
But it's more than culture shock. I have been here a year, and I understand for the first time why this feeling is called homeSICKNESS. My throat closes when I hear a Southern accent on the phone at work; when I think of red, ripe summer tomatoes fresh from the garden; when I remember frost; when I hear my father speak on the phone, so far away. This sickness stole over my heart so gradually, and I don't know how to shake it.
I look at the majestic Santa Monica Mountains and wonder at myself. How can I be so hardened to their beauty? Why doesn't this feel like home?
The truth has begun whispering itself to me, finally. It's not home, and it never will be. This place, beautiful as it is, will never take the place of the South. I had lived in three different states, but their misty hills, tall pines and soft air were woven seamlessly together: they are the same place. I was mistaken to ever think them separate.
The Surgery, Part One
2 years ago