Many people ask me this simple question and I usually give a short answer that briefly encapsulates the truth in a small enough reply as not to hog the conversation and bore them with too much information. In reality, the answer is a long complicated one that is layered with locations and flavored with regions that contrast each other. Details? Ok, here goes…
I was born in Nebraska but we were merely passing through Lincoln when labor began. It’s a flat space and considered heartland of this country. I don’t have a memory of it as a child. The South left its impression on me with its southern twang that varied from city to city and it’s spicy sweet baked beans and buttered biscuits. I lived on Waffle House, juicy peaches and fresh pecans pulled right off the trees in Georgia. At least every six months I watched the corn fields go by in a blur from the backseat of our old car as we moved to a new dream. Truck stop waitresses named Donna would give me extra whipped cream on my hot cocoa in exchange for a sweet smile and good manners.
Pennsylvania meant lush green landscape with auctions and the Dutch Amish country of Lancaster. Homemade corn chowder served steaming hot in a Styrofoam cup and warm peanut butter cookies while my mom admired the patchwork quilts with their myriad of colors and diamond designs on a white background. My dad would jokingly imitate the auctioneer with his fast-talking style of calling out the prices on items for sale. Horses and cows nearby that could be pet if I took my time and waited for them to evaluate me in my turquoise jeans, pink shirt, rainbow suspenders and brown round-toe cowboy boots.
The sound of the harmonica, John Mellencamp, and acoustic guitar all take me back to a feeling, a time where I was little and it doesn’t have a particular address. It smells like early summer nights when the warm breezes carry the scent of the trees and shrubs. It sounds like crickets and our feet hitting the pavement as we take a family walk holding hands. It looks like fireflies dancing in the air and lighting up the night sky. It feels like moments of home, moments of normalcy where it doesn’t need to get any better and things are just fine. If only it could have stayed that way…To Be Continued