I may be in danger of losing my identity as a city girl. Last week David and I drove into the city, and I didn’t like it very much – at least the city part of it.
In February, the winter weather prevented some of our friends from the Dallas area from coming to Emory for my first book signing. Two absentees were Peggy and James, the former neighbors and motorcycle buddies who play several pivotal roles in my book. Even though we hadn’t seen each other since 2007 when we came through the Metroplex in our RV, Peggy and I have kept in touch by email and Facebook. Disappointed by the lost opportunity to reconnect at the signing, we devised another plan – she invited me to speak at an upcoming Sunday school dinner. As the time drew closer, James suggested that we spend the night so we could have more time to catch up.
Last Monday, we left Emory shortly after lunch to drive the ninety miles to Carrollton for the planned event and visit. David decided to avoid the major highways and stick to the back roads like Highways 380 and 121. Imagine how shocked we were at the changes the years had brought – the commercial and residential buildings where there had been open fields; the major intersections and traffic lights instead of long uninterrupted straight-aways; and the traffic.
Our neighborhood was always a quiet island in the middle of a sea of commerce, but the growing maze of fast-food eateries, gas stations, and stores that now encircled it was overwhelming. Still, the residential streets were quite, shielded from the surrounding chaos by hedges and brick walls. I hadn’t realized how tense I was until I began to relax as we drove down the familiar streets. I felt a tug of homesickness as we passed our old home, but it eased when James welcomed us into their home next door.
We arrived mid-afternoon, so we had several hours to visit before we had to leave for dinner. The class was meeting at Anamia’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Plano – a thirty-minute ride back through the traffic. Thankfully, James was driving, so we could enjoy the conversation that continued non-stop.
Dinner was delicious, and my presentation went well. In addition to reading a section from my book, I talked about keeping your marriage strong while caregiving. I could tell by the reactions of my small audience that I was talking about an issue that touched many of their lives. I sold a few books, but more importantly, I think my experiences encouraged some of the people who were going through similar circumstances.
When we got back to our home for the night, the four of us talked until midnight, sharing what had happened while we had been separated by hundreds of miles and several states. The visit continued the next morning, but after lunch, it was time for David and me to leave the city. He negotiated the traffic with a little less surprise but no less tension than the day before, and we were glad when we were able to slip back into the slower pace of Rains County. When we arrived home, I unpacked my overnight bag and headed for the kitchen where I enjoyed the view that included lots of trees and a few energetic squirrels.
After we ate, the darkness that comes when there are no big city lights around was still a couple of hours away, so I went out to the garden for a while. I spent some time pulling weeds, adjusting support stakes to accommodate new growth, and otherwise tending to plants that not too long ago were a mystery to me. While I puttered, I mulled over the changes that have occurred in my life in the last few years. I realized that, instead of being a total city girl, I now feel more at home when I have a little bit of dirt under my fingernails.
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