I'm not even sure that a memoir would do the differences between Waco, Texas and Boxford, Massachusetts adequate justice. Sometimes driving around, I'm obliged to re-articulate to myself how it is again that I ended up here, because it just feels, so, well, random. Remember, Sarah? Remember? You were working in that cube and you felt like a caged bird or something, and you wanted an adventure and liked the idea of cowboy boots, and "y'all" and social work and here you are. When I tell myself that story, sometimes I feel pretty cool and fly by the seat of my pants, and sometimes I feel like a flake. Maybe there's not a difference.
I sound flippant. Let me clarify. Even when I feel my feathers in the wind, I am filled with divine peace and gratitude. I am convinced that God led me to this sweet little spot in the center of Texas, and has graced me abundantly with community that has helped me to heal and trust and believe in a God that has come and is coming and wants me to be a part of it all.
Still, the culture shock is funny. And I'll be frank: as much as I'm a fan of southern hospitality...the "m'ams", and the "dowhat now's?" , and the little grocery baggers who say these things to you as they help you out of the HEB, I still miss many things about my roughish and rustic New England town. Am I allowed to miss it and not want to go back? Because I do. I deeply miss it but am quite content staying right here.
I'm also hopelessly nostalgic so sitting with the memory can be fun. Let me indulge for a moment: I liked that the houses were all two-story clapboard colonials. I liked that there were lots of windy roads and stone walls, and town commons, and things and places and buildings established in the 1600's. And, no offense to barbeque or anything, but I liked that there could be things at a party besides well, just that. Or beans. There will be always all sorts of beans as long as I am in Texas.
So, this brings me to the real reason I started writing. The point, if you will, though I usually hate dragging in the point. I used to think the expression "bless your heart" was really odd. If you didn't know that it's Southern, I'm here to tell you it is. Sort of like the equivelant of "wicked" in the North. Perhaps, such expressions could be a greater metaphor for their respective regions. I won't go there.
I first heard "bless your heart" when I was at my friend Lauren's house in Memphis. She had a rash on her arm, and her mom kept looking at it and "blessing her heart." I'm really not a literal person, but I did keep thinking, why is she saying that? And like many idiomatic enigmas I come across here in the South, I first, wonder if it's a Southern Baptist thing. But, "bless your heart" is not. It's more of a thing that you say with a smile and an emphatic twang and it's mainly just for fluff. I never really liked bless your heart because I thought that it meant something bad or gossipy or rude was on it's heels. Not that I never participate in these things, but if we're going to be sassy, let's call it what it is and not guise it with the blessing of the heart.
So, I've found a new-found love for this expression. Do you want to know why? On Christmas Day (yes, I worked on Christmas Day), a seven year old boy came into my office. He is the quiet type that speaks with insight when he does in fact, speak. And unfortunately, in the chaos of my work environment, I get to listen less frequently than I wish. He said: "Miss Sarah?" I said, "Yes?" He said: "I made something for..." I looked up, and he was pointing at me. I said, "What do you have?" He showed me this:
And, I melted a little bit. What do you even say besides, "I'll put it up on my door!" I have never met a more sincere blesser of the heart. He's allowed to say that one :)